Remembering McLuhan / In ricordo di McLuhan

The missing link created far more interest than all the chains and explanations of being.

On 21st July 1911 Marshall McLuhan was born in Edmonton, Canada. He wrote famous works as The Gutemberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962), Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964). Today I want to remember this influential media theorist through quotations and excerpts.

“McLuhan was still a twenty-year old undergraduate at the University of Manitoba, in western Canada, in the dirty thirties, when he wrote in his diary that he would never become an academic. He was learning in spite of his professors, but he would become a professor of English in spite of himself. After Manitoba, graduate work at Cambridge University planted the seed for McLuhan’s eventual move toward media analysis… He reflected that a principal aim of the faculty could be summarized as the training of perception, a phrase that aptly summarizes his own aim throughout his career…
Understanding Media, first published in 1964, focuses on the media effects that permeate society and culture, but McLuhan’s starting point is always the individual, because he defines media as technological extensions of the body. As a result, McLuhan often puts his inquiry and his conclusions in terms of the ratio between the physical senses (the extent to which we depend on them relative to each other) and the consequences of modifications to that ratio. This invariably entails a psychological dimension. Thus, the invention of the alphabet and the resulting intensification of the visual sense in the communication process gave sight priority over hearing, but the effect was so powerful that it went beyond communication through language to reshape literate society’s conception and use of space.”

Da W. Terrence Gordon (2003). Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding. Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press. ISBN: 1-58423-112-2.

In italiano:
Molti anni fa, esattamente il 21 luglio 1911, nasceva in a Edmonton in Canada Marshall McLuhan, che sarebbe diventato il teorico più famoso e influente dei mezzi di comunicazione individuali e di massa del Novecento. McLuhan è stato l’autore di Galassia Gutemberg, Comprendere i media, ecc. Oggi vale la pena ricordarne la figura (brevemente) e basterà citare un famoso passaggio dagli scritti di McLuhan:
In una cultura la nostra, abituata a frazionare ogni cosa al fine di controllarla, è talvolta un po’ urtante sentirsi ricordare che, dal punto di vista operativo e pratico, il medium è il messaggio. Questo significa, semplicemente, che le conseguenze individuali e sociali di ogni medium cioè di ogni estensione di noi stessi derivano dalle nuove proporzioni introdotte nella nostra situazione personale da ognuna di tali estensioni o da ogni nuova tecnologia.

Da Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, New York, New American Library 1964 (trad. it. di E. Capriolo, Gli strumenti del comunicare, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 1999, pp. 15-30).



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