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Marshall McLuhan 1968 - The End of Polite Society

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Published on Jun 2, 2016

In this video produced by the Canadian Broad Coopt for a show called The Way It is with the title The End of Polite Society in 1968. Interviewed by Robert Fulford in a panel with Marshall McLuhan, Malcolm Muggeridge (British TV talk-show host), and Norman Mailer (American writer).


More information:

One of the most charismatic, controversial and original thinkers of our time whose remarkable perception propelled him onto the international stage, Marshall McLuhan is universally regarded as the father of communications and media studies and prophet of the information age

Biography
McLuhan was still a twenty-year old undergraduate at the University of Manitoba, in western Canada, in the dirty thirties, when he wrote in his diary that he would never become an academic. He was learning in spite of his professors, but he would become a professor of English in spite of himself. After Manitoba, graduate work at Cambridge University planted the seed for McLuhan’s eventual move toward media analysis. Looking back on both his own Cambridge years and the longer history of the institution, he reflected that a principal aim of the faculty could be summarized as the training of perception, a phrase that aptly summarizes his own aim throughout his career.

Portrait of Marshall McLuhan by Yousuf Karsh. Copyright the Estate of Yousuf Karsh, California.
Portrait by Yousuf Karsh. Copyright the Estate of Yousuf Karsh, California.
The shock that McLuhan experienced in his first teaching post propelled him toward media analysis. Though his students at the University of Wisconsin were his juniors by only five to eight years, he felt removed from them by a generation. He suspected that this had to do with ways of learning and set out to investigate it. The investigation led him back to lessons on the training of perception from his Cambridge professors, such as I.A. Richards (The Meaning of Meaning, Practical Criticism), and forward to discoveries from James Joyce, the symbolist poets, Ezra Pound; back to antiquity and the myth of Narcissus, forward to the mythic structure of modern Western culture dominated by electric technology.

Understanding Media, first published in 1964, focuses on the media effects that permeate society and culture, but McLuhan’s starting point is always the individual, because he defines media as technological extensions of the body. As a result, McLuhan often puts his inquiry and his conclusions in terms of the ratio between the physical senses (the extent to which we depend on them relative to each other) and the consequences of modifications to that ratio. This invariably entails a psychological dimension. Thus, the invention of the alphabet and the resulting intensification of the visual sense in the communication process gave sight priority over hearing, but the effect was so powerful that it went beyond communication through language to reshape literate society’s conception and use of space.

Understanding Media brought McLuhan to prominence in the same decade that celebrated flower power. San Francisco, the home of the summer of love, hosted the first McLuhan festival, featuring the man himself. The saying “God is dead” was much in vogue in the counterculture that quickly adopted McLuhan but missed the irony of giving a man of deep faith the status of an icon.

Spectacular sales of Understanding Media, in hardback and then in paperback editions, and the San Francisco symposium brought him a steady stream of invitations for speaking engagements. He addressed countless groups, ranging from the American Marketing Association and the Container Corporation of America to AT&T and IBM. In March 1967, NBC aired “This is Marshall McLuhan” in its Experiment in TV series. He played on his own famous saying, publishing The Medium is the Massage (co-produced with Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel), even as he was signing contracts for Culture Is Our Business and From Cliché to Archetype (with Canadian poet Wilfred Watson) with publishers in New York. Dozens of universities awarded McLuhan honorary degrees and he secured a Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at Fordham University.

– By Terrence Gordon (July 2002)


Important links:
McLuhan Galaxy: https://mcluhangalaxy.wordpress.com
McLuhan on Maui: http://www.mcluhanonmaui.com
McLuhan Estate: http://marshallmcluhan.com
Blog: http://mcluhan.net
Video snippets: http://www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/
Transcript available here: http://www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/...

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