Author Topic: MCLUHAN SAID  (Read 8373 times)


  • Horse Wrestling
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 4524
    • View Profile
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2007, 07:40:11 pm »
McLuhan himself, the spectacle's first apologist, who had seemed to be the most convinced imbecile of the century, changed his mind when he finally discovered in 1976 that "the pressure of the mass media leads to irrationality," and that it was becoming urgent to modify their usage. The thinker of Toronto had formerly spent several decades marveling at the numerous freedoms created by a 'global village' instantly and effortlessly accessible to all. Villages, unlike towns, have always been dominated by conformism, isolation, petty surveillance, boredom and repetitive malicious gossip about the same families. And this also presents the vulgarity of this spectacular planet, where it is no longer possible to distinguish the Grimaldi-Monaco or Bourbon-Franco dynasties from those who succeeded the Stuarts. However, McLuhan's ungrateful disciples are now trying to make people forget him, so as to rejuvenate his early works and, in their turn, develop a career in mediatic eulogy for all these new freedoms to 'choose' at random from ephemera. And probably they will retract their claims even faster than the man who inspired them.

I think Guy Debord just pwned McLuhan...


tho it might be hard to isolate mcluhan too easily

mcluhan's groupies and supporters and 'disciples' are not a accurate reflection of mcluhan

some might be even more insightful - but most are idiots (of course)

think about how RAW or whoever led to the hundreds of people that have come thru these parts

and then consider the ratio of knuckleheads to people with at least a pinch of integrity

ill check into more about this Debord guy
neat hell


  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 22351
    • View Profile
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2019, 01:44:39 pm »
Another 12 years out from this quote from DeBord...

When I read McLuhan (and I don't know that I'm reading the same stuff Deboard did), it doesn't come off as a defense or embrace of the spectacle. McLuhan is descriptive, not prescriptive - at one point in that famous Playboy interview, MCLUHAN SAID

I’m not advocating anything; I’m merely probing and predicting trends. Even if I opposed them or thought them disastrous, I couldn’t stop them, so why waste my time lamenting? As Carlyle said of author Margaret Fuller after she remarked, “I accept the Universe”: “She’d better.” I see no possibility of
a worldwide Luddite rebellion that will smash all machinery to bits, so we might as well sit back and see what is happening and what will happen to us in a cybernetic world. Resenting a new technology will not halt its progress.

Whereas in contrast, Debord wishes we could rewind to a time when we weren't consumed by conversations about "how much your umbrella cost and where did you get it?" He advocates living one's life in a way that's radically arbitrary, a fly in the ointment of consensus. I imagine that if he lived in 2019, Deboard would not own a smartphone. And he might even be better off for it! But this is why the situationists could only exist for a moment.. they were never able to resist the tide -- except individually.

Passages like this still seem to hit 2019-2020 right on the head. (italics mine)

Interviewer: Are you claiming, now, that there will be no taboos in the world tribal society you envision?

McLuhan: No, I’m not saying that, and I’m not claiming that freedom will be absolute—merely that it will be less restricted than your question implies. The world tribe will be essentially conservative, it’s true, like all iconic and inclusive societies; a mythic environment lives beyond time and space and thus generates little radical social change. All technology becomes part of a shared ritual that the tribe desperately strives to keep stabilized and permanent; by its very nature, an oral-tribal society—such as Pharaonic Egypt—is far more stable and enduring than any fragmented visual society. The oral and auditory tribal society is patterned by acoustic space, a total and simultaneous field of relations alien to the visual world, in which points of view and goals make social change an inevitable and constant by product. An electrically imploded tribal society discards the linear forward-motion of “progress.” We can see in our own time how, as we begin to react in depth to the challenges of the global village, we all become reactionaries.

a lot of people read McLuhan's tone as one of reverence and awe for the bright future to come.

But McLuhan admits that he's from a previous generation (linear-literary culture), and is himself alienated by this "electric tribal culture" that was forming at the time. The hippies read this vanishing of taboos as a liberation from uptight 50s conservatism. I think McLuhan saw that in the long arc, it also represents the decay of discourse, the return of the animalistic...

Reminds me of when Nietzsche says "God is dead, we have killed him--you and I", it's in a tone of horror. Even though Nietzsche is an atheist, he is terrified by the "lack of up and down" that he imagined we were approaching.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 03:03:03 pm by Cramulus »