Words of Wisdom:

"Heck is a place for people who don't believe in gosh." - Dwayne


  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 09:07 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 50.4 
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Author and social theorist Tom Wolfe once commented on Canadian professor Marshal McLuhan’s mantra, “the medium is the message” saying:

The new technologies…radically alter the entire way people use their five senses, the way they react to things, and therefore, their entire lives and the entire society.   It doesn’t matter what the content of a medium like t.v. is… 20 hours a day of sadistic cowboys caving in peoples teeth or… Pablo Casals droning away on his cello.

How is it that violence and the arts are effective in the same manner?   Wouldn’t the content be the most important factor in analyzing a television program?   To understand Marshall McLuhan’s theories the reader must not be concerned with the symbolic content of what is being said or the cosmetic interpretation of the actual show but rather, look deeper into the whole infrastructure of the medium itself.

McLuhan was prone to thinking up “clever” analogies and plays on words; and describing the content of a medium was no different.   He described it as “the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.”   We are the content of our media because the way we live life is largely a function of the way we process information.   That information is presented and made available by way of a certain medium.   In turn, each medium delivers a new message and a new form of human being, whose qualities are suited to it.   The same words spoken face to face, printed on paper, or presented on television provide three different messages simply because of the different senses used to perceive it.

McLuhan thought primary channels of communication change the way we look at the world around us.   The dominant medium of any age governs people and reconnects modes of relationships with the world based on which sensory motor apparatus is being activated.   Dominant epochs spring from the phonetic alphabet, printing press, and the telegraph, which were...


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