Marshall McLuhan Nonsense Cried Alice

"Now for the evidence," said the King, "and then the sentence." "No!" said the Queen, "first the sentence, and then the evidence!" "Nonsense!" cried Alice, so loudly that everybody jumped, "the idea of having the sentence first!"


Marshall McLuhan on Major Advances in Civilization

and how! 
"The major advances in civilization are processes
that all but wreck the societies in which they occur." 
A.N. Whitehead 

and how!


Marshall McLuhan on The Balinese

Do Well

The Balinese say:
"We have no art.
We do everything
as well as we can."
Museum curator:
"I wouldn't be seen dead
with a living work of art."

A. K. Coomaraswamy:
"We are proud of our
museums where we
display a way of living
that we have
made impossible."

The Establishment pays
homage to four anti-
environmental lads.
British Prime Minister
Wilson visits the Cavern
Club in Liverpool where
the Beatles got their
start. The museum has
become a storehouse of
human values, a cultural

Do Well


Marshall McLuhan on The Future

think forward
"It is the business
 of the future
 to be dangerous."
- A. N. Whitehead

think forward


Marshall McLuhan Jobs OR Roles


The youth of today are not permitted to approach
the traditional heritage of mankind through the door
of technological awareness. This only possible door
for them is slammed in their faces by a rear-view-
mirror society.

The young today live mythically and in depth. But
they encounter instruction in situations organized
by means of classified information—subjects are
unrelated, they are visually conceived in terms of
a blueprint. Many of our institutions suppress all
the natural direct experience of youth, who respond
with untaught delight to the poetry and the beauty
of the new technological environment, the environ-
ment of popular culture. It could be their door to
all past achievement if studied as an active (and
not necessarily benign) force.

The student finds no means of involvement for
himself and cannot discover how the educational
scheme relates to his mythic world of electronically
processed data and experience that his clear and
direct responses report.

It is a matter of the greatest urgency that our edu-
cational institutions realize that we now have civil
war among these environments created by media
other than the printed word. The classroom is now
in a vital struggle for survival with the immensely
persuasive "outside" world created by new informa-
tional media. Education must shift from instruction,
from imposing of stencils, to discovery —to probing
and exploration and to the recognition of the lan-
guage of forms.

The young today reject goals. They want roles—
R-O-L-E-S. That is, total involvement. They do not
want fragmented, specialized goals or jobs.

We now experience simultaneously the dropout
and the teach-in. The two forms are correlative.
They belong together. The teach-in represents an
attempt to shift education from instruction to dis-
covery, from brainwashing students to brainwash-
ing instructors. It is a big, dramatic reversal. Viet-
nam, as the content of the teach-in, is a very small
and perhaps misleading Red Herring. It really has
little to do with the teach-in, as such, anymore than
with the dropout.

The dropout represents a rejection of nineteenth-
century technology as manifested in our educa-
tional establishments. The teach-in represents a
creative effort, switching the educational process
from package to discovery. As the audience be-
comes a participant in the total electric drama,
the classroom can become a scene in which the
audience performs an enormous amount of work.



Marshall McLuhan on Occupations & Interests

"...compartmentalization of occupations and
interests bring about a separation of that mode
of activity commonly called 'practice' from 
insight, of imagination from executive 'doing.' 
Each of these activities is then assigned its own 
place which it must abide. Those who write 
the anatomy of experience then suppose that 
these divisions inhere in the very constitution 
of human nature."                 - John Dewey



Marshall McLuhan The Ear World


The ear favors no particular "point of view." We
are enveloped by sound. It forms a seamless web
around us. We say, "Music shall fill the air." We
never say, "Music shall fill a particular segment
of the air."

We hear sounds from everywhere, without ever
having to focus. Sounds come from "above," from
"below," from in "front" of us, from "behind" us,
from our "right," from our "left." We can't shut out
sound automatically. We simply are not equipped
with earlids. Where a visual space is an organized
continuum of a uniformed connected kind, the ear
world is a world of simultaneous relationships.



Marshall McLuhan on Bob Dylan

"Because something is happening
But you don't know what it is
Do you , Mister Jones?" - Bob Dylan


Marshall McLuhan The City Of The Future

The end of the line.
The railway radically altered the personal outlooks
and patterns of social interdependence. It bred
and nurtured the American Dream. It created to-
tally new urban, social, and family worlds. New
ways of work. New ways of management. New

The technology of the railway created the myth of a
green pasture world of innocence. It satisfied
man's desire to withdraw from society, symbolized
by the city, to a rural setting where he could
recover his animal and natural self. It was the pas-
toral ideal, a Jeffersonian world, an agrarian de-
mocracy which was intended to serve as a guide
to social policy. It gave us darkest suburbia and
its lasting symbol: the lawnmower.

The circuited city of the future will not be the huge
hunk of concentrated real estate created by the
railway. It will take on a totally new meaning under
conditions of very rapid movement. It will be an
information megalopolis. What remains of the con-
figuration of former "cities" will be very much
like World's Fairs—places in which to show off new
technology, not places of work or residence. They
will be preserved, museumlike, as living monu-
ments to the railway era. If we were to dispose of
the city now, future societies would reconstruct
them, like so-many Williamsburgs.

The end of the line.


Marshall McLuhan Information War

Some like it hot

Real, total war has become information war. It is
being fought by subtle electric informational media
—under cold conditions, and constantly. The cold
war is the real war front—a surround—involving
everybody —all the time —everywhere. Whenever
hot wars are necessary these days, we conduct
them in the backyards of the world with the old
technologies. These wars are happenings, tragic
games. It is no longer convenient, or suitable, to
use the latest technologies for fighting our wars,
because the latest technologies have rendered
war meaningless. The hydrogen bomb is history's
exclamation point. It ends an age-long sentence of
manifest violence!

Some like it cold.


Marshall McLuhan Propaganda Dialogue

See Dick, See Dick protest,

The environment as a processor of information is
propaganda. Propaganda ends where dialogue
begins. You must talk to the media, not to the pro-
grammer. To talk to the programmer is like com-
plaining to a hot dog vendor at a ballpark about
how badly your favorite team is playing.

"The west shall shake the east awake...
while ye have the night for morn..."
                                        -James Joyce 

Protest Dick! Protest!


Marshall McLuhan Amateur


Sneed Martin, Larson E. Whipsnade, Chester
Snavely, A. Pismo Clam, J. P. Pinkerton Snoop-
ington, Mahatma Kane Jeeves-he was always the
man on the flying trapeze. On the stage, on the
silver screen, all through his life, he swung between
the ridiculous and the sublime, using humor as
a probe.

Humor as a system of communications and as a
probe of our environment—of what's really going
on—affords us our most appealing anti-environ-
mental tool. It does not deal in theory, but in imme-
diate experience, and is often the best guide to
changing perceptions. Older societies thrived on
purely literary plots. They demanded story lines.
Today's humor, on the contrary, has no story line-
no sequence. It is usually a compressed overlay
of stories.


"My education was of the most ordinary descrip-
tion, consisting of little more than the rudiments
of reading, writing, and arithmetic at a common day
school. My hours out of school were passed at
home and in the streets." Michael Faraday, who
had little mathematics and no formal schooling
beyond the primary grades, is celebrated as an
experimenter who discovered the induction of
electricity. He was one of the great founders of
modern physics. It is generally acknowledged that

Faraday's ignorance of mathematics contributed
to his inspiration, that it compelled him to develop
a simple, nonmathematical concept when he looked
for an explanation of his electrical and magnetic
phenomena. Faraday had two qualities that more
than made up for his lack of education: fantastic
intuition and independence and originality of mind.

Professionalism is environmental. Amateurism is
anti-environmental. Professionalism merges the
individual into patterns of total environment.
Amateurism seeks the development of the total
awareness of the individual and the critical aware-
ness of the groundrules of society. The amateur
can afford to lose. The professional tends to
classify and to specialize, to accept uncritically the
groundrules of the environment. The groundrules
provided by the mass response of his colleagues
serve as a pervasive environment of which he is
contentedly and unaware. The "expert" is the man
who stays put.

"There are children playing in the street who could
solve some of my top problems in physics, because
they have modes of sensory perception that I lost
long ago."

—J. Robert Oppenheimer