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“The earwig when bisected fights itself. So with the arts”

February 8, 2011

For this post, a perhaps mercifully short entry. I know I tend to lengthly posts, but I do so under the premise that a reader may choose to read as much or as little as desired.

In an unrelated note, I’ve come across a small piece by B. W. Powe, one-time student of Marshall’s, and long-time friend of Eric’s. Bruce has written much on Marshall, and teaches a course at York University in Toronto on Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye – apparently the only course of its kind on offer. If I can get his permission, I will reproduce a small piece he wrote which was published in The Antigonish Review, #50 (Summer 1982), entitled “Marshall McLuhan: The Put-On”. It’s a very interesting, personal account of his encounter with Marshall in the late 70’s and provides his first-hand account of the last days of the Centre for Culture and Technology at UofT.

Found in the University of Toronto Quarterly, Volume XIX Number 2 from January 1950:

Tucked in the book was a sheaf of small pages of notes, and a sheet of paper with the following written on one side:

“If the poet has anything to teach us it can only do so
as present. We can only evaluate the past or illuminate it from
the point of view of the present. We can only correct the
bias of the present time by coming to know [that?]
it is a time, not the time. Each age has to recreate
Homer and Shakespeare in it’s own image. No mean task. Be-
Cause in so doing we have to become them.

The business of criticism is to get the reader into contact then to enable him to continue what he contacts. This is to assume no more for literature than for music. The critic teacher has to know at least as much about the technique and forms of literature as a symphony conductor about scores and instruments.

As for “delightful teaching” that assumes one level only. If modern critics neglect the moral, it is partly because nobody agrees about it. The renaissance humanists neglected logic…

In nineteenth century history and critics buttressed themselves with prestige of dom. [can’t read]

Today we do the same. In the 16th as in the 2nd century AD and 5th BC there was less temptation to do this because the circle of the arts was intact (temporarily).

The earwig when bisected fights itself. So with the arts.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Arthur McLuhan permalink
    May 6, 2011 11:19 pm

    Keep it up, cuz.

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