Thursday, March 8, 2018

Understanding McLuhan

by Bob Dobbs

Re-reading the semi-brilliant essays in McLuhan Pro & Con (Edited by Raymond Rosenthal, 1968), I discovered why none of them could get a clear bead on McLuhan.

McLuhan explains his style in the following paragraph (the essayists had no idea—actually they hastily commented on McLuhan too early—of the technique of a new kind of poet, miming an invisible environment):

“It is the powerful mosaic and iconic thrust in our experience since TV that explains the paradox of the upsurge of TIME and NEWSWEEK and similar magazines. These magazines present the news in a compressed mosaic form that is a real parallel to the ad world. Mosaic news is neither narrative, nor point of view, nor explanation, nor comment. It is a corporate image in depth of the community in action and invites maximal participation in the social process.”
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Signet paperback edition), 1964, p.202 (p.227 of the MIT 1994 edition)

A couple of years later McLuhan wrote briefly:

“The overwhelming fact about TIME (Magazine - Ed.) is its style. It has often been said that nobody could tell the truth in TIME style.”
Marshall McLuhan, (one of 19 comments on TIME by 19 famous people), “TIME: The Weekly Fiction Magazine”, The Best of Fact: Thirty-Two Articles That Have Made History From America’s Most Courageous Magazine, edited by Ralph Ginzburg and Warren Boroson, 1967, p.171

Also see more comments on TIME Magazine on p.214 of McLuhan's Culture is Our Business, 1970.

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