The Medium is the Massage Audio Version (LP 1968)

07Dec16

mm_massageaudioreissue1

When Marshall McLuhan proposed his idea to create an audio companion piece to his landmark 1967 book The Medium is the Massage, no one quite knew what to expect. The book itself brilliantly captured McLuhan’s theories on media and technology, arguing that the medium by which information is transferred to people was more important than the actual content being relayed. McLuhan hoped that an audio recording would help give greater depth to his theories, and in the late 1960s he and producer John Simon went to work on a record of the same name. Using audio clips of McLuhan speaking, often interrupted by discordant sounds and other voices interjecting, they created a thought-provoking, sometimes whimsical patchwork of sounds and ideas that illustrated the complex relationship between people, media, and technology. Over 40 years since its release, The Medium is the Massage continues to challenge listeners to think about media and communications in new ways. (Source: https://goo.gl/dAAXO5 )

The Medium is the Massage

1. Side A

2. Side B

Tracks 1-2 From the LP “The Medium is the Massage”
(Columbia Records, late 1960s)

The Medium is the Massage; with Marshall McLuhan.
Long-Playing Record 1968.
Produced by John Simon.
Conceived and co-ordinated by Jerome Agel.
Written by Marshall McLuhan, Quentin Fiore, and Jerome Agel.
Columbia CS 9501, CL2701.

The Medium is the Massage From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects is a book co-created by media analyst Marshall McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore, and coordinated by Jerome Agel. It was published by Bantam books in 1967 and became a bestseller and a cult classic.

The book itself is 160 pages in length and composed in an experimental, collage style with text superimposed on visual elements and vice versa. Some pages are printed backwards and are meant to be read in a mirror (see mirror writing). Some are intentionally left blank. Most contain photographs and images both modern and historic, juxtaposed in startling ways.

The book was intended to make McLuhan’s philosophy of media, considered by some incomprehensible and esoteric, more accessible to a wider readership through the use of visual metaphor and sparse text. In its artistic approach it is considered cutting edge, even by today’s standards.

The book’s title is actually a mistake according to McLuhans’ son, Eric. The actual title was “The Medium is the Message” but it came back from the printer with the first “e” in message misprinted as an “a”. McLuhan is said to have thought the mistake to be supportive of the point he was trying to make in the book and decided to leave it be. Later readings have interpreted the word in the title as a pun meaning alternately “massage, “message,” and “mass age“. Its message, broadly speaking, is that historical changes in communications and craft media change human consciousness, and that modern electronics are bringing humanity full circle to an industrial analogue of tribal mentality, what he termed “the global village”. By erasing borders and dissolving information boundaries, electronic telecommunications are fated to render traditional social structures like the Nation state and the University irrelevant. Prejudice and oppression are also doomed by the unstoppable pressure of instant, global communication.

While today it looks like a black and white copy of Wired magazine, and its prose reads more or less like boilerplate for any of the heady techno-utopian pronouncements of the 1990s, it should be noted that it presaged the development of the original ARPANET by two years, and preceded the widespread civilian use of the Internet by almost twenty. For this and other reasons McLuhan is often given the moniker “prophet.”

There is also an LP based on this book, put out by Columbia Records in the late 60s and produced by John Simon, but otherwise keeping the same credits as the book.

You don’t have to buy the LP or CD version because it is freely available online on YouTube and at http://www.ubu.com/sound/mcluhan.html

Addendum: Quotes from the Audio Version of The Medium is the Massage: http://www.themediumisthemassage.com/the-record/

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