Marshall McLuhan – The Medium is the Massage. [Notes]

The Medium is the massage, is a fairly useful if condensed look at one of McLuhan’s core principles. That the medium is the message. Describing that a Global village has been created that has created a mass audience, instead of a general public. Discussing how the spread of information, at a much faster and more widely accessible rate, has made it easier for us as a collective to be more aware of the world around us. However the ubiquitous nature of it has also resulted in us being unable to disconnect from that network of information. The book also provides a brief explanation of the extension of man theory, though nowhere near as extensively as Understanding Media.

I think this book will be a useful refresher on McLuhan’s theories, but will most likely be used far less than McLuhan’s more extensive work with Understanding Media. However it does yield some useful quotes regarding the Global Village. This may come in handy further down the line.

“The medium, or process, of our time – electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:8]

“Our time is a time for crossing barriers, for erasing old categories – for probing around. When two seemingly disparate elements are imaginatively poised, put in apposition in new and unique ways, startling discoveries often result.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:10]

“Your Neighbourhood. Electric circuitry has overthrown the regime of ‘time’ and ‘space’ and pours upon us instantly and continuously the concerns of all other men. It has reconstituted dialogue on a global scale. Its message is Total Change, ending psychic, social, economic, and political parochialism. The old civic, state and national groupings have become unworkable. Nothing can be further from the spirit of the new technology than ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’ You can’t go home again.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:16]

“Today’s television child is attuned to up-to-the-minute ‘adult’ news – inflation, rioting, war, taxes, crime, bathing beauties – and is bewildered when he enters the nineteenth-century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:18]

“Today, the mass audience (the successor to the ‘public’) can be used as a creative, participating force.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:22]

“The shock of recognition! In an electric information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained – ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:24]

“All Media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967: 26]

“The wheel is an extension of the foot.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:31-32]

“The book is an extension of the eye.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:33-34]

“Electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system. Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act – the way we perceive the world.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:40-41]

“Until writing was invented, men lived in acoustic space: boundless, directionless, horizonless, in the dark of the mind, in the world of emotion by primordial intuition, by terror. Speech is a social chart of this bog.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:48]

“Printing, a ditto device confirmed and extended the new visual stress. It provided the first uniformly repeatable ‘commodity’, the first assembly line – mass production. It created the portable book, which men could read in privacy and in isolation from others. Man could now inspire – and conspire.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:50]

“We now live in a global village… a simultaneous happening. We are back in acoustic space. We have begun again to structure the primordial feeling, the tribal emotions from which a few centuries of literacy divorced us. We have had to shift our stress of attention from action to reaction. We must now know in advance the consequences of any policy or action, since the results are experience without delay. Because of electric speed, we no longer wait and see.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:63]

“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:67]

“Print technology created the public. Electronic technology created the mass. The public consists of separate individuals walking around with separate fixed points of view. The new technology demands that we abandon the luxury of this posture, this fragmentary outlook. The method of our time is to use not a single but multiple models for exploration – the technique of the suspended judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century as the technique of invention was the discovery of the nineteenth.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:68-69]

“Our official culture is striving to force the new media to do the work of the old. These are difficult times because we are witnessing a clash of cataclysmic proportions between two great technologies. We approach the new with the psychological conditioning and sensory responses to the old.” [McLuhan, Fiore. 1967:93]

  • Mcluhan, M. & Fiore, Q. (1967) The Medium is the Massage. Penguin Books. London

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s