Henry Gibson, poet from Laugh-In, wrote eloquently and succinctly about one of Canada’s greatest thinkers. His poem goes: “Marshall McLuhan, what are you doin’?” which summed up most of the world’s reaction to McLuhan’s thoughts. Here are a few random ideas from McLuhan, born one hundred years ago today: “The printing press, the computer, and television are not simply machines which convey information. They are metaphors through which we conceptualize reality in one way or another. They will classify the world for us, sequence it, frame it, enlarge it, reduce it, argue a case for what it is like. Through these media metaphors, we do not see the world as it is. We see it as our coding systems are. Such is the power of the form of information.” “A commercial society whose members are essentially ascetic and indifferent in social ritual has to be provided with blueprints and specifications for evoking the right tone for every occasion.” “The modern Little Red Riding Hood, reared on singing commercials, has no objection to being eaten by the wolf. Advertising is an environmental striptease for a world of abundance.” “Diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it.” “The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.” “Affluence creates poverty.” “Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.” “Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America – not on the battlefields of Vietnam.” “All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” “An administrator in a bureaucratic world is a man who can feel big by merging his non-entity in an abstraction. A real person in touch with real things inspires terror in him.” Marshall McLuhan was a future attractor, a genius whose mind extended far beyond his time and, as a philosophical oracle, was only able to speak the truth. After his death, McLuhan’s influence waned, more accurately it was submerged from the public mind and usurped by corporations who twisted his truth to manipulate the masses for profit. We are immersed in an invisible environment which continuously exploits every aspect of our humanity. McLuhan was the first to point this out.
Marshall McLuhan was born in Edmonton but moved to Winnipeg when he was four years old. The McLuhan family lived at this house, 507 Gertrude Avenue in Winnipeg. McLuhan attended Gladstone School, Earl Grey School, Kelvin Technical School and the University of Manitoba. Not dead/Dead since December 31, 1980. One final thought from the man who truly knew what the human mind is for, “Art is anything you can get away with.”