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Understanding Media Key quotations from McLuhan. The Medium is the Message The medium is the message: “This is merely to say that the personal and social.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Media Key quotations from McLuhan. The Medium is the Message The medium is the message: “This is merely to say that the personal and social."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Media Key quotations from McLuhan

2 The Medium is the Message The medium is the message: “This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology” (p. 7).

3 The Medium is the Message “The electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message unless it is used to spell out some verbal ad or name. This fact, characteristic of all media, means that the ‘content’ of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph” (p. 8).

4 The Medium is the Message For example: “Whether the [electric] light is being used for brain surgery or night baseball is a matter of indifference. [T]hese activities are the ‘content’ of the electric light since they could not exist without the electric light. This underlines the point that ‘the medium is the message’ because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action” (p. 9).

5 The Medium is the Message “For it is not till the electric light is used to spell out some brand name that it is noticed as a medium” (p. 9).

6 The Medium is the Message Mechanization: “And the paradox of mechanization is that although it is itself the cause of maximal growth and change, the principle of mechanization excludes the very possibility of growth or the understanding of change. For mechanization is achieved by fragmentation of any process and by putting the fragmented parts in a series” (p. 11).

7 The Medium is the Message “Mechanization was never so vividly fragmented or sequential as in the birth of movies, the moment that translated us beyond mechanism into the world of growth and organic interrelation. The movie, by sheer speeding up the mechanical, carried us from the world of sequence and connections into the world of creative configuration and structure” (p. 12).

8 The Medium is the Message Content: “the content of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph” (p. 8).

9 The Medium is the Message “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” (p. 18).

10 The Medium is the Message “What we are considering here, however, are the psychic and social consequences of the designs or patterns as they amplify or accelerate existing processes. For the ‘message’ of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs” (p. 8).

11 The Medium is the Message Effects of Technology: “The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance” (p. 18).

12 The Medium is the Message “Subliminal and docile acceptance of media impact has made them prisons without walls for their human users. As A. J. Liebling remarked in his book The Press, a man is not free if he cannot see where he is going, even if he has a gun to help him get there. For each of the media is also a powerful weapon with which to clobber other media and other groups” (p. 20).

13 The Medium is the Message “We become what we behold” (p. 19).

14 Media Hot and Cold Hot vs. Cool media: “There is a basic principle that distinguishes a hot medium like radio from a cool one like the telephone, or a hot medium like the movie from a cool one like TV. A hot medium is one that extends one single sense in ‘high definition.’ High definition is the state of being well filled with data” (p. 22).

15 Media Hot and Cold “Hot media are, therefore, low in participation, and cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience” (p. 23).

16 Media Hot and Cold De-tribalization: “A tribal and feudal hierarchy of traditional kind collapses quickly when it meets any hot medium of the mechanical, uniform, and repetitive kind. The medium of money or wheel or writing, or any other form of specialist speed-up of exchange and information, will serve to fragment a tribal structure” (p. 24).

17 Media Hot and Cold Re-tribalization: “Similarly, a very much greater speed-up, such as occurs with electricity, may serve to restore a tribal pattern of intense involvement such as took place with the introduction of radio in Europe, and is now tending to happen as a result of TV in America” (p. 24).

18 Media Hot and Cold “Specialist technologies detribalize. The nonspecialist electric technology retribalizes” (p. 24).

19 Media Hot and Cold Insight: “In fact, it is the technique of insight, and as such is necessary for media study, since no medium has its meaning or existence alone, but only in constant interplay with other media” (p. 26). [See also slide #8.]

20 Media Hot and Cold Entropy: –“The effect of electric technology had at first been anxiety. Now it appears to create boredom” (p. 26). –“The price of eternal vigilance is indifference” (p. 30).

21 Media Hot and Cold Media & Culture: “…it makes all the difference whether a hot medium is used in a hot or cool culture” (p. 30). [See next slide.]

22 Media Hot and Cold “The hot radio medium used in a cool or nonliterate cultures has a violent effect, quite unlike its effect, say in England or America, where radio is felt as entertainment. A cool or low literacy culture cannot accept hot media like movies or radio as entertainment. They are, at least, as radically upsetting for them as the cool TV medium has proved to be for our high literacy world” (p. 31).

23 Media Hot and Cold Movie Vs. Television

24 Media Hot and Cold Paper Vs. Stone

25 Media Hot and Cold The Waltz Vs. The Twist

26 Media Hot and Cold Nylon Vs. Fishnet Stockings

27 Media Hot and Cold Radio Vs. Telephone

28 Media Hot and Cold Photograph Vs. Cartoon

29 Media Hot and Cold Eyeglasses Vs. Sunglasses

30 The Spoken Word “The written word spells out in sequence what is quick and implicit in the spoken word” (79).

31 The Spoken Word Literacy = Privacy: “One native, the only literate member of his group, told of acting as reader for the others when thy received letters. He said he felt impelled to put his fingers to his ears while reading aloud, so as not to violate the privacy of their letters” (78).

32 The Spoken Word “This is interesting testimony to the values of privacy fostered by the visual stress of phonetic writing. Such separation of the senses, and of the individual from the group, can scarcely occur without the influence of phonetic writing. The spoken word does not afford the extension and amplification of the visual power needed for habits of individualism and privacy” (78/9).

33 The Spoken Word Orality = involved, Literacy = detached: “The literate man or society develops the tremendous power of acting in any matter with considerable detachment from the feelings or emotional involvement that a nonliterate man or society would experience” (79).

34 The Spoken Word Consciousness: “Language does for intelligence what the wheel does for the feet and the body. It enables them to move from thing to thing with greater ease and speed and ever less involvement. Language extends and amplifies man but it also divides his faculties. His collective consciousness or intuitive awareness is diminished by this technical extension of consciousness that is speech” (79).

35 The Spoken Word “Our new electric technology that extends our senses and nerves in a global embrace has large implications for the future of language. Electricity points the way to an extension of the process of consciousness itself, on a world scale, and without any verbalization whatever. Such a state of collective awareness may have been the preverbal condition of men” (80).

36 The Written Word The Shift From Orality to Literacy: “Suppose that, instead of displaying the Stars and Stripes, we were to write the words “American flag” across a piece of cloth and to display that. While the symbols would convey the same meaning, the effect would be quite different.…

37 The Written Word …To translate the rich visual mosaic of the Stars and Stripes into written form would be to deprive it of most of its qualities of corporate image and of experience, yet the abstract literal bond would remain much the same. Perhaps this illustration will serve to suggest the change the tribal man experiences when he becomes literate….

38 The Written Word …Nearly all the emotional and corporate family feeling is eliminated from his relationship with his social group. He is emotionally free to separate from the tribe and to become a civilized individual, a man of visual organization who has uniform attitudes, habits, and rights with all other civilized individuals” (82).

39 The Written Word The Phonetic Alphabet: “The phonetic alphabet is a unique technology. There have been many kinds of writing, pictographic and syllabic, but there is only one phonetic alphabet in which semantically meaningless letters are used to correspond to semantically meaningless sounds” (83).

40 The Written Word “The phonetically written word sacrifices worlds of meaning and perception that were secured by forms like the hieroglyph and the Chinese ideogram. These culturally richer forms of writing, however, offered men no means of sudden transfer from the magically discontinuous and traditional world of the tribal world into the cool and uniform visual medium” (83).

41 The Written Word “Only the phonetic alphabet makes such a sharp division in experience, giving to its user an eye for an ear, and freeing him from the tribal trance of resonating word magic and the web of kinship” (84).

42 The Written Word “… the phonetic alphabet, alone is the technology that has been the means of creating ‘civilized man’ – the separate individuals equal before a written code of law. Separateness of the individual, continuity of space and of time, and uniformity of codes are the prime marks of literate and civilized societies” (84).

43 The Written Word “Tribal cultures cannot entertain the possibility of the individual or of the separate citizen. Their ideas of spaces and times are neither continuous nor uniform, but compassional and compressional in their intensity. It is in its power to extend patterns of visual uniformity and continuity that the ‘message’ of the alphabet is felt by cultures” (84).

44 The Written Word Thought Before Action: “Oral cultures act and react at the same time. Phonetic culture endows men with the means of repressing their feelings and emotions when engaged in action. To act without reacting, without involvement, is the peculiar advantage of Western literate man” (86).

45 The Printed Word Storage: “We are confronted here once more with that basic function of media – to store and to expedite information. Plainly, to store is to expedite, since what is stored is also more accessible than what has to be gathered” (158).

46 The Printed Word “For if seen merely as a store of information, or as a new means of speedy retrieval of knowledge, typography ended parochialism and tribalism, psychically and socially, both is space and time” (170). [See also slide #16.]

47 The Printed Word Repetition: “Repeatability is the core of the mechanical principle that has dominated our world, especially since the Gutenberg [printing press] technology. The message of the print and of typography is primarily that of repeatability.” (160).

48 The Printed Word “With typography, the principle of movable type introduced the means of mechanizing any handicraft by the process of segmenting and fragmenting an integral action. What had begun with the alphabet as a separation of the multiple gestures and sights and sounds in the spoken word, reached a new level of intensity, first with the woodcut and then with typography” (160).

49 The Printed Word “The uniformity and repeatability of print permeated the Renaissance with the idea of time and space as continuous measurable quantities. […] The new technique of control of physical processes by segmentation and fragmentation separated God and Nature as much as Man and Nature, or man and man” (176).

50 The Printed Word “Another significant aspect of the uniformity and repeatability of the printed page was the pressure it exerted toward ‘correct’ spelling, syntax, and pronunciation. Even more notable were the effects of print in separating poetry from song, and prose from oratory, and popular from educated speech” (175). [See also slides #16 & 48.]

51 The Printed Word Mechanization: “Printing from movable types was the first mechanization of a complex handicraft, and became the archetype of all subsequent mechanization” (170). [See also slides #6 & 7.]

52 The Printed Word Electronic Re-tribalization: “Electric means of moving of information are altering our typographic culture as sharply as print modified medieval manuscript and scholastic culture” (171).

53 The Printed Word “The alphabet (and … typography) made possible the spread of the power that is knowledge, and shattered the bonds of tribal man, thus exploding him into agglomeration of individuals. Electric writing and speed pour upon him, instantaneously and continuously, the concerns of all other men. He becomes tribal once more. The human family becomes one tribe again” (171/2).

54 The Printed Word “Print, then, challenged the corporate patterns of medieval organization as much as electricity now challenges our fragmented individualism” (176).

55 The Printed Word Extensions: “An extension appears to be an amplification of an organ, a sense or a function, that inspires the central nervous system to a self-protective gesture of numbing of the extended area, at least so far as direct inspection and awareness are concerned” (172). [See also slides #11- 13.]

56 The Printed Word The Extension of Print: “Psychically the printed book, an extension of the visual faculty, intensified perspective and the fixed point of view. Associated with the visual stress on point of view and the vanishing point that provides the illusion of perspective there comes another illusion that space is visual, uniform and continuous” (172).

57 The Printed Word “The new intensity of visual stress and private point of view in the first century of printing were united to the means of self- expression made possible by the typographic extension of man” (172).

58 The Printed Word Media Ecology: “Printing changed learning and marketing processes alike. The book was the first teaching machine and also the first mass-produced commodity. In amplifying and extending the written word, typography revealed and greatly extended the structure of writing” (174).

59 The Printed Word “Today, with the cinema and the electric speed-up of information movement, the formal structure of the printed word, as of mechanism in general, stands forth like a branch washed up on the beach” (174).

60 The Printed Word “A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them” (174). [See also slide #12.]

61 The Printed Word “Once a new technology comes into a social milieu it cannot cease to permeate that milieu until every institution is saturated” (177).

62 The Printed Word Nationalism: “Socially, the typographic extension of man brought in nationalism, industrialism, mass markets, and universal literacy and education. For print presented an image of repeatable precision that inspired totally new forms of extending social energies” (172).

63 The Printed Word “Of the many unforseen consequences of typography, the emergence of nationalism is, perhaps, the most familiar. Political unification of populations by means of vernacular and language groupings was unthinkable before printing turned each vernacular into an extensive mass medium” (176/7).

64 The Printed Word “The tribe, an extended form of a family of blood relatives, is exploded by print, and is replaced by an association of men homogenously trained to be individuals” (177).

65 The Printed Word “Nationalism itself came as an intense new visual image of group destiny and status, and depending on a speed of information movement unknown before printing. Today nationalism as an image still depends on the press but has all the electric media against it” (177).

66 The Printed Word Science: “Perhaps the most significant of the gifts of typography to man is that of detachment and noninvolvement – the power to act without reacting” (173). [See also slide #33.]

67 The Photograph Frozen Moments: “It is one of the peculiar characteristics of the photo that it isolates single moments in time” (188).

68 The Photograph Self-Consciousness: “By the same token, the complete transformation of human sense-awareness by this form involves a development of self-consciousness that alters facial expression and cosmetic makeup as immediately as it does our bodily stance, in public or in private” (197).

69 The Photograph “It is not too much to say, therefore, that if outer posture is affected by the photograph, so with our inner postures and the dialogue with ourselves. The age of Jung and Freud is, above all, the age of the photograph, the age of the full gamut of self-critical attitudes” (197).

70 The Photograph A Statement Without Syntax: “Photography, by carrying the pictorial delineation of natural objects much further than paint or language could do, had a reverse effect” (201).

71 The Photograph “By conferring a means of self-delineation of objects, of ‘statement without syntax,’ photography gave the impetus to a delineation of the inner world. Statement without syntax or verbalization was really statement by gesture, by mime, and by gestalt” (201).

72 The Photograph Print & Photography: “For photography mirrored the external world automatically, yielding an exactly repeatable visual image. It was this all-important quality of uniformity and repeatability that had made the Gutenberg [printing press] break between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance” (190).

73 The Photograph “Photography was almost as decisive in making the break between mere mechanical industrialism and the graphic age of electronic man. The step from the age of Typographic Man to the age of Graphic Man was taken with the invention of photography” (190).

74 The Photograph Re-tribalization: “If the phonetic alphabet was a technical means of severing the spoken word from its aspects of sound and gesture, the photograph and its development in the movie restored gesture to the human technology of recording experience” (193). [See also Slides #16 & 17]

75 The Photograph Photography & Painting: “The painter could no longer depict a world that had been much photographed. He turned, instead to reveal the inner process of creativity in expressionism and in abstract art” (194).

76 The Photograph Reverse Tourism: “Moreover, the photograph has reversed the purpose of travel, which until now had been to encounter the strange and unfamiliar” (197).

77 The Photograph “Thus the world itself becomes a sort of museum of objects that have been encountered before in some other medium. […] In the same way, the tourist who arrives at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Grand Canyon of Arizona, can now merely check his reactions to something with which he has long been familiar, and take his own pictures of the same” (198).

78 The Photograph Hybrid Media: “The telegraph is an electric form that, when crossed with print and rotary presses, yields the modern newspaper. And the photograph is not a machine, but a chemical and light process that, crossed with the machine, yields the movie” (194).

79 The Photograph “Yet there is a vigor and violence in these hybrid forms that is self-liquidating, as it were. For in radio and TV – purely electric forms from which the mechanical principle has been excluded – there is an altogether new relation of the medium to its users. This is a relation of high participation and involvement that, for good or ill, no mechanism had ever evoked” (194/5).

80 The Photograph Pseudo-Event: “This now brings us to the factual cor of the ‘pseudoevent,’ a label applied to the new media, in general, because of their power to give new patterns to our lives by acceleration of older patterns. [...] All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perception and arbitrary values” (199).

81 The Photograph “All meaning alters with acceleration, because all patterns of personal and political interdependence change with any acceleration of information [see also slides 16 & 17]. […] The student of media soon comes to expect the new media of any period whatever to be classed as pseudo by those who have acquired the patterns of earlier media, whatever they may happen to be” (199).

82 The Photograph “Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force” (199).

83 The Photograph Brothel Without Walls: “Both monocle and camera tend to turn people into things, and the photograph extends and multiplies the human image to the proportions of mass-produced merchandise.”

84 The Photograph “The movie stars and matinee idols are put in the public domain by photography. They become dreams that money can buy. They can be bought and hugged and thumbed more easily than public prostitutes” (189).

85 The Photograph Equilibrium: “To understand the medium of the photograph is quite impossible, then, without grasping its relations to other media, both old and new. For media, as extensions of our physical and nervous systems, constitute a world of biochemical interactions that must ever seek new equilibrium as new extensions occur” (202).

86 Movies Reversal & Implosion: “On film the mechanical appears as organic, and the growth of a flower can be portrayed as easily and as freely as the movement of a horse” (285).

87 Movies “Film was, as a form, the final fulfillment of the great potential of typographic fragmentation. But the electric implosion has now reversed the entire process of expansion by fragmentation. Electricity has brought back the cool, mosaic world of implosion, equilibrium, and stasis” (294).

88 Movies Reading Movies: “If the movie merges the mechanical and organic in a world of undulating forms, it also links with the technology of print. The reader in projecting words, as it were, has to follow the black and white sequences of stills that is typography, providing his own sound track. He tries to follow the contours of the author’s mind, at varying speeds and with various illusions of understanding” (285).

89 Movies “It would be difficult to exaggerate the bond between print and movie in terms of their power to generate fantasy in the viewer or reader” (285).

90 Movies “In fact, however, like the print and the photo, movies assume a high level of literacy in their users and prove baffling to the nonliterate” (285).

91 Movies “Our literate acceptance of the mere movement of the camera eye as it follows or drops a figure from view is not acceptable to an [nonliterate] film audience” (285).

92 Movies “If somebody disappears off the side of the film, the [nonliterate] wants to know what happened to him. A literate audience, however, accustomed to following printed imagery line by line without questioning the logic of lineality, will accept film sequence without protest” (285/6).

93 Movies “When the camera shifts, they think they see trees moving, and buildings growing or shrinking, because they cannot make the literate assumption that space is continuous and uniform. Nonliterate people simply don’t get perspective or distancing effects of light and shade that we assume are innate human equipment” (287).

94 Movies “Film, both in its reel form and in its scenario or script form, is completely involved with book culture. All one need do is to imagine for a moment a film based on newspaper form in order to see how close film is to book” (286).

95 Movies “Typographic man took readily to film just because, like books, it offers an inward world of fantasy and dreams. The film viewer sits in psychological solitude like the silent book reader. This was not the case with the manuscript reader, nor is it true of the watcher of television” (292).

96 Movies Perspective: “Again, it has been found that nonliterates do not know how to fix their eyes, as Westerners do, a few feet in front of the movie screen, or some distance in front of a photo. The result is that they move their eyes over photo or screen as they might their hands” (287).

97 Movies “Only an extremely literate and abstract society learns to fix the eyes, as we must learn to do in reading the printed page. For those who thus fix their eyes, perspective results. There is great subtlety and synesthesia in native art, but no perspective” (288). [See also slide # 56.]

98 Movies Simultaneity: “…film has the power to store and to convey a great deal of information. In an instant it presents a scene of landscape with figures that would require several pages of prose to describe. […] The writer, on the other hand, has no means to holding a mass of detail before his reader in a large bloc or gestalt” (288). [See also slide #30.]

99 Movies Closure: “For with silent film we automatically provide sound for ourselves by way of ‘closure’ or completion. And when it is filled in for us there is very much less participation in the work of the image” (287). [See also “Media Hot and Cold.”]

100 Movies Transportation: “The business of the writer or the film-maker is to transfer the reader or viewer from one world, his own, to another, the world created by typography and film. That is so obvious, and happens so completely, that those undergoing the experience accept it subliminally and without critical awareness” (285).

101 Movies “Whatever the camera turns to, the audience accepts. We are transported to another world” (286).

102 Movies Cultural Transmission: “The movie is not only a supreme expression of mechanism, but paradoxically it offers as product the most magical of consumer commodities, namely dreams. It is, therefore, not accidental that the movie has excelled as a medium that offers poor people roles of riches and power beyond the dreams of avarice” (291).

103 Movies “It meant that in the 1920s the American way of life was exported to the entire world in cans. The world eagerly lined up to buy canned dreams. The film not only accompanied the first great consumer age, but was also incentive, advertisement and, in itself, a major commodity” (291).

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