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Marshall McLuhan at Fordham University Notes

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These are notes from the talks with Marshall McLuhan at Fordham University in the late 1960's. Brackets are used to interject thoughts that came to mind at the time. Those words in quotation marks are direct quotes from Marshall McLuhan unless otherwise noted. An approximate timestamp is given for reference.

Please note: Tape 5 is missing because it did not involve Dr. McLuhan.

Tape 2 - Marshall McLuhan 1967 Tribal Retrieval in the Electronic Age - Fordham University Taps #2 [360p].mp4

Tape 2 Source

16:50 Violence and identity.

23:00 “The body doesn't fit into an environment anymore, it makes the environment.” “What the reader sees is not what the reader hears.” — James Joyce

36:45 “War is the use of the total environment as a teaching machine. The classroom uses just one little bit of environment as teaching machine. But war uses the whole culture as teaching machine.”

39:00 “Why should I interrupt my education by going to school? And this is the great message of the turned on TV age. When you program the whole environment richly as educational machine, why going to that little nook or cranny, called a schoolroom, where you're going to be broken into little bits and study algebra.” [and the Internet age] He does not favor these developments.

Tape 3 - Marshall McLuhan 1967 Open Mind Surgery - Full lecture - For.mp4

Tape 3 Source

Is science fiction the past set in the future? Star Wars is described as a western or space opera. How does learning to read and write before the smartphone compare to learning after using the smartphone. Remakes and reboots are the result of our looking in the rearview mirror.

Tape 4 - Marshall McLuhan 1967 The global village's theater - Seminar - Fordham University Taps #4 [360p].mp4

Tape 4 Source

14:00 Drugs are the lazy man's attempt at Buddhism, inner thought. The nervous system outside is an information environment. Not like other technology that extended us. Life happens with many things at once like myth.

20:00 Discussion of war as implosion for Asia.

25:00 War serves affluence and wealth.

25:00 Blame is escapism.

Tape 6 - Marshall McLuhan 1967 Instant Morality In Earopen End - Seminar - Fordham University Tapes #6 [360p].mp4

Tape 6 Source

1:20 “If you push one sense down the others goes up. That's true for all the senses. So if you lower the lights you hear better.” [The Internet and processing of information has taken away our literate selves and reverting us to an aural tribe.]

26:10 “Civilized means visual.”

26:50 “War as educator is matched by education as warfare. In which you ruthlessly impose on other people a pattern of perception and feeling. Teach them how to behave. Teach them how to be neat and tidy. Teach them how to fit in. This is our own goal in education.”

28:00 Take out the visual hierarchy of the Roman Church and you have ecumenical reform that uses the other senses. An ecumenical love in. Familiar patterns and security is gone when there is change and it encourages violence.

Tape 7 - Marshall McLuhan 1968 - The Medium Is The Message A Dummies Guide - Fordham Tap #7 [360p].mp4

Tape 7 Source

2:30 “Every medium creates an environment and that is always invisible. You name it, any medium, whatever, creates a new environment which is invisible. And it is this medium, the hidden one, that is the message, in all cases. The message of all technologies is the environment that it creates.”

3:00 “It's fascinating simply because the new environments are always unnoticed by the people who live in them and who make them.”

21:00 “When you're totally involved in any situation you have no point of view. You have to have detachment, you have to be outside the situation to have a point of view.”

21:30 “This is the main form of achieving identity. Getting beaten up or beating somebody else up. It's what we call the educational system. The educational system is a form of warfare conducted against your nervous system. Trying to shape it and pattern into patterns which we approve of in which you have never heard of.”

24:30 - freewill

25:30 Death of God and not waking up to any existence, let alone God. Microphone and book amplifies a point of view if he didn't have a microphone he'd have a seminar.

27:00 can you have a point of view watching a movie [no, your point of view is given to you, it's spoon-fed maybe that's the same as not having a point of view when you are in the middle of it. but you are on the outside of the film, so why not have a point of view?]

31:00 Consultants and what is your business about. The drop-in (not drop-out), the consultant, can tell the person what their business is. The business person is too immersed to know.

32:00 - Detachment. Don't take a point of view. Every break down is a break through in disguise. Shear potential of new possibility.

34:00 What we call garbage is mostly wrapping paper, old cans and bottles.

35:30 Very little private consciousness left in the electric age and that's not a point of view. [you can't have privacy and electronic revolution (Internet) at the same time, it's one or the other. The desire for privacy tools are tools today for yesterday's problems. There is no privacy on the Web and the imperfection of humans will make imperfect tools that will not keep total privacy totally safe in a Web revolution. The tools are reactionary, not forward thinking. For privacy to really exist there must be a willingness from the people, no matter what level, to honor that privacy and respect it. Laws are just a way to punish the wrong doer and theatre to pacify the masses. It is not a conscious agreement to the importance and respect for privacy. Otherwise privacy is dead.]

40:00 In any new media you see the old one.

40:30 “Representational government is as finished as representational art.” This is not speculation but daily observation It's a break down so it's a break through. Consultants don't represent anything but their own specialty. All government is in the hands of such people and they are mostly unaware of each other. They don't have communication with themselves because they are so specialized.

42:25 The novel became nothing but a pop hit song 50 years ago. The narrative form is finished. Mythic and symbolic forms have taken over like Ulysses which was the end of the novel. The novel started 200 years ago. A long run as far as most forms go.

44:00 The mythic form is non-representational. The end of something is always the beginning of something. Stream-of-conscious is a movie newsreel. LSD is like TV, writing with light, an attempt to imamate chemically what you had you experienced in another medium.

47:00 Best way to keep up is to be way ahead. Why keep up when you can be way ahead.

Tape 8 - Marshall McLuhan 1968 - Through the Vanishing Point - Fordham University Tap #8 [360p].mp4

Tape 8 Source

6:00 “All our new technology is undermining literacy.”

8:00 No reason to go to work downtown other than habit when you have the telephone [computer].

8:45 The global village is not connected, it's all the cultures talking all at once.

10:20 Meaning is a relationship, not some input coming from a dictionary. It's knowing how that word works, you relate it to other things beyond the classified meaning. You experience it and live it. It's not an isolated event. The dictionary meaning is isolated. Experience is the meaning of meanings.

19:30 Rational space is connected. Irrational, intuitive, ESP, LSD - iconic, disconnected, all dreams. No pictorial connection or vanishing point. Because you're not using your eyes at all. You're using all your senses. What is the purpose of dreaming? Purification, purging by repetition. Newsreel of the day's experience in a cathodic repetition. If you don't have this (dreaming), you go out of your mind. (21:50) “Everybody in dreaming is a pure poet." (22:15) "In dreams you believe everything.”

34:00 “Every man is potentially an artist…”

37:30 “Most of us don't know how to make sense of our sensory lives…In every moment of our sensory experience we create wonderful works of art but it's all clouded because we don't know what to leave out. Art is making, not matching.”

38:30 Asian would say those in the west are always getting ready to live. We prepare for an event in the future that never happens (excluding religion). We spend all our time and energy getting ready to live. This is part of our visual programming. Making connection to everything, wanting to have a place for everything like a blueprint and has nothing to do with our inner being or needs.

40:00 “The artist is always a rebel.” [They would have to be.] Because ordinary perception is blank and blocked and the artist wants us to do the opposite (be alive). “Good taste is based entirely on classification. Is this the right kind of thing to have in one's home? Is this good art? Is this the right kind of object? Is it suitable to this or that?…'This is good taste' is based entirely on non-perception and panic fears about public opinion. Good taste is the exact opposite of perception.”

42:00 The artist makes you see yourself with a mask. Holds the mirror up to nature, he puts you on.

44:00 Asian art not to connect anything to anything but to "isolate the form meditatively". Therefore you have these little instances on the wall. “The ultimate development of all progress is stasis.”