A Catholic Media Trinity: Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong & Andy Warhol

29Dec17

Marshall McLuhan & Walter Ong seated to his left

By Nick Ripatrazone   –   Dec. 27. 2017

“I make probes,” wrote Marshall McLuhan. “I don’t explain—I explore.” In 1967 he published The Medium Is the Massage, an eccentric journey into how our senses experience electric media. That same year, Walter Ong, S.J.—whose graduate thesis adviser happened to be McLuhan—released The Presence of the Word, a dense but visionary take on our evolution from oral to electronic communication. Also in 1967 Andy Warhol created a silkscreen portfolio of Marilyn Monroe. “The more you look at the same exact thing,” Warhol said, “the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel.”

McLuhan, Ong and Warhol offered a profound vision of media, a Catholic vision. Their Catholicism was not incidental to their theories and their art; it was their structure, their spirit and their sustenance. Fifty years later, their simultaneous creations feel somehow both particular to their moment and prescient. We might even call them transcendent.

All oracles must divine from somewhere, and McLuhan’s source was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. Teilhard had conceived of the “noösphere,” an evolutionary phase in which a “thinking skin” covers the world. This “stupendous thinking machine” of a collective consciousness sounds much like a biological internet. Now imagine how Teilhard’s wild theory sounded to an academic like McLuhan, a literary scholar seeking patterns and connections in the history of media and communication…
……….

Unlike McLuhan, Ong is primarily concerned with the mode of sound: “The electronic processes typical of today’s communications world are themselves of their very nature infravisible—not even truly imaginable in terms of sight.” Although the electronic age awakened us to the profound differences between the “old oral culture and the culture initiated with writing and matured with alphabetic type,” he channels McLuhan to say that “simultaneity is a mark of both early oral culture and of electronic culture Primitive life is simultaneous in that it has no records, so that its conscious contact with its past is governed by what people talk about.”

Our digital world is simultaneous, absolute, overwhelming in possibility. What does that mean for communion with others? “The fragmentation of consciousness initiated by the alphabet has in turn been countered by the electronic media which have made man present to himself across the globe, creating an intensity of self-possession on the part of the human race which is a new, and at times an upsetting, experience. Further transmutations lie ahead.”

……….
 
McLuhan &Warhol

Warhol surrounded himself with Catholic artists, photographers, poets and managers: Fred Hughes, Gerald Malanga, Paul Morrissey, Bob Colacello, Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, Christopher Makos, Robert Mapplethorpe and Vincent Fremont. The same year he created the “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” spectacles, Warhol created a silkscreen series of Marilyn Monroe. The portfolio’s varying shades and colors take an endlessly recycled face and imbue transformative life. There is something vaguely liturgical in Warhol’s recursive method.

This is not to say that such pop work was devotional; Warhol saved that for his Last Supper sequence. Alexandre Iolas commissioned Warhol to create a series based on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous work. For an artist who had made the mundane mystical—think soup cans and soda bottles—this was a different context. It was a print masterpiece resurrected, an artistic word made flesh: draped in camouflage, silkscreened, infused with layers of pop and piety. Warhol created over 100 takes on Leonardo’s creation, his repetition suffused with the rhythm of prayer. McLuhan did not live to see it, but he would have appreciated it”…

These are 3 segments from a longer article which you should read in full at: https://goo.gl/cdivuE.

See also the following on this blog:-

Teilhard de Chardin’s Concept of Noosphere & His Influence on Marshall McLuhan  – https://goo.gl/VXmaKr

McLuhan & Ong on the Cultural Shift From Orality to Literacy – https://goo.gl/Wix5Ak

Andy Warhol & Marshall McLuhan: The Artist & the Visionaryhttps://goo.gl/7S6tKn



No Responses Yet to “A Catholic Media Trinity: Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong & Andy Warhol”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: