catacomber (catacomber) wrote,
catacomber
catacomber

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McLuhan

Well, I just wrote an entire entry and then pressed "update" above and lost the whole thing. So now I'm going to give you a shitty recap of it because I'm so pissed off. to the brilliant person who designed this trick webpage: fuck you.

Basically, my argument is that McLuhan couldn't possibly have been that pessimistic because there is no way to have written and constructed the book without a certain amount of hope and a certain amount of affection for the type of work that was being done. Yes, it's true he does issue a series of serious caveats. His idea about the global village is not one of pure optimism. for example, he sees the impending loss of privacy as a major potential problem. But to understand the implications of his global village, you have to understand the way that he sees the "primitive", which is in lolling sanctity, unfortunately. He says the primitive eskimo draws a picture of a hunter on an ice floe with the contents of the water beneath it. Well, there are two implications I would like to point out abou this. One is that it is a romantic view of the primitive, which is an idea that no longer resonates. He compares this view with that of Picasso's brand of modern art. In fact, he uses modern art as a way of demonstrated the reality of this new/old dichotomy. It is an admiration, or at least an acknowledgment with a possibly positive inflection. We don't have to get carried away with the idea that McLuhan is a technophile, just that he is not all negative and in some ways definitely enthusiastic. So when you posit neo-primitivism with a simultaneous loss and gain of privacy and world view, respectively, you don't get the same brand of pessimism that you find in Harvey or Baudrillard.

With those two, you get something that is clearly a woe for the loss of the great stuffy academic past. Both of them adhere to linear and stodgy forms of academic discourse and make really no effort whatever to address the mass public. In this sense their work is primarily targeted to the inhabitants of the ivory tower. McLuhan has taken another approach: his work is directed toward everyone, and in that sense, the book becomes a hopeful guide for everyone in the new world. Of course, in this global sense, we haven't lost most of the traditional forms of modernism, but we are seeing an autopoiec sense of social progression. The world is advancing, or at least changing and modifying itself, but it is doing so in a way that is definitely not in line with what the old school guard had in mind. Alas, the members of utopia aren't wearing togas and carrying scrolls.

Sorry about the disorganized entry.

Anyway, point is this: You can't produce a work like Medium is Massage without a certain hopefulness and love of craft. It takes too much work and the imaginative inspirations that comprise so much of the formatting and layout ideas are just too loose and energetic to be the dour work of the over-worried. Baudrillard and Harvey can mire in the agony of oblivious humanity, but McLuhan has a much more humanistic vision about what things can be.
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