Now in print and available from Amazon, B&N, and other online booksellers, an anthology of poetry, poetics, creative writing, and cartoons inspired by  Marshall McLuhan:

 The Medium Is The Muse [Channeling Marshall McLuhan]

Edited by Lance Strate & Adeena Karasick

The cover shows the young college age Marshall McLuhan. It’s from a photograph not previously seen publicly, and is used by permission of the McLuhan Estate, with all rights reserved.

Oracle of the electronic age, Marshall McLuhan  believed artists could wake us and offer new windows into the world.  This diverse collection brings together twenty-nine poets, writers, and  artists  who channel McLuhan as both medium and muse. Like McLuhan’s work, this volume will  delight,  divert, provoke, incite and inspire readers to channel McLuhan in their own imagination and creative endeavors.

Featuring work from: Lillian Allen, Michelle Rae Anderson, Mary Ann Allison, Marleen Barr, David Bateman, Arthur Asa Berger, bill bissett, Tony Burgess, Jerry Harp, Adeena Karasick, William Marshe, John G. McDaid, Jill McGinn, Elizabeth McLuhan, Peter C. Montgomery, Dean Motter, Alexandra Oliver, John Oughton, Si Philbrook, B.W. Powe, Robert Priest, Stephen Roxborough, Lance Strate, Steve Szewczok, Andrea Thompson, Toshio Ushiroguchi-Pigott, John Watts, Dale Winslow, Tom Wolfe.

Table of Contents
The medium is   –   Lance Strate
brush up on yr mcluhan / start dewing it now th medium   –   bill bissett
Ping-Pong   –   Tom Wolfe
Man Made Whole Again   –   Tom Wolfe
All the Information in the Sun   –   Robert Priest
Short Sound Play   –   Robert Priest
Micro-Poems   –   Robert Priest
It Came One Day   –    Elizabeth McLuhan
Self Reflection   –   Elizabeth McLuhan
To Sit   –   Elizabeth McLuhan
Chop Gently   –   Elizabeth McLuhan
The Purple Rose of Brooklyn Or, Meeting Marshall McLuhan
(With a Little Help From Mayan Apocalypse Planet X/Nibiru)   –   Marleen Barr
McLuhan Kaleidoscope   –   Mary Ann Allison
Flash in the Pan   –   John McDaid
Start   –   Tony Burgess
dear marshall i know you   –   Stephen Roxborough
Marshalling McLuhan   –   Lillian Allen
Life   –   Peter Montgomery
Messy Necessity   –   Adeena Karasick
In My Blogal Village, Print is Hot   –   Adeena Karasick
Your Leaky Day   –   Adeena Karasick
Reader   –   BW Powe
Technogenie   –   BW Powe
(lang-gwij)?   –   William Marshe
Constitution of Silence   –   Steve Szewczok
we, the real mad poets   –   Jill McGinn
Late Summer Twilight   –   Jerry Harp
Pegged to Invisible Consequences   –   John Oughton
McLuhan’s Bride   –   David Bateman
The Mechanical Bride’s Consolation   –   Michelle Anderson
Curriculum Vitae   –   Alexandra Oliver
M.F.M.: Media Friend Marshall   –   Toshio Ushiroguchi-Pigott
I Wouldn’t Have Seen It If I Hadn’t Believed It: A Probe Poem   –   Andrea Thompson
Dear Mr. Mössbauer, are you online?   –   Dale Winslow
Silent Resonance   –   Dale Winslow
It Was Never a Flower to Begin With   –   Dale Winslow
facebook   –   Si Philbrook
mY parts   –   John Watts
Prose   –   Lance Strate
Centenary   –   Lance Strate
The volume also includes a series of illustrations by acclaimed comics creator Dean Motter, and a couple by popular culture maven Arthur Asa Berger.

Paperback: ISBN 978-0-9855577-5-1  -  144 pages  -  List price $16.95 (reseller prices are less and vary)  -  5.5”x8.5” perfect bound, paper

Hardcover: ISBN 978-0-9892018-5-8  -  144 pages  -  List price $24.95 (reseller prices are less and vary)  - 5.5”x8.5” hardcover

MMby_BarbaraWilde2Two photos of the casually-attired Marshall McLuhan by Barbara Wilde, taken around 1976


 Douglas Coupland’s “biography” of Marshall McLuhan is a curious mixture of speculation and hyperbole, interspersed with the essential facts of the man’s life in broad strokes. Although it gets some things wrong, there are nevertheless some useful insights worthy of Coupland’s artistic perception, as well as that of his subject. Here is a quote:-

Marshall was also encountering a response that would tail him the rest of his life: the incorrect belief that he liked the new world he was describing. In fact, he didn’t ascribe any moral or value dimensions to it at all — he simply kept on pointing out the effects of new media on the individual. And what makes him fresh and relevant now is the fact that (unlike so much other new thinking of the time) he always did focus on the individual in society, rather than on the mass of society as an entity unto itself. It was Marshall’s embrace of the individual — a poetic and artistic, highly humane embrace–that has allowed the reader (then and now) to enter his universe. There are, perhaps, no practical political, religious, or financial applications to Marshall’s work. It could even be argued that it should be seen as a rarefied artifact unto itself, an intricate and fantastically ornate artwork that creates its own language and then writes poetry with it. And what would be wrong with that? Art is art. And an artist, according to Marshall, is someone on the frontiers of perception, who looks at information overload with the goal of pattern recognition, to see things before anyone else”. – Douglas Coupland (2009). Marshall McLuhan, Toronto: Penguin Canada, pp. 142-143.



L. Canadian edition  -  R. American edition

Bruce 123.jpg B.W. Powe. September 2010

Like the two-headed Roman god Janus, Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye toiled together yet separately, within the same institution, forging new ways to think about emerging technologies, media, culture and literature. They often disagreed. But to York University English Professor B.W. Powe, a student of them both, they represent two sides of the coin of brilliance and he can’t help wonder if they saw that in each other.

Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye book coverFew authors have placed the men side by side as Powe has done in his new book, Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy (University of Toronto Press). It is here that Powe explores not only their eruptions of conflict – intellectual, academic and personal – but also their similarities, harmonies and lasting influence. He examines the parallels, interweaving and disparateness of their work and personal lives.

“McLuhan and Frye were two teachers who were also visionaries, guides to media awareness and to the deep structure of literature; they were prophetic figures who worked side by side from 1946 until 1980 in the Department of English at the University of Toronto . . . where they made us see reality in different ways and changed our perceptions,” says Powe. “They initiated a highly original Canadian visionary stream, one which highlights media ecology and the identity DNA at the heart of literature.”

McLuhan taught how to engage in the hyper-shifting environments of evolving technologies. “We remake the world through our technologies, and these in turn remake and extend us, in ever spiraling lattices of complexity. McLuhan uncannily foresaw the future, where electronic technology would shape and expand cultures and societies into a global membrane of communications,” says Powe.

Frye, on the other hand, taught how to “look inside the sprawl of seemingly unrelated literary works and see the structures, the codes, that are at play, unifying our vision into one which transforms the consciousness of the reader.” It is through literature that the eternal quest to know “who am I” is explored.

And that sparks the question Powe asks in the book: “What happens if we combine ‘the medium is the message’ with the Great Code?”

Read the rest of this review here .

Note: The book will be launched on Thursday, Sept. 18, at Founders College, York University Keele campus.

The same review also mentions Bruce’s contributions to another forthcoming publication:-

Before leaving it all behind, however, Powe is performing a literary encore as one of the contributors to the forthcoming book The Medium is the Muse (Channeling Marshall McLuhan (NeoPoiesis Press), edited by Lance Strate and Adeena Karasick, both professors of communication and media studies at Fordham University. Powe’s contribution is a “hallucinatory poem on Steve Jobs called ‘Technogenie.’ ”

The book is a diverse collection that brings together 29 poets, writers and artists who channel McLuhan as both medium and muse. Like McLuhan’s work, this volume promises to delight, divert, provoke, incite and inspire readers to channel McLuhan in their own imagination and creative endeavors. Oracle of the electronic age, Marshall McLuhan believed artists could wake us and offer new windows into the world.

The Medium is the Muse book cover

(Poster by Jana Jankovic, Emilie Charlebois, Julia Lefebvre & student helpers)

Dear Friends,

Monday, July 21 will be the 103rd anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth. To mark the occasion, we are organizing an informal luncheon at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. 

This is an opportunity to reconnect with members of the McLuhan Legacy Network, which was started for the centenary celebrations of  2011; even if you weren’t a part of that group, but share an interest in the work and legacy of Marshall McLuhan, you are invited to attend. The luncheon will just be cafeteria food, in the Canada Room, which is the student cafeteria, and will cost you less than $10. The food is reasonable, essentially the same meals as are provided in St Mike’s faculty lunch room. The room might be a bit noisy, as the kids from St. Mike’s summer camp eat there as well. All other rooms were booked, but the catering facility has promised to place room dividers to dampen the sound. The kids will be gone by 1:30.

We will gather between 12: 30 and 12:45 to go through the cafeteria line and bring our trays to the very east end of the room, where there will be nine tables accommodating four persons each. We will eat in small groups of four and at 1:30 after the camp kids depart, we can have a group conversation. It is possible we might be able to visit the Coach House where McLuhan worked afterward. Dominique Scheffel-Dunand is trying to facilitate this with the iSchool.

As there are only 36 places, we can only guarantee a spot for lunch to the first 36 folks that RSVP to Bob Logan at Even if you can’t make it for lunch, feel free to join us after 1:30 for the conversation.

Follow this link to view a map showing the location of the Canada Room in Brennan Hall, which is immediately west of St. Basil’s Church (which is near the corner of Bay and St. Joseph Streets). The entrance to the Canada Room is at the southwest corner of Brennan Hall:,-79.3896374,18z .

   Brennan Hall

canadaroom   Canada Room


The hardcover edition (left image) followed the paperback, which was published by Bantam Books: A McLuhanesque turn of the screw.

By:  | October 18, 2012

Quentin Fiore designed and, with Marshall McLuhan, co-authored The Medium Is the Massage, an icon of the 1960s and required reading for everyone involved in what McLuhan dubbed the “electric age.” McLuhan was a philosopher and seer whose books—The Mechanical BrideThe Gutenberg GalaxyThe Making of Typographic Man, and Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man,—explored the evolution of technology and its effects on conscious and subconscious behavior. Revered by some, McLuhan was called a fake, a charlatan, and worse by critics who argued that his ideas were either simplistic, obtuse, silly, or contradictory. McLuhan argued that contradiction was an essential part of the contemporary condition and, moreover, that contradiction was a metaphor for television, a medium which allowed a person to ponder two or more ideas at one time.

To briefly state his theory, and thereby lay a foundation for Fiore’s graphic design, McLuhan believed that the invention of print and printing shattered community by allowing the oral tradition to become obsolete. He argued that writing and reading were solitary acts that adversely effected tribal unity, memory, and imagination. Electronic media, and television specifically, was destined to return us to a Global Village, allowing individuals to once again take an active role in the communications process. His mantra was “the medium is the message.” Media, he argued, are extensions of human activity (just as the wheel is an extension of the foot). Television, he said, allowed for greater individual participation. McLuhan, who believed that humor was paramount to conveying his message and was a passionate punster, said that electronics made “all the world a sage.” Marvin Kitman, who acerbically reviewed The Medium Is the Massage (the title is a double entendre on “mass age” and McLuhan’s notion that media are so pervasive that they work us over like a masseuse) referred to it as The Tedium Is the Message. At least at first, the criticisms of the book’s contents and visual presentation overwhelmed the praise.

But this should not eclipse the historic nature of Fiore’s work. The Medium Is the Massage was called the first book for the television age. The New York Times critic Eliot Freemont Smith said that the large format of the hardcover takes on “the aspect of a T.V. screen.” Fiore designed it as a kinetically flowing collection of word bites, iconic images, and clear and crisp typography. He underscored and highlighted McLuhan’s ideas with what amounts to a series of literary billboards, or what McLuhan impishly described as “collide-oscopic interfaced situations.” Read the full essay at .

Adapted from an essay in Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design (Allworth Press, 1997).

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes a weekly column for The Atlantic online and is the “Visuals” Columnist for the New York Times Book Review. He is also the author of over 160 books on design and visual culture. And he is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

Fr. John Pungente, S.J., with the Medium and Light Award presented to him by the Marshall McLuhan Initiative

Father John Pungente, S.J., with the Medium & Light Award presented to him by the Marshall McLuhan Initiative   (Photo courtesy of the Marshall McLuhan Initiative)

By Alex Kuskis, PhD

Father John Pungente, SJ was awarded the 2014 Medium and Light Award, which recognizes the religious dimensions of the life and work of Marshall McLuhan, for his work in religious communication and “longstanding dedication to media literacy. The award was announced at the recent MEA Convention at Ryerson University by Howard R. Engel, Director of the Marshall McLuhan Initiative at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba. Mr. Engel commented: “His work for media literacy in the context of his own Ignatian spirituality bears eloquent testimony to finding God in all things, including the media.”

The inaugural award, in 2011, was presented to the late Father Pierre Babin, OMI (1925-2012), in Lyons, France, the 2012 award went to Dr. Thomas W. Cooper, Professor of Communication at Emerson College, Boston and Dr. Eric McLuhan was the recipient in 2013.

In a recent interview with the Catholic Register, Pungente called Marshall McLuhan a media genius and recalled learning from him when he was studying theology in Toronto. “His work was most influential in the development in the key concepts of media literacy, which I helped devise and which I used around the world in one form or another,” said Pungente. “I feel honoured in winning the award and being placed in the company of past winners like Pierre Babin and Eric McLuhan, Marshall’s son”. See interview at .

John J. Pungente, SJ, has worked in media education for over 50 years. He has co-authored Media Literacy: A Resource Guide (1989), Meet the Media (1990), More than Meets the Eye: Watching TV Watching Us (1999) and Finding God in the Dark: The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Go To The Movies (2004). He has contributed to international journals and books on media education. He has degrees in English, Film, and Theology as well as two honorary doctorates for his work in media education.

Pungente is creator and host of the award-winning Bravo! television show – SCANNING THE MOVIES - which premiered in 1997. He is producer of the award winning video A HEART TO UNDERSTAND, and the 1996 award winning teaching kit, SCANNING TELEVISION. SCANNING TELEVISION 2 (2003) has also received a number of awards.

Since 1985 he has given over 300 presentations across Canada and Australia, in Europe, Great Britain, the USA and Japan. He serves as a consultant to media professionals including CHUM Television and Warner Bros. Canada. Pungente is president of the Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations (CAMEO) and Director of the Jesuit Communication Project in Toronto where he continues to promote media education. (Source:

The Jesuit Communication Project:

Eight Key Concepts for Media Literacy by John Pungente: 

Medium&Light_AwardMedium & Light Award

Ryerson University used the occasion of the recent Media Ecology Association Convention (June 19-22) to publically commemorate their recently created Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room in their Rogers Communication Centre (RCC 202).  The room was named in honour of Marshall McLuhan’s association with Ryerson, which was known as Ryerson Institute of Technology when McLuhan knew it in the 1960s and ’70s. It was renamed Ryerson University in 2001. The ribbon cutting was done by Eric McLuhan, after welcoming comments by Academic Vice Provost Chris Evans, Dean Gerd Hauck and Emeritus Professor Donald Gillies (a onetime student of McLuhan). There will be more on Marshall McLuhan’s association with Ryerson in a later posting on this blog……….Alex

Here are some photographs of the Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room. Thanks to Sal Greco of Ryerson for providing them.

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room, Ryerson University

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room, Ryerson University

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room

The Ryerson Experiment, written by Marshall McLuhan, June 30, 1960. Find in The Critical Edition of "Understanding Media" (2003), Ed. by W. Terrence Gordon, published by Gingko Press (pp. 483-513).

The Ryerson Experiment, written by Marshall McLuhan, June 30, 1960. Find in The Critical Edition of “Understanding Media” (2003), Ed. by W. Terrence Gordon, published by Gingko Press (pp. 483-513).

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room, Display case

Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room, Display case

Cover of Saturday Review with Marshall McLuhan on cover

This month, the Fisher’s rotating display case features books and materials from Marshall McLuhan’s Library. The library, comprising more than 6000 volumes, was used heavily by McLuhan in the writing of his most famous works, including Understanding MediaThe Gutenberg Galaxy and The Medium is the Massage.  A majority of the books bear McLuhan’s annotations and more than half of them contained material – including notes, manuscripts, and correspondence – laid into the books by McLuhan.

Fisher Librarian Jason Brown, who catalogued the McLuhan library (click on this link for the finding aid), has curated an exhibition featuring highlights from the library, including McLuhan’s heavily annotated copies of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. To listen to Jason discuss the McLuhan library, please click on this link or the sound icon below. He’s also provided an audio “guided tour” of the exhibition, which you can listen to by clicking on this link or on the sound icon below. (If you want to download the mp3 to your device, simply right click on the link.) Images from the display case can be seen below.

  McLuhan Library Overview

  McLuhan Display Case – Guided Tour

Click on images below for a closer view.



Reading Room

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto


All of which makes McLuhan’s first book, The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, a study of advertising published by the distinguished independent house Vanguard Press in 1951, so strong a marker in his own story, and so captivating today: hilarious, threatening, inspiring, scary for the world it depicts and the solutions it seems to propose. By more than a decade, it anticipated both the spirit and the content of such media critiques as Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1967), and for that matter the Rolling Stones’ 1965 hits “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Get Off of My Cloud”–not to mention Herbert Marcuse’s far less nimble Eros and Civilization (1955) and such works of pop sociology as Vance Packard’s once scandalizing The Hidden Persuaders (1957). For a book by a professor, let alone a first book, it could not be less academic. Even the Roland Barthes of Mythologies (1957), with whom the McLuhan of 1951 shares the most, is hesitant and circumscribed by comparison, and the later Buckminster Fuller, with the likes of Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1969) a by-the-numbers utopian.

In fifty-nine short essays, each one illustrated with a newspaper front page, a movie poster, a comic-strip panel, a lurid paperback cover, or, most often, an advertisement, and most often from a mass-circulation magazine such as LookReader’s Digest, or, preeminently, Life, McLuhan unwrites and rewrites what he is certain is the language of a new phase in human history:

No longer is it possible for modern man, individu­ally or collectively, to live in any exclusive segment of human experience or achieved social pattern. The modern mind, whether in its subconscious collective dream or in its intellectual citadel of vivid aware­ness, is a stage on which is contained and re-enacted the entire experience of the human race. There are no more remote and easy perspectives, either artistic or national. Everything is present in the foreground. That fact is stressed equally in current physics, jazz, newspapers, and psychoanalysis. And it is not a question of preference or taste. This flood has already immersed us. And whether it is to be a benign flood, cleansing the Augean stables of speech and experience, as envisaged in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, or a merely destructive element, may to some extent depend on the degree of exertion and direc­tion which we elicit in ourselves. [3]

He is insisting on a great crisis, and insisting that it is new: “Ours is the first age in which many thousands of the best-trained individual minds have made it a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind. To get inside in order to manipulate, exploit, control is the object now. And to generate heat not light is the intention. To keep everybody in the helpless state engendered by prolonged mental rutting is the effect of many ads and much entertainment alike.” [4]

media critiques

McLuhan creates a sense of high stakes. It is no matter that he writes from Canada, because, really, he doesn’t: The US is his subject, the sea he swims in. Because the American mind is the modern mind, it is that mind that must be read. McLuhan generates such a sense of drama that the reader, or the looker, is pulled through his terrible puns (“from the cradle to the gravy,” “eager to sell their souls for a pot of message”), moments of sourness and fulminating raillery (“Time deals with its readers as a Sultan with his eunuchs”), phrases that sound as if they were clichés even before they were written (“these wondrous totalitarian techniques for mashing the public into processed cheese”), or what feels like irritation parading as judgment (“‘Democratic’ vanity has reached such proportions that it cannot accept as human anything above the level of cretinous confusion of mind of the type popularized by Hemingway’s heroes”). [5] Like any great critic, McLuhan here makes the reader feel as if he or she has embarked with the author on a great adventure. Never mind the readings of ads for long-defunct products in magazines that no longer exist: Whether merely sententious or as gripping as a thriller, hectoring or satiric, the book never reads as dated. And that’s partly because McLuhan, gearing up to slay the dragon of brainwashing, propaganda, and fascist-capitalist mind control, is having so much fun.

This is an excerpt. Read the full essay at .

Marshall McLuhan: The Mechanical Bride - Folklore of Industrial Man (1)

Marshall McLuhan:
The Mechanical Bride
Folklore of Industrial Man
Can the feminine body keep pace with the demands of the textile industry?
Are women’s legs getting longer? Is the sun cooling off?

The statue of Egerton Ryerson, founder of the school system of Ontario, at Ryerson University, Toronto

By Alex Kuskis

For the first time in its history the MEA held its annual convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, downtown at Ryerson University, though this was the second time the event had been held in Canada; the University of Alberta in Edmonton hosted it in 2011, the year in which the centenary of McLuhan’s birth was celebrated. Of course Toronto is where McLuhan spent most of his professional career, from 1946 on, where he died in 1980, and where he is buried in the northern suburb of Thornhill.

The theme of this year’s convention was Confronting Technopoly: Creativity and the Creative Industries in Global Perspective, perhaps appropriately hosted by a university which, as Ryerson Institute of Technology, was established to prepare graduates for technological and creative careers. Secondary themes, in deference to the host city, dealt with the 50th anniversary of the publication of Understanding Media (1964) and the Toronto School of Communication.

Coordinated by Phil Rose of York University, with the support of Don Gillies, emeritus professor at Ryerson (and one time student of Marshall McLuhan), the standard MEA convention structure was used: 10 presentation sessions over three and a half days, each consisting of 3 or 4 concurrent offerings of usually 4 presenters, organized around media ecology themes. The usual difficulty of deciding which of the concurrent sessions to attend was especially strong.  Interspersed with these were a series of plenary sessions:

  • A panel on Understanding Media with the theme of Addressing Technological Trauma;
  • A lecture by Joshua Meyrowitz titled Snowed-In by Surveillance: Technopoly and the Social Reconstruction of Reality;
  • A panel on The Early Days of the Toronto School of Communication (1946-63), organized by Robert Logan;
  • A performance at the University of Toronto titled Lines of Thought, which might be described as a half dozen loosely connected neo-Platonic dialogues probing the interaction of technology and culture;
  • A panel on Technics and the Sacred, focused on the thought of Neil Postman, Jacques Ellul, George Grant, René Girard, Ernest Becker, Kenneth Burke;
  • A keynote lecture by Ron Deibert, Director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, on The Geopolitics of Cyberspace;

There was also a lunch time performance of a one-act-one-actor play written by Canadian author Rick Salutin about Harold Innis, titled Innis’s Foray. Ryerson University used this convention occasion to publically commemorate the Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room in their Rogers Communication Centre; the ribbon cutting was done by Eric McLuhan after welcoming comments by Dean Gerd Hauck and Donald Gillies. In a separate presentation on Friday evening, the Medium and the Light Award for religious communication was awarded to Father John Pungente, SJ for his longtime media literacy work by Howard Engel of the McLuhan Initiative of St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba.

The final registration number of persons attending the conference was just under 200 registrants, which makes this one of the better attended MEA conventions. Onward to Denver, CO next year!


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