Marshall McLuhan on a Variety of Topics

When I think of Herbert Marshall McLuhan, I think of the scene in a Woody Allen movie wherein Allen’s character (that is to say, Allen) and another character are in line to by movie-tickets, arguing about something Marshall McLuhan wrote or said. Suddenly McLuhan himself appears and attempts to settle the argument. I also think of Laugh-In, when Henry Gibson would occasionally say, “Marshall McLuhan, what are you doin’?”

That these are my two chief associations regarding McLuhan (in addition to the ultra-famous quotations) certainly affirm McLuhan’s view of our mediated, electronic world.

Some quotations, then, from MM:

All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.

American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver’s license age than at voting age.

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.

Appetite is essentially insatiable, and where it operates as a criterion of both action and enjoyment (that is, everywhere in the Western world since the sixteenth century) it will infallibly discover congenial agencies (mechanical and political) of expression.

Ideally, advertising aims at the goal of a programmed harmony among all human impulses and aspirations and endeavors. Using handicraft methods, it stretches out toward the ultimate electronic goal of a collective consciousness.

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.

The scientist rigorously defends his right to be ignorant of almost everything except his specialty.


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