B.W. Powe to Lecture on Marshall McLuhan & Teilhard de Chardin in Barcelona
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)
MARSHALL MCLUHAN, TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, & COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS. A SEMINAR ON INTELLECTUAL INFLUENCE, THE PULSE OF THE NOOSPHERE, NEW STAGES IN CONSCIOUSNESS, MYSTICISM, & THE DRAMA OF THE GLOBAL THEATRE
Bruce William Powe
Canadian writer, poet, novelist, essayist, philosopher, and teacher. Powe received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in 1981 and studied there with Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye. Ph.D (York University/ 2009) on Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye. He currently teaches English in the Department of English at York University. His courses there have included Visionary Literature: from Hildegard von Bingen and Dante to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, and Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Two Canadian Theorists. He continues to teach the first year introduction to literature course.
Marshall McLuhan read Teilhard de Chardin’s work in mimeographed pages while he was a young professor at the University of St. Louis. These pages had been passed on to him, zamizdat style, by his student, Walter J. Ong, himself to become a renowned exegete of orality. What McLuhan took from Teilhard was the grand vision of evolutionary consciousness. The modern era, according to Teilhard, was moving into an evolutionary overdrive, where the mind was being externalized in electronic technologies; the biosphere was being enveloped by thought. This is the noosphere. The noosphere is the vibration of the human mind, and the representation of heart, the warming of the world through the potential of the soul. It is my contention that McLuhan was profoundly moved by Teilhard, and adapted his thought and applied his principles to the emergent global theatre. McLuhan would deny the influence of the great Jesuit archeologist and poet-thinker, but the traces are there in McLuhan’s books and aphorisms. What are the implications the noosphere? How is it enveloping us today? What is cosmic consciousness? This seminar will also look at the work of the influential Canadian psychologist, Richard Maurice Bucke, who coined the phrase “Cosmic Consciousness”, which McLuhan applied in The Spoken Word chapter of Understanding Media (1964).
It is my contention that there is a mystic drama, an alchemical magnum opus, at work in the recombinations McLuhan initiated from his readings and contemplations of Teilhard and the ideas of cosmic consciousness.
While McLuhan was drawn to dramas of hope, it is essential to see the Janus-faced complementarity in the visions of cosmic consciousness: this age is one of apogee (great heights and hopes) and abyss (violence and breakdown).
These conditions of abyss and apogee act like figure-ground interactions: hope and horror are simultaneous. This is the lesson of instantaneous global communions: baptism into the soul of the world, and thus into its pain and panic, into ecstasies and discoveries. (Example: the massacre in the cinema in the Aurora, Colorado theatre, during a showing of the Dark Knight Rises by a youn man claiming to be a comic book character; simultaneously, the science community is abuzz with discoveries of new field particles that could be the missing link in physics, understanding cosmological processes.)
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