An Announcement by Howard R. Engel, Founding Director & C.E.O. of The Marshall McLuhan Initiative, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
On behalf of The Marshall McLuhan Initiative Board of Directors, I’m very pleased to report that Archives & Special Collections at the University of Manitoba (U. of M.), Marshall McLuhan’s first post-secondary alma mater where he earned a gold medal in Arts in 1933 and his M.A. in 1934, has recently acquired one of his Kelvin Technical High School (K.T.H.S.) texts, Macaulay’s Essay on Addison, edited by Charles Wallace French (New York: Macmillan, 1924).  McLuhan inscribed it himself, identifying his home room as no. 36.  This is corroborated by the K.T.H.S. yearbook from 1928 listing Marshall in that very same home room.
It is very noteworthy that McLuhan’s first and longest of some 14 essays he published in the U. of M.’s student newspaper, The Manitoban between 1930 and 1934 was “Macaulay– What a man!” (Oct. 28, 1930).  This bears eloquent testimony that the thoughts and writings of the English Whig politician and historian, Thomas Babbington Macaulay (1800-1859), perhaps best known for his tour de force, the five-volume History of England, published in stages between 1848 and 1859, was among the most important influences in McLuhan’s undergraduate student years in Winnipeg.  Incidentally, McLuhan’s essays in The Manitoban are freely available at the following link: https://libguides.lib.umanitoba.ca/c.php?g=703111&p=4998257.  The article at this link introducing McLuhan’s essays in The Manitoban was originally titled “McLuhan the Manitoban” and it was authored by my late MMI colleague and Co-Director, Richard J. Osicki (1946-2012).  The digitization of these articles along with a special print issue of The Manitoban (vol. 99 no. 00, July 6, 2011) that re-printed most of them, was another MMI project also in collaboration with Archives & Special Collections, this one just-in-time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth on July 21, 1911.
I therefore commend to your attention the very fine article released today in the U. of M.’s newsletter, UM Today https://news.umanitoba.ca/rare-book-acquired-by-um-archives-features-marginalia-by-marshall-mcluhan/
It is by-lined by U. of M. Media Relations Officer Chris Rutkowski and was originally composed and submitted by MMI Board member, Brian Hubner who also serves as a U. of M. archivist with Archives & Special Collections.
The young McLuhan’s annotations in the textbook

McLuhan’s inscription in the textbook



DAVID SOBELMAN 1950-2022

It is with sadness that we share the news that our admired and dear friend, David Sobelman, died at his home in Oakville on November 7, 2022, while recuperating from surgery. David was predeceased by his beloved wife, poet and professor, Rishma Dunlop. Born in Haifa of an old French Jewish family, David was the son of Rivka Aboutboul and Izhak Sobelman. His brother, Nadav Sivan (Rena Kahn) of Atlanta survives him. David’s early years were spent living and studying across Europe, in Holland, Germany, France, and England. In 1972, he immigrated to Canada to study film and literature at York University. David enjoyed a dynamic career in Toronto, not only as a screenwriter and editor, translator and poet (After The End), but as a writer-producer and independent director of film and television feature-length documentaries: Runaways: 24 Hours On The Streets, McLuhan’s Wake, and Samuel Bak: Painter Of Questions. His television series included Marshall McLuhan’s ABC, The Shuttle Years, and The Space Symphony. For this creative work he received a Gemini Award and a Prix Anik, and was awarded The Media Ecology’s Praxis Award, and the Governor General’s Michener Award for Broadcast Journalism. In a profound sense, David – from his beginnings – had set out to create himself, becoming a bon but melancholy vivant and scholar (he once taught courses in Thomas Aquinas at the University of Toronto); a kind of Baudelairean flaneur who was deeply rooted in isolation, an intellectual of acute philosophical awareness and unflinching integrity, who was open to thought-provoking shenanigans. In other words, he was a complicated, singular fellow.

Published by The Globe and Mail from Nov. 19 to Nov. 23, 2022.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
Online source: https://tinyurl.com/bdhes9ft

One of David’s works, now still available online: –
McLuhan’s Wake (2003): The Video

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”…
See the full video online at https://tinyurl.com/yc5ysv85



Karmina Constantino, Marshall McLuhan Fellow 2022. Image from the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines.

MANILA — Veteran journalist and ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) anchor Karmina Constantino on Thursday was named this year’s Marshall McLuhan fellow by the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

Constantino received the fellowship at the conclusion of the Jaime V. Ongpin (JVO) Journalism Seminar, where she also served as a panelist.

The JVO is an annual seminar organized by the CMFR that gathers journalists who did important work in the preceding year to discuss pressing issues in journalism and the country.

This year’s JVO panelists included Constantino, her fellow ABS-CBN journalist Mike Navallo, Facts First Host Christian Esguerra, Inquirer.net’s Cristina Eloisa Baclig, TV5’s Maeanne Los Banos, Bulatlat’s Managing Editor Ronalyn Olea, and Rappler’s Rambo Talabong.

This year, the panel discussed how journalists work in the current political climate, threats to press freedom, and at a time when disinformation has eroded public trust in media.

Constantino received the McLuhan fellowship from the Charge’d’Affaires of the Embassy of Canada Colin Townson.

Townson lauded Constantino for displaying her “unflinching commitment to speak truth to power, admirable consistency in ferreting out the most complicated issues of the day, and a stirring courage to ask the toughest questions.”

As this year’s fellow, Constantino will undertake a speaking tour in at least 4 Canadian cities in the second quarter of 2023, he said.

Established in 1997, the prestigious Marshall McLuhan Fellowship is awarded yearly by the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines to a recipient “embodying outstanding qualities in the field of investigative journalism.”

The fellow will travel to universities across Canada and the Philippines to deliver lectures on a chosen topic in journalism. No McLuhan fellow was named in 2021 due to pandemic restrictions in travel.

Previous McLuhan fellows include Christian Esguerra (2020), Patricia Evangelista (2019), Jeff Canoy (2018), Manny Mogato (2017), Gigi Grande (2016), Joseph Morong (2015), Cheche Lazaro (2014), Eileen Mangubat (2013), Lynda Jumilla (2012), Carol Arguillas (2011), Ed Lingao (2010), Diosa Labiste (2009), Glenda Gloria (2008), Inday Varona (2007), Gerry Lirio (2006), Yvonne Chua (2000, 2005), Tess Bacalla (2004), Luz Rimban (2003), Miriam Grace Go (2002), Vinia Datinguinoo (2001), Ellen Tordesillas (1999) and Sheila Coronel (1998).
Source: http://tinyurl.com/3pjkn3yh




A special talk with Philippine ABS-CBN news correspondent and McLuhan Award for Investigative Journalism Christian Esguerra.

Date & Time: Tuesday, November 8, 2022 – 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM EST
Location: Rogers Communications Centre (The Venn, RCC 103)
80 Gould Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2M7

About this event

Join the School of Journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University for a special talk with Philippine ABS-CBN news correspondent and McLuhan Award for Investigative Journalism, Christian Esguerra. Esguerra will present the topic: “Democracy at Stake: How media battles the disinformation phenomenon” in which the he discusses the nature of the disinformation phenomenon in the Philippines, how it affects the country’s democratic processes, and how media and stakeholders counter threats to the propagation of lies and truth-telling. His presentation will discuss the question: “In a time when truth and historical facts are being compromised, how can the media help in minimizing the threats and propagation of disinformation?”

This event is presented by the St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, in conjunction with the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines and the Toronto Metropolitan University School of Journalism.

The event is generously supported by the McLuhan Foundation.

The event is free and open to the public. You are encouraged to register online below.

The incumbent Marshall McLuhan Fellow is Christian Esguerra, political journalist, multimedia anchor, and journalism educator. Mr. Esguerra hosts a popular online political talk show tackling burning issues on politics and governance, and is devoted to advocacy combating disinformation. He is the former anchor and managing editor of the hard-hitting political talk program, “After the Fact,” on the ABS-CBN News Channel, an 24/7 English-language channel in the Philippines.

He began his career as a reporter with the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2000 then joined ABS-CBN as a news correspondent and anchor in 2015. He teaches political reporting and journalism ethics at the University of Santo Tomas where he is also a researcher at its Research Center for Culture, Arts, and Humanities.

He was awarded the Marshall McLuhan Fellowship in 2020. In 2019, he received the Award of Distinction from the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and the Titus Brandsma Award for Emergent Leadership in Journalism.

Register at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/democracy-at-stake-how-media-battles-the-disinformation-phenomenon-tickets-443037205207?fbclid=IwAR0I9p86aDMw9TC6bC9j6OUlY8kdX26BiTCfXe4GGTt8L9PMHursoX7LtDQ

The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship is the Embassy of Canada’s flagship public diplomacy initiative in the Philippines. Launched in 1997, it is part of our advocacy to encourage responsible journalism in the Philippines with the belief that a strong media is essential to a strong democratic society.

Every year, the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) assists the Embassy in choosing a Filipino journalist whose work has contributed to positive changes in the social arena or at least has raised the level of public discourse in a relevant issue usually concerning governance and human rights.

The program provides the winner with a two-week speaking and familiarization tour of Canada. This will be an opportunity for the Fellow to interact with media counterparts, and to discuss significant current issues on governance with Canadian government officials, academic interlocutors and members of civil society. The Fellow will also have the chance to speak at the McLuhan Salons in the University of Toronto. Upon returning to the Philippines, a series of forums is organized by the Embassy to be held in five key cities around the country to enable the journalist to share experiences in Canada with students of communication and members of the local and community media.

Aside from contributing to good governance by raising transparency in the public arena, the McLuhan Fellowship also aims to create in the long-term a critical group of influential media personalities with good knowledge and interest in Canadian issues or at least the values Canada stands for: democracy, good governance, and human rights.

 



EMPIRE AND COMMUNICATIONS

By Harold A. Innis

Edited by William J. Buxton
Introduction by William J. Buxton

Originally published in 1950, Harold A. Innis’s Empire and Communications is considered to be one of the classic works in media studies, yet its origins have received little attention. Ambitious in its scope, the book spans five millennia, tracing a path of development around the globe from 2900 BCE to the twentieth century and revealing the cyclical interplay between communications and power structures across space and time.

In this new edition, William J. Buxton pays close attention to handwritten glosses that Innis added to a copy of the original edition and the revisions undertaken by his widow, Mary Q. Innis. A new introduction provides a detailed account of how the book emerged from lectures that Innis delivered at Oxford University in 1948, as well as how it related to other presentations Innis made in Britain during the same period. It explores how Innis sought to enrich his analysis by incorporating material related to phenomena such as war, education, religion, culture, geography, and finance. An insightful foreword by Marshall McLuhan is included, as well as bibliographical references and a revised index.

By providing a narrative based on extensive notes from Innis, this edition makes Empire and Communications more accessible and contributes to the broad efforts to shape Innis’s legacy.

Book Details
Published: August 2022, © 2022
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 288 Pages
Available Formats: Paperback, EBook – EPUB, EBook – PDF
Source: https://tinyurl.com/2p83vpz9

William J. Buxton is Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. Author of  numerous articles on intellectual and cultural history as well as the sociology of knowledge he has most recently edited and co-edited four collections entitled Harold Innis and the North: Appraisals and ContestationsHarold Innis’s History of Communications: Paper and Printing from Antiquity to Early ModernityHarold Innis ReflectsMemoir, World-War I Writings and Correspondence and Harold Innis on Peter Pond: Biography, Cultural Memory, and the Continental Fur Trade. He has edited and written an introduction to the 3rd University of Toronto edition of Harold Innis’s seminal text Empire and Communications.

Reviews

John Durham Peters, Maria Rosa Menocal Professor of English and of Film and Media Studies, Yale University :
Empire and Communications offers a brisk cinematic montage of the struggles of civilizations to manage space, time, and power. This new edition sparkles with fresh archival materials showcasing Innis’s creative process. In the present chaos, we need his critical thinking more than ever. Here, once again, Harold Innis takes flight in the gathering dusk!”

Michael Stamm, Professor of History, Michigan State University :
Empire and Communications is a canonical work dense with historical and historiographical allusions that are obscure to many contemporary readers, and William J. Buxton’s masterful introduction provides invaluable detail about the intellectual currents with which Innis was engaged. Even more importantly, Buxton explains the historical context vital for understanding the book’s conception and production, in the process both giving Mary Q. Innis her proper due in shaping its content and illuminating for readers the work’s critical politics.”

Illustrated Edition, Published by Press Porcépic, 1986



A new book by Adeena Karasick

A Review of Adeena Karasick’s Book, Massaging the Medium: Seven Pechakuchas – By Robert K. Logan

Although as the editor of the journal New Explorations, I have assigned the review of Adeena Karasick’s book Massaging the Medium: Seven Pechakuchas to Steve Hicks, I decided to also review her book, as I so enjoyed reading it. Karasick’s poetry is so delightful and contagious that one wants to imitate it, so at times you will find my attempts at using Adeena-like verse. I cannot match the creativity of her use of, play with, and insights into words, nor provide the resonances both verbally and ideationally she creates. But that is what one wants to do after reading her text. But there is more to her poetry than just the tonal resonances that she provides. There are also the images that accompany her poetic text, so that each of her Pechakuchas consists of a series of poetic texts, each of which is paired with a set of multiple images. These delight as do the insights of her ideas and the humor that lurks about her words and the images that resonate and resound her poetic words. She has prepared for us a minestrone of words, sounds, images, humor, and ideas that nourishes the mind, the heart and the soul. Although Adeena’s text is pure poetry, it is at the same time a scholarly analysis of the impacts of the medium or the technology of language, and as such it is an important contribution to the canon of media ecology.

Here is an example of how Karasick combines her poetic text with images she has collected. This one is from section 5 of “Ceci N’est Pas Une Telephone or Hooked on Telephonics – A Pata-philophonemic Investigation of the Telephone”:

                                                          5

And as we are re-mediated through now wireless technologies

the present is always re-presented in a messy prescient,

a pressing sense that the future of the future

is the present which we walk backwards into; a present

(which is also a gift) a gift given with no giver, re-gifted

in a re-mediated immediacy

As the purpose of a review is to introduce the reader to the work being reviewed (i.e. viewed again), let me quote from the opening paragraph of Karasick’s own introduction to her book of seven Pechakuchas.

Introduction

“I HAVE ALWAYS been obsessed with language, language as technology; a prime mover in the re-distribution of aesthetic values. Whether on the page, the stage, the mis-en-scène, the screen, over my 35 years of publication and performance, the work draws upon a range of neo-Fluxus post L=A=N-G-U-A-G-E, Sound Poetry, Concrete poetry and Vispo modes. And through an aesthetics of jouiss-ey transgression, invasion, contradiction, ambiguity, ornament, excess, heterogeneity, paradox, hybridity and desire, I have always been rapt with the physicality, materiality of language, how it sounds, look, feels, and tastes and the various ways meaning can be constructed from non-traditional modes of language construction — and how that fundamentally affects the way we see, breathe, feel, and act. How it propels us to see the world in new ways — of parsed plays laced socio-political-lingual cultural shards, pulsing with palimpsested resonance, instruments of change with time-binding capacities.

As such, all the work is marked by a kind of intertextatic syntacticism ; or in Korzybskian terms, “semantic disturbances,” weaving meaning through questions and celebrations, reverberation, elation, navigating ways this engagement with language invites us to embrace the impossibility of the possible, the contingency of our finitude, our brokenness, excess and exuberance, within the fissures of being.”

Adeena Karasick, the scholar and the poet, in Massaging the Medium “explore(s) the relational contingencies of visual and acoustic space,” providing us with a corpus callosum of the left and right brain sensibilities that both informs and delights. She is in fact our very own corpus callosum of media ecology and as such we are blessed. In reviewing her book, I have taken the liberty of quoting liberally from her text because paraphrasing Karasick cannot do justice to her delicious text with all its overtones, undertones, associations, nuances, and resonances.”

Karasick throughout the Seven Pechakuchas juxtaposes high and low culture, creating a fascinating mix of two types of genres in which the poetry of her words is combined with the images that accompany her poetic text. But at the same time, the text and images of her Pechakuchas also form rigorously researched multimediatic border-blurring essays.

All is fair game when Karasick plays with language. In fact, one of the markers of her writing is the way she poetically strings together adjectives that are closely related, enriching the noun she is describing and showing us the relationship of the adjectives that she has strung together. Here, as an example, is her two sentence-one paragraph description of her Pechakuchas:

“And as you can’t take the jew out of the jouissance, each Pechakucha erupts as an analytic meditation on the relationship between language, culture, technology, and communication, bound by a firm commitment to play and plaisir. Incorporating a hyper-generative aesthetics highlighting recycled language, sampling, borrowing, cutting, pasting, mash-up; engaged in an ‘inter-inventive’ poetics marked by neo-formalized post-consumerist media-infused transgressive linguistic practices – underscoring how whether on or off the screen, each luxuriant reference, phrase, meme is saturated with ideological codes, intertextually drenched palimpsested systems, an ever-shifting political, social gendered logospace of ‘ambi-valence’.”

This is just one example of the way she slings together adjectives. There are many more in the seven Pechakuchas that make up the content of her book with each Pechakucha consisting of anywhere from 12 to 22 pairings of text with and image. A short description of each one of these now follows.

1. Ceci N’est Pas Une Telephone
or
Hooked on Telephonics
A Pata-philophonemic Investigation of the Telephone

This Pechakucha extends McLuhan’s analysis of the telephone as found in Chapter 27 of Understanding Media. She describes the many uses, features and functions that today’s phones possess. She describes the way the phone engages our senses with not just the dimension of sound like the original telephone, but also the visual with text, images, and video, and the tactile with the touch screen. She “explores ways the telephone has shifted our sense and understanding of time and space” in light of the emergence of the smartphone and the Internet.

2. Where is Fancy Bred
Rethinking Imagination Through the “Unthought” and How that Affects Communication

In this Pechakucha Karasick deals with imagination drawing on a variety of sources, thinkers, artists, and religious practices, ranging from Heidegger, Jabes, Derrida, Lacan, Zizek, Coleridge, Baudrillard, Blake, Deleuze, Barthes, Freud, to quantum physics, Jazz, and the Torah. She examines and describes the many dimensions and nature of imagination, including ways to make the fanciful and the desired real, our conscious and the unconscious reality, the realization of the very existence of the world, of ourselves, of our knowledge, of our diversions, of our interconnections, of our meanings.

3. The Ghost in the Machine
Medium, Messages, and Mysticism

In this Pechakucha Karasick explores the relationship between the magical, mystical, or spiritual, and the machine, or our technology, especially given the use of computing, AI, and robotics, to imitate or replace the human. She traces this back to the arrival of the telegraph, the telephone, radio, and television. She examines the impact of computers and cars that talk to us, services like Siri that help us locate information we seek or use to solve problems, associated with the use of our computers, as well as sex robots, and likens all of these to the “ancient Kabbalistic practice of creating a Golem,” that operates as a private servant.

4. Medium in a Messy Age
Communication in the Era of Technology

In this Pechakucha Karasick provides us with “a playful media ecological investigation of Conceptual Poetry and its impact on communication.” Using the insights of McLuhan, Pound, and Kittler, she shines a light on this poetry movement, providing examples of some of its prominent practitioners.

5. Refracted Facts
The Crazy Talk of Checking In
A Postmanic ‘Pata Semantics

In this Pechakucha Karasick reflects on what is true and how poetry can disentangle the deception of Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk, as originally defined by Neil Postman. She then provides us with the poem “CHECKING IN,” which deals with the deception of language, a recurring theme of her seven Pechakuchas.

6. Maps and Terrortories, PreScience and In-Sanity
bill bissett and the Non-Allnes of Abstraction

In this Pechakucha Karasick creates a poetic homage to bill bisset and his use of language in which she once again wrestles with the meaning of language and its power to create, and yet its “inherent uncontainability.”

7. Scenes, Screams,
Screens and Semes
The Salomaic Elasticity of
the Page and the Stage

In this Pechakucha Karasick dances her dance of seven veils as she again and again suggests that words don’t stand still, but whirl around from one context to another, both revealing and obscuring. But in this her seventh dance of words and poetry, she reveals why she chose seven Pechakuchas
for her book.

When I first began reading this book, I was struck by the choice of seven chapters and knew of the sacredness of seven from my Jewish education. But in this her seventh dance, she confirmed my suspicion and revealed for me even more reasons for the choice of seven. In the opening of Chapter 11 of this Pechakucha, she wrote, “where for example, 7 unveils,” and then proceeds to list the many times that the number seven appears in the Bible and in Jewish practices.

But I say her work is not done, because there is also the sacred number 40 in Jewish lore. After the number 7, the number 40 appears the most often in the Bible. It rained 40 days and 40 nights when Noah was on his Ark. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai before coming down from the mountain with the law written with the finger of G-d. The Jews spent 40 years in the desert after escaping Egypt, before they could enter the promised land. And there are many more. Even in the New Testament the number 40 appears, as Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, where he was tempted by the devil. So, Adeena Karasick, you have your worked cut out for you with 33 more Pechakuchas to go.

Summing Up: A Confession
I must confess that perhaps I went beyond the bounds of a straightforward academic review of Karasick’s book, Massaging the Medium, but that is one of the marvelous things about her writing; her ideas and her thoughts stimulate and inspire. So readers, take my advice and read her book. It can be ordered at:  https://shop.generalsemantics.org/products/massaging-the-medium-seven-pechakuchas or from Amazon.com in the USA or Amazon.ca in Canada and be inspired and enchanted and never again think of language the same way ever again. Amen!

Adeena Karasick, Ph.D, is a New York based poet, performer, cultural theorist and media artist and the author of 12 books of poetry and poetics.
Her Kabbalistically inflected, urban, Jewish feminist mashups have been described as “electricity in language” (Nicole Brossard), “proto-ecstatic jet-propulsive word torsion” (George Quasha), noted for their “cross-fertilization of punning and knowing, theatre and theory” (Charles Bernstein) “a twined virtuosity of mind and ear which leaves the reader deliciously lost in Karasick’s signature ‘syllabic labyrinth’” (Craig Dworkin); “demonstrating how desire flows through language, an unstoppable flood of allusion (both literary and pop-cultural), word-play, and extravagant and outrageous sound-work.” (Mark Scroggins). Her most recent book is Massaging the Medium7 Pechakuchas, (The Institute of General Semantics Press:  Language in Action. Karasick teaches Literature and Critical Theory for the Humanities and Media Studies Dept. at Pratt Institute, is Poetry Editor for Explorations in Media Ecology, Associate International Editor of New Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication, 2021 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award recipient and winner of the Voce Donna Italia award for her contributions to feminist thinking. The “Adeena Karasick Archive” is established at Special Collections, Simon Fraser University.




B.W. Powe, Author & Associate Professor

The Medium and the Light Award for 2022

The recipient of the eleventh Medium and the Light Award, in recognition of the ecumenical dimensions of the life and work of Marshall McLuhan, was presented on Thursday, July 7 virtually, as part of the 23rd Media Ecology Association (MEA) Convention usually held in person (for the first time since 2019) at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro with the overall theme of “Celebration”. This was the fifth time that The Medium and the Light Award was conferred at an MEA Convention, the previous years being 2014, 2017, 2020, and 2021

B.W. Powe is the recipient of this year’s award in recognition of his overall body of work as author, poet, storyteller, professor, researcher, and teacher, that so masterfully and imaginatively captures the restless spirit of McLuhan probing “an unsuspecting media ecology that he wears like his own skin, a membrane integral to his own being.” In other words, BW cannot help but shed so much light on the media of his observed worlds that can help lead us out of the vortex of technological determinism. Well, it’s a bit of a Mysteria, which is, appropriately the title of his latest book. His last book (illustrated with street art photos by Marshall Soules), The Charge in the Global Membrane ( 2019, NeoPoesis Press), has won two awards thus far: the MEA Marshall McLuhan Award for the Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology in 2021; and a York University Research and Innovations Award in 2022.

The award is usually given annually by the Marshall McLuhan Initiative that was affiliated for its first decade (2007 – 2017) with the Jesuit St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. The University of Manitoba was Marshall McLuhan’s first post-secondary alma mater, where he earned a BA in English and Philosophy and the Gold Medal in Arts for 1933, as well as an M.A. in English Literature in 1934.

The raison d’être of The Medium and the Light Award, inspired by the book The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion by Marshall McLuhan and edited by Eric McLuhan and Fr. Jacek Szklarek and published posthumously in 1999, is “to recognize a person, group, or organization that has made a significant contribution to ecumenical communication inspired by observations and ideas originated by Marshall McLuhan.”



Special Issue: Digital Humanism and the Future of Humanity 

This special issue edited by Wolfgang Hofkirchner and Hans-Jörg Kreowski contains full paper proceedings of the workshop organised by the Institute for a Global Sustainable Information Society, Vienna, Austria, together with the Forum Computer Professionals for Peace and Social Responsibility, Bremen, Germany, held at the online Summit of the International Society for the Study of Information on September 14 – 16, 2021.

Global challenges present existential threats to humanity. These are threefold: technological, ecological and social. All of them are subject to the logics of development that have become outdated. Mankind has become so interdependent that the fixation on means of power, the anthropocentric position over and against nature and the self-centredness of social actors cannot guarantee survival, not to mention human flourishing – they even jeopardize such aims.

The papers gathered here revolve around the following questions: What is the role of technology in that context? What is the role of IT, of ICTs, and of AI? Are the promises of what is hyped today as digitalization purposeful to avoid pauperisation and extermination? If a change of thinking is needed, is Digital Humanism perhaps a candidate for the new way of thinking? Digital Humanism claims to redirect development of digital technology toward a human(e) shape. The workshop was held to explore that matter and the contributions compiled in this special issue do so over a vast panorama of ideas. They try to give evidence of potentials of digitalisation to further the good while warning against impacts that are detrimental to the preservation and proliferation of civilized life on earth.

PUBLISHED: 2022-06-22

ARTICLES



Northern Sparks

Innovation, Technology Policy, and the Arts in Canada from Expo 67 to the Internet Age

By Michael Century

An “episode of light” in Canada sparked by Expo 67 when new art forms, innovative technologies, and novel institutional and policy frameworks emerged together.

OVERVIEW

Understanding how experimental art catalyzes technological innovation is often prized yet typically reduced to the magic formula of “creativity.” In Northern Sparks, Michael Century emphasizes the role of policy and institutions by showing how novel art forms and media technologies in Canada emerged during a period of political and social reinvention, starting in the 1960s with the energies unleashed by Expo 67. Debunking conventional wisdom, Century reclaims innovation from both its present-day devotees and detractors by revealing how experimental artists critically challenge as well as discover and extend the capacities of new technologies.

Century offers a series of detailed cross-media case studies that illustrate the cross-fertilization of art, technology, and policy. These cases span animation, music, sound art and acoustic ecology, cybernetic cinema, interactive installation art, virtual reality, telecommunications art, software applications, and the emergent metadiscipline of human-computer interaction. They include Norman McLaren’s “proto-computational” film animations; projects in which the computer itself became an agent, as in computer-aided musical composition and choreography; an ill-fated government foray into interactive networking, the videotext system Telidon; and the beginnings of virtual reality at the Banff Centre. Century shows how Canadian artists approached new media technologies as malleable creative materials, while Canada undertook a political reinvention alongside its centennial celebrations. Northern Sparks offers a uniquely nuanced account of innovation in art and technology illuminated by critical policy analysis.

From the Preface…

“This book reveals how a uniquely Canadian story can provide a fresh angle on a well-established narrative. Northern Sparks is about the intersecting histories of technological innovation, new media arts, and government policies in Canada from the 1960s to the early 1990s. It portrays this period as an “episode of light” sparked by an intense national awakening following the international success of the media-rich 1967 world’s fair in Montréal during the nation’s centennial year. The opening
conjuncture of the arts, technology, and political consciousness elicited an exceptionally broad range of outcomes that go beyond notable artworks or new technological systems and tools. Poised as a “counter-environment” to the great powers, in Marshall McLuhan’s phrase, Canada’s unique experience of the transitional decades into the information age was grounded in a technological ethos that emphasized sensorial immediacy, embodied interaction, and improvisatory expression. This alternative ethos was situated between a pair of distinct yet inextricably bound forces, one national political and proper to Canada, the other techno-mediatic and global in scale. The unraveling of these forces by the late millennium reveals innovation itself as a complexly drawn process comprised of multiple layers with fluctuating degrees of synchronization”…

BOOK DETAILS
Paperback
Published by The MIT Press, Leonardo series
Jun 28, 2022 | 280 Pages | 6 x 9 
ISBN 9780262045001

AUTHOR

Michael Century,
a musician and media arts historian, is Professor of Music and New Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He founded the Media Arts program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. See a detailed biography of Michael Century here: http://www.nextcentury.ca/bio.html

ENDORSEMENTS

  • “Musician and cultural theorist Michael Century delivers a virtuoso orchestration that blends and personifies a polyphony of artistic and technical expressions, site-specific experiments, and institutional rhythms in a compelling history of Canada’s impressive three decades in the crucible of culture and technology.”
    – Sara Diamond, President Emerita, Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD University)

  • “At a time when technological solutionism (Silicon Valley style) and collapse seem to offer the only remaining narratives after postmodernism, Michael Century’s extremely well researched book on the origins and becoming of a (truly Canadian) ‘alternative technological ethos’ is both timely and necessary. Northern Sparks is a must-read for those who wonder how artists can still participate in such a contested space.”
    – Thierry Bardini, Professor, Université de Montréal

Canada’s Expo-67 in Montreal




To Marshall McLuhan

 

You were right, dear professor,

the great vortex came in time

whirling us

into the pond

in which Narcissus saw his

                         beauteous reflection.

 

No longer an extension

of the hand, the mouth, the ear,

no longer a tool,

but an obsession, a possession

Narcissus mesmerized by his own image

                         till he lingered

and perished.

 

In the dispiriting cafés

in front of our Apple screens—the apple was

once a fruit, now mechanized, and bitten

like the original—

                          the seductive bite

that drove us out.

 

Narcissus solitary and non-conversant,

transfixed by the still and moving image,

his words clipped—non-words,

language diminished—Buckle!

 

You had said Buckle!

is the most important word

                              in The Windhover.

We have buckled—not to the spirited bird—

but to the maelstrom

 

our mechanical bride,

                   the great seduction,

the wind from the subway grate

                    blowing and whirling her wondrous dress!

 

Once we were discernible

even in front of TV sets, even in the subway trains,

reading the newspaper or a book

avoiding invasive eyes, stealing a look

                                    at a man’s jaw or a woman’s dress;

each inward, in possession of one’s own thoughts,

idle daydreaming—till we got off at our

STOP.

 

O prof, I’d rather be in the painting by Renoir—

                      Luncheon of the Boating Party—a finer and more

textured impression than any photograph:

the chatter in French seduces my ear,

the wine glasses clink,

the breeze from the river flaps the striped canopy

of the Maison Fournaise,

the men lean on the women beauteous to them;

                              le bonheur of 1881…

the good hour.

 

Copyright © Silvia Falsaperla

Published by the League of Canadian Poets, June 2022
at https://poets.ca/to-marshall-mcluhan-by-silvia-falsaperla/

Silvia Falsaperla writes poetry and fiction. She has completed
a poetry manuscript, a hybrid chapbook of poetry and short
stories, a children’s picture book, and is currently working on
another collection of poetry and short stories. She works and
lives in Toronto.


Silvia Falsaperla