A Miscellany of McLuhan
January 24, 2011
It gets tricky here. I am now sorting through Eric’s shelves of McLuhan books – enough rare and varied McLuhan books, off-prints, theses and personal copies of his books to make a McLuhan fan choke.
Some of these things are literally priceless. (I know, I know – but I meant that sincerely, not as a joke.) For instance, Marshall’s typescript of his thesis on Nashe, with his corrections, and two copies made when they first got a Xerox at the Centre for Culture and Technology, his little now-decrepit space at the University of Toronto. This is what my father Eric used to make the manuscript which would become The Classical Trivium: The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time (Ginko Press, 2006). The Ginko edition doesn’t give him any credit for that though – similarly, many people don’t know that my father wrote most of Culture is Our Business (and I’m not sure he would appreciate me pointing this out, but hey). It is also worth pointing out that Eric tried to get the Nashe thesis published for many years – decades, really – before Ginko finally did it.
A few items I’ve come across today:
The original first publication of Laws of Media, as an essay in a German magazine. This is an extremely rare item, and not well known.
“That’s the thing that dad and Ted [Edmund Carpenter] did, when we were at Fordham [University, New York City]” says Eric of the April 1968 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. It’s a very 60’s edition of the magazine. Marshall was at Fordham University at the time. See pages 150-166
“COUNTERBLAST” was a thin ‘privately printed’ short work, parts of which later appeared in Explorations magazine. Eric originally had a box full, but when my parent’s house burned down in 1999, it was lost with many other things, most unfortunately. Few copies remain. I’ve discovered that it’s being reprinted in an edition of 400 with an added preface, and an essay by Elena Lamberti at the end.
An oddly bound package containing a soft-cover work with a photo of Marshall on the cover:
“It was privately commissioned, not published”. Eric says. “It was commissioned by ABC. It was an interesting time, because nobody else has two anchors on one desk.” It is an interesting package, when opened contains a collection of short essays “Sharing the News – Friendly Teamness: Teeming Friendliness”; “The TV public is actor”; “TV is the matrix of ecology”; “Fact and fiction in news reporting”; “What is the meaning of this”; “What has happened”; “I as the witness”; “In TV news everything is background in depth: In the press the story is up front while the girl behind the guy behind the gun is real dirt – i.e. muck-raking”; You cannot commit TV alone – yeah team!”; Friendly teamness suggests audience as part of the game”; “Are sports good news? Is advertising good news?”; “The character of the unforgettable event: The double plot”; “Objectivity in the news … The horse drawn by a blind man would be a blotty gestalt”; and so on….
In The Diebold Research Program Professional Paper Series ‘Marshall McLuhan, Mike Wallace: A Dialogue’. There are several interesting bits of conversation, but one that strikes me is:
Mr. Wallace: What about playing Nostradamus for us? You talk about the rear view and you talk about the present.
Prof. McLuhan: The ‘future of’ is not so hard as it sounds, because the future of anything is already in the present. The ability to prophesy the future is simply the ability to look at the present.”
This is the transcript of a talk between Mike Wallace, of CBS News, and Marshall McLuhan as heard on the evening of September 13, 1966 in New York city at ‘The Twelfth Regular Meeting of The Diebold Group, Inc., convened at the Tavern on the Green, Central Park West at 10:15 o’clock.’ The publication bears this helpful information should you wish to get a copy: The Diebold Research Program Document Number PP10.
Apparently, at the end of the evening, they actually did have a horse-drawn carriage for Marshall to make his exit. This was, presumably, incredibly funny.
My apologies for the randomness, seeming lack of coherence to the above entries. It’s the nature of what I’m doing, and really, it’s the nature of Marshall’s later writing that seem to be strung-together puzzle pieces which don’t necessarily link together easily. Again, I’m not trying to present a polished linear text. It shows.
Thanks for reading,