**************************

The radicalism of the 1960s was reflected in theorizing about what education should look like in the New Media age of the ’60s. The thinking and method in this book revolve around two poles of thought that were big on the radar screens and in the cocktail party chatter of Sixties-era intellectuals: the ideas of the German-born sociologist, philosopher, and political theorist Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) and those of Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980).Blueprint for Counter Education

by Edward M. Gómez  – May 14, 2016

Originally released by Doubleday ⎯ in retrospect, it is remarkable that such a mainstream publisher would become involved in such a subversive project ⎯ Stein and Miller’s Blueprint has just been reissued byInventory Press, a small, New York-based company. Its new, slipcased, facsimile edition faithfully recreates its original design by Marshall Henrichs, which consisted of three fold-out poster-charts and a large-format paperbound book. It adds a second book (the new Instruction Manual), which contains essays looking back at the creation, purposes and impact of the original project. This new, second book also contains, among other components, excerpts from interviews with Stein, Miller, and Henrichs, which were conducted by Jeffrey Schnapp and Paul Cronin between 2012 and 2015.

In the 1960s, Stein, a sociologist, had become known for teaching such innovative courses as “Social Theory” and “Sociology of Literature” at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. In these courses he took what would now be called a broad, multidisciplinary approach to examining art and literature. In fact, for Stein, those subjects merely served as starting points for a wide-ranging consideration of cultural, social, political and economic ideas that had emerged and cross-pollinated over the centuries. Among them, he enthusiastically sought affinities….Blueprint for Counter Education

Blueprint is not a conventional book. Instead, its poster-charts group together clusters of related theoretical or intellectual themes, or the names of the artists, writers or other thinkers associated with them; they also point to thematic-evolutionary links between the innovations or visions for which they were known. Blueprint’s “charts,” as Stein and Miller refer to them, also offer a road map for a journey through the intellectual history that shaped the outlooks and conditions of the modern age.

Shooting Script, the paperbound book accompanying Blueprint’s charts, which is, again, part of the new, reissued edition, includes Stein and Miller’s own essay explaining the genesis of the project. It offers tips on how to use the charts as a pedagogical tool. Shooting Script also contains an illustrated, experimental-form essay about the German Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948) by the Polish-born poet and avantgardistStefan Themerson (1910–1988), and a Fluxus-style questionnaire by Naphtali “Tuli” Kupferberg, the American countercultural poet and founder of the 1960s rock band The Fugs, who died in 2010. Most notably, Shooting Script contains reproductions of the title page and table of contents from a large number of books and journals representing the work and ideas of a wide range of authors. These are the same thinkers, artists, and titles that appear on Blueprint’s charts.

 If all of these cultural reference points sound mixed-up and unlikely, that was, in a way, the whole point of Blueprint’s bring-together-the-varying-disciplines approach.

It did so by anchoring its thinking and method around two poles of thought that were big on the radar screens and in the cocktail party chatter of Sixties-era intellectuals: the ideas of the German-born sociologist, philosopher, and political theorist Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) and those of Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980), a Canadian who analyzed and put forth theories about the nature and impact of mass media. If, for Stein and Miller, Marcuse’s critiques of capitalism, political systems, and consumer culture evoked the kind of progressive social-political change they hoped to foster, McLuhan’s critical outlook (he coined the phrases “global village” and “the medium is the message”) offered fresh, revealing ways in which to think about culture, technology and the future. (Read the full article at: http://goo.gl/3oDAEu .

Blueprint for Counter Education Launch at Harvard CCVA

 Editor: Friesen, Norm (Ed.)
  • Offers interpretations of recent developments in media and communication studies
  • Is the first to bring together leading media theorists and media philosophers from German‐speaking Europe
  • Represents a unique addition to texts related to Friedrich Kittler
  • It includes papers on Marshall McLuhan by Michael Darroch, Rainer Leschke and Norm Friesen.

This book reflects recent scholarly and theoretical developments in media studies, or Medienwissenschaft. It focuses on linkages between North America and German‐speaking Europe, and brings together and contextualizes contributions from a range of leading scholars. In addition to introducing English‐language readers to some of the most prominent contemporary German media theorists and philosophers, including Claus Pias, Sybille Krämer and Rainer Leschke, the book shows how foundational North American contributions are themselves inspired and informed by continental sources. This book takes Harold Innis or Marshall McLuhan (and other members of the “Toronto School”) as central points of reference, and traces prospective and retrospective lines of influence in a cultural geography that is increasingly global in its scope. In so doing, the book also represents a new episode in the international reception and reinterpretation of the work of Innis and McLuhan, the two founders of the theory and study of media.

Table of contents (11 chapters)

  • Introduction: The Geopolitics of Media Studies

    Friesen, Norm (et al.)

    Pages 1-12

  • What’s German About German Media Theory?

    Pias, Claus

    Pages 15-27

  • Disciplining Media Studies: An Expanding Field and Its (Self-)Definition

    Schröter, Jens

    Pages 29-48

  • Anonymous Historiography: A Metaphorology of the Constellation in Benjamin, Giedion and McLuhan

    Friesen, Norm

    Pages 51-61

  • Giedion and Explorations: Confluences of Space and Media in Toronto School Theorization

    Darroch, Michael

    Pages 63-87

  • Innis and Kittler: The Case of the Greek Alphabet

    Heilmann, Till A.

    Pages 91-110

  • Between Orality and Literacy: Plato’s Hybrid Medium and the Foundations of Media Theory

    Gibson, Twyla Gael

    Pages 111-127

  • Innis in the

    Cressman, Darryl

    Pages 131-151

  • Mersch, Dieter

    Pages 153-180

  • McLuhan and Medienwissenschaften. Sense and Sensation

    Leschke, Rainer

    Pages 183-196

  • The Messenger as a Model in Media Theory. Reflections on the Philosophical Dimensions of Theorizing Media

    Krämer, Sybille

    Pages 197-213


Winter/Spring 2016 program of events

Monday, 16 May, 6 PM – Special Event: Canadian Content in a Digital World

Richard Stursberg will moderate a group of thinkers (Don McLean, Peter GrantRamona Pringle, Tessa Sproule) in response to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Meanie Joly, asking for comments on the future of media and Canadian Content in a digital world.

“Canada’s cultural and creative industries are important drivers of innovation and a vibrant part of our economy. The intersection of culture and technology holds tremendous potential for our country’s growth and prosperity.
As we adjust to the realities of rapid technological advances and changing consumer behaviour, I am launching consultations to better understand the challenges and opportunities brought on by this transformation.
These consultations will provide an opportunity to listen and learn from Canadians and examine the federal government’s current cultural policy toolkit.
This project is driven by our belief that the time is ripe to review the role of the federal government in helping Canada’s creative sector navigate this transformation and chart a course to ensure that we are poised to position ourselves as global leaders.
As we engage in the pre-consultation phase of this project, I invite you to help define the scope of the consultation….”

Peter Grant is Counsel and past chair of our Technology, Communications and Intellectual Property Group in Toronto. He has pioneered the field of communications law in Canada, and his practice is substantially devoted to this field, including broadcasting and cable television licensing, satellite services, copyright negotiations, mass media and press law, cultural industries and telecommunications regulation.

Don McLean, Dean of the Faculty of Music since 2011, is best known as an innovative leader, faculty administrator, and professor of music theory and musicology. Awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal through the Canada Council in 2012 for his “exploration of the changing context of music in the academy and society, and innovations in infrastructure development and interdisciplinary teaching and research,” Dean McLean is also known for his signature black T-shirts.

Ramona Pringle (MPS, BFA) is a producer, interactive video artist and host. She specializes in digital multiplatform production and has developed and produced work for CBC, TVO, CTV and PBS where she worked as interactive producer on Frontline’s Digital Nation.
Ramona is currently in production on Rdigitalife.com, which explores the evolving relationship between people and technology, and an interactive documentary project based on her research project Avatar Secrets which has been featured in the New York Times, and presented at events including SXSW, TEDx and Ignite.

Richard Stursberg is a Canadian Media Executive. He has been head of all English services at the CBC, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada, Chairman of the Canadian Television Fund, President of Starchoice and Cancom (now Shaw Direct), President of the Canadian Cable Television Association and Assistant Deputy Minister of Culture and Broadcasting for the Government of Canada. He is currently President of Aljess, a boutique consulting firm. He is the author of The Tower of Babble (2012), named one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail.

Tessa Sproule is a digital innovator, visionary leader and change agent with an intense clarity of vision for the future and proven intuition for identifying opportunities in the unrelenting advance of disruptive technologies in the media space. For nearly two decades, she worked with the CBC at the front lines as the media landscape changed, leading legacy media’s response through the dramatically shifting storytelling space. Now she takes a place at the front of the shift as the co-founder VUBBLE, a soon-to-launch digital content discovery service that merges human curation with artificial intelligence in the on-demand short-form video space.

WHEN – Monday, 16 May 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT) Add to Calendar
WHERE – McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology Coach House Institute – 39A Queens Park Crescent E Off 121 St. Joseph st., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3 – View Map
Seasonal Reception.
The event is free and open to the public. You are encouraged to register online.

REGISTER NOW at http://goo.gl/HLTziB 

*****

Wednesday, 18 May 2016, 6:008:00 PM

The Association for Media Literacy in association with the McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology presents…..

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SPECIAL EVENT – Is there a crisis in critical thinking?

There is understandable excitement in living, teaching and learning through media technologies. But are we studying technologies’ effects on thinking, learning and relating? Does 21st Century life need a strong dose of Marshall McLuhan?
Critical Thinking
Panelists: 
Dr. Sarah Sharma: Director, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology
Sylvie Webb: English/Language Arts Coordinator, Toronto District School Board, Media Studies Additional Qualifications Instructor, Author
Carol Arcus: Vice President, The Association for Media Literacy
Agnes Kruchio: Researcher, editor, author, librarian, educator, University of Toronto
Neil Andersen: President, Association for Media literacy, Media Studies Additional Qualifications Instructor, Author

Reserve a Seat via Eventbrite: https://goo.gl/37GHyA


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Counterblasting Canada

University of Alberta Press, 2016

With Gregory Betts, Kristine Smitka, Adam Welch, Elena Lamberti

In 1914, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis—the founders of Vorticism—undertook an unprecedented analysis of the present, its technologies, communication, politics, and architecture. The essays in Counterblasting Canada trace the influence of Vorticism on Marshall McLuhan and Canadian Modernism. Building on the initial accomplishment of Blast, McLuhan’s subsequent Counterblast, and the network of artistic and intellectual relationships that flourished in Canadian Vorticism, the contributors offer groundbreaking examinations of postwar Canadian literary culture, particularly the legacies of Sheila and Wilfred Watson. Intended primarily for scholars of literature and communications, Counterblasting Canada explores a crucial and long-overlooked strand in Canadian cultural and literary history.

Contributors: Gregory Betts, Adam Hammond, Paul Hjartarson, Dean Irvine, Elena Lamberti, Philip Monk, Linda Morra, Kristine Smitka, Leon Surette, Paul Tiessen, Adam Welch, Darren Wershler.

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

Register Now

Gregory Betts is the Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence, the Director of Canadian Studies, and an Associate Professor in English at Brock University in St. Catharines.

Paul Hjartarson is Professor Emeritus in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. His scholarly work is on life-writing, Canadian literature, modernism, print culture and the digital humanities. His most recent book, co-authored with Shirley Neuman, is The Thinking Heart: The Literary Archive of Wilfred Watson (2014). Until his retirement, Paul Hjartarson was a Professor of English at the University of Alberta and has published on both Baroness Elsa and Frederick Philip Grove.

Kristine Smitka teaches in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta.


AML Logo

The Association for Media Literacy in association with the McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology presents…..
Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 9.16.11 PM.png
Is there a crisis in critical thinking?
There is understandable excitement in living, teaching and learning through media technologies. But are we studying technologies’ effects on thinking, learning and relating? Does 21st Century life need a strong dose of Marshall McLuhan?
Critical Thinking
Wednesday, 18 May 2016, 6:008:00 PM
McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
39A Queens Park Crescent E.
Panelists: 
Dr. Sarah Sharma: Director, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology
Sylvie Webb: English/Language Arts Coordinator, Toronto District School Board, Media Studies Additional Qualifications Instructor, Author
Carol Arcus: Vice President, The Association for Media Literacy
Agnes Kruchio: Researcher, editor, author, librarian, educator, University of Toronto
Neil Andersen: President, Association for Media literacy, Media Studies Additional Qualifications Instructor, Author

Reserve a Seat via Eventbrite: https://goo.gl/37GHyA

Marshall McLuhan - 1967. Philosopher and scholar Herbert Marshall MCLUHAN. - Wayne Miller


360-50.jpg (18564 bytes)

IBM System/360 Model 50 introduced in 1964.

The Mainframe Was The Message

May 2, 2016   –   Hesh Wiener

In 1964, as IBM announced the System/360, Marshall McLuhan, a professor at the University of Toronto, published a remarkable book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. He said each medium, independent of its content, is a powerful social force with characteristics that reshape the way people are interconnected.

McLuhan distilled his thesis to a single memorable phrase: the medium is the message. Like print, radio, movies, and television, computing technologies, from the punch card to the mainframe to the mobile internet, are media, too. IBM doesn’t fully understand this; consequently, it flails and struggles.

Marshall McLuhan: Canadian academic who changed how the world looked at communications media and their impact on society.

One of McLuhan’s observations about media is that they generally carry as content older media. For example, the medium of theatre and the medium of print publishing are the content of films. Films can be the content of television. Television has become part of the content of website presentation. But as one medium uses a predecessor for content, the nature of the newer medium may differ a lot from that of the older one.

As an example, McLuhan characterizes film as a hot medium, by which he means that film in a theatre shown on a big screen with its rich images floods the main sense, vision, with information. The viewer doesn’t have to do much work to catch all the details; on the contrary, the viewer may be overwhelmed. Add in surround sound and even without 3D or VR presentation, the audience is awash in stimulus. By contrast, the same film presented on a small television screen, the kind that was the norm during McLuhan’s time, 50 years ago, requires the viewer to psychologically lean in, to do some mental work to catch the detail. McLuhan calls the low-res TV of his time a cool medium, his term for a medium one that demands effort from a viewer…..

Punch Cards: The prevailing data medium before the System/360 captured the corporate market was the punch card.

Before 1964, IBM had built its business on technology that read a card and printed a line. Some of this technology was still largely mechanical, processing paper cards and sorting or selecting the cards using brushes that felt for punched holes and paper guides that sorted cards into banks of hoppers. The technological high end of IBM’s product line was still migrating from electronic systems based on vacuum tube triodes to circuit cards using discrete transistors. Magnetic tape was the emerging storage medium; disks were not yet sufficiently capacious or adequately affordable to displace mag tape. Tape is still a widely used archiving medium, possibly awaiting extinction by disks in the cloud but by no means assured of consignment to the dustbin of history.

IBM’s corporate thinking, like that of the contemporary industrial empires that were its customers, mirrored the information processing machines it built. Computing, even as it went electronic, involved breaking a problem down into processing components the way an industry assembly process was divided into tasks. The components were executed in sequence, each receiving as input the output from a prior stage of work, each yielding as output the transformed batch of data.

Until very recently, IBM personnel at work were largely shielded by the transition of computing from punch cards to richly interactive mobile multimedia activity. IBM’s System/360 was at first an electronic embodiment of punch card systems and the batch processing technology of earlier computing systems like the IBM 1401. It took IBM a decade to upgrade the 360 to the 370 and even then the early 370 models didn’t feature what would quickly become their defining technological advance: virtual memory. Still, by the mid-1970s IBM was showing customers that computing via CRT terminals was a key step on the path to the future. IBM’s mainframe processor business and, in parallel, its lines of small and midrange systems, was thriving. But by that time, IBM had begun to lose touch with developments in semiconductor manufacturing, communications technology and software that would trip it up during the 1980s.

Just as the mainframe seemed in some ways to be the cinema version of punch card apparatus, a development that was for all practical purposes unknown to IBM management, the personal computer was turning into the television version of the glass house system. The first personal computer that became known around the world was the MITS Altair 8800, featured in Popular Electronics magazine in 1975. In just a few years, dozens of companies were selling hundreds of thousands of small computers. These computers were truly a different medium than the glass house systems they would soon transform and, eventually, as servers developed that used the technology popularized by personal clients, largely replace. Read this entire article at http://goo.gl/MOFkCp . (Thanks to Martin Speer for this article.)

 DSC09836.JPG Altair 8800


Winter/Spring 2016 program of events

MONDAY NIGHT SEMINAR

“The Burning Would” – Jane Jacobs & Marshall McLuhan at #Jane100

“For a burning would is come to dance inane”(FW 250.16),

MONDAY, 9 MAY, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Jane Jacobs (1916 – 2006)

With Paul J. Bedford, Ken Greenberg, Denise Pinto

PAUL J. BEDFORD is a member and fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners, with 45 years of experience in urban planning. As Toronto’s chief city planner for eight years, he championed numerous innovative planning strategies with Jane Jacobs for the King–Spadina and King– Parliament districts, a new city-wide official plan, and a principles plan for the central waterfront, called “Making Waves,” which was the basis for the creation of Waterfront Toronto.

KEN GREENBERG Greenberg is an architect, urban designer, teacher, writer, Visiting Scholar at the Ryerson University City Building Institute and Principal of Greenberg Consultants. For over three decades he has played a pivotal role in diverse urban settings focusing on the rejuvenation of downtowns, waterfronts, neighbourhoods, campus master planning and regional growth management. He is the the author of Walking Home: the Life and Lessons of a City Builder published by Random House. @KGreenbergTO

DENISE PINTO is the Executive Director of the Jane’s Walk project. She has walked with Jane’s Walk leaders and delivered keynote lectures in Vienna, Hong Kong and Chicago. Trained as a landscape architect, she is also an Advisory Board member for Open Streets Toronto, a Steering Committee member for Walk Toronto, and the former Chair of the Editorial Board for Ground Magazine, where she also frequently contributes. In 2012, she won a Medal of Excellence at the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Urban Design Awards for a project on urban agriculture. L@denisepinto

Jane's Walk 2013

REGISTER NOW at http://goo.gl/HLTziB 

*****

SPECIAL EVENT – McLuhanWalks

Toronto in the footsteps of Marshall McLuhan 

TUESDAY, 10 MAY, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

mcluhanwalks

App launch with Paolo Granata, Kate Marshall, Denise Pinto
This mobile app will take you on a tour of McLuhan’s Toronto, mapping out spaces and places that were meaningful to him. Extracts from his letters, both written and read aloud, bring the city alive and provide a unique window into the life of an extraordinary Canadian. “McLuhanWalks” is a project promoted by the Urban Media Lab research initiative led by Paolo Granata, Visiting Professor and McLuhan Centenary Fellow University of Toronto, in conjunction with Digitelling and MobileMuseum research units at the University of Bologna. It aims to design and develop new forms of storytelling for the historical, artistic and cultural heritage through

REGISTER NOW at http://goo.gl/HLTziB 

*****

BOOK SALON: Counterblast Canada

University of Alberta Press, May 2016

WEDNESDAY, 11 MAY, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

With Gregory Betts, Kristine Smitka, Adam Welch

In 1914, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis—the founders of Vorticism—undertook an unprecedented analysis of the present, its technologies, communication, politics, and architecture. The essays in Counterblasting Canada trace the influence of Vorticism on Marshall McLuhan and Canadian  Modernism. Building on the initial accomplishment of Blast, McLuhan’s subsequent Counterblast, and the network of artistic and intellectual relationships that flourished in Canadian Vorticism, the contributor offer groundbreaking examinations of postwar Canadian literary culture, particularly the legacies of Sheila and Wilfred Watson. Intended primarily for scholars of literature and communications,
Counterblasting Canada explores a crucial and long-overlooked strand in Canadian cultural and literary
history.

Contributors: Gregory Betts, Adam Hammond, Paul Hjartarson, Dean Irvine, Elena Lamberti, Philip Monk, Linda Morra, Kristine Smitka, Leon Surette, Paul Tiessen, Adam Welch, Darren Wershler.

REGISTER NOW at http://goo.gl/HLTziB 

Counterblasting Canada: Marshall McLuhan, Wyndham Lewis, Wilfred Watson, and Sheila Watson

Jane Jacobs, who wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities, would have turned 100 today

Jane Jacobs, who wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities, would have turned 100 today (The above image is Google’s search screen for May 4, 2016)

*****

The following posting was made on this blog on March 4, 2015 and is being republished here today on the occasion of Jane Jacob’s 100th birthday celebration in Toronto.

HWY 401 #20
Aerial photo of the Hwy 401 & Spadina Expressway (Allen Road) Interchange, facing east (October, 1967)

Check your ego at the transit door

By Michael Geller – Vancouver Courier – March 3, 2015

My interest in the forthcoming transit referendum dates back, in part, to Oct. 15, 1970 when, as a University of Toronto student, I attended the premiere screening of a The Burning Would, a documentary film made by the late Jane Jacobs and Marshall McLuhan opposing a proposed expansion of Toronto’s Spadina Expressway. 

Both Jacobs and McLuhan were supposed to be at the screening but McLuhan had to cancel at the last minute. The moderator apologized for his absence and read out his speech which, as I recall, comprised three words: “Forget your ego.” McLuhan wanted us to stop thinking about expressways and automobiles as first-class transportation and public transit as second-class.

This resonated with me since a year earlier, I had returned from 15 months working and travelling in England and Scandinavia where the image of public transit was very different than in North America. In hindsight, it is fascinating to revisit what McLuhan had to say about city planning and transportation four and a half decades ago. He wrote: “Our planners are 19th century men with a naïve faith in an obsolete technology. In an age of software, planners treat people like hardware — they haven’t the faintest interest in the values of neighbourhood or community. Their failure to learn from the mistakes of American cities will be ours too… The Spadina Expressway is an old hardware American dream of now dead cities and blighted communities.”Toronto’s Stop Spadina movement was happening around the same time as the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA) was leading the charge against a proposed expressway in Vancouver. Today, most Vancouverites would agree we have a much better city since we stopped U.S.-style freeways…….Marshall McLuhan was right. We should be building better transit, not expressways. So forget your ego and vote Yes. (Read the rest at: http://tinyurl.com/plz9265 )

Jane Jacobs on “Making a Movie with Marshall McLuhan”

I first met Marshall McLuhan in 1969, when we had lunch together at the Faculty Club at the University of Toronto. I found him interesting and kind, but I hardly knew what to make of him as a thinker because of the way his conversation jumped about. He would say something interesting or outright brilliant which I would have liked to pursue with him and test out a little bit, but instead he would — flit — or so it seemed to me — to a different idea, and from that to still another.

But although this was bewildering and a little frustrating, I found the lunch enjoyable and knew that I’d met a really remarkable man. Then Colin Vaughan called up one day and brought McLuhan over to where I lived at the time on Spadina Road. They were concerned about a tract of land just south of Wychwood Park where they both lived, which was going to be developed into hideous highrise slabs. Colin Vaughan, who is an architect, had figured that the same number of people could be housed in a decent, human way. Marshall had become involved because he saw how horrid those slabs would be right on their border. We talked about how to fight it; of course I was on their side.

Sometime later Marshall got in touch with me again. In his wonderful energetic and optimistic way, he said:
“We need a movie about the Spadina Expressway! You and I can do the script.”
I said, “But I don’t know a thing about scriptwriting. I won’t be any use.”
“Oh, I’ve never written one either,” he said, “but we can easily do it together. Come on down to my office and we’ll get to work.”
I was dubious about this, but I was carried away by his enthusiasm. We really did need a movie about the issues involved. It was a good idea, so I went to his office in the Coach House, and McLuhan called in his secretary, introduced her, and said, “She’ll take down what we say.”

So we talked. Both of us were enthusiastic and much of our conversation consisted of “Hey, what about this?” followed by some notion, and “Hey what about this?” followed by another. After we had talked for about an hour, Marshall asked the secretary, “Have you got it all down?” Then he turned to me and said, “Well that’s it. We’ve got the script.”

No we don’t!” I said “It’s all just ‘Hey, what about this?”

“Oh, that’s immaterial,” he replied.

He made a date for us to see the filmmaker, who was Christopher Chapman — the man who made “A Place to Stand.” When we arrived at his studio I was handed a typed copy of the script. I started looking through it, and it was even more garbled and unreadable than I expected. It was not the secretary who had garbled it — she had done an excellent job — it was just that what Marshall and I had said was so garbled. All the “Hey, what about this’s” were in there. The thing jumped around, without beginning or end. This did not bother Marshall but it did bother me. I thought we needed a thread.

Chapman also had a copy of the script in his hand, but to my mingled relief and alarm he didn’t seem exactly to read it. He flipped through it, back and forth, and said congenially that it was fine; it was something to go on. He asked us a lot of questions about the issues, Marshall went off and I remained a while longer to answer some more questions. That’s all I did.

Once in a while Marshall phoned and said everything was going fine, and in due course invited me to a viewing. I couldn’t have been more astonished that there even was a film. Marshall had obviously done lots more work on it. The name of the movie was “A Burning Would” The title was, of course, Marshall’s. [The title comes from a line in Finnegans Wake, “For a burning would is come to dance inane” (FW 250.16), which itself is an allusion to a line in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and now a wood / Comes toward Dunsinane”.]

There was a shape to it. It had music. It did have a thread and raised a lot of important issues. Colin Vaughan provided an excellent narration. It was a good movie; furthermore, it was shown a lot, especially in the United States. For a long time I would get an occasional letter from this or that group in California saying that they had shown the movie. However, the final product bore no relationship at all to our original script. (Source: Commentary appended to YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P510tPTQyWg ). See also Jane Jacobs’ comments in Nevitt, B. with McLuhan, M. (1995). Who Was Marshall McLuhan? Toronto: Stoddart, pp. 101-103.

See also “The Burning Would” (1970)- Marshall McLuhan’s documentary film at https://goo.gl/F1rY9E

Announcement in the June 4, 1971 Globe & Mail


“For over half a century neuroscientists have known that specific neuronal pathways grow and proliferate when used, while the disuse of neuron “trees” leads to their shrinkage and gradual loss of efficacy. Even before those discoveries, McLuhan described the process metaphorically, writing that when we adapt to a new tool that extends a function previously performed by the mind alone, we gradually lose touch with our former capacity because a “built-in numbing apparatus” subtly anesthetizes us to accommodate the attachment of a mental prosthetic connecting our brains seamlessly to the enhanced capacity inherent in the new tool. (p. 48)

In Plato’s dialogues, when the Egyptian god Theuth tells one of the kings of Egypt, Thamus, that the new communications technology of  the age – writing – would allow people to remember much more than previously, the king disagreed, saying ‘It will implant forgetfulness in their souls: they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remember no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.’

So this dynamic is hardly new. What is profoundly different about the combination of Internet access and mobile personal computing devices is that the instantaneous connection between an individual’s brain and the digital universe is so easy that a habitual reliance on external memory (or ‘exomemory’) can become an extremely common behavior. The more common this behavior becomes , the greater one comes to rely on exomemory – and the less one relies on memories stored in the brain itself.  What becomes more important instead are the ‘external marks’ referred to by Thamus 2,400 years ago. Indeed, one of the new measures of practical intelligence in the twenty-first century is the ease with which someone can quickly locate relevant information on the Internet”. (pp. 48 – 49)

  • from Gore, A. (2013). The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. New York: Random House.

On Thamus and Theuth, see: http://goo.gl/nw92Q7

New York Times review of The Future: http://goo.gl/SykNlr 


Winter/Spring 2016 program of events

PEOPLE ARE THE TERRITORY – How do we overcome the boundaries?

MONDAY, 2 MAY, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

With Shauna Brail, Atom Egoyan, Khalil Z. Shariff

SHAUNA BRAIL is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, at the University of Toronto Studies Program and a Research Associate in the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs. Her research lies broadly in economic geography with a focus on the social, cultural and economic changes associated with the shifting strengths of cities; her secondary research focus relates to pedagogy and learning outside the classroom. Dr. Brail was appointed as the Presidential Advisor on Urban Engagement at the University of Toronto in June 2015. @shaunabrail

ATOM EGOYAN is one of the most celebrated contemporary filmmakers on the international scene. His body of work – which includes theatre, music, and art installations – delves into issues of memory, displacement, and the impact of technology and media on modern life. Egoyan has won numerous prizes at international film festivals including the Grand Prix and International Critics Awards from the Cannes Film Festival, two Academy Award® nominations, and numerous other honours. His films have won twenty-five Genies – including three Best Film Awards – and a prize for Best International Film Adaptation from The Frankfurt Book Fair. @ TheFu l lEgoyan

KHALIL Z. SHARIFF joined Aga Khan Foundation Canada as Chief Executive Officer in August 2005. He was previously with the Toronto office of McKinsey & Company, an international management consultancy, where he advised governments, financial institutions, and health care providers on strategy, organization, and operational improvement. Mr. Shariff served on AKFC’s National Committee for five years, and has cultivated his interest in international development and
conflict resolution issues through a variety of activities. @AKFCanada

Business Without Boundaries
REGISTER NOW at http://goo.gl/HLTziB 

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WORKSHOP – Breaking Silos to Connect City & Classroom

TUESDAY, 3 MAY, 2016, 6:00 – 9:00 PM

TORONTO EXPERIENCE AND LEARNING LAB (TELL)
Christopher Penney, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
Jeff Pinto, Center for Distance Education, Athabasca University

How can the themes of “community creation” and “city as a classroom” raised during the McLuhan Centre’s Fall 2015 seminar series be extended to incorporate the student voice? This workshop will bring together representatives of U of T’s various divisions and faculties to explore the following provocations: How do we create a student-driven, interdisciplinary, creative problem solving solving laboratory at U of T? How can students help address the pressing challenges experienced by those in
the city and communities in which U of T is embedded.

REGISTER NOW at http://goo.gl/HLTziB 

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NEW EXPLORATIONS GROUP – Total Posthuman: Remembering the Extreme Now

In an exploration of the persistent power of symbols, we juxtapose scenes from Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s 1977 film Our Hitler with theories from Marshall McLuhan and the Frankfurt School on the totalitarian potential of media environments. We then consider the contemporary cultural tension whereby the power of digital networks to connect humans is tempered by the tendency to recombine human “material” to give birth to the obscure yet pervasive phenomenon of the “posthuman.”




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