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On George Meredith

January 28, 2011

January 21, 2011

George Meredith

Marshall McLuhan did his Ph. D. thesis on Nashe – (The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of his Time. Ginko Press published it as The Classical Trivium: The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time, edited by W. Terrence Gordon, Ginko Press 2003) – but he wrote his MA thesis on a now little-known writer, George Meredith.

Marshall’s personal library contains about 30 volumes of Meredith, including his 1917 Student’s Library copy of The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, which has many quotations hand-written inside, for instance:

Oscar Wilde:
“Ah Meredith! Who can de-
fine him? His style is chaos ill-
umined by flashes of lightening. As
a writer he has mastered ever-
ything except language; as a
novelist he can do ev. except tell
a story; as an artist he is ev.
except articulate.”

In the back of the book, more writing, but this time I believe it’s Marshall:

“While Meredith has discovered
in egoism and sentimentalism
the richest comic field extant,
I am not at all convinced that
healthy primal feelings are things
to be ashamed of because they play
strange tricks when placed in an
artificial atmosphere. Doubtless they
are profoundly comic but which
are we to change – the emotions
or their artificial environment.
In his essay on comedy Meredith
assumes for himself and all
“sane persons” that we shall regard
our “civilization as rooted in
common sense.” I do not concur
nor would G. K. C., I’m sure. As    [G. K. Chesterton]
Chesterton has pointed out Browning
was composed of great primal emotions
love, fellowship, Homeric laughter
and heroic physical vigor. The society
that tends to render these qualities
bestial, or fatal to other people, is
a damned poor show and the sooner
the scenery is changed the better.
Meredith in his idolatry of the Comic
Spirit failed to see that it was
nourished by conditions in themselves
unfortunate. Social comedy is always
a product distilled from shallow
babbling waters. When and where the waters
are running deeper we get Falstaff’s
Bottom’s, Dogberries, etc. Malvalior
Sir Toby’s, Jacques, Agreecheek’s
Pickwicks, Weggs and Micawbers.”

Those last lines may not be accurately transcribed by myself, but I’m pretty sure they are. That said, I have no idea what that’s all about.

A couple of the other Meredith books also have writings in them, which I suspect amount to a draft of Marshall’s thesis. I’m not going to devote more time to this subject right now, as to transcribe it all would take too much time, and the purpose of this log is not to provide a complete record of what I come across – indeed, that would take many years – but to provide a sampling, a glimpse into Marshall McLuhan’s thoughts as documented by himself in the pages of his personal library.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew.

‘They were awed by Empson, like rustics.’

January 18, 2011

January 13, 2011

It is a particular delight when I come across something more than marginal notations in my cataloging of the library. Sometimes it will be an enigmatic short notation, such as “urban congestion as psychedelic anesthesia” (see previous post so-titled). Other times it will be hand-written quotes from other authors like G. K. Chesterton. Coming across something personal like the slightly-over-a-page note below, is quite rare – I’ve gone through over 600 books now, and this is the first example I’ve seen thus far.

The Cast:

Northrop Fry was a colleague of Marshall’s at UofT. They had a famous rivalry, which, as I don’t completely understand it, I won’t try to illustrate it here.

Wimsatt is William K. Wimsatt, Jr. The library contains several of his books on Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson, gifts of the author with nice inscriptions, for instance in The Portraits of Alexander Pope: “For Marshall and Corinne, This accidental exercise in non-visual seeing, with affectionate greetings from Bill and Margaret, 12 April 1966”

‘Richards’ is I. A. Richards, professor at Cambridge University when Marshall attended,  the author of Practical Criticism – hugely influential in Marshall’s intellectual development and work.

Before Marshall published The Mechanical Bride, and became involved with media and communication theory, he was a literary critic. A lot of the books in his library are review copies sent by publishers or authors hopeful of a McLuhan review. Many people don’t realize what a formidable writer he was, because many people only know Marshall though sound bytes or more well-known works like The Mechanical Bride, or The Medium is the Massage.

But reviews and critical essays are where Marshall McLuhan started. Eugene McNamara edited together a collection titled: The Interior Landscape: The Literary Criticism of Marshall McLuhan 1943-1962 (McGraw-Hill, 1969)

In his preface to The Interior Landscape, McNamara writes: “Obviously literature has mattered to Professor McLuhan. No objective survey of his writings over the past thirty years could deny that. But his probes of the new media have unfortunately drawn to him the very forces he excoriated in The Mechanical Bride. In the pop mind, he has become the archetype of the post-Gutenberg critic, a ‘Pop Philosopher’ or ‘Media Prophet.’ This present selection, one hopes, will be a step toward the rectification of a crude cartoon, and a re-establishment of a truer picture, of Marshall McLuhan as a distinguished and perceptive literary critic.”

In his forward to The Interior Landscape, Marshall writes: “Cambridge was a shock. Richards, Leavis, Eliot and Pound and Joyce in a few weeks opened the doors of perception on the poetic process, and its role in adjusting the reader to the contemporary world. My study of media began and is rooted in the work of these men.”

Without further digression, here’s what’s written inside the front cover of Marshall’s copy of Some Versions of Pastoral by William Empson (1935, London: Chatto and Windus).

“When visiting U of T in the spring of 1973 Empson
and Frye and Wimsatt and myself had dinner.
It was then that Empson told of the days when he had
began supervisions under Richards. He said that he
was in the habit of regaling his undergrad friends
after each supervision with a detailed account of
what he and they regarded as Richards’ utter absurdity.
They would literally roll on the grass, howling with
merriment as the crazy psychological and ling-
uistic ideas were reviewed. Empson said it was
more than a year before he began to detect some
sense in I.A.R.
Empson spent the year 1973 as visiting professor at York
Corinne and
being completely ignored by U of T. ^ I had him to dinner
with Claude Bissell and then came and invitation to
lecture at U of T. He gave an unforgettable lecture on
“the secret marriage of Andrew Marvell. Marvell was a
political double agent for England Holland etc., and a
hater of women. His secret marriage was motivated in
part by tax problems, partly by his getting married to
his landlady. The political complications exceeded all
varieties of ambiguity. Empson is very noticably deaf
and has a big white moustache and the florid
face of a Col. Blimp. Typically, Wimsatt
and Frye played coy at dinner, and after, having
nothing to say on any subject. They were awed
by Empson, like rustics. Wimsatt has “attacked”
Frye in print, as I have, but they were
unable to rally any social grace. Empson spoke
of his essays as “occasional raids on Eng Lit.”
Mrs. Empson is a refreshingly open and
boistrous gal socially. Very plain but vivacious.
Both urged us to visit them in London.”

Thanks for reading,

Andrew.

Mechanisms for shaping sensibility

January 12, 2011

January 10, 2011

I am excited to be able to share this with you, dear reader.

I came upon this flexidisk included in a magazine: arts/canada No. 114, November 1967. The items were in their original clear plastic case which I slit open, over 40 years after it was sealed. I couldn’t resist. The magazine features an article on “Electromedia: a movement”, and includes a separate several-page colour edition of [former student of Marshall McLuhan’s at UofT] Sheila Watson’s essay: “The Great War: Wyndham Lewis and the underground press”, as well as many war-era drawings of Lewis’ and a couple portraits. [Lewis’ portrait of Marshall is dear to me.]

The flexidisk is two things: an interview with Marshall, and Lewis reading excerpts from his book of poetry, One-Way Song. I edited my transcript a little to cut out some of the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.

“…here’s Marshall McLuhan recalling his experience in recording Lewis reading.”

“In St. Louis, Lewis came down to visit and to do some paintings [Marshall had arranged several portrait commissions for Lewis in St. Louis where Marshall was teaching. I don’t know exactly how Marshall and Wyndham became acquainted, but I will try and get the story from Eric and relate it to you in a future post] and I managed to persuade him to read something from One-Way Song for our little home recorder. And, um, it was most interesting to observe Lewis upon hearing his own voice – he simply roared with laughter: in all the years preceeding it had never occurred to him that he had essentially an English voice. Anyone who reads Lewis doesn’t tend to get a strong English effect or English annunciation from his prose. And Lewis himself, apparently had nourished the idea that he spoke with a rugged American accent. And so he just went into fits of laughter when he heard this very English voice come forth. And upon hearing the Harvard recording [I thought Marshall recorded it?] myself just now I too was surprised at just how English he sounded, because after years of taking with Lewis, I had forgotten altogether that he had an English voice. He didn’t bear down on his English character at all. He was very fond of opera and, um, he would occasionally produce a trill or two in that direction. But I wasn’t, I’m not, after all, I wasn’t, ah, in his presence day and night as it were, but um I can certainly recall his breaking out into song occasionally, but often to illustrate a point. He would use some operatic aria just to theme in some discussion. I think Lewis thought of his work as having immediate relevance to decision-making at the highest levels of human affairs and naturally felt somewhat frustrated that his kinds of perceptions could not be made available at decision-making at very high levels.”

End of side one. Marshall certainly felt the same way, that he had much to contribute to decision-making at very high levels. He befriended Pierre Trudeau before Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada, a friendship which carried through the rest of his life. Trudeau would have dinner with the McLuhans at their Wychwood Park house [number 3, beside the pond if you want a nice walk. The sale of that house after Corinne McLuhan’s death made me very sad – I thought it should have been preserved as a historic site, but it was not nearly my decision] and even attended some of the famous Monday Night seminars. Trudeau consulted with Marshall often, but I can imagine that he took many suggestions with more than a single grain of salt. No question, Marshall was brilliant – but he also had a lot of wacky ideas.

The interview continues on side 2.

“We asked Marshall McLuhan what influence Wyndham Lewis had on him.”

“Good heavens, that’s where I got it – it was Lewis who put me on to all this study of the environment as an educational, as a teaching machine. To use our more recent terminology, Lewis was the person who showed me that the man-made environment was a teaching machine – a programmed teaching machine. But earlier, you see, the Symbolists [Mallarmé, de Nerval, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Laforgue, et cie, late 19th century] had discovered that the work of art was a programmed teaching machine. It’s a mechanism for shaping sensibility. Well Lewis simply extended this private art activity to the corporate activity of the whole society in making environments that basically were artifacts, or works of art, and that acted as teaching machines on the whole population.”

“Why was this book of poems called One-Way Song?”

“In many of his writings he asserts the primacy of the visual in his perception, and his general feeling of preference for the visual over the other senses – his feeling was that the passion for musical form in the later nineteenth century and in his own time betrayed this, betrayed our traditional visual values. Now the clue then to One-Way Song may be in the fact that the visual sense is the only sense we have that is continuous and connected. All the other senses are discontinuous, whether touch – which every moment of which is different from every other moment; or hearing, which is discontinuous. The interval is necessary for the very act of hearing. In sight alone, or in the visual alone, is there a continuum – a connected universe, that we associate with rationality and detachment. But One-Way Song seems to draw attention to these qualities of rationality and detachment, and continuity and connectedness in thought and perception.”

What an amazing opportunity for me to hear my grandfather’s voice – not to mention his thoughts on Lewis’ poetry. In the preceeding part of the interview, we hear Marshall credit Wyndham Lewis with putting him on the track of the study of environments as teaching machines. Listening to interviews through the years, one can hear Marshall give credit where credit is due when it comes to his ideas. So much for criticism that he simply stole ideas from others without crediting the source: he did it all the time.

[A friend recently asked me where would be a good starting point to begin to get to know McLuhan’s work. I initially suggested starting with Understanding Media, but then suggested looking up interviews on Youtube (they abound) as, in my opinion, Marshall was most approachable in conversation. Reading McLuhan requires much more from you.]

Hearing Lewis read is a treat for me also. Many years ago I read his Human Age trilogy. It went way over my head, but I stubbornly read the entire thing anyway. I suppose I could read it through again now and try to get more out of it. Maybe now I will read it with his voice in mind.

Side one:

Side two:

Urban congestion as psychedelic anesthesia

January 9, 2011

January 4, 2011

Happy New Year. It’s belatedly looking a lot like Christmas – a lot of snow has fallen today making the drive out here from Picton this morning slow and interesting.

Eric’s only come in this afternoon – he’s not been feeling well. His health has always been fragile – at a very young age he was confined to his bed for quite a long time, and over the years has had serious health problems, mostly as a consequence of diabetes.

One time, many years ago now, he was hospitalized, and it is amazing that he pulled through. I will never forget being at his hospital bedside while a priest read his last rites.

Last year, while traveling with him in Poland, he had a close call one morning in Krakov. He came to find me having a morning cigarette outside the hotel, to tell me he’d taken the wrong insulin. Disaster was narrowly averted (thanks to the hotel restaurant’s ready supply of orange juice fortified with sugar packets, and our guide Fr. Jacek who helped me get him through the hospital after, to make sure).

The preceeding words are to illustrate yet more reasons I feel lucky to be able to work here in the scriptorium with my father.

Today I’ve finished cataloging Marshall’s Pound collection and am moving on to T. S. Eliot.

The Canetti Book, ‘Crowds and Power’, shown here, is a good example of the kind of thing I am lucky enough to see every day. Inside the cover, where he signs his name, Marshall writes “urban congestion as psychedelic anesthesia”. Often times, Marshall’s notations are just page references, or grabbed quotes. On occasion though, you find a little gem like this.

"urban congestion as psychedelic anesthesia"

McL/ git on with the job/

December 31, 2010

December 31 MMX

Today I’m on the Pound shelves. I’m working on cataloging the books mixed with Eric’s on his own shelves, before tackling the many still in old boxes – some have not seen the light of day since after Marshall’s death when they were packed up from his office in the Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto, or from his home office.

Speaking of Marshall’s death, it happened thirty years ago today, New Year’s Eve. Requiescat in pace.

Ezra Pound typed, in a letter to Marshall McLuhan that I found tucked between the pages of a book on Pound (Ezra Pound and the Cantos, by Harold H. Watts) mailed from Washington in 1953:

McL/

the laBOUrers in deh lard’s gaden are few / ergo McL ought
not to sink into dessuetude and leave all the woik to his STAR
puPIL.

The letter, two typed pages, is complex. Not sure what most of it means, but the tone is almost confrontational – not surprising, as Pound was apparently a cantankerous feller. I’m sure that’s putting it nicely. Reading the following:

—***
they yell fascism / but not one damn word in ten years
re/ corporate state /
in which the idea is that people vote
on what they understand / and that the REPRESENTATIVES of
the different kinds of understanders/ i/e those
who understand DIFFERENT activities/ then assemble and
work out a just agreement.

which the sewer smears as tyranny / having tricked
the sm/ peopl/ OUT of all voice in their real govt.

AND the men who know,REALLY , some detail        , are kept

from meeting and intercommunication, which (^obstruct) causes
time lag. which gives the crooks time to operate
unhindered.

The aim of LAW is to prevent coercion either by force or by
fraud.
McL/ git on with the job/

One can see why he eventually had to flee the United States.

A browse through the published letters Marshall wrote to Ezra Pound shows they spoke on a variety of subjects (Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, Oxford University Press). Marshall also wrote to Mrs. Pound, and his letters to Ezra began with ‘Dear Pound’ and ended with ‘Cordially yrs.,’. So Marshall held him in esteem, though I’m not sure the same was true for Pound. The letters in the book are now located at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa, where you will have to travel to see the letters to Marshall from the people he corresponded with. I think the book would have been more interesting if it showed some of the letters Marshall received from the people he wrote to…which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with Letters of MM.

As I ring in the new year in Picton, I will take a few moments to think of the man I can’t remember, but am proud and honoured to be getting to know.

Requiscat in pace
Herbert Marshall McLuhan
July 20, 1911 to December 31st 1980

Andrew.

McLuhan for Dummies

December 29, 2010

December 28th, MMX

The first workday since Christmas, and it is quiet in Scriptorium. Eric is in the house grading papers from the Harris Institute in front of the fire, Finnegan (the Golden Retriever) and Mr. Bean (the insane Jack Russell terrier) at his feet or thereabouts.

I am cataloging books, currently The Limerick by G. Legman. The book was a gift from Marshall’s daughter Stephanie on his 1975 birthday….64th? Legman wrote another book, Rationale of the Dirty Joke: an Analysis of Sexual Humor (1968, Grove Press) in which he devotes most of page 29 to what Eric tells me is a fairly typical slam of Marshall. It’s amazing how wrongly Legman portrays Marshall and his work – in fact, if you want to ‘understand McLuhan’ you can pretty much just take this excerpt, extrapolate the exact opposite interpretation, and there you have it.

I mentioned to Eric that I can’t understand how people got Marshall so wrong, especially the typical error that Marshall was against books and for electric media like television: nothing could be further from the truth, further from what he said so many times. Eric’s response was that people were either unable to, or too lazy to really make the effort to understand Marshall’s work, and tended to parrot what other critics said.

I get that. It’s not easy to ‘get it’. But then Marshall was not interested in making anything easy to understand, and why should he? He worked hard to develop his theories, his books were laboriously composed and revised endlessly. So he made, and makes, you work to understand… and I think one feels more satisfied to achieve something with hard work rather than having it handed to them. It did, however cause a lot of grief for him. But you know what? Good for him for not making it easy.

I will not quote from Annie Hall – at least, not today.

This says it well:

“Marshall McLuhan, who has gained a reputation as an enemy of books because he has called them obsolete while concentrating his analysis of communication media on the electric variety, is, in fact, a man of the book as much as any librarian; although librarians have tended to ignore him, considering him to have no relevance for their ‘science’. This is to their detriment. Not only is the format of his books of interest, as a mirror of his message, but there is also evidence that his purpose is and has been from the beginning to find the peculiar qualities of print and books which make them necessary to man. He finds these qualities not in the content but in the form; qualities which provide the sensory balance of objectivity and perspective as opposed to the field perceptivity of television. In tracing the evidence of McLuhan’s concern for the future of the book, we can see him as one who has, perhaps, a greater perception of the value of books and libraries, for civilization, than many librarians.”
-Abstract, Books and Marshall McLuhan, Sam Neill in the Library Quarterly Vol. 41, No. 4, October 1971

I remember some years ago the Estate was approached by the ‘for dummies’ book people to do a McLuhan for Dummies book. My grandmother, Corinne, refused – and rightly so. McLuhan’s not for people who want easy answers. Sanctioning a ‘for dummies’ book would be an insult to Marshall’s memory and work.

For my part, I didn’t always understand that. I thought for a long time about a project to ‘translate’ McLuhan so that people could more easily understand his work. Not only was this highly presumptuous on my part – if I could actually pull such a thing off, it would probably take most of my lifetime – it would be the equivalent of writing McLuhan for Dummies. At the time though, I thought it was a way to make McLuhan more accessible… which is actually another way of saying ‘dumbing it down’.

Understanding the work of Marshall McLuhan is not easy, but it is rewarding. Coming to understand the concept of figure and ground (which I am told came from the concept of center with/without margin, from economics) has made me see the world in different ways. Coming to view media as environments kind of blew my mind.

Just a side note on my use of addressing my father as ‘Eric’ or ‘dad’. I know I’ve not been consistent with this, and am still not sure which to use. ‘Dad’ is right to me, as that’s what I call him, but ‘Eric’ is more appropriate perhaps in this context. I’ll probably continue to use both.

Andrew.

Non Sequitur

December 28, 2010

Dec. 22/10 “He deliberately modeled his style on Macaulay … his early style, anyway. I’m going to turn some heat on.”

Dad said this as I was entering “Miscellaneous Essays and the Lays of Ancient Rome” by Thomas Babington Macaulay (Everyman vol. 439, 1926)

On page 526 of the volume, Marshall writes:
“The effect of the poem is greatly heightened
if the circumstances under which it was
written are justly estimated”

This is a heavily-annotated volume, typical of his Cambridge-years books bought in the early to mid nineteen-thirties in England. Marshall writes several long pieces, and makes small margin notes, observations, and quotes. There are several G.K. Chesterton quotes written in.

The job of cataloging HMM’s library is less arduous than fascinating. It is a pity that I can’t take the time to leaf thoroughly through every book – so many of them have margin notes; newspaper clippings which would have either interested Marshall, or that he would have considered relevant to that book or author. But there are too many books to catalogue, and i’m supposed to finish it as soon as possible.

I read a bit about the man who catalogued James Joyce’s working library for the University of Buffalo. He went through it page by page and made precise notes of every little annotation Joyce made. Mind you, the total library consists of less than 500 volumes, and I’m looking at 5,000.

“Something you should know: sand, cat litter, makes a wonderful vise for holding something at an unusual angle” – on repairing a butter-dish lid for my mother, Sabina.

The lid of the butter dish has a ceramic bee, which had a wing broken off. Dad likes to repair things, which is fine except when the object is a lamp, which makes us nervous… not that he’s not competent to do minor electrical work, it’s just… sure, repair a butter dish, but get a professional to do electrical, right?

So dad shows me this plastic container which had some cat litter in it, which he had used to support the butter dish lid as he glued it and it dried. I can only hope it was not used litter. I’m fairly sure it was not.

The litter was on hand on account of Hector, the ghostly mascot here in the Scriptorium. Hector is a beautiful male tabby cat with a distinctive white tip on the end of his tail. Many years ago, my sister Emily brought him and another cat to my parent’s place here in the County (at the time they were living in their first Prince Edward County home, the Bowerman Church at Bowerman’s corners). The other cat took off, but Hector remained.  Who knows why… he’s not the friendliest cat. In fact, he hides from most mortals, and only usually comes out when no one’s around, or when it’s just my dad. For some reason, he only lets dad get near him. I’ve seen my dad interacting with Hector (you have to be very sneaky to get a look) – petting him and making little noises. I dubbed him The Cat Whisperer for that.

I have a pet salamander (Mr. Salads, or Suleiman the Magnificent) who is much the same: I only know Hector is around because he food and water get consumed, and the litter box gets dirty – though in Salads’ case, it’s his four weekly crickets which disappear.

Dad sits at his desk and types away at one of his many current projects. He listens to classical music on his stereo. Or maybe he’s spamming his friends with jokes of questionable taste. His upright piano sits silently against the wall – he’s a great pianist with a surprising repertoire of show tunes, jazz classics. He doesn’t play so much these days due to arthritis; and bad circulation due to diabetes.

This coming July is the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth, and this December 31st, New Year’s Eve, is the 30th anniversary of his death. As his bronze tombstone, cast by Sorel Etrog reads: The truth shall make you free.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from the Scriptorium.

Andrew.

First things

December 21, 2010

Herbert Marshall McLuhan: born in Edmonton, Alberta, July 21 1911

Thomas Eric Marshall McLuhan: born in St. Louis, Missouri, January 19 1942

Andrew Ellis Marshall McLuhan: born in Toronto, Ontario, July 9 1978

In the late 1960s, fresh out of the United States Air Force, Eric began working with his father Marshall. Thus started a working relationship which would see Eric move from research assistant to co-author and many roles in-between. The story of their collaboration and its depth and importance to the work of Marshall McLuhan is largely unknown.

In around 2008, fresh out of sufficient employment, I went to work with my father Eric as assistant and odd-jobber. I began the task of fact-checking his compiled comprehensive bibliography of the works of Marshall McLuhan, from his University of Manitoba days to his death in 1980, and beyond to include posthumous publications and works about him.

Since beginning work in The Scriptorium (as his converted barn near Bloomfield, Ontario is known) I have taken on many other projects and tasks which include traveling around the world when he (sadly, too rarely) is asked to speak at some school or conference; rides to and from the Belleville train station as he continues to teach English (a cross between remedial English and business writing) at Toronto’s Harris Institute; general grounds maintenance around the farm.

Most recently I have put other projects aside as I have begun a long-overdue task: the cataloging of the working library of Marshall McLuhan. This library is a many-thousand volume collection of books which represent in a sense the tools of Marshall’s (and Eric’s) trade. Between these pages are contained evidence of Marshall’s intellectual development, relationships with his peers, friends, and family, the genesis of his discoveries in so many subjects. Eric was given it in Marshall’s will. It is less a task then a fascinating journey which it is my privilege to take.

‘Privilege’ is an apt word for how I feel about this work.

Not many have such an opportunity to get to know their family this way. Being only two years old when Marshall died, I am able to get to know him in such interesting ways – a huge privilege.

Working with my father Eric – a great man; a giant of a scholar of a rare kind; a humble man who is so undervalued as to be a tragic figure. Only a few people in the world truly realise what a resource he is: no one worked as closely with Marshall, no one understood (or understands) him and his work as intimately.

When I hear about all the events being planned for the centenary of Marshall’s birth next year, literally hundreds of events around the world, knowing that only a couple have approached my father to participate, it honestly saddens me. People, it seems, are ignorant of the fact that Marshall McLuhan’s work did not end with his death, but continues daily through Eric McLuhan. There is no one alive who is more knowledgable or more qualified to talk about Marshall McLuhan or his work.

This is not a surprise, really, but a tragedy. At his peak of fame, few really wanted to hear what Marshall had to say, they just wanted to hear him say it.

I digress and offer my apologies. My father more than filled his father’s shoes, and I know I will never be able to do the same. What I can do is pay attention and learn as much as possible, drawing out my father with questions, learning about the history of an intellectual collaboration of father and son such as the world has never, to my knowledge, seen – to be able to add, if not scholarship of the same caliber, at least some context, texture and intimate detail.

I hope that my observations are less tedious than interesting, more informative than restated. It is my honour to be able to share them.

I will add that I make mistakes: typographical errors, sometimes get dates (and other numbers) slightly wrong. These, and other errors are mine, and I apologise for any confusion they may cause.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew