McLuhan at 3 AM

by Chavi

I just discovered McLuhan. That, and read a Tom Wolfe essay about him, written in 1965.

Tom Wolfe would receive at most a C for his essay, and I would get worse if I were tested on it.

McLuhan is the man who said that TV, and the phone, and electronics are not simply tools that man chooses to manipulate, to use for good or for bad, to be subject to or not. No. They change man. Change the way he perceives the world. He spoke about moving from a visual to an aural filter. Visual meant organized, cubicles, bureaucracy, and that was the legacy of print. Auditory is tribal, sensual. Not sure why auditory requires more interaction, why he equates auditory with tactile, and visual with standing outside.

I’ll need to read his book “Understanding Media”, to judge it further – and how it relates to today, and the internet.  I’m repelled a little by the smell of  haughty academia, where wisdom is trapped in the hundreds of sub-sub-categories of specialized studies. Or, I’m simply lazy.

I’ve always claimed that the internet, and other 2oth century technologies  tools; that there are fundamental human traits that don’t and won’t change. That there are truths. That’s at the core of it- the question of will it change what we are, or even as we evolve, is there some anchoring definition to what we are.

The awesomeness of internet phenomenon challenges that cherished belief of mine that there are truths – makes me wonder if we aren’t being swept by a tsunami history into a different future. It’s always there, the thrill of being part of the ride, and the awe of its power that makes people suddenly recall the romanticism of cows.