“Ours is the first age in which many thousands of the best-trained individual minds have made it a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind. To get inside in order to manipulate, exploit, control is the object now. And to generate heat not light is the intention. To keep everybody in the helpless state engendered by prolonged mental rutting is the effect of many ads and much entertainment alike.” Opening paragraph of Preface to The Mechanical Bride, Marshall McLuhan, 1951.
In April 1977 Marshall McLuhan visited Brandon as part of Mosaic Massey, an event arranged by Vincent Massey High School. The Brandon Sun published a lifestyle article about McLuhan’s visit written by Wayne Boyce. The feature begins, “One doesn’t interview Marshall McLuhan. One merely shakes his hand, sits and listens.” The second paragraph begins, “It simply doesn’t matter if a listener agrees or not… McLuhan has not come to argue. He has come to think out loud.”
While being driven around Brandon, McLuhan suggests the city could become an international city because, “It isn’t overburdened with 19th century hardware and doesn’t have a stake in the old.”
Personal Aside: However, Brandon isn’t an international city despite its delusions of pretending to be something it isn’t: a big city. Brandon succumbed to big city woes: a gutted downtown, urban sprawl, congested traffic, homelessness, no-brainers like a shopping mall on a frequent flood plain and the location of their new fire hall between the river and railroad tracks. Urban sprawl is so rampant Brandon should be renamed Mortgage Heights. Brandon has lost its identity as a rural hub.
Back to 1977: McLuhan rejects the claim he’s a seer or futurist. “I make observations, not theories. They call me the prophet of the electronic age but I’m merely an observer. My work predicts what has already happened.”
Boyce ends the article with this observation, “The total effect is to stimulate thinking. He does that well. McLuhan’s thoughts help us find the freedom to do that.”
Both photographs were taken during McLuhan’s Brandon visit by Stu Philips.
Watch my McLuhan Mash-Up called “Everybody Is With It.” It’s a minute twenty.