Marshall McLuhan

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Answers by Dr. Eric McLuhan, Marshall's eldest son

Why is the title of the book “The medium is the massage” and not “The medium is the message”?

Actually, the title was a mistake. When the book came back from the typesetter’s, it had on the cover “Massage” as it still does. The title was supposed to have read “The Medium is the Message” but the typesetter had made an error. When Marshall saw the typo he exclaimed, “Leave it alone! It’s great, and right on target!”

Now there are four possible readings for the last word of the title, all of them accurate: “Message” and “Mess Age,” “Massage” and “Mass Age.”

You MUST listen to this crazy shit!mcluhan 250px-MediaTetrad.svg

Media Archaeography, Ernst; Archaeology of Media Archaeology emphasizes the archaeological analysis of scientific research as a byproduct of the era of discrete letters
to listen media-archaeologically is to pay attention to the electronic message of the acoustic apparatus, not primarily to its musical content as cultural meaning
distinction between analogue past and digital present as hot versus cold in Understanding Media

critiques of mass media; dynamics between orality, Gutenbergian printing, and televisual orality ;idiosyncratic discourse; materiality and processural nature of his discourse; emphasis on temporal connections, translations, mergers between media
influence on Kittler; unwillingness to conform to formal methods

exanded the notion of media in ways that different spatial and temporal constellations could be conceived as media; embedded in media cutural change, rethinking of institutional and aesthetic contexts of seemingly familiar contexts; moving away from focus on book-object to much more distributed, decentralized, mobile forms; material basis of media technologies is changing
how media form our sensory and cognitive abilities
work referenced in idea that technological media are media of nerves and the unconscious

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McLuhan adapted the Gestalt psychology idea of a figure and a ground, which underpins the meaning of "The medium is the message." He used this concept to explain how a form of communications technology, the medium or figure, necessarily operates through its context, or ground.

McLuhan believed that to fully grasp the effect of a new technology, one must examine figure (medium) and ground (context) together, since neither is completely intelligible without the other. McLuhan argued that we must study media in their historical context, particularly in relation to the technologies that preceded them. The present environment, itself made up of the effects of previous technologies, gives rise to new technologies, which, in their turn, further affect society and individuals.[19]

All technologies have embedded within them their own assumptions about time and space. The message which the medium conveys can only be understood if the medium and the environment in which the medium is used—and which, simultaneously, it effectively creates—are analysed together. He believed that an examination of the figure-ground relationship can offer a critical commentary on culture and society.[19]

During his lifetime and afterward, McLuhan heavily influenced cultural critics, thinkers, and media theorists such as Neil Postman, Jean Baudrillard, Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, William Irwin Thompson, Paul Levinson, Douglas Rushkoff, Jaron Lanier, Hugh Kenner, and John David Ebert, as well as political leaders such as Pierre Elliott Trudeau[85] and Jerry Brown. Andy Warhol was paraphrasing McLuhan with his now famous 15 minutes of fame quote. When asked in the 70s for a way to sedate violences in Angola, he suggested a massive spread of TV devices.[86] The character "Brian O'Blivion" in David Cronenberg's 1983 film Videodrome is a "media oracle" based on McLuhan.[87] In 1991 McLuhan was named as the "patron saint" of Wired Magazine and a quote of his appeared on the masthead[citation needed] for the first ten years of its publication.[88] He is mentioned by name in a Peter Gabriel-penned lyric in the song "Broadway Melody of 1974". This song appears on the concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, from progressive rock band Genesis. The lyric is: "Marshall McLuhan, casual viewin' head buried in the sand." McLuhan is also jokingly referred to during an episode of The Sopranos entitled "House Arrest". Despite his death in 1980, someone claiming to be McLuhan was posting on a Wired mailing list in 1996. The information this individual provided convinced one writer for Wired that "if the poster was not McLuhan himself, it was a bot programmed with an eerie command of McLuhan's life and inimitable perspective."[88]

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