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A tetrad for blogging

I was thinking about blogging and the list I made about the various media that blogging ‘retrieves’, when I realised I forgot a really obvious one – the manuscript.

In The Gutenberg Galaxy McLuhan describes in detail the acoustic qualities of the manuscript contrasted with the visual qualities of the printed book; how in the medieval University, teachers and students would copy, annotate and add to other manuscripts in their pursuit of knowledge; how authorship of an integral text was not the purpose of writing as it is with the printed book. Doesn’t this sound a little like the blog, with its pedagogical and dialogic qualities?

A tetrad for blogging might then look something like this-

Extends: pedagogy (or, learning through dialogue)
Retrieves: the manuscript
Obsolesces: the textbook
Reverses into: the programmed environment?

McLuhan circa 1960’s says that the computer is “admirably suited to the artistic programming of [the] environment, of taking over the task of programming the environment itself as a work of art, instead of programming the content as a work of art” (EM 224) so that “we can include the learning process in the environment itself” (UB 20, pp.10-11). (q.v. ‘Art‘ – ‘Environment as a Work of Art’.)

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Michael Edmunds | January 20, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Your musings are most interesting. But in a way they make me see McLuhan as the perfect stand-up comedian. (I just have to laugh when I see his thoughts kinda fed back in your new mosaic. I don’t mean in anyway that your insights are not meaningful or not even ‘mcluhan’ correct, btw. I think your very astute.)

    Take his probe about the computer programming the environment. There’s that (to me hilarious) video clip where he repeats referring to that: ‘we can do it. it available now…we can program the environment’ etc. He’s either calling for a new “Hitler” or for God to make an appearance. (And it’s this that his academic colleagues railed against.) But for sure he knows full well the effect his opinion will produce. Isn’t he putting us on?

    Re: Kindle- Tactility was the main emphasis of McLuhan’s thought on TV. He said many times in class that to watch TV you must use your eye as an ear. Freaked people out, he did!

    This profound percept I think must drive all analytical notions of the new media. For it’s the TV age (and radio) that recreates the retrieval of the ancient mind set (ie the global village/theatre.) The digital age (computer) does not.

  2. Alice Rae | January 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Lots of thoughts on this – I guess that McLuhan himself was so adept at making ‘anti-environments’ that to make a ‘McLuhan environment’ seems rather didactic..!!

    I think there is absolutely a danger in me (or anyone!) seeking to represent McLuhan – a multifaceted, multileveled thinker if ever there was one. A better articulated position than this blog can be found in my PhD thesis on McLuhan (McLuhan’s Unconscious). However I thought that a hypertext website would be the best medium to make this research accessible – thus this website/blog – still very much in development!

    A better title for the blog than ‘Light Through McLuhan’ might be ‘McLuhan Applied’…

    I would love to continue the discussion on TV-age VS digital-age vis-a-vis the global village. So many thoughts, must think it through first!

  3. Michael Edmunds | January 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I suppose Kroker’s _Flesh Eating Angst_ is one approach to the discussion. “McLuhan Applied” would be a mistake. A common enterprise is to apply McLuhan without an understanding of his project.

    I will read your McLuhan’s Unconscious. (I’m a slow reader!)

  4. Alice Rae | January 21, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Please feel free to email me too – alice [at] . I appreciate your feedback and will certainly take it on board!

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