Our World – The World’s First Ever Live Satellite TV Broadcast (1967) Included The Beatles & Marshall McLuhan
“Our World” Satellite TV Broadcast, June 25, 1967
25th June 1967 is a monumental date in the history of television, both for Europe and the world. The Eurovision programme “Our World” was the first live international television production, and it was a two-hour broadcast, around the globe, between 9pm and 11pm CET on a warm Sunday evening, 47 years ago.
It was an undertaking of incredible complexity, involving control rooms around the world, three geostationary communication satellites (Intelsat I, Intelsat II and ATS-1), over 1.5 million km of cable and ten thousand technicians and programme staff. The programme concept was to link up the world, to demonstrate that we are all part of “our world” – all brothers and sisters. The ground rules for the show included that everything had to be live, and that no politicians or heads of state must be seen.
Four days before the broadcast, five of the participating countries dropped out. The Eastern block countries were protesting at the West’s response to the “Six day War” in the Middle East. But the show went on, with an offer to do it again with them – if ever the Eastern block countries could agree to take part. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/qffhb4z )
The show began with the Vienna Boys Choir singing its theme song in 22 different languages, then switched to Canada for a live interview with media pundit Marshall McLuhan. The program moved to the U.S. and Glassboro, New Jersey, where American and Soviet leaders were meeting, then back to Canada for a rancher and his cattle, followed by segments from a subway construction project in Tokyo, Japan, and a tram station in Melbourne, Australia.
Then the show returned to London for its final segment: Seated on stools were The Beatles, surrounded by a small orchestra and a group of friends and acquaintances sitting on the floor (including Mick Jagger and The Who’s Keith Moon). They sang All You Need Is Love to a prerecorded instrumental and percussion track. After some studio work thereafter — Lennon was never happy with his voice and re-recorded his verses while Ringo Starr overdubbed drums — the song was released as a single on July 7 and was number one on the UK charts for three weeks. It appeared on the albums Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine. Regular international satellite commercial TV broadcasts would become common in the 1970s. No subsequent special programs were conceived, let alone performed. But for two and a half hours one evening in 1967, it was a big deal. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/p3vx726 )
Rolling Stone has just published a detailed article about The Beatles’ remarkable performance on that first-ever live satellite broadcast:-
The Beatles agreed to perform a new song as the representatives of the United Kingdom. “It was the first worldwide satellite broadcast ever,” Ringo Starr said years later. “It’s a standard thing that people do now, but then, when we did it, it was a first. That was exciting – we were doing a lot of firsts.
“Engineer Geoff Emerick remembered, “I don’t know if they had prepared any ideas, but they left it very late to write the song. John said, ‘Oh God, is it that close? I suppose we’d better write something.'” Paul McCartney proposed his composition Hello, Goodbye, which got released as a single five months later, but the group opted instead for John Lennon’s All You Need Is Love. They started recording the song on June 14th, with Lennon on harpsichord, McCartney on double bass with a bow, George Harrison on violin (for the first time in his life!) and Starr on drums.
The Beatles did 33 takes on June 14th, picked take 10 as the best, and in the following days, overdubbed vocals, piano (played by producer George Martin) and banjo (Lennon), plus guitar and some orchestral passages. Only on June 24th, the day before the broadcast, did they decide that they would release “All You Need Is Love” as a single – meaning that the world would be watching them cut their next record. Read the entire article here: http://tinyurl.com/mzb59tc . Here are The Beatles performing All You Need is Love for the first time ever on that historic occasion:-
See over 1.5 hours of the full Our World program here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H9IhSJ6ZjA
Here is Part 1 of Marshall McLuhan being interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), giving his take on the significance of this historic TV transmission, prior to the event:-
And here is Part 2 of that CBC interview:-
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Tags: communication, culture, events, global village, media, technology, TV
A recent online article provides a short history of metaphors for the Internet ( http://tinyurl.com/pnofxro ) and offers an incomplete list of Net metaphors, which includes: information superhighway, infobahn, cyberspace, web, cloud and yes – global village. Metaphors are figures of speech that are especially useful to help us understand new phenomena, especially new technologies, but their usefulness often wanes over time, as familiarity either confirms or disproves their applicability. The Internet is not at all like a superhighway, and so that metaphor has lost its usefulness.
In The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) Marshall McLuhan provided this definition of global village: “The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village” (p. 31). And Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” metaphor has been used with increasing frequency since the arrival of the Internet and especially its social media like virtual communities, Facebook and Twitter. Indeed, arguably the phrase global village has transcended its metaphoric status and has become a meme, which, as applied to the Internet, the OED defines as “an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations” ( http://tinyurl.com/ndthm2x ).
The following article by Dr. Adam Earnheardt is republished here by permission:-
Realizing the global village
Published Sun, August 24, 2014
It’s difficult for me to imagine life without the Internet and social media. While it’s not the same as looking someone in the eye and having a conversation, in a broader way, I feel more connected to people from all over the world.
After all, we live in a global village.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard or used that phrase “global village.” You may have heard it used in reference to the Internet.
The first email you sent must have been exciting. You didn’t have to wait days for someone to get a letter in the mail. And more importantly, the response was usually a lot quicker.
More recently, you may hear “global village” used at the launch of a new social-media app, or in reference to being able to have real-time video chats with people in different countries.
What might surprise you, however, is that the person who is credited with coining “global village” did so in the 1960s — decades before the Internet and social media.
How could he have possibly known about a global village in the 1960s?
Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher who became a bit of a social icon in the mid-20th century (he had a cameo in the movie “Annie Hall”), predicted this brave new world of email, websites and social media long before the first computers were linked.
OK, I know this sounds like something some old, boring, stodgy professor-type would say. But underneath all of this is a prediction. In a sense, he predicted the Internet and, more specifically, social media.
The thought was that all the different technologies and mediums we use to connect with others and learn about the world would eventually exist in one place. He saw the telephone, television, radio, books, newspapers, and primitive versions of the computer as the heart of the global village.
McLuhan knew what was coming next. We’re used to hearing predictions of doom and gloom (see Nostradamus), but McLuhan’s predictions were (and are), for the most part, hopeful and exciting.
For example, he once said, “The next medium … will transform television into an art form.”
Now think about the way television has evolved in the past five years. Think of the volumes of videos we now access on Facebook, Twitter, Vine and other social-media apps that serve entertain and educate us.
Think of binge-watching and streaming TV shows that features rich characters and complex stories. This is yet another of his predictions in the process of being realized through the creation of new technologies.
Of course, we’re still witnessing McLuhan’s predictions. And although he died in 1980, I wish he were here to tell us what was next.
Maybe he has.
If you’re brave enough and have the time to wade through his dense yet artful prose — it took me five weeks to read McLuhan’s “Understanding Media” — maybe you’ll find the next great prediction. And maybe that prediction will lead you to create the next great invention, and create stronger connections for the global village.
Dr. Adam Earnheardt is chairman of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/q8ar3dj )
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Beatles, ‘Life’ magazine, August 1964.
1964 was the year that Marshall McLuhan’s most important book – Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man – was published. After that, his best work lay behind him and he was increasingly met with growing criticism, misunderstanding and hostility. It might be useful to recall what else was happening in the world in 1964 to provide the context or ground out of which Understanding Media emerged. Marshall McLuhan and Understanding Media are very much part of the warp and woof of that revolutionary decade of social and political change.
A May 27, 2014 article in The Atlantic recalls that year in America 50 years ago:-
1964 was an eventful year — a half-century ago, humans were making strides toward space travel beyond the Earth’s orbit, and Tokyo hosted the 18th Summer Olympics. The Beatles took America by storm, as Race Riots gripped big cities — and the the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. Boxer Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and the heavyweight champion of the world. Cyprus devolved into civil war between Turks and Greeks, and President Lyndon Johnson escalated U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/nqhvzjc )
One is tempted to say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. This article by Stephen Hume comments on Canada in 1964:-
It was 1964 and Boomers began coming of age
I was among them, part of a generation that changed the world — but at the time we rode the wave without really noticing the depth of the changes
‘When I was 17, it was a very good year,” sang those harmonious, well-groomed, early-’60s coffee house folkies, The Kingston Trio, their lyrics’ fame later amplified by a Frank Sinatra cover. I turned 17 in 1964, one of the teenage multitudes at the leading edge of that Baby Boom we hear so much griping about; the one that my war-weary parents had passionately helped launch in 1946. There were more than 8.5 million Baby Boomers born in Canada. The simple demographics of those pent-up Second World War desires transformed society. The so-called pig moved through the population python, creating demand by demand for bigger houses, bigger suburbs, bigger cars, more schools, more shopping malls, more fast food outlets, and so on.
But 1964 was also the year in which Boomers began to separate from the careful, conformist, Silent Generation that had created its gigantic successor.
That’s what adolescents approaching adulthood do — and have always done. They challenge assumptions and expectations, rebel against social norms, define themselves in the world by emphasizing not their inherited similarities but their invented differences from exasperated parents.
So 1964 marked the beginning of an era of tumultuous change that would transform political, social and cultural institutions for the province, the country and the continent.
Canada would get a new flag, the red maple leaf on a white bar, shedding its colonial ensign and beginning a discussion about patriating the constitution from Britain. In Vancouver, the Indian Centre Society would open on West Broadway to serve its youth, the first in Canada to have an all-First Nations board of directors.
In 1964, the Boomer vanguard was about to leave the family and make its own way in universities and the workforce. For the United States, it meant a whole generation arriving at the age that made it eligible for military conscription into an emerging war that much of that generation rejected.
We were also entering adulthood in a society scarred by social injustices: racial segregation, religious bigotry, class and gender discrimination — and we reacted with the civil rights movement, Black Power, Red Power, Gay Power, Flower Power, Women’s Lib, the development of a counter-culture.
It was the year that Clint Eastwood became a star with the wry, genre-spoofing spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars but it was also the year of Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, offered a bitter satirical antidote to Goldfinger, the latest in the James Bond franchise.
In Ontario, the legislature abolished a 114-year-old law permitting segregated schools. In the U.S., the Ku Klux Klan — including a local sheriff and his deputy — greeted President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Bill by murdering three young men registering black voters. A few months later, the first schools in Mississippi were integrated but there were riots in Harlem, a harbinger of the 1965 riot in Los Angeles that would leave 34 dead and $40 million in damage.
Yet, really, what teenager actually thinks deeply about political portents?
I was playing for a very good small town high school basketball team and writing sports stories not just for the school paper but for the small town weekly, selling the occasional squib for 25-cents-an-inch to a big city daily and so, as the song says, for me, when I was 17, “it was a very good year for small town girls,” too.
Who’d have thought then that the Kingston Trio were among the musical tremors that preceded a pop culture upheaval. Few of us actually noticed in the moment but those tremors would banish pop chart sensations of a few years before to the easy listening lounge. Move over, Old Blue Eyes, here come The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary.
It’s like that with a lot of these immense social trends. We ride the wave but we never really notice until much later how Bobby Vinton, the gold record heartthrob of those girls on the school bus a few years earlier, was suddenly clinging by his fingernails to Billboard’s Top 100 list for 1964 while British Invasion bands like The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five dominated the top 20.
The communications visionary Marshall McLuhan saw what was coming in his book Understanding Media: the extension of man, advising us that “the medium is the message” but it didn’t make my reading list until university.
In 1964, as with many teenage boys, what commanded my attention were sports, cars and girls — and by a kind of self-interested default, the music that interested girls — not necessarily in that order.
Read the rest of this article at http://tinyurl.com/nu4s4ju .
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Exactly 45 years ago this weekend [August 2], Paul Hoffert and the Canadian rock band Lighthouse were playing at the Atlantic City Pop Festival.
They shared the bill with Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, B.B.King, Tim Buckley, Byrds, Hugh Masekela and American Dream.
Keyboardist Hoffert and drummer Skip Prokop, of Paupers fame, had just formed the rock band with horns and strings, playing their first gig at the Rock Pile in Toronto, May 14, 1969 and Carnegie Hall 11 days later.
And then it’s off to class. The University of Toronto has just cross-appointed him to three different faculties: music, information and law. (He received an honorary degree from U of T two years ago.)
“He’s the ideal guy to plunk into that mix,” says Don McLean, dean of music. “We will use him as a mentor, a catalyst for research discussions, to teach in some cases.”
He is an expert on intellectual property who taught at Harvard’s law school.
He helped invent the algorithm that makes music files smaller, when he was director of Digital Home Jukebox.
The Juno winner got media guru Marshall McLuhan to write the liner notes for his award-winning classical album, Hoffert Violin Concerto .
Hoffert, who composed the music in the Canadian film Outrageous , founded the Screen Composers Guild of Canada and numerous other Canadian arts organizations.
He received the Order of Canada in 2004 for achievement in and service to the arts.
An American who moved here at age 14, he was struck by the lack of agencies promoting culture and worked at getting them set up.
“I attribute my strong Canadian nationalism to my lifelong travels abroad and my immigrant background. It’s hard not to be proud of Canada,” he says.
At the age of 19, Hoffert was already an accomplished musician, stepping in for ill vibraphonist Peter Appleyard at one show. That’s also when he married Brenda, who was 18, at Toronto City Hall, a baby on the way.
They moved in with his father while Hoffert continued his music and studies in physics and chemistry at U of T during the day.
“When you are young, the possibilities are exciting,” says Brenda, a visual artist and lyricist who also manages Lighthouse. “We embrace whatever is out there, good and bad. That’s the situation, let’s figure it out.”
He practically dresses in a uniform: black clothing, some colour on the sneakers and a pigtail under his fedora. He explains the pigtail as “all I have left” adding, “After I left the rock scene I became tired of being hassled by customs officials at the borders.
“I kept the tail as symbol of rebellion that officials only see after I’ve passed through customs.”
Gradually he stopped touring with Lighthouse to spend more time with the family and the band disbanded only to reform again.
He earned his daily bread in the science world. Hoffert founded CulTech, an innovative research program at York University, and worked on projects like delivering information via videophone and video-conferencing (this was back in 1995).
Science and music have intersected constantly throughout his career.
“I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in technology,” says Hoffert, interviewed in his art-bedecked Lawrence Manor home.
The first thing you see is a giant painting of fellow musician and good friend Don Francks by Michael Crayden.
The three Juno Awards won by Lighthouse (Album of the Year, 1971 to ’73) and his personal award for Classical Album of the Year (1978) are lined up on a shelf. The walls are covered with Brenda’s colourful photographs and their entranceway has been turned into an enchanted forest by a scene painter (who would only paint plants indigenous to Canada when Hoffert wanted more exotic flora).
Read the rest of this article at http://tinyurl.com/oq36s2h .
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Tags: communication, culture, education, media, technology, Toronto
Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s Groundbreaking Book, Understanding Media (1964)
|The Baylor Libraries Symposium highlights research and scholarship at Baylor by recognizing the major anniversary of a significant publication. Each year a particular work is chosen based on its cross-disciplinary appeal in the humanities, arts and/or sciences.2014 Baylor Libraries Symposium
September 25-26, 2014 The 2014 Baylor Libraries Symposium marks the 50th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. In his influential and controversial book, McLuhan asserts that every medium is an extension of our human systems and can have a profound effect on our bodies, senses, perceptions, and understanding. McLuhan’s challenging work has influenced such diverse fields as the creative arts, technology, philosophy, business, communications, and politics.
Dr. Paul Levinson of Fordham University will deliver the symposium’s keynote presentation on Thursday, September 25, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. in Packard Auditorium of the Marrs-McLean Science Building. Dr. Levinson is a professor of communication and new media, prominent media commentator, and author. His award-winning book, Digital McLuhan, explores the implications of McLuhan’s insights for the Internet and the next horizon of digital media.
Abstract for Paul Levinson’s Keynote Address:
The Medium of the Book: Fifty Years after Understanding Media
A half century after the publication of McLuhan’s Understanding Media seems like a good time to examine the recent evolution of the book itself as a medium. In Understanding Media, McLuhan quotes the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine’s circa 1830 observation that “the book arrives too late”. Today, in a revolution as important as the introduction of Gutenberg’s press, books can arrive instantly anywhere in the world, via Kindles and other ebooks. But the most significant part of this development may pertain not to readers but authors, who can now publish books without a publisher and within an hour or less after the book has been written. The advantages and disadvantages of this bypassing of the traditional gatekeeper for authors and the world at large will be explored — they are mostly advantages — as well as the decline of gatekeeping in other media. Current conflicts, such as the dispute between Amazon and the traditional publisher Hachette will be examined. Connections between the evolution of the book and other facets of writing on the Web will be traced, including the capacity of readers to communicate directly and easily with authors, in modes akin to the “intelligent writing” that Socrates yearned for in the Phaedrus.
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Metropolitan State University of Denver, Auraria Campus, Denver, Colorado
Kaleidoscope of Media and Community
Call for Papers
Thursday, June 11 – Sunday, June 14, 2015
Metropolitan State University of Denver Denver, Colorado
The KEYNOTE SPEAKER is Nicholas Carr influential author and thinker on culture and technology. His writing includes The Shallows (NY Times bestseller), The Big Switch, Does IT matter, and The Glass Cage. Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
See Nicholas Carr’s website at nicholascarr.com .
Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) is proud to host the 16th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association. MSU Denver is Colorado’s land grant university and educates the most diverse student body of any institution in the state. The University is an epicenter for urban impact, transforming lives, communities and higher education. It is with this perspective of dynamic diversity, transformation, and community engagement that we aim to explore the concept of “Kaleidoscope of Media and Community” as the convention theme.
The term “kaleidoscope” means the observation of beautiful forms. When we look through a kaleidoscope, we see a multitude of shapes, colors, and textures combine to create beautiful patterns. With every turn of the kaleidoscope, the patterns shift and change, yet still combine to create a whole image. As abolitionist and clergyman Henry Ward Beecher said, “Our days are a kaleidoscope. Every instant a change takes place in the contents. New harmonies, new contrasts, new combinations of every sort. The most familiar people stand each moment in some new relation to each other, to their work, to surrounding objects. The most tranquil house, with the most serene inhabitants, living upon the utmost regularity of system, is yet exemplifying infinite diversities.” This conference looks at the recursive relationships of media and community as a pattern of continuously shifting, adapting parts combining in an infinite array of possibilities within mediated environments.
The field of Media Ecology is multi-disciplinary in nature, bringing together a broad collection of specialties, perspectives and expertise. This year’s theme of community offers the possibility to think about communities as part of media’s ecology and its technologies. Community opens our discourse to human interaction that is face-to-face, urban, rural, central, remote, online, hybrid, historical, fictional, human, animal, functional, dysfunctional, young, old, diverse, educated, oral, literate, digital and linked to the technology and media in its environment.
The 16th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association invites papers, panels, workshop sessions, short film and video works, and creative projects that explore the convention theme. Submissions on any topic of interest to Media Ecology are also encouraged. Authors who want their papers considered for the Top Paper or Top Student Paper award must indicate this on their submissions. All submissions will be acknowledged.
The convention site at MSU Denver is located in the heart of downtown Denver on the Auraria Campus. There is a wide range of hotels, restaurants, and entertainment options within easy walking or biking distance from campus.
Rental bicycles are readily available through the city’s program. Discounted rooms will be available at our state of the art on-campus, student-run hotel, as well as the SpringHill Suites at Marriott. An excursion to the mountains is planned for Friday evening. Additional information about lodging, logistics, and events will be forthcoming.
Guidelines for Submission
For Manuscripts (for MEA award submissions):
- Manuscripts should be 4,000-6,000 words (approximately 15 to 25 double-spaced pages).
- Include a cover page (or e-submission page) with your academic or professional affiliation and other contact information.
- Include a 150 word abstract, with the title. Use APA, MLA, or Chicago style.
For Paper and Panel Proposals:
- Include title, abstract, and contact information with your proposal.
- Outline, as relevant, how your paper or panel will fit with the convention
- Submission Deadline: December 15, 2014
Inquiries: Convention Coordinators – Dr. Karen Lollar, MSU Denver, firstname.lastname@example.org, (303) 556-8583 or Jacqueline Kirby, MSU Denver, email@example.com, (303) 352-7116 For more information on the Media Ecology Association and updated convention details, visit www.media-ecology.org.
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Ken McGoogan, author of 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, offers his picks for individuals who played an important role in advancing the digital age.
1. Marshall McLuhan: Recognized internationally as the “prophet of the electronic age,” McLuhan was an obscure English professor when, in the 1960s, he published two visionary books: The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media. He anticipated a “global village” of instantaneous communications that today we know as the World Wide Web.
2. Douglas Cardinal: Best known for creating the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History), Cardinal pioneered the use of digital technology in architectural design. Drawing on his Aboriginal heritage, he created curvilinear buildings that drove him to develop computer-aided design and drafting (CADD).
3. James Cameron: After creating the blockbuster movie Titanic (1997), Cameron began developing the digital 3D Fusion Camera System he would use in Avatar (2009). That movie, which relies heavily on computer-generated animation, revolutionized the film industry, replacing traditional 35-mm celluloid with digital 3D technology.
4. Mike Lazaridis: In 1999, after creating a series of increasingly sophisticated mobile devices, this electrical engineer invented the BlackBerry, the world’s first smartphone. Today, more than 1.2 billion people use smartphones to access the web, though BlackBerry’s dominance is a thing of the past.
5. Don Tapscott: The author of 14 books, among them the blockbustersWikinomics and Macrowikinomics, available in two dozen languages, the visionary Tapscott finds hope for the future in the collaborative innovations made possible by the Internet. He argues that the Millenials, born between 1977 and 1997, are “digital natives” who are changing the way the world does business.
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Understanding Media Now: Navigating Surveillance, Social Media & Marketing
Never has media literacy been a more essential life skill.
Toronto, ON: Understanding Media Now will focus on privacy, learning opportunities, online
environments, rights and responsibilities and agency in a technology-driven digital landscape. Participants will attend workshops and panels on subjects ranging from effective teaching and parenting to digital citizenship, rights and responsibilities, privacy and using media ethically and effectively. The conference will assemble a diverse group of teachers, parents, researchers, industry reps and other stakeholders to explore the impact of the current media landscape and digital information technologies on parenting, teaching and learning.
Speakers include Ron Deibert (Munk School & author of Black Code), Annie Kidder (People for Education), national and international scholars and industry experts.
Who: The Association for Media Literacy (AML)
Where: Toronto’s Ted Rogers School of Management
When: October 18, 2014.
The AML was the first comprehensive organization for media educators in Canada and has become a world leader in media literacy education. The AML is a registered charity.
For registration information, please visit http://www.aml.ca/understandingmedianow
Early-bird fee (before Sept. 1): $50.00.
Regular fee (after Sept. 1): $75.00
For additional inquiries or interviews, please contact: Michelle Solomon, Communications Executive, AML
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There have been other reviews of Bruce Powe’s latest book published on this blog, but this unpublished review is written by Robert Logan, arguably the dean of Marshall McLuhan scholars today.
A Review of B. W. Powe’s Marshall McLuhan & Northrup Frye: Apocalypse & Alchemy
by Robert K. Logan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
B.W. Powe’s book Marshall McLuhan and Northrup Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy is a masterpiece of literary criticism of two of Canada’s (nay the world’s) greatest literary critics, Marshall McLuhan and Northrup Frye. The content of Powe’s book is a detailed and astute analysis and comparison of these two seminal poetic thinkers and the medium is Powe’s poetic prose that is a delight to read. Powe’s goal “is to initiate a discussion of the convergence, of the conflicts, of the methods and harmonies, and of the ‘ideal Marriage’ of communications and literature (‘Mercury and Philology’) which their lives and thought bravely embody (54, these numbers refer to pages in Powe’s text).” Elsewhere (21) he writes, “the premise of my book [is] that the intellectual energies of McLuhan and Frye continue to be ‘magnetic fields’; they attract and resist each other in the apocalyptic mode.” Powe’s book is not just an academic exercise but a process that he is heavily invested in both emotionally and intellectually for both McLuhan and Frye were his teachers and the inspiration for his life’s work as an academic writer, a novelist, an essayist, a critic and a poet.
The subtitle of Powe’s book: Apocalypse and Alchemy holds the key to understanding his project. Powe sees both McLuhan and Frye as apocalyptic thinkers. He quotes Frye from The Educated Imagination, “Literature is a human apocalypse, man’s revelation to man, and criticism is not a body of adjudication, but the awareness of that revelation, the last judgment of mankind (20-21).” Powe’s (16) evidence for McLuhan’s apocalyptic spirit comes from The Medium and the Light where McLuhan writes, “I am an apocalyptic… We are on the verge of apocalypse.” Powe interprets this passage to mean, “Apocalypse is heightened awareness, the moment of epiphany, where an individual sees into, or acutely apprehends, his or her time and place (16).” Although Powe sees both McLuhan and Frye as apocalyptic thinkers their notion of apocalypse is quite different. “To McLuhan, apocalypse is found in the forms and effects of media,… to Frye, apocalypse can be found in literature and through the honed awareness that comes in critical comprehension (23).”
The alchemy for Powe and one of the missions of his book is his desire to reconcile and amalgamate the thinking of his two mentors. He writes, “Is there a possibility of a McLuhan-Frye alchemy, a mixing of their chemical traces and energies? What happens if we let the two together become the catalysts for a new agency of thought, a code of thought and inspiration (11)? ”
The structure of the book revolves around this theme of apocalypse and alchemy. After a short prologue that deals with the first encounter of McLuhan and Frye in 1946 at the University of Toronto, Chapter 1 reveals the authors intentions and provides an overview of his notion of apocalypse and alchemy. Chapter 2 describes the work of McLuhan and Frye from their own respective perspectives. Chapter 3 deals with the conflict between McLuhan and Frye’s differing apocalyptic views and approaches. Chapter 4 examines the parallels or harmonies in their thinking leading to Chapter 5 where Powe attempts an alchemic reconciliation of the approaches of McLuhan and Fry. A short Chapter 6 sums up the book and deals with the impact that McLuhan and Fry have had on the thinking and work of their mutual student and prodigy, the author of the book.
There are studies of McLuhan and there are studies of Frye but Powe’s book is unique in that he takes on both these scholars at the same time, compares them and examines their interactions with each other. Rarely do we find an analysis of two thinkers compared side by side and in those odd cases where it has been done not by a student and admirer of the two thinkers in question. One of the interesting features of Powe’s study is that he is the student of both, engaged in a struggle with them to embrace them and as their former student to also turn away from them. Powe invokes the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel to describe his own struggle. The difference here is that Jacob only wrestled one angel whereas Powe takes on two angels as he relates in his text, “Still I know when I rise to struggle with these angels of instruction and inspiration what comes is a reinvention of the two through a recombination (27).” This book is as much an autobiography of Powe’s intellectual heritage as it is an analysis of McLuhan and Frye, two thinkers that are at the core of Powe’s scholarship and his literary artistic expression. In this book we are treated to a view of the figure of McLuhan in the ground of Frye, a view of the figure of Frye in the ground of McLuhan, and a view of the figure of McLuhan and Frye in the ground of Powe, a rich tapestry indeed!
But there is still another ground and that is the ground of Canada as Powe, himself a Canadian, describes the influence of being Canadian on Frye and McLuhan who chose to work and remain in Canada despite the possibilities of lucrative offers from south of the border (35). Powe suggests that they are neither part of the European nor the American tradition but they are “subtly, insistently part of the new that is Canadian and yet (paradoxically) universal (12).” So in a certain sense this book is about Canada as well as about McLuhan, Frye and Powe.
I learned a lot from Powe about Frye whose work was not as familiar to me as that of McLuhan’s. But what really knocked me out were the new insights into McLuhan that Powe provided despite the fact that I had collaborated with McLuhan from 1974 to his passing in 1980 and have written about him ever since. I believe it is Powe’s poetic sensibilities that allowed him to draw fresh insights for me into McLuhan’s work.
Powe introduces us to how McLuhan and Frye worked for many years at St. Michael’s and Victoria respectively where the street running through St.Mike’s was renamed the McLuhan Way and a classroom building renamed Northrup Frye Hall. Powe writes, “The naming of a street and building can guide us and move us. It helps us to remember twin geniuses and their invaluable creation of a legacy of insight and vision (10).” How appropriate, I thought, how these naming honours reflect the character of the honourees. McLuhan is a way, a thoroughfare, a place of movement and Frye is a building, static and solid and built conforming to a code, the Toronto building code.
Powe first describes the work of McLuhan and Frye in terms of each one’s own objectives before contrasting their respective perspectives and interests which for McLuhan was a focus on form, media and the impact of technology and media and for Frye was a focus on content and the impact on our imagination (39). There was also a difference in their style as McLuhan despite being a prolific author worked primarily in acoustic space within the framework of the oral tradition and without a theory whereas Fry worked totally in visual space within the literary tradition guided by his theory of the Great Code (51, 149, 167). McLuhan “craved collaborators” (85) and Fry worked alone in the library or his study with his books (50).
Despite these contrasts in style, temperament and methodology, Powe still sees many parallels in McLuhan and Frye. These became the ingredients for his alchemic reconciliation of his two teachers and mentors. Both were voracious readers, both were interested in patterns, laws and codes (41, 202), both were fascinated with the number four as well as Pentecostal and apocalyptic thinking (29-34). Both had strong religious convictions, although different they were deeply felt (46). Education was a major concern for both (48). Each was rebellious in his own way (181) and each was fascinated with Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (183), as was Powe, who treated us to his own analysis of the Wake (204-08) in addition to those of McLuhan and Frye.
Despite these parallels and the ‘harmonies’ in the two seers, Powe deals with what he calls “the critical conflict between McLuhan and Frye” devoting an entire chapter to this topic (110-168). Their critiques of each other and conflict between them, Powe suggests, rose to the level of mutual polemics. McLuhan’s problem with Frye was that he felt Frye was operating with a left-brain, visual bias of categorization by classifying figures without taking into account the ground in which they operated. He also critiqued Frye for not taking into account the effects of the print medium (122), and went as far as to suggest that Frye’s “classification” was “without insight (117),” which seems a bit harsh. Frye, for his part, suggested that McLuhan was “a cult figure” who “allowed his name and ideas to be associated with business people and media celebrities, politicians and advertisers (127).” Powe also cites a 1971 essay in which Frye accuses McLuhan of being a determinist and even a Marxist. This seems a bit unfair to McLuhan given his ecological approach and his criticism of Marxists as providing a 19th century perspective on 20th century problems.
After his careful analysis of McLuhan and Frye’s differences, parallels, critical conflicts and even their mutual polemics, Powe turns to alchemy in his attempt to identify a “visionary prophetic tradition in the joining of ‘the medium is the message’ with the Great Code story (237).” He suggests that, “we meld McLuhan’s percepts with Frye’s concepts (229).” McLuhan and Frye are described in yin and yang terms by Powe when he writes, “in McLuhan’s poetic aphorisms there is criticism and in Frye’s criticism poetry (269).” Of the two McLuhan is the yang with his assertive, in your face, sociality and Frye is the yin with his withdrawn, solitary, bookish scholarship. McLuhan enters the lists with business folks, entertainers, politicians, artists and the common folk of his society whereas Frye is withdrawn quietly contemplating his books in the quiet sanctuary of his ivory tower. McLuhan’s classes are adlibbed while Frye’s lectures are carefully prepared ahead of time. McLuhan is incessantly talking and Frye, incessantly writing either for his public or in his private notebooks.
Powe found intellectual and spiritual succour and nourishment from both of his mentors and teachers, who he knew intimately in their lifetime, studied assiduously in his academic career and defended in his book against their harshest critics such as A. C. Hamilton, U. Eco and J. Baudrillard (260). In summing up the impact McLuhan and Frye on him Powe writes, “their primary gift was their attempt to provide ways to let us soar (276),” but still he learned to “abandon them to move on, living deeply” yet to come back to them on occasion so that “other new and vital lessons [could] begin (285).” If you read Powe’s book, an important addition to McLuhan and Frye scholarship, you too will experience new and vital lessons.
The book is published by the University of Toronto Press: (see http://tinyurl.com/ndaj82v ) and is available from Amazon, Chapters and other bookstores.
About Robert K. Logan: Bob Logan has a variety of experiences as an academic involved in research in complexity theory, information theory, biology, environmental science, linguistics, industrial design and media studies. He published with and collaborated with Marshall McLuhan. He was also active in the business world operating a computer training company 1982-2000 and a Web development company from 1994 to 2000 through which he did extensive consulting in knowledge management. He was active in politics from 1974 to date. Among his many activities he served as an advisor to PM Pierre Eliot Trudeau, policy chair of the Ontario wing of the federal Liberal Party and an advisor to various federal cabinet ministers. He is also an author or editor of 11 books and many articles in refereed journals.
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Marshall McLuhan, the visionary educator of communications, media, technology and humanity provided a powerful framework in which to analyze media. He wrote on media’s influence in constructing a “global village” and of the powerful process of “retribalization.” This post briefly defines McLuhan’s retribalization, while posing additional questions of the concept’s application.
Throughout history, indigenous peoples have adapted and adjusted to the disruption of their native ways by outside settlers and innovation in a process referred to as “detribalization.” McLuhan asserted that modern man suffered this fate, as well, in particular with the advent of the printing press. No longer relying on the communities for conveying news and cultural lore, the printed word allowed for solitary consumption of information (McLuhan & Fiore, 1967; McLuhan, 2012).
As electronic media filled the airwaves and dominated our living rooms, the relationships between man, information and each other have become intertwined. McLuhan stated, “The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village” (McLuhan & Fiore, 1967). It was through this global village that McLuhan identified the retribalization process, the reconnection of man in, “a new state of multitudinous tribal existences” (McLuhan, 1969, 2004).
Remarkably, McLuhan’s contention is nearly prophetic. Indeed, current technological advances, the World Wide Web specifically, have enhanced global communications in profound ways for individuals and communities. We now have the ability to be in touch with people from all over the world, instantly and constantly, if we choose. This interpersonal process of global, ‘real time’ communication speaks to an instinctive and pervasive need for connection.
So what was happening for indigenous people during the dawning of the media age? According to McLuhan, detribalization was occurring (Norden, 1969, 2004). McLuhan asserted, in one interview, the following:
“…the Indian seem to always get a bad deal; they suffered first because they were tribal men in a mechanical world, and now as they try to detribalize and structure themselves within the values of the mechanical culture, they find the gulf between them and a suddenly retribalizing society widening rather than narrowing” (Norden, 1969, 2004).
It is an interesting paradox that as the majority culture seeks to retribalize through connective media, that tribal communities, once marked by their powerful connections, are relegated to oppressive detribalization. Or are they?
American Indians were forced into detribalization, which is a critical point in understanding modern dynamics facing indigenous people. A pressing question raised, in part, by McLuhan’s writing, is whether retribalization of people through media will help or hinder the retribalization of displaced American Indians. What role does media – and the global village- have in American Indian communities?
Many American Indians continue to be displaced from their native lands, receive substandard housing, education and employment and face other, challenging social costs of being an oppressed group. Where does media fit? Certainly, there’s the representation of American Indians in film and television. Regrettably, however, the Hollywood depictions of American Indians are often inaccurate, insulting and do nothing more than reinforce negative stereotypes (Diamond, 2009).
What about the World Wide Web? What form of retribalization is occurring or can occur through the Internet? Unfortunately, this information is currently limited, yet open for consideration. Since there are many reservations that have little to no Internet connectivity, it is difficult to assess the full influence of the Internet. Recent changes made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prove hopeful for tribal communities, with regard to Internet connectivity. On Friday, November 18, 2011, the FCC released its “Connect America Fund” Order to foster Broadband deployment in underserved areas (Dunstan, 2011).
Other technological advances certainly emerge in Native communities. Chris Mercier (2011), an elder with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde recently wrote about his experience at the National Congress of American Indians,
“What was the most pervasive symbol I saw at NCAI? Feathers? Dreamcatchers? Turtles? Try none of the aforementioned. The symbol that haunts my mind the most has little to do with Native American culture, the Apple apple. Everywhere I looked there were iPhones and iPads. Owners were using them frequently as well, which is how I know because the logo is very distinct.”
What would McLuhan make of this? How do the media advances and current technology affect our native communities, as well as the global village?
“The tribe, you see, is not conformist just because it’s inclusive; after all, there is far more diversity and less conformity within a family group than there is within an urban conglomerate housing thousands of families. Uniformity and tranquility are not hallmarks of the global village; far more likely are conflict and discord as well as love and harmony — the customary life mode of any tribal people” (Norden, 1969, 2004).
As a media psychologist, “conflict and discord as well as love and harmony” are necessary provisions for continued observation, integration and understanding of technology. Through this process, one can seek McLuhan’s vision as well as synthesize the constantly evolving state of media effects on individuals, tribes and the global village.
At the feet of the master. (2011). Retrieved fromhttp://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2011/07/21/at-the-feet-of-the-master.
Dunstan, J. (2011). FCC releases connect America fund order: A potential huge step forward for tribal deployment of broadband [Web log post]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.tribaltelecom2012.com/blog/
McLuhan, M., & Fiore, Q. (1967). The medium is the massage: An inventory of effects. Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press.
Marshall McLuhan speaks. (2012). Retrieved fromhttp://marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/introduction.
Mercier, C. (2011). NCAI in the Rose City [Web log post]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.grandronde.org/tribal-council/members/chris-mercier/ncai-in-the-rose-city/
Morrison, J.C. (2006). Marshall McLuhan: No prophet without honor. In Saleem Ali & Robert F. Barsky (Eds.), Quests Beyond the Ivory Tower: Public Intellectuals, Academia and the Media, 3(2), 20 p. Retrieved fromhttp://ejournals.library.vanderbilt.edu/ojs/index.php/ameriquests/issue/view/4/showToc
Norden, E. (1969, 2004). The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan. Playboy Magazine. Retrieved from The Marshall McLuhan Center on Global Communications. http://www.mcluhanmedia.com/m_mcl_inter_pb_01.html
Wolfe, T. (1968). The pump house gang. New York: Bantam Books.
See the full original article at http://tinyurl.com/m6lkvas
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