Marshall McLuhan's Legacy [The Trenchant Edges]
In which some of my discussion with Andrew McLuhan gets out
Welcome back to the Trenchant Edges, which is slowly becoming an actual thing again.
When I was looking into Marshall McLuhan for this series, my first stop was my facebook friends list because I’d befriended his grandson Andrew McLuhan, who operates the McLuhan Institute, which is “dedicated to preserving and carrying forward McLuhan studies in the McLuhan tradition. “
If you note the absence of Marshall’s name there, that’s very intentional because his son Eric McLuhan continued much of his father’s work and published far more recently than Marshall’s 1980 death.
We discussed his grandfather’s legacy and the complexity of digging through his books (especially his monster dissertation) and what works he’d recommend me read to get a full understanding of their work.
To my surprise it was none of the books I’ve collected from Marshall, but almost exclusively his son Eric’s work. Which I’ve read none of.
The two big recommendations are Theories of Communication and Media and Formal Cause.
Theories of Communication is the big general book trying to explain the broad sweep of the McLuhan’s theories. Media and Formal Cause is a more specific work using Aristotelian logic to unpack certain media effects.
Andrew also mentioned the work that may be most interesting to our psychedelic audience here: The Sensus Communis, Synesthesia, and the Soul: An Odyssey.
I’m just gonna copy its book description:
”In this essay of extraordinary scope and depth, Eric McLuhan explores faith as a form of knowing. He does so against the backdrop of preliterate man’s concrete, bodily submersion in the putting on of poetry and drama (the practice of mimesis) and post-literate man’s bodiless submersion in electronic communication, in which sender and receiver are everywhere and nowhere at once. In traversing the Aristotelian and Medieval concept of sensus communis, he examines synesthesia as, in effect, its operating system and charts the modern and contemporary mandate to embrace the discarnate. He washes up on the shore of religion as he uncovers a trinity of knowledge, that is, three kinds of sensus communis – the five physical senses, the four intellectual senses of Scripture (historical, allegorical, tropological, and anagogical), and the three theological senses (faith, hope, and charity)—each of the three complete in itself yet interacting with one another. A fascinating odyssey that will dazzle the senses. “
Super interesting though, right?
Both Marshall and Eric are profoundly Catholic scholars, which is kinda of a niche perspective these days. Always interesting to see what such people develop.
I need to lay back down but here are the rest of my notes from that call. Let me know if anything sounds interesting.
“ratio & operation of senses which shape our perception.
war between dialectics and grammar/rhetoric
Walter Ong, jesuit preist marshal taugh st luce. Went on to do a lot of work. Wrote on ramius method and decay. Morality and literacy.
An inventory of effects -> What does it do? Make a big list of concequences . Add them up
Sense ratios/hot cool; Nature & effects. Hot = high definition, very filled with data. Cold = small information, need to extrapolate. Nature of technology/senses/how you interact to it.”
Be seeing you tomorrow.