CALL FOR ABSTRACTS:
Grabbe, Lars C., Andrew McLuhan, and Tobias Held. 2023. Beyond Media Literacy.

Büchner-Verlag: Marburg.
Deadline for abstracts: April 22, 2022
Deadline for articles: November 25, 2022

Today, media literacy, digital media literacy, media and information literacy, critical media literacy, media literacy education, and the like, are hot topics discussed from elementary schools to UNESCO and a whole industry of non-profits has sprung up in response. One thing that these programs seem to share is a focus on content, and on spotting bias and manipulation in terms of content creators and purveyors. But there is much more to media than meets the eye. If you approach the idea of education around media from a McLuhan perspective, that is, by paying attention to form, structure, environment, and the resulting “personal and social consequences” (McLuhan, 1964), you must go beyond mere literacy, beyond content.

Marshall McLuhan, who spent his career trying to understand and educate the world about the effects of technologies, insisted for three decades that “the medium is the message,” (McLuhan, 1958) because “it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action. The content or uses of such media are as diverse as they are ineffectual in shaping the form of human association” (McLuhan, 1964). He put it plainly and provocatively:

“I am in the position of Louis Pasteur telling doctors that their greatest enemy was quite invisible, and quite unrecognized by them. Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot. For the „content“ of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. The effect of the medium is made strong and intense just because it is given another medium as „content.“ The content of a movie is a novel or a play or an opera. The effect of the movie form is not related to its program content. The „content“ of writing or print is speech, but the reader is almost entirely unaware either of print or of speech.“ (McLuhan, 1964)

“The section on ‘the medium is the message’ can, perhaps, be clarified by pointing out that any technology gradually creates a totally new human environment. Environments are not passive wrappings but active processes.” (McLuhan, 1964, Introduction to the second edition (McLuhan, 1966))

In this volume, the editors seek the limits of media literacies, and to go beyond them. To imagine what an approach would look like were we to ignore the content and take on the media themselves as both objects and forms of attention and education. We are not attacking these various media literacies, as they can serve a useful purpose—by all means, we should be aware of marketing and propaganda and other manipulations—but searching for a complimentary effort which takes on the medium (as environment) itself as the message to make sense of.

The different contributions can focus on the whole variety of the understanding of media form and content to explore the range of media literacies. The editors would like to invite authors from very different disciplines like media theory and ecology, educational theory, philosophy, sociology, cultural studies, art and design, artistic research, image science, semiotics, phenomenology, art history, game studies, visual culture studies, computer graphics and other research areas related to the understanding of media in general.

The official deadline for abstracts is April 22, 2022. Long abstracts should have 600 to 900 words in length. Please send a short biography, contact details and your abstract to the editors Prof. Dr. Lars C. Grabbe, Andrew McLuhan and Tobias Held via: l.grabbe@fh-muenster.de.

The official deadline for the completed articles is November 25, 2022. The articles should be 5.000 to 6.000 words in length. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the managing editors via mail.

References:
McLuhan, Marshall. 1958. Speech to the British Columbia Association of Educational Broadcasters. University of British Columbia.
McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill.
McLuhan, Marshall. 1966. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Introduction to the second edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.

        BEYOND: –



By Benjamin Errett

So let’s think of the media scholar as the Greatest Canadian Wit. To really understand Marshall McLuhan, you had to be Marshall McLuhan. And even then, it was probably a bit foggy.

McLuhan began his 1958 keynote address to the National Association of Educational Broadcasters with a string of solid one-liners, including:

Some people use statistics as a drunk uses a lamppost — for support rather than illumination.

A man all wrapped up in himself makes a small package.

The future is not what it used to be; neither is the past.

Diaper backwards spelled repaid. Think about it.

Art is what you can get away with.

He leaned hard on jokey transitions, like “if I told you all media, which are based on the medium of language, have effects on the human psyche quite distinct from the information they seemingly provide, would you call me an ambulance? All right, I’m an ambulance.”

The speech, as recounted in Judith Fitzgerald’s 2001 biography, ended with “the medium is the message,” leaving his audience to scrape their brains off the back wall of the auditorium and launching McLuhan’s stellar career as a media theorist.

That blend of rapid-fire wit and enigmatic wisdom was McLuhan’s trademark, and it reflects his simultaneous bird’s eye and worm’s eye view of the world. At the macro level, he studied the information age like the literature professor he was, and in doing so was able to spot movements that were undetectable to the naked eye. Everyone else was looking at the trees from within the forest while he was grokking biomass from space. In his words, “we don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t the fish.”

And at the micro level, he was an incorrigible punster, always coining phrases and linking ideas just to see what would happen. He perfectly executed Wildean flips like “Invention is the mother of necessities” and “Money is the poor man’s credit card.” And like Hitchens, he was certainly a better talker than writer. Some of it was funny, some of it was nonsense, and most of it was greeted as gnomic wisdom you had to pretend to understand. This was the man who saw his book cover misprinted as The Medium is the Massage and decided that was an even better title.

McLuhan saw a lot of things coming, but was he right like a stopped clock or a spooky prophet? In 1971, he predicted surveillance capitalism: “Espionage at the speed of light will become the biggest business in the world,” he told Peter C. Newman in Maclean’s. Oh, and in that same interview: “People tend to acquire multiple jobs. And with the computer at home, the cottage economy returns via the computer terminal at home. The idea of going out to work becomes obsolete.” There was a McLuhannissance in the 1990s as the internet came online, and maybe we’re due for another.

Though he also said jukeboxes control our panic over the passage of time “by shredding it into ragtime.” I know nothing of his work, but I’m happy to celebrate the wordplay.
Source: https://tinyurl.com/2p9yr3t9



Marshall McLuhan by Yousuf Karsh, 1974 (Copyright by the Karsh Estate)

SYNOPSIS
This documentary will examine how toxic elements of our digital environment are dramatically transforming society in negative ways — just as the prophetic, popular futurist Marshall McLuhan predicted 60 years ago. We’ll examine the unforeseen social and political problems caused by the digital revolution, and highlight the need for laws and regulations to protect citizens, especially the most vulnerable.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT
After making ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE and THE CORPORATE COUP D’ÉTAT, I wanted my next film to be about the growing digital dystopia that is engulfing all of us. DIGITAL TSUNAMI: Big Tech, Big Brother, and the Prophetic Warnings of Marshall McLuhan is the film I came up with, and I believe it can make a difference. Like THE CORPORATE COUP D’ÉTAT and ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE, it will document injustice and societal harm being overlooked or underestimated because people are not seeing the big picture and historical context. It will complete a trilogy of films bringing critical thought to crucial problems faced by society, galvanizing audiences and leaving them determined to take action. Many of us are aware that if we don’t fix our planet’s natural, physical ecology, we’re doomed. Fewer people realize that if we don’t fix our planet’s “media ecology” we may also be doomed. The good news is, we don’t have to be doomed. We can fix things. But only if we get mad as hell and fight back. The great social reformer Frederick Douglass, when asked what advice he’d give a young person wanting justice, replied: “Agitate, agitate, agitate”. I want this film to leave audiences fighting mad and ready to agitate. As I began researching this project, I was surprised to find that the famed “media guru” Marshall McLuhan had warned of these problems back in the sixties, even though the press inaccurately portrayed him as a cheerleader for the electronic/digital revolution. I also learned about an international organization of scholars and authors called the Media Ecology Association who were following in McLuhan’s footsteps. I spoke with many of them at the MEA global conference in Toronto, and their insights inform our extended sizzle reel. Password: Tsunami I believe passionately that critical thought can lead to meaningful action and change that will tame the Digital Tsunami. If McLuhan were alive today I think he’d say exactly what he said in 1966: “The only alternative is to understand everything that’s going on, and then counter and neutralize it as much as possible, turn off as many buttons as you can, and frustrate them as much as you can… I don’t choose to just sit and let the juggernaut roll over me.”
Peter Raymont – Executive Producer
Producer, director, journalist, writer, Peter Raymont has produced and directed over 100 films and TV series during a 44-year career. Raymont’s films have been honoured with 52 international awards including 13 Geminis (45 nominations), Gold and Silver Hugos and The Sesterce d’Argent, among others. His documentary feature, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire received the 2007 Emmy for Best Documentary and the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award. Raymont’s films are often provocative investigations of “hidden worlds” in politics, the media, and big business. His films are informed with a passion for human rights and social justice. A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman (2007) and Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (2009) were shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Long Form Documentary. They both premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. A Promise to the Dead won 9 awards, including the DGC Award for Best Documentary and the 2008 Academy of Canadian Cinema’s Donald Brittain Award for Best Social Political Documentary. Genius Within, co-directed by long-time collaborator Michèle Hozer, was released theatrically in Canada, USA, Germany and Australia. Raymont recently co-directed and co-produced Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power and Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, which was selected as the opening night film for TIFF 2019. Peter Raymont is presently the Filmmaker in Residence at Massey College in the University of Toronto.
Source: https://tinyurl.com/4tmsd4nm



B. W. Powe has his way with words – in many a milieu. He’s a poet, novelist, essayist and critic, as well as being a philosopher and university professor. He is most noted for his writings on Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, who figures prominently in his professional affiliations – Powe is a fellow of the McLuhan Centre at the University of Toronto – and well as in his most recent accolade.

In July, Powe’s latest book, The Charge In The Global Membrane, was named the 2021 recipient of the Media Ecology Association’s Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology. In it, according to reviewer/poet Anna Veprinska, “Powe acts as a guide in understanding our charged present – our “immersion” in the technological, electrically connected, vibrating world.”

Powe’s ‘quickie’ Talk on the ideacity stage 10 years ago put McLuhan front and centre – and gave context to “the medium is the message” and other visionary aphorisms.

Here is BW’s presentation…



I’m glad she qualified the title with “Feminine Extensions”…

Subjects
Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s StudiesMedia Studies > Media TechnologiesCultural Studies

The contributors to Re-Understanding Media advance a feminist version of Marshall McLuhan’s key text, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, repurposing his insight that “the medium is the message” for feminist ends. They argue that while McLuhan’s theory provides a falsely universalizing conception of the technological as a structuring form of power, feminist critics can take it up to show how technologies alter and determine the social experience of race, gender, class, and sexuality. This volume showcases essays, experimental writings, and interviews from media studies scholars, artists, activists, and those who work with and create technology. Among other topics, the contributors extend McLuhan’s discussion of transportation technology to the attics and cargo boxes that moved Black women through the Underground Railroad, apply McLuhan’s concept of media as extensions of humans to analyze Tupperware as media of containment, and take up 3D printing as a feminist and decolonial practice. The volume demonstrates how power dynamics are built into technological media and how media can be harnessed for radical purposes.

Duke University Press – Pages: 280 – Illustrations: 39 – Publication: June 2022
Praise
“This brilliant collection thrillingly updates and interrogates Marshall McLuhan’s work, with abundant insights from feminist and critical race studies. Starting from the insight that ‘the medium is the message,’ Re-Understanding Media refuses the idea of technology as a mere tool, instead showing how it is a structuring form of power—from incubators to platform heels to facial recognition scanners. A challenging and important book.” — Rosalind Gill, City, University of London

“From wires, sidewalks, platforms, and records of Black escape to technologies of containment, fabrication, and incubation, the essays and conversations in this innovative collection bring new insight and crucial analysis to Marshall McLuhan’s media theory. Re-Understanding Media is rich with feminist methods of extending, troubling, and undoing disciplinary modes of knowledge production at the McLuhan Coach House, within media studies or elsewhere.” — Simone Browne, author of Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness
The Editors:
Sarah Sharma is Associate Professor and Director of the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She was the director of the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology from 2017–2022. Sharma is author of In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics, also published by Duke University Press.
Rianka Singh is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at York University, Toronto.Source: tinyurl.com/t37ujr28


The internet age has done a hell of a job burnishing the reputation of Marshall McLuhan.

After all, the famously cerebral Toronto media theorist more or less foretold the world wide web back in 1978, when he said that “a computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.” [But this quote did not appear in print until The  Global Village (1989) by Marshall McLuhan and Bruce Powers, p. 143].

Marshall McLuhan, the noted writer, educator and communications theorist who coined the phrase ‘the medium is the message,’ is seen in this 1977 photo. (CP)

One of the reasons McLuhan had such a vast perspective on emerging media is that he didn’t limit himself to august sources like books and radio.

He took in the whole media landscape, which inevitably included television, as well as comics, billboards, magazines, even fashion.

Before McLuhan, few people paused to consider the subtle messages being conveyed in such low-brow art forms. To him, they were more than just consumer prompts or escapist entertainment — they were expressions of the zeitgeist.

In writing about them, McLuhan legitimized popular culture. 

Dissecting Dagwood and Blondie

One of McLuhan’s early fascinations was with the syndicated comic strip Blondie (created in 1930 and still running), which stars Blondie, a model of domestic decorum, and her dunderheaded husband, Dagwood.

McLuhan viewed Dagwood as an emasculated male, undone by the daily grind of work and Blondie’s recriminations at home. The analogy is perhaps unfair, not to mention sexist; at the time, McLuhan had recently become a parent, and was likely discomfited by his own domesticity.

Whether you agree with it or not, his take on Blondie showed a willingness to consider comics as more than just a source of fleeting amusement.

He offered more candid interpretations in The Mechanical Bride (1951), a wide-ranging collection of essays that tartly deconstructs comics, movie posters, magazine covers and well-known ads of the day.

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.– Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan called out Superman for his “strong-armed totalitarian methods” and “immature and barbaric mind,” characterized Reader’s Digest as “Pollyanna Digest,” and argued that the appeal of western movies was that they illuminated “the primordial image of the lonely entrepreneur.”

1960s Superman

McLuhan was particularly concerned with the evolving tactics of advertisers. The book’s title was largely a reference to the postwar passion for the automobile, but it also captured his broader conviction that mass media was inciting an almost sexual obsession with new technology.

In his 2010 McLuhan biography, Douglas Coupland called him “arguably the first person on earth to be a metacritic” — that is, the first person compelled to examine the form and meaning of modern media.

Arguably McLuhan’s most important book, Understanding Media (1964) synthesized all of his major themes, which can be distilled in the axiom “the medium is the message.” It essentially holds that every new communication technology alters our perception of the world — or, to use another McLuhanism, “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”

MAD theories

Understanding Media raised our awareness of the cumulative effects of modern communications. It also made a rousing case for the importance of MAD magazine.

McLuhan wasn’t being flip. Television, with its mesmerizing flurry of images, had diminished the storytelling impact of comic strips like Blondie and Lil’ Abner, which depicted “a pastoral world of primal innocence from which young America has clearly graduated.”

What makes Understanding Media vital is not that McLuhan was always right, but that he was engaged enough to seek meaning in seemingly ephemeral art.

The new comic paradigm, according to McLuhan, was MAD magazine, which employed the visual vocabulary of TV and advertising to spoof all facets of American culture, from politics to psychoanalysis, drug culture to Disney cartoons. In McLuhan’s words, it was “a kind of newspaper mosaic of the ad as entertainment, and entertainment as a form of madness.”

 

Understanding Media is a heady text, filled with insights that remain startlingly on-point more than 40 years later. But the book also contains its share of overripe prose, and at times even seems to contradict itself. (Perhaps as a hedge against his critics, McLuhan once quipped, “I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say.”)

What makes Understanding Media vital is not that McLuhan was always right, but that he was engaged enough to seek meaning in seemingly ephemeral art.

Without his lead, it’s quite unlikely that serious journalists nowadays would write book-length volumes on the history of comic books or dissect the political resonance of last night’s episode of Game of Thrones.

McLuhan showed a keen interest in pop culture, and pop culture gamely returned the favour, finding ways to name-check the fusty-looking academic. His very name became a poetic refrain on the U.S. sketch show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (“Marshall McLuhan / what are you doin’?”), and he made an unforgettable cameo as himself in the 1976 Woody Allen film Annie Hall.

Several years ago, McLuhan received one of the highest compliments in contemporary pop culture, earning a mention in an episode of the Emmy-awarding cable drama Mad Men, a suave examination of the ad world in the 1960s. In addition to being clever, the scene was written with a knowing wink — Mad Men, for one, would be inconceivable were it not for McLuhan’s penetrating look at pop culture more than half a century ago.
(Source: https://tinyurl.com/2p2kj4rr)



Editor Robert Logan reports that he has already begun work on  New Explorations 3 (1) due out in early 2022. Because of Covid, Volume 2 will have only one issue but it is packed with 22 items. We are planning two issues for Volume 3 in 2022. Here is the call for papers:

New Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication 3 (1)
Deadline for Submissions: February 28, 2022
Submit articles to the editor Bob Logan at logan@physics.utoronto.ca

**********

TABLE OF CONTENTS For the current issue 2(1)
Access the current issue at https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/nexj/index

ARTICLES

Nethnography: An ecological approach to digital interactions
By Adriana Braga –  PDF

Introducing Adriana Braga’s Video-Article, Howie and the Outsiders
By Robert K. Logan PDF

Howie & The Outsiders: The Video-Article
By Adriana Braga –  PDF

Photography and Symbolic Interactionism: How Foundations in Media Ecology, Particularly, Mead, Barthes, Sontag, and Langer, Helped Me Become a Photographer
By Daliza K. Crane – 
 PDF

Understanding digital discrimination: analysing Marshall McLuhan’s work through a human rights lense
By Tetyana Kruply – 
 PDF

Tetrads and Chiasmus: A Reclamation of the Tetrad Wheel
By Paul Levinson – 
 PDF

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Social Media: Should Social Media Apps Be Regulated?
By Robert K. Logan  PDF

Marshall McLuhan’s General Theory of Media (GtoM), His Laws of Media; Comparing Three Kinds of Law
By Robert K. Logan
 PDF

Thinking society and cultural practices in the (digital) hybrid age: Notes and queries on Media Ecology Research
By Juan Camilo Mansilla 
 PDF

Written Matter Excerpted for New Explorations Journal
By Andrew McLuhan 
 PDF

Words Without MeaningsWords Without Meanings
By Patrick O’Neill PDF

Technological Society as Mediatized Society: An Introduction to Bernard Charbonneau’s Media Critique in its Bordeaux School
By Christian Roy 
 PDF

An Introduction to Marshall Soules’ Two Contributions: “Play Attention” and “McLuhan and Carpenter: Tricksters at the Margins, A Postscript to Play Attention”
By Robert K. Logan 
 PDF

Play Attention
By Marshall Soules 
 PDF

McLuhan and Carpenter: Tricksters at the Margins: A Postscript to Play Attention
By Marshall Soules 
 PDF

REVIEWS

A Review of Doing the Right Thing
By Ulya Aviral 
 PDF

A Review of Empathy in Contemporary Poetry after Crisis by Anna Veprinska
By Jerry Harp 
 PDF

Stitched Into the Matrix: A Review of A Glitch in the Matrix
By Clinton Ignatov 
 PDF

A Review of Andrey Mir’s Postjournalism and the Death of Newspapers
By Paul Levinson 
 PDF

A Review of written matter, a book of poetry and photos by Andrew McLuhan
By Robert K. Logan 
 PDF

A Review of McLuhan in Reverse by Robert K. Logan
By Anne-Marie Maclouglin 
 PDF

A Review of written matter, a book of poetry and photos by Andrew McLuhan
By Edna Pasher 
 PDF

New Explorations journal is a revival of the journal Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication, created in 1953 by Marshall McLuhan and Ted Carpenter.

New Explorations reaffirms and continues the theoretical perspectives of Explorations, which so profoundly influenced the Toronto School of Communication and media studies worldwide.

Just as the first Explorations probed the emergent media technologies of  McLuhan’s “electric age” in the latter 20th century; New Explorations continues that voyage of discovery into the digital age of our new millennium.


The original 8 issues of Explorations (1953 – 1959)


Understanding Me: Lectures & Interviews

By Marshall McLuhan

Edited by Stephanie McLuhan & David Staines

Previously unpublished lectures and interviews by the modern age’s preeminent media seer—informal, accessible, provocative.

In the last twenty years of his life, Marshall McLuhan published a series of books that established his reputation as a world-renowned communications theorist and the pre-eminent seer of the modern age. It was McLuhan who made the distinction between “hot” and “cool” media. And it was he who coined the phrases “the medium is the message” and “the global village” and popularized other memorable terms including “feedback” and “iconic.”

Canadian Edition published by McClelland & Stewart (2003); MIT Press Edition (2004)

McLuhan was far more than a pithy phrasemaker, however. He foresaw the development of personal computers at a time when computers were huge, unwieldy machines available only to institutions. He anticipated the wide-ranging effects of the Internet. And he understood, better than any of his contemporaries, the transformations that would be wrought by digital technology—in particular, the globalization of communications and the instantaneous-simultaneous nature of the new, electric world. In many ways, we’re still catching up to him—forty years after the publication of Understanding Media.

In Understanding Me, Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines have brought together nineteen previously unpublished lectures and interviews either by or with Marshall McLuhan. They have in common the informality and accessibility of the spoken word. In every case, the text has been transcribed from the original audio, film, or videotape of McLuhan’s actual appearances. This is not what McLuhan wrote but what he said—the spoken words of a surprisingly accessible public man. He comes across as outrageous, funny, perplexing, stimulating, and provocative. McLuhan will never seem quite the same again.

The foreword by Tom Wolfe provides a twenty-first century perspective on McLuhan’s life and work, and co-editor David Staines’s insightful afterword offers a personal account of McLuhan as teacher and friend.

Lectures and Interviews Electronic Revolution: Revolutionary Effects of New Media (1959) •Popular/Mass Culture: American Perspectives (1960) • Technology, the Media, and Culture • The Communications Revolution • Cybernetics and Human Culture (1964) • The Future of Man in the Electric Age (1965) • The Medium Is the Massage (1966) • Predicting Communication via the Internet (1966) • The Marfleet Lectures (1967) • Canada, the Borderline Case • Towards an Inclusive Consciousness • Fordham University: First Lecture (1967) • Open-Mind Surgery (1967) • TV News as a New Mythic Form (1970) • The Future of the Book (1972) • The End of the Work Ethic (1972) • Art as Survival in the Electric Age (1973) • Living at the Speed of Light (1974) • What TV Does Best (1976) • TV as a Debating Medium (1976) • Violence as a Quest for Identity (1977) • Man and Media (1979) Source: https://tinyurl.com/4makj2cz

For academic biographical information on Junichi Miyazawa see https://tinyurl.com/chr4psab

Japanese edition pages 303 & 302 – Photo is of McLuhan & David Staines


Bob Logan & Eric McLuhan, photo by Salome Victoriano

By Robert K. Logan

Eric McLuhan
B.Sc.—Communications, Wisconsin State University, 1972
M.A., Ph.D.—English Lit., University of Dallas, 1980, 1982
L.L.D. of Sacred Letters. University of St. Michael’s College. University of Toronto, 2011

Eric McLuhan, a Canadian scholar, public intellectual and a much sought-after speaker, was born on 19 January 1942 and passed away on 18 May 2018 in Bogota, Columbia, the day after he gave a commencement address at the Universidad de la Sabana. A funeral was held in Bogota on 19 May and a memorial mass was held at St. Gregory the Great, Roman Catholic Church, Picton, Ontario on 25 May.

Eric will be deeply missed by his wife Sabina, and his three children Emily, Anna and Andrew. He will also be missed by the entire media ecology community that was inspired by his deep insights into the effects of media. Eric was a prolific writer having written 18 books and over 100 articles. He was a close collaborator of (his father) Marshall McLuhan.

Dr. Eric McLuhan receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Sacred Letters from St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, 2011

His accomplishments as a scholar were manifold, but here I concentrate on four of them:

  • First, there was the collaboration with his father including his co-authorship with Marshall McLuhan and Kathryn Hutchon (later Kawasaki) of City as Classroom.
  • Secondly, there was the way he rescued the work of his father after Marshall’s passing in 1980. He did this by mining the archives of his father’s papers and co-authoring with his father (posthumously) the following four books:
    • Laws of Media: The New Science
    • The Lost Tetrads of Marshall McLuhan
    • Media and Formal Cause
    • Theories of Communication.

I believe that without Eric’s contribution to the first two books published after his father’s death that the laws of media (LOM) tool, that is so essential to the study of media ecology today, would not have become part of the canon of this field. The importance of the third book is that, as a result of its publication, the prominence of formal cause in the field of media ecology has been secured and is actively discussed. The fourth book provides the historic arc of communication theories including Marshall McLuhan’s own description of his theory of communication.

  • third key contribution to the field of media ecology is that Eric actually coined the term ‘media ecology’ by which the field, started by his father, came to be known by. He did this while visiting Fordham University in New York City with his father in 1967. The term was picked up shortly thereafter by Neil Postman, who started the media ecology program at New York University. The term was also incorporated in the title of the Media Ecology Association in which Eric was very active, often as a key note speaker.
  • Finally, the fourth key contribution of Eric’s were the many new areas of study that he opened up on his own with his publication of the following books that he authored, co-authored or edited:
  • The Sensus Communis–Synesthesia, and the Soul – a study of common sense, the five bodily senses and mimesis,
  • Cynic Satire – a study of Menippean satire,
  • The Human Equation – a series of five books co-authored with Wayne Constantineau that deals with body’s role in perception and understanding,
  • The Role of Thunder in Finnegan’s Wake – an analysis of the ten thunder words in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake,
  • Electric Language: Understanding the Presentan analysis of how digital media of the personal computer, the tablet, and the Internet are changing the nature of communications as well as spoken and written language,
  • Essential McLuhan edited with F. Zingrone – a collection of the writings of Marshall McLuhan,
  • Who Was Marshall McLuhan? edited with F. Zingrone and W. Constantineau and authored by Barrington Nevitt, aided by Maurice McLuhan – a collection of the impressions of people who knew and/or worked with Marshall McLuhan including yours truly,
  • The Medium and the Light: Writings on Religion by Marshall McLuhan, edited with Jacek Schlarek – a collection of the religious writings and reflections of Marshall McLuhan,
  • The Book of Probes edited with W. Kuhns – a collection of Marshall McLuhan’s probes, aphorisms and one-liners),
  • McLuhan Unbound edited with Terrence Gordon – a collection of 20 essays by Marshall McLuhan.

Allow me to end this obituary with a personal note: I will miss Eric, a true friend, who was a very special person, always of good cheer, generous and kind who lived his faith—respectfully and reverently.

© 2018 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


Eric’s Library & work space


McLuhan in Reverse

His General Theory of Media (GToM)

Series: Understanding Media Ecology

Robert K. Logan

McLuhan in Reverse proposes two new and startling theses about Marshall McLuhan’s body of work. The first argues that despite McLuhan’s claim that he did not work from a theory, his body of work in fact constitutes a theory that Robert K. Logan calls his General Theory of Media (GToM). The second thesis is that McLuhan’s GToM is characterized by a number of reversals, including his reversals of figure and ground, cause and effect, percepts and concepts; and the medium and its content as described in his famous one-liner “the medium is the message.” 

While McLuhan’s famous Laws of Media are part of his GToM, Logan has identified nine other elements of the GToM. They are his use of probes; figure/ground analysis; the idea that the medium is the message; the subliminal nature of ground or environment revealed only by the creation of an anti-environment; the reversal of cause and effect; the importance of percept over concept and hence a focus on the human sensorium and media as extensions of man; the division of communication into the oral, written, and electric ages along with the notions of acoustic and visual space; the notion of the global village; and finally, media as environments and hence media ecology.
(Source: https://tinyurl.com/3uxtxv22)

From Robert Logan’s Preface:-

I have, concluded that McLuhan’s body of work constitutes what I have called his General Theory of Media (GToM) and that the underlying theme of this theory is his use of reversals. This is the thesis that will be explored in this book. While McLuhan’s famous Laws of Media are part of his GToM there are nine other elements of the GToM that I have identified. They are 1. his use of probes; 2. figure/ground analysis; 3. the idea that the medium is the message; 4. the subliminal nature of ground or environment revealed only by the creation of an anti-environment; 5. the reversal of cause and effect; 6. the importance of percept over concept and hence a focus on the human sensorium and media as extensions of man; 7. the division of communication into the oral, written, and electric ages along with the notions of acoustic and visual space; 8. the notion of the global village and finally, 9. media as environments and hence media ecology.

Table of Contents
Preface
Chapter One: McLuhan’s General Theory of Media (GToM) and the Role of Reversals
Chapter Two: The Ten Elements of McLuhan’s General Theory of Media
Chapter Three: Applying McLuhan’s General Theory of Media to the Flowering of the Digital Age
Chapter Four: Understanding Humans: The Extensions of Digital Media
Chapter Five: General System Thinking and Marshall McLuhan’s General Theory of Media
Chapter Six: Cataloguing McLuhan Reversals

About the Author
Robert K. Logan (PhD, MIT, 1965) is an emeritus professor of physics, fellow of St. Michael’s College, and member of the School of Environmental Studies, all at the University of Toronto. He is also Chief Scientist of the sLab (OCAD University) and a recipient of the Walter J. Ong Award for Career Achievement in Scholarship by the Media Ecology Association.