Eric McLuhan Honoured with McLuhan Award, Toronto

07Nov13

Howard Engel, right, director of the McLuhan Initiative at the University of Manitoba’s St. Paul College, presents Eric McLuhan with the third annual Medium and the Light Award Oct. 23. Eric is son of Marshall McLuhan, the famed philosopher of communication theory.

Howard Engel, right, director of the McLuhan Initiative at the University of   Manitoba’s St. Paul College, presents Eric McLuhan with the third annual       Medium and the Light Award Oct. 23. Eric is son of Marshall McLuhan, the     famed philosopher of communication theory.- Photo by Michael Swan

Written by Michael Swan, The Catholic Register   –   Friday, 01 November 2013

 TORONTO – When Marshall McLuhan woke up on a typical work day he didn’t  immediately grab a New Testament. He grabbed three. One in the original Greek, the  Vulgate Latin translation and then a version in another language he felt a need to work on  –  – German, Portuguese, maybe Italian.

 His son Eric McLuhan remembers it as a process of linguistic triangulation. By looking  at  various translations his father could deepen his sense of the original and full meaning of  the text.

“It would give him something to meditate on,” said Eric. The morning sessions with Scripture would give McLuhan “ideas, thoughts, approaches that were sufficiently outside the box.”

Morning meditation often led McLuhan to new insights about what it meant to communicate, to listen, to see and to read. Insights such as “The medium is the message” — probably his most famous aphorism.

While McLuhan always resisted any attempt to reduce his sayings to a single meaning, there is no doubt the first sense he had was the sense of Christ as the medium who is also the message, said Howard Engel, the director of the McLuhan Initiative at the University of Manitoba’s St. Paul College.

Engel awarded Eric McLuhan with the third annual Medium and the Light Award at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of McLuhan’s famed office and classroom in the coach house behind the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto Oct. 23. The event saw more than 50 scholars in the tiny old coach house including many of his students of 40 years ago. The younger scholars got to sit on the floor, just as their elders had done in the 1960s and ’70s. The Medium and the Light Award is given to thinkers who have done extraordinary work researching, extending and amplifying McLuhan’s religious insights.

“A lot of people don’t associate religion and Marshall McLuhan’s Catholicity with communications theory,” Engel said.
But you don’t really get Marshall McLuhan if you don’t consider his profound religious commitment, said his son.

Eric McLuhan’s own work in communications theory and criticism includes editing the 1999 book The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion by Marshall McLuhan, after which the St. Paul’s College award is named.

In the 1950s McLuhan left the University of Manitoba, MA in hand, to pursue advanced studies at Cambridge University in England. The colonial boy was told he would have to re-do his BA and MA before he would be ready for doctoral studies at the prestigious English university. It was during that period of re-examination that he became a Catholic.

“He wasn’t born into the Church,” said Eric McLuhan. “He worked his way in, almost kicking and screaming. He was a very skeptical, very pragmatic man. He wanted proof before he would accept anything. His conversion was of that character as well.”

Eric recently donated 6,000 of his father’s books to the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The books are prized by McLuhan scholars for the many notes the great man made in the margins as well as personalized indexes he would compile on the end pages.

But the Fisher Rare Book Library didn’t get the Bibles.

“I’m still using them,” said Eric.

Source: The Catholic Register http://tinyurl.com/l7djpey

Coach House

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