Difference between revisions of "September 20, 2019"

From Gerald R. Lucas
(Added more.)
(Lost what I wrote today. Tried to make it up a bit. More to do.)
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Mailer’s misgivings are evident in his conversation with Marshall McLuhan in 1968.<ref>{{cite AV media |people=Foley, Ken (Moderator) |date=1968 |chapter=Marshall McLuhan in Conversation with Norman Mailer |title=The Summer Way |type=Television production |language=English |url=http://www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/interview/1968-marshall-mcluhan-in-conversation-with-norman-mailer/index.html |chapter-url=http://www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/media/mcluhan_pdf_4_gOLK6yS.pdf |access-date=2019-09-20 |archive-url= |archive-date= |format= |time= |location= |publisher=Canadian Broadcasting Corporation |id= |isbn= |oclc= |quote= |ref= }}</ref> This is an odd “conversation” in that Mailer seems genuinely interested in debating the consequences of an increasingly high-tech world, while McLuhan seems aloof and de-centered — much like his writing — interested only in espousing pithy aphorisms and germane quotations to make himself look clever. Mailer here is smart and ready to get dirty while McLuhan is barely in the room.
 
Mailer’s misgivings are evident in his conversation with Marshall McLuhan in 1968.<ref>{{cite AV media |people=Foley, Ken (Moderator) |date=1968 |chapter=Marshall McLuhan in Conversation with Norman Mailer |title=The Summer Way |type=Television production |language=English |url=http://www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/interview/1968-marshall-mcluhan-in-conversation-with-norman-mailer/index.html |chapter-url=http://www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/media/mcluhan_pdf_4_gOLK6yS.pdf |access-date=2019-09-20 |archive-url= |archive-date= |format= |time= |location= |publisher=Canadian Broadcasting Corporation |id= |isbn= |oclc= |quote= |ref= }}</ref> This is an odd “conversation” in that Mailer seems genuinely interested in debating the consequences of an increasingly high-tech world, while McLuhan seems aloof and de-centered — much like his writing — interested only in espousing pithy aphorisms and germane quotations to make himself look clever. Mailer here is smart and ready to get dirty while McLuhan is barely in the room.
  
What’s potentially interesting about this conversation is that both men have something to contribute about the effects of science and technology on the contemporary world, but it ultimately seems to go nowhere. Maybe that’s the only place it could go, since any prognostications about the future are truly unique, having no historical analog for reference. While McLuhan has been regarded as a prophet of the Internet Age (suggesting his advocacy of it), his work offers a warning about the effects of technology on the unwary, so in this regard, he and Mailer are both cautious of the world’s increasing reliance on how modern conveniences are changing society.
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What’s potentially interesting about this conversation is that both men have something to contribute about the effects of science and technology on the contemporary world, but it ultimately seems to go nowhere. Maybe that’s the only place it could go, since any prognostications about the future are truly unique, having no historical analog for reference. While McLuhan has been regarded as a prophet of the Internet Age (suggesting his advocacy of it), his work offers a warning about the effects of technology on the unwary, so in this regard, he and Mailer are both cautious of the world’s increasing reliance on how modern conveniences are changing society.{{efn|Perhaps the greatest distinction in their analyses is that while McLuhan feels the world is already a product of media saturation, Mailer still feels that there’s a genuine-ness to be gleaned and fought for.}}
  
 
McLuhan’s most famous assertion “[[McLuhan's Medium & Message|the medium is the message]]” gives technology a kind of agency that has the “power of imposing its own assumption on the unwary.”<ref>{{cite book |last=McLuhan |first=Marshall |date=1964 |title=Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man |url=https://archive.org/details/understandingmed0000mclu |location=New York |publisher=McGraw-Hill |pages=7, 15 |isbn= |author-link= |ref=harv }}</ref> McLuhan’s world is one already mediated by technology to such an extent that we only understand nature though our representations of it, so that “the environment is now technological thing.”{{sfn|Foley|1968|p=8}} McLuhan extends this observation into space: a world observed through the ubiquitous eyes of satellites ceases to be a part of nature, but becomes “an artwork” — information gleaned through the screen.{{sfn|Foley|1968|pp=3–4}} For McLuhan the “environment is not visible. It’s information. It’s electronic.”{{sfn|Foley|1968|p=4}}
 
McLuhan’s most famous assertion “[[McLuhan's Medium & Message|the medium is the message]]” gives technology a kind of agency that has the “power of imposing its own assumption on the unwary.”<ref>{{cite book |last=McLuhan |first=Marshall |date=1964 |title=Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man |url=https://archive.org/details/understandingmed0000mclu |location=New York |publisher=McGraw-Hill |pages=7, 15 |isbn= |author-link= |ref=harv }}</ref> McLuhan’s world is one already mediated by technology to such an extent that we only understand nature though our representations of it, so that “the environment is now technological thing.”{{sfn|Foley|1968|p=8}} McLuhan extends this observation into space: a world observed through the ubiquitous eyes of satellites ceases to be a part of nature, but becomes “an artwork” — information gleaned through the screen.{{sfn|Foley|1968|pp=3–4}} For McLuhan the “environment is not visible. It’s information. It’s electronic.”{{sfn|Foley|1968|p=4}}
  
==References==
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For McLuhan, the artists deal in simulacra. Mailer, however, still sees the artist as a type of mage that can penetrate the surface to get to what’s genuine beneath. Mailer’s hero is the novelist, but one that is being superseded at a rapid pace by the hero of the late-sixties: the astronaut. Mailer’s concerns are detailed in his last book of the sixties: ''Of a Fire on the Moon''. Herein, Mailer becomes like the epic poet. . .
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===Notes===
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===References===
 
{{Reflist}}
 
{{Reflist}}
 
  
 
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Revision as of 19:01, 4 October 2019

The Psychology of the Machine: Some Thoughts on Mailer and McLuhan

By the end of the sixties, Mailer was observing the end of the world. For Mailer, the sixties brought with it the steady erosion of the artist’s world to that of the scientist. Mailer observed that the novel was becoming less significant than the TV, that protest had culminated into violent demonstrations in civil rights and politics, that technological progress seemed to be gutting a more genuine existence of sensuality, risk, and self-discovery and replacing it with a sterile world of plastic and circuits that promised efficiency and equality but portended totalitarianism at best and apocalypse at worst.

Mailer’s misgivings are evident in his conversation with Marshall McLuhan in 1968.[2] This is an odd “conversation” in that Mailer seems genuinely interested in debating the consequences of an increasingly high-tech world, while McLuhan seems aloof and de-centered — much like his writing — interested only in espousing pithy aphorisms and germane quotations to make himself look clever. Mailer here is smart and ready to get dirty while McLuhan is barely in the room.

What’s potentially interesting about this conversation is that both men have something to contribute about the effects of science and technology on the contemporary world, but it ultimately seems to go nowhere. Maybe that’s the only place it could go, since any prognostications about the future are truly unique, having no historical analog for reference. While McLuhan has been regarded as a prophet of the Internet Age (suggesting his advocacy of it), his work offers a warning about the effects of technology on the unwary, so in this regard, he and Mailer are both cautious of the world’s increasing reliance on how modern conveniences are changing society.[a]

McLuhan’s most famous assertion “the medium is the message” gives technology a kind of agency that has the “power of imposing its own assumption on the unwary.”[3] McLuhan’s world is one already mediated by technology to such an extent that we only understand nature though our representations of it, so that “the environment is now technological thing.”[4] McLuhan extends this observation into space: a world observed through the ubiquitous eyes of satellites ceases to be a part of nature, but becomes “an artwork” — information gleaned through the screen.[5] For McLuhan the “environment is not visible. It’s information. It’s electronic.”[6]

For McLuhan, the artists deal in simulacra. Mailer, however, still sees the artist as a type of mage that can penetrate the surface to get to what’s genuine beneath. Mailer’s hero is the novelist, but one that is being superseded at a rapid pace by the hero of the late-sixties: the astronaut. Mailer’s concerns are detailed in his last book of the sixties: Of a Fire on the Moon. Herein, Mailer becomes like the epic poet. . .

Notes

  1. Perhaps the greatest distinction in their analyses is that while McLuhan feels the world is already a product of media saturation, Mailer still feels that there’s a genuine-ness to be gleaned and fought for.

References

  1. Mailer, Norman (1994) [1968]. The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History. New York: Plume. p. 176.
  2. Foley, Ken (Moderator) (1968). "Marshall McLuhan in Conversation with Norman Mailer" (PDF). The Summer Way (Television production). Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  3. McLuhan, Marshall (1964). Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 7, 15.
  4. Foley 1968, p. 8.
  5. Foley 1968, pp. 3–4.
  6. Foley 1968, p. 4.