Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan


Distributed for Intellect Ltd (UK) by the University of Chicago Press
In this timely and highly original merging of theory and practice, conflict photographer and critical theorist Rita Leistner applies Marshall McLuhan’s semiotic theories of language, media, and technology to iPhone photographs taken during a military embed in Afghanistan. In a series of what Leistner calls iProbes—a portmanteau of iPhone and probe—Leistner reveals the face of war through the extensions of man. As digital photography becomes more ubiquitous, and as the phones we carry with us become more advanced, the process of capturing images becomes more democratic and more spontaneous. Leistner’s photos result from both access and impulse. Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan will appeal anyone with an interest in the conflicts in the Middle East, the seminal communications theorist, or iPhone apps and photography.

Contents –  Foreword

Hipstamatic Blues by Julian Stallabrass

The Process

Smartphones + War in Afghanistan – Marshall McLuhan b. 1911 in Alberta Canada – The embed – Semiotics – Figure + Ground – Reading McLuhan – Musa Qala – The social media – River City – iPhone + the Hipstamatic app – The thingness of things – The iProbes – Prophylactive therapy

The Extensions of Man

Camera obscura – Electric light – Typewriter – Telephone – Phonograph – Smartphone

McLuhan + Fiore + The Printed Book

The iProbes

iProbe 01_The iphone Camera + the Hipstamatic app ; iProbe 02_Phone Texting ; iProbe 03_Body Armour ; iProbe 04_Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) ; iProbe 05_Figure / Ground ; iProbe 06_Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) Made of Wood ; iProbe 07_Fuel Dispensers ; iProbe 08_Loudspeakers and Sermons from the Mosque ; iProbe 09_Mobile Telephony: “Can You Hear Me Now?” ; iProbe 10_The Written Word: “Proceed At Your Own Risk” ; iProbe 11_Unmaned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs); iProbe 12_Sandbags and HESCO Concertina Barriers ; The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:00­–11:10)

The Tetrads: Laws of Media

Notes – Bibliography – Colophon – Acknowledgements – About the author

YouTube trailer about the book:

Read the U of T News interview with Rita Leistner: http://tinyurl.com/os88xp5
Previous postings on this blog about her work: http://tinyurl.com/oumezvn ; http://tinyurl.com/mhhz8a6  ; http://tinyurl.com/km6ldlr

From Paul Levinson’s Infinite Regress blog (by permission): http://paullevinson.blogspot.ca/2014/04/tetrad-on-selfie.html

I [Paul Levinson] just had an exchange with Ian Bogost over on Twitter, after I posted the above photograph of me, Marshall McLuhan, and Eric McLuhan, taken at the “Tetrad Conference” I organized at Fairleigh Dickinson University in March 1978.
Ian aptly said that I needed a “4th” (the “tetrad” has four components).
I replied that the 4th person pertaining to the photograph was the photographer*, which has flipped into the selfie.
Here, then, is a full tetrad on the photograph, and it’s flipping into the selfie:

The photograph enhances capture of literal images.

The photograph obsolesces portrait painting.

The photograph retrieves memory, looking at images in pools of water, etc.

And the photograph flips into the selfie.

And it’s a physical flip of the camera in the phone, as well as a philosophic flip.
*photographer was my student, Mary Lou Bale

For more on the tetrad …  Digital McLuhan [electronic resource] : a guide to the information millennium /

See also http://tinyurl.com/3xkfgh from which this is extracted:

 The Process of Tetrad Creation

The tetrad is arrived at through a process of asking questions, based on historical, social, and technological knowledge of the subject:

  • What does any artifact enlarge or enhance?
  • What does it erode or obsolesce?
  • What does it retrieve that had been earlier obsolesced?
  • What does it reverse or flip into when pushed to the limits of its potential?

These questions result in a set of four effects, namely: enhancement, obsolescence, retrieval, and reversal. These four elements are in a resonant relationship (or “interchange”) with one another; the parts of the tetrad are in a complementary relationship:

An example for the cellphone:-

“Laws of Media: Mobile Phone”, Marshall McLuhan, from Laws of Media, 1988, page 153.

Digital Modernism Making It New in New Media
Jessica Pressman
240 pages | 20 halftones | 235x156mm
978-0-19-993710-3 | Paperback & Hardcover | 27 February, 2014
From the book’s Introduction:-
McLuhan not only wrote at the midpoint of the twentieth century, but he is also himself  a midpoint between modernism and digital modernism. Donald Theall writes,” since the mid-point of the century a single name, McLuhan, has brooded ghost-like over social and cultural understanding of the intersection of communication, computers, persuasion, and the emergence of a technoculture.” Moreover, Mr. McLuhan is a bridge between literary and media studies because he adopted the role of the modernist poet/critic in the postmodern period using  an understanding of literature that he gained from the New Critics to explain the age of television. I hope we can now see how retracing McLuhan’s connections to the New Criticism shows how he adapted the practices of an earlier cultural moment to address his own. We can learn from McLuhan and do something similar. Indeed understanding McLuhan in this way serves to remind us that we too can and, indeed, must renovate traditional critical practices to suit the needs of our emergent literary culture.
McLuhan saw the world in the midst of transformation due to media shift, and he offered the following query. Posed in the language of modernism (and of vorticism in particular), it could easily serve as a thesis or a probe for the chapters that follow: “May not our job in the new electronic age be to study the action of the new vortex on the body of the older culture?” Reading McLuhan as both a modernist and a theorist of new media, I answer “the Oracle of the Electric Age” in the affirmative. How exactly to go about studying the new vortex of the electric age and its impact on literature is my pursuit in the following chapters.
The full Chapter One, titled, Close Reading: Marshall McLuhan, from Modernism to Media Studies can be accessed here: http://tinyurl.com/q3h3adk .
Oxford University Press
OUP listing description:
  • Presents surprising juxtapositions between early 20th-century modernist literature and early 21st-century digital texts
  • Covers canonical work by Joyce and Pound alongside lesser known works of electronic literature by William Poundstone and Judd Morrissey
  • Establishes electronic literature as an important area for modernist studies

Digital Modernism examines how and why some of the most innovative works of online electronic literature adapt and allude to literary modernism. Digital literature has been celebrated as a postmodern form that grows out of contemporary technologies, subjectivities, and aesthetics, but this book provides an alternative genealogy. Exemplary cases show electronic literature looking back to modernism for inspiration and source material (in content, form, and ideology) through which to critique contemporary culture. In so doing, this literature renews and reframes, rather than rejects, a literary tradition that it also reconfigures to center around media. To support her argument, Pressman pairs modernist works by Pound, Joyce, and Bob Brown, with major digital works like William Poundstone’s “Project for the Tachistoscope: [Bottomless Pit]” (2005), Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries’s Dakota, and Judd Morrissey’s The Jew’s Daughter. With each pairing, she demonstrates how the modernist movement of the 1920s and 1930s laid the groundwork for the innovations of electronic literature. In sum, the study situates contemporary digital literature in a literary genealogy in ways that rewrite literary history and reflect back on literature’s past, modernism in particular, to illuminate the crucial role that media played in shaping the ambitions and practices of that period. (Source http://tinyurl.com/pgl7g9u )

Jessica Pressman Jessica Pressman

The Materiality of Rumor April 29, 2014 • 7:00PM   –   Fisher Rare Book Library • 120 St. George Street

In this talk I will discuss rumors as a type of small media and as ‘secondhand accounts’ rather than ‘false tales.’ Over the years, I have encountered a number of rumors while doing ethnographic fieldwork in Ghana including one about Bill Gates – the illiterate dropout, rumors about young Ghanaians who got rich off the Internet, and a rumor about an impending earthquake (spread, in part, by mobile phone) that led people to flee into the streets one night in 2010. The study of rumor has served as a useful lens for thinking about how digital technologies are received by new populations of users. Among youth in Ghanaian Internet cafes, the accounting work done in rumors resolved issues of morality and efficacy related to Internet use. Rumors compel retelling and have a bodily existence through the people who spread them. The consequences of rumor are often overwhelmingly and undeniably material. The durability of rumor offers a way to rethink an overdrawn dichotomy between material and symbolic that often subtly (or not so subtly) informs the social study of digital technologies.

Bio: Jenna Burrell is an Associate Professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley. Her first book Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafes of Urban Ghana (The MIT Press) came out in May 2012. She completed her PhD in 2007 in the department of Sociology at the London School of Economics. Before pursuing her PhD she was an Application Concept Developer in the People and Practices Research Group at Intel Corporation. Her interests span many research topics including theories of materiality, user agency, transnationalism, post-colonial relations, digital representation, and especially the appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by individuals and groups on the African continent. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/mwrg6rq )


Kevin McMahon (Director). Michael McMahon and Kristina McLaughlin (Primitive Producers).
Gerry Flahive (NFB Producer). David Sobelman (Writer & Co-producer).
Montreal, PQ: Primitive Entertainment in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada in association with TVONTARIO, 2003.

As he lay dying on the last day of 1980, Marshall McLuhan had every reason to believe he would soon be forgotten. His ideas about technology and its role in society had been dismissed by many Western intellectuals and his beloved study centre at the University of Toronto had been closed. His books were not selling and the mass media, having built him up as the oracle of our times, had lost interest. Worst of all, a massive stroke, suffered earlier in the year, had rendered him mute.

It was a tragically perfect end for a misunderstood prophet: rich in pathos and irony. For CNN was born the year McLuhan died and the world would soon come to viscerally understand two of his most famous and puzzling aphorisms: “the Global Village” and “the medium is the message”.


All rights belong to Primitive Entertainment. Please buy a copy of the DVD from their web site and share with friends, family, and classmates. See http://www.primitive.net/mcluhan.html

Interviews: Somebody kindly published a collection of recorded interviews that were made for McLuhan’s Wake, with a number of people who were close to Marshall McLuhan, both family members and professional colleagues: Eric McLuhan, his eldest son; Philip Marchand, his first biographer; Corinne McLuhan, his wife; Edmund Carpenter, colleague and collaborator at University of Toronto; Frank Zingrone, university professor and colleague; Gerald O’Grady, professor and colleague; Lewis Lapham, magazine publisher, wrote an Introduction to the MIT edition of Understanding Media; Neil Postman, NYU professor and colleague; Patricia Bruckman, friend. Click on each title to listen to the audio or to download the audio file. (Note, 04/06/14 : the files on this site are presently inaccessible; hopefully they will be accessible again on this peculiar site.)

Source: http://tinyurl.com/oq2uzpv

File:MIT logo.svg

MIT has launched an interesting Internet application that measures and ranks world cultural influencers by country and occupation. The New York Times explains it thus:

There are many varieties of fame. Jesus Christ was the first person to achieve it globally, Clive James wrote, “without conquering the world by violence.” The best kind for a poet to earn, W. H. Auden said, is like some valley cheese — “local, but prized elsewhere.” Yet if all fame, like all politics, is to some degree local, how thoroughly it has been transmitted across the planet and through the centuries has been difficult, if not impossible, to quantify.

Pantheon, a new project from the Macro Connections group in M.I.T.’s Media Lab, is giving that a stab. It has collected and analyzed data on cultural production from 4,000 B.C. to 2010. With a few clicks on its website, which just went live, you can swing through time and geography, making plain the output of, say, Brazil (largely soccer players) or Belarus (politicians). It also ranks professions from chemists to jurists to porn stars (No. 1 is Jenna Jameson; No. 2 is the Czech Republic’s Silvia Saint).

For now, you are legitimately famous, the M.I.T. team has decided, if a Wikipedia page under your name exists in more than 25 languages. [It is also premised on how many times living and historical personages are looked up on Wikipedia in the various languages.] See http://tinyurl.com/mkbfpcj .


Here’s where Marshall McLuhan of Canada ranks in MIT’s schema:


Marshall McLuhan (Philosopher) was born in EdmontonCanada in 1911.

He is featured in 37 different language editions of Wikipedia and has received 4,397,402 combined Page views since 2008.

  • L (language editions):   37
  • PV (page views):   4,397,402
  • PVe (english pageviews):   2,131,153
  • PVne (non-english pageviews):   2,266,249
  • CV (coeff. of variation):   0.02703
  • L* (effective L):   6.64
Between Claude Lévi-Strauss at 148 and Emil Cioran at 150
PEOPLE AMONG PEOPLE BORN IN 1911:   8 out of 56
PEOPLE BORN IN CANADA:   5 out of 121
See http://pantheon.media.mit.edu/people/Marshall%20McLuhan
Canada’s dataset is here http://tinyurl.com/k65zryf .
You were not born with the ability to fly, cure disease or communicate at long distances, but you were born in a society that endows you with these capacities. These capacities are the result of information that has been generated by human and that humans have been able to embed in tangible and digital objects.

This information is all around you. It is the way in which the atoms in an airplane

are arranged or the way in which your cell-phone whispers dance instructions to

electromagnetic waves.

Pantheon is a project celebrating the cultural information that endows our

species with these fantastic capacities. To celebrate our global cultural heritage

we are compiling, analyzing and visualizing datasets that can help us understand

the process of global cultural development.

Dive in, visualize, and enjoy. ( http://pantheon.media.mit.edu/vision )

Methods - Read about how these datasets are arrived at and their biases,

limitations and validation here  http://pantheon.media.mit.edu/methods

My thanks to Adam Swick on his blog for making this information available. See http://tinyurl.com/opt28x4 .

The November, 1967 issue of artscanada was a special issue on Canadian-born Wyndham Lewis, edited by Sheila Watson, Canadian novelist and University of Alberta English professor, whose doctoral dissertation,Wyndham Lewis and Expressionism was completed in 1965 under Marshall McLuhan’s supervision at the University of Toronto. It included a 7″ Flexidisc with recordings of Lewis reading his poem One-Way Song and McLuhan talking about Lewis.

On Side 1 Sheila Watson introduces McLuhan, who talks about Lewis’s visit with him in St. Louis (in 1944), his very English accent, fondness for opera,  and disappointment at his writings not being taken seriously by high level decision-makers. Adam Swick has provided a transcription of McLuhan’s comments below the audio recording.

Now, here is Marshall McLuhan recalling his experience in recording Lewis reading.

In St. Louis—Lewis came down to visit and to do some paintings. And I managed to persuade him to read something from One-Way Song for our little home recorder. And it was most interesting to observe Lewis upon hearing his own voice. He just simply roared with laughter! In all the years preceding it had never occurred to him that he had essentially an English voice. Anyone who reads Lewis doesn’t tend to get a very strong English effect or English enunciation 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 coming forth. And upon hearing the Harvard recording myself just now I too was surprised at just how English he sounded because after years of talking 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 he would occasionally produce a trill or two in that direction. But I wasn’t—after all I wasn’t in his presence all day and night, as it were. But 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 in decision-making at very high levels.

On side 2, more interestingly McLuhan explains Lewis’s considerable influence on him: of the idea that the man-made environment is a programmed teaching machine and of Lewis’s preference for the visual sense over the other senses, going on himself to compare the visual with the other senses.

We asked Marshall McLuhan what influence Wyndham Lewis had on him.
Good Heavens—that’s where I got it! [Laughter] 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 manmade environment was a teaching machine—a programmed teaching machine. Earlier, you see, the Symbolists had discovered that the work of art is a programmed teaching machine. It’s a mechanism for shaping sensibility. Well, Lewis simply extended this private art activity into the corporate activity of the whole society in making environments that basically were artifacts or works of art and that acted as teaching machines upon 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 of 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, every moment of which is different form 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 [sic?] 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.
Now, back to Wyndham Lewis in 1940.

Finally, here is a YouTube video of Wyndham Lewis, the Canadian-born English painter/writer/polemicist and founder of the Vorticists , appearing in a newsreel clip from 1938, standing outside the Royal Academy after the rejection by the Academy of his portrait of his longtime friend T.S. Eliot. His very English accent is plainly evident.

The artscanada recording of Lewis reading his poem One-Way Song is available on The Enemy Speaks .

This will be of interest to McLuhanists and students of Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and modernist art and literature …

The publication of the London-based modernist magazine BLAST in June 1914 was the most important artistic event in Britain that year and a transformative moment in the wider milieu of European modernist art and literature. The launch of the Vorticist movement was the culmination of a series of noisy dissociations from other modernist trends in art (most notably the Bloomsbury Group and the Futurists) and marked the creation of England’s first real avant-garde art movement. Published a mere seven weeks before the Britain’s entrance into the First World War, BLAST also gives a fascinating insight into the combative cultural temper in London immediately prior to the outbreak of war.

The guns of the Western Front effectively silenced the rhetorical aggression of the Vorticist manifesto; yet despite this, the two issues of BLAST that were published provided a platform for some the most significant figures in the development of British High Modernism, including the artwork of Wyndham Lewis, Edward Wadsworth, Jacob Epstein, Spencer Gore, Gaudier Brzeska, Helen Sanders, Jessica Dismorr, Christopher Nevinson and William Roberts, and the writings of Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford, Rebecca West, and T. S. Eliot (whose first poems to be published in the UK appeared in the pages of BLAST 2: The War Number).

The bellicose rhetoric of BLAST was of its time, but the Vorticist manifestos also envisioned a new social function for art. As Wyndham Lewis explained, “It was more than just picture-making: one was manufacturing fresh eyes for people, and fresh souls to go with the eyes.”


 Details - http://www.bathspa.ac.uk/research/blast2014


We invite proposals for 20 minute papers on any aspect of BLAST and Vorticism, and positively encourage research emanating from a diverse range of disciplines, particularly:

o   Literary criticism, Cultural criticism, Art, Art history, History, Sociology

Please send a 250-word abstract, with title, to c.lewis2@bathspa.ac.uk by 15th April 2014.

Themes of the conference include:

-          Can there be a 2014 equivalent to the Vorticist moment of 1914?

-          The lives and works of individual Vorticists.

-          Visual and Literary Vorticism.

-          BLAST and other modernist magazines.

-          Origins and legacies of *BLAST *and Vorticism.

-          BLAST and World War One.

-          The effect of World War One on the Avant-Garde

-          Vorticism: Nationalist or Internationalist?

-          BLAST and women.

-          *Enemy of the Stars* and Expressionist drama.

-          The philosophical origins of Vorticism, and their transformation in Wyndham Lewis’s later works.

-          We also invite artists who have been influenced by (or who feel their work interacts with) Vorticism, and we welcome suggestions for             round-table discussions.

The deadline for proposals is 15th April 2014. All submissions will be reviewed in April and May and delegates will contacted by early June 2014. Please include institutional affiliations, society membership and contact details.


See also On Vorticism & Wyndham Lewis, Influencers of McLuhan on this blog at http://tinyurl.com/pddn4ew .

Wyndham Lewis photo by George Charles Beresford 1913.jpg

Wyndham Lewis - photo by George Charles Beresford, 1913


Michael McLuhan, son of communications visionary Marshall McLuhan, shared an intimate look at his childhood with Toronto high school students [Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School]

 Television, Marshall McLuhan proclaimed, was the most significant electronic medium of his time.

“It permeates nearly every home in the country, extending the central nervous system of every viewer,” he told Playboy Magazine in 1969.

What McLuhan didn’t mention, in between his mind-bending pronouncements on the differences between “hot” and “cool” media, was that for him, television was also a favourite after-dinner pastime.

In the evenings, he’d gather his wife and children to watch Perry MasonHave Gun — Will Travel and, on Sundays, The Ed Sullivan Show.

“Television was a family activity,” said Michael McLuhan, the youngest of Marshall McLuhan’s six children.

In a candid talk to a gymnasium full of high school students on Wednesday, Michael shared stories of his childhood as the son of the communications visionary responsible for modern media studies and aphorisms such as “the global village” and “the medium is the message.”

“I think a lot of us have already heard some of his important phrases or theories,” said 17-year-old Kaelan Brooke, a Grade 11 student at Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School.

Brooke said the talk was a chance to learn more about the personal life of her school’s namesake.

To illustrate his presentation, Michael brought with him a collection of rare photographs taken in January 1966 by renowned photojournalist Henri Dauman for a profile of Marshall McLuhan in LIFE magazine.

The black-and-white photos, many of which have never been published, gave an intimate peek into the daily routine of the media prophet, who was 54 at the time.

They show Marshall shoveling snow off the front walk of his Toronto home; skating in Nathan Phillips Square; sitting with students at his office at the University of Toronto; lying on the living room couch, a beer bottle balanced on his chest, books stacked along the back of the sofa.

A natural speed reader, Marshall would blaze through a dozen books a week, Michael McLuhan said.

“Today he would be considered a pathological workaholic,” he said.

His father was a fervent Catholic and would rise at 5 a.m. to read from the New Testament in several different translations. Through the routine, he taught himself about eight different languages, Michael said.

“He knew an awful lot about everything.”

Michael McLuhan recalled being joined at dinner by such 20th-century icons as architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller and cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead. (Read the rest at http://tinyurl.com/l3ngqpa )


Related – see also:- Rare Photographs of Marshall McLuhan Revealed, Portrait Presented to School   

Michael McLuhan, son of the late Marshall McLuhan, presented a slideshow of never-before-seen photographs of his famous father taken in 1966 by master photographer Henri Dauman for Life Magazine. He was invited to visit Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School on March 26th.
Artist Shelley Adler presented a portrait of Marshall McLuhan to the school, which was established in 1998 and named after Marshall McLuhan, a communication theorist who spent his life exploring media and communication in our culture. The school’s curriculum focuses on the use of information and communication technology.
Mr. McLuhan delighted students and staff with stories of his life with his famous father, giving students and staff a glimpse professional and private life of the icon and man of deep faith. (See pictures at http://tinyurl.com/mbqdt2l )

 Explorations 4 (Feb, 1955)

Issue Four (April, 1954) of the tri-annual periodical edited by Edmund Carpenter. Associate editor Marshall McLuhan and others. Contributions by Dorothy Lee, D.C. Williams, Jorge Luis Borges, e.e. Cummings, Joan Rayfield, Marjorie Adix, Millar McLure, Marshall McLuhan, Lawrence K. Frank, Stephen Gilman, Northrop Frye, Walter J. Ong, Edmund carpenter, Francis Golffing, J. Tyrwhitt, J. Paul & J. Ogilvie and Robert G. Armstrong.

THE “UNKNOWN” EXPLORATIONS   –   by Gary Genosko


Much has been written about Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication (1953-59), the journal founded by Marshall McLuhan and edited by Edmund Carpenter (with a small associate editorial team consisting of McLuhan, W.T. Easterbrook, J. Tyrwhitt and D.C. Williams). The famous run of 9 “ended” with the McLuhan-less “Eskimo” issue (not the last issue of the journal, but simply the end of the original run) that drew upon images and art from filmmaker Robert Flaherty and drawings by artist Frederick Varley. The 1959 issue sans McLuhan was followed by the selection, published the following year by Beacon, and jointly edited by McLuhan and Carpenter, as Explorations in Communication (1960). The first 8 issues are considered by some McLuhan experts to be definitive. Bob Dobbs (2005: 86), for instance, seems to think the Explorations experiment “ran its course until 1957 […] obsolesced by Sputnik on October 4, 1957.” [1] Yet for every obsolescence there are, of course, other laws of media simultaneously at work.

Issue 9 published in 1959 marked a pause in the journal’s trajectory and was quite unlike the earlier issues in appearance, size and design, with none of Harley Parker’s design nuances, inserts, and typographic flair. The halcyon days of Explorations had ended as the original funding from the Ford Foundation seminar on Culture and Communication (1953-55) ran out and the Toronto Telegram’s brief sponsorship, courtesy of publisher John Bassett, of issues 7 and 8 in 1957, evaporated. McLuhan refers in passing to Eskimo as the “last issue of Explorations” in a 1969 letter to television talk-show host Jack Paar; [2] this letter was written after the Explorations resumed publishing. The original Explorations of the 1950s carries in some instances an incredible intellectual weight, as Philip Marchand insists in describing McLuhan’s final appearance in the journal’s pages:

McLuhan’s final appearance in Explorations, in the October 1957 issue, really caps the intellectual process he had made since the periodical had been launched […] Everything McLuhan said or wrote afterward is directly traceable to something he wrote in the first eight issues of Explorations. (Read the rest of this article at http://tinyurl.com/a65frza ).


Issue Two (April, 1954) of the tri-annual periodical edited by Edmund Carpenter. Associate editor Marshall McLuhan and others. Contributions by Marshall McLuhan, Edmund Carpenter, D.S. Savage, Jacqueline Tyrwhitt, Dorothy Lee, Donald Theall, Lord Raglan, David Riesman, Stanley Edgar Hyman, and A. Irving Hallowell. “Explorations is designed, not as a permanent reference journal that embalms truth for posterity, but as a publication that explores and searches and questions. We envisage a series that will cut across the humanities and social sciences by treating them as a continuum. We believe anthropology and communication are approaches, not bodies of data, and that within each the four winds of humanities, the physical, the biological and the social sciences intermingle to form a science of man.” — editors’ statement.
Issue Three (August 1954) of the tri-annual periodical edited by Edmund Carpenter. Associate editor Marshall McLuhan and others. Contributions by H.J. Chaytor, Kamo Chomei, Ray Birdwhistell, Martha Wolfenstein, Dorothy Lee, Kenneth MacLean, D.C. Williams, I. Potekin, M. Lewin, H. A. Innis, W.H. McCulloch, Marshall McLuhan, Anthony F.C. Wallace, G.L. Trager, and E.T. Hall.

Issue Five (June 1955) of the tri-annual periodical edited by Edmund Carpenter. Associate editor Marshall McLuhan and others. Contributions by Marshall McLuhan, Edmund Carpenter, Daisetz T. Suzuki, W.R. Rodgers, E.R. Rodgers, E.R. Leach, Rhoda Métraux, Roy Campbell, Claire Holt, Joan Rayfield, D. Lerner, D. Riesman, J. Tyrwhitt, D. Williams, Kenneth Boulding, W.T. Easterbrook, Jean Piaget, and Harcourt Brown. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/lx9ju85 )

 Edmund (“Ted”) Carpenter

Availability of the Explorations journals: They are of course available in major university libraries. Used copies occasionally appear for sale on eBay and at ABE.com, where I acquired my copies. Still new copies of Explorations 8, the Exploration in Communication anthology, plus later Explorations inserts into the University of Toronto Graduate journal are available from The McLuhan Bookshop at http://ericmcluhan.com/bookshop/ .


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