- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“Language is a form of organized stutter.”


Happy birthday, Marshall McLuhan!

“Language is a sense, like touch.”

“Language alone includes all the senses in interplay at all times.”

“Art is whatever you can get away with.”

“Only puny secrets need protection. Big secrets are protected by public incredulity. You can actually dissipate a situation by giving it maximal coverage. As to alarming people, that’s done by rumours, not by coverage.”

“The young are really the heirs to a generation of incompetence.”

“Each new technology is a reprogramming of sensory life.”

“Casting my perils before swains.”

“I don’t explain—I explore.”

“When we invent a new technology, we become cannibals. We eat ourselves alive since these technologies are merely extensions of ourselves. The new environment shaped by electric technology is a cannibalistic one that eats people. To survive one must study the habits of cannibals.”

“All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the message. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments. All media are extensions of some human faculty—psychic or physical.”

“In the electric age we wear all mankind as our skin.”

“The ordinary person senses the greatness of the odds against him even without thought or analysis, and he adapts his attitudes unconsciously. A huge passivity has settled on industrial society. For people carried about in mechanical vehicles, earning their living by waiting on machines, listening much of the waking day to canned music, watching packaged movie entertainment and capsulated news, for such people it would require an exceptional degree of awareness and an especial heroism of effort to be anything but supine consumers of processed goods.”

“As Narcissus fell in love with an outering (projection, extension) of himself, man seems invariably to fall in love with the newest gadget or gimmick that is merely an extension of his own body.”

“All words at every level of prose and poetry and all devices of language and speech derive their meaning from figure/ground relation.”

“The tribalizing power of the new electronic media, the way in which they return to us to the unified fields of the old oral cultures, to tribal cohesion and pre-individualist patterns of thought, is little understood. Tribalism is the sense of the deep bond of family, the closed society as the norm of community.”

“Invention is the mother of all necessities.”

“Every innovation scraps its immediate predecessor and retrieves still older figures—it causes floods of antiques or nostalgic art forms and stimulates the search for museum pieces.”

“Omnipresence has become an ordinary human dimension.”

“Any loss of identity prompts people to seek reassurance and rediscovery of themselves by testing, and even by violence. Today, the electric revolution, the wired planet, and the information environment involve everybody in everybody to the point of individual extinction.”

“The most human thing about us is our technology.”

“After childhood, the senses specialize via the channels of dominant technologies and social weaponries.”

“The user of the electric light—or a hammer, or a language, or a book—is the content. As such, there is a total metamorphosis of the user by the interface. It is the metamorphosis that I consider the message.”

“The more data banks record about us, the less we exist.”

“The reader is the content of any poem or of the language he employs, and in order to use any of these forms, he must put them on.”

“In television, images are projected at you. You are the screen. The images wrap around you. You are the vanishing point.”

“If a work of art is to explore new environments, it is not to be regarded as a blueprint but rather as a form of action-painting.”

“When new technologies impose themselves on societies long habituated to older technologies, anxieties of all kinds result.”

“Instead of scurrying into a corner and wailing about what media are doing to us, one should charge straight ahead and kick them in the electrodes.”

“The business of art is no longer the communication of thoughts or feelings which are to be conceptually ordered, but a direct participation in an experience. The whole tendency of modern communication…is towards participation in a process, rather than apprehension of concepts.”

“There is a real, living unity in our time, as in any other, but it lies submerged under a superficial hubbub of sensation.”

“Poetry and the arts can’t exist in America. Mere exposure to the arts does nothing for a mentality which is incorrigibly dialectical. The vital tensions and nutritive action of ideogram remain inaccessible to this state of mind.”


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