• Abrams, J.W.. “Tribute.” Technology and Culture 22.4 (1981): 843-4

844: “McLuhan’s work has been the despair of those who sought to find a traditional logical-development package. He was capable of writing what he called ‘mandarin prose’ but chose an ana logical form rather than a logical one [.]. The fact that he chose an iconoclastic mode may have rendered him less accessible to the traditional scholar than to the pop culture of a tribal TV generation. Those exposed to his thought in a dialogue mode – such as that of his famous seminars given at the Centre for Technology and Culture at the University of Toronto, of which he was founder and director – found, in the verbal interplay which arose while they combated statements outrageous at first thought, a clearer guide to his nonparadigmatic probes.”


  • Carey, James. “McLuhan and Mumford: The Roots of Modern Media Analysis.” Journal of Communication 31 (Summer 1981): 162-78.

162-163: “The relationship between McLuhan and Mumford at one level is quite straightforward and open to easy inspection. McLuhan has cited Mumford in virtually all his work, certainly in all his important publications. While the argument has generally been rather one-sided, in his later publications Mumford has devoted considerable and often savage space to McLuhan. However, the argumentative relationship between these two important figures in contemporary scholarship is both more subtle and ambiguous than the pattern of citation suggests. The purpose of explicating this relationship is not merely for the joy to be found in puzzling through texts or influencing reputations. There is bigger game. McLuhan and Mumford have been debating the consequences of electrical technology, in particular, electrical communications for contemporary culture and society. Not only can they teach one something of those consequences but they also illustrate, in a variety of ways, some of the conceptual and ideological pitfalls involved in trying to think sensibly about electrical communication.”


  • Cooper, Thomas. “McLuhan and Innis: The Canadian Theme of Boundless Exploration.” Journal of Communication 31 (Summer 1981): 153-61.

153-154: “Among historians, economists, and educators there is frequently the consensus that McLuhan ‘did something’ to Innis – popularized, over-simplified, developed, improved, misunderstood, clarified, immortalized, bastardized, or resurrected him. In art, however, such claims would be irrelevant: who would argue that Shakespeare’s Macbeth is really an improvement of the historian Holinshed’s Chronicle , or that da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is a two-dimensional ‘distortion’ of the real woman? As McLuhan pointed out for three decades, the artist’s role is different. Shakespeare’s treatment of Holinshed was unique; da Vinci’s portrait of woman was distinctive; McLuhan’s rendering of Innis (and literally hundreds of others) was fresh and imaginative. The artist’s purpose is precisely to bring new perception and altered perspective to old subjects – history and science no less than nudes and folklore.”


  • Curtis, James. “McLuhan: The Aesthete as Historian.” Journal of Communication (Summer 1981): 144-52.

147: “If McLuhan denied ‘historical perspective’ and the visual thinking which the image implies, as well as the emphasis on personalities and institutions in interpreting history, what is left? The answer lies in a single word, one crucial to an understanding of Understanding Media: process. Typically, McLuhan made the point with a joke: ‘A caterpillar gazing at the butterfly is supposed to have remarked “Waal, you’ll never catch me in one of those durn things”‘ (11, p. 34). If history occurs as a process which transcends individual consciousness, then biographies and institutional history – like ideologies and political theories – offer material for interpreting historical process, but they do not constitute the stuff of history itself.”


  • Gronbeck, Bruce. “McLuhan as Rhetorical Theorist.” Journal of Communication 31 (Summer 1981): 117-28.

126: “He obviously was enamored with rhetoricians in his younger days, and wrote fondly of them [.]. In many ways, at least after The Gutenberg Galaxy, which had some superb sections reviewing classical and post-classical rhetorical theory, he abandoned rhetorical studies, so fully was he caught up in the communications game of media and technology. In his more philosophical later years, however, he returned forcibly to the worlds of literature, subjective analysis, and qualitative thought, and hence his own pattern-making activity fell back upon rhetorical impulses – explicitly, as in the classical rhetorical vocabulary in the Pound Lecture (45), and implicitly, in all of the writing about his beloved ‘laws.'”


  • Havelock, Eric. “Harold Innis: The Philosophical Historian.” et cetera 38.3 (1981): 255-68.

259: “Turning to his own era, that which we conveniently label the modern, he [Innis] noted the unprecedented escalation of communications technology, through the invention of the telegraph, the roller printing press, mass production of newsprint and of newspaper, all of this capped by the emergence of radio and television, to which however he was able to give only minimal attention before he died. Could we say that Marshall McLuhan took up where Innis stopped?”


  • Holmes, John Clellon, ed. Neurotica 1948-1951. London: Jay Landsman, 1981.


7: “A few cultural phenomena prove to have hit a nerve that is destined to vibrate more insistently in the future than in the present. In the somnolent smog of the early 1950s, for instance, who would have thought that Marshall McLuhan would become something of a pop-seer 20 years later, or that anyone in the ’80s would still be talking about the Beat Generation, or that a decisive upheaval in moral and sexual values was about to occur?”


  • Jameson, Fredric. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act . Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1981.

25: “Althusser’s first type of effectivity, that of mechanistic or mechanical causality, exemplified in the billiard-ball model of cause and effect, has long been a familiar exhibit in the history of ideas and in particular in the history of science, where it is associated with the Galilean and Newtonian world-view, and is assumed to have been outmoded by the indeterminacy principle of modern physics. This type of causality is generally the target of the loose contemporary consensus on the ‘outmoded’ character of the category of causality as such; yet even this type of causal analysis is by no means everywhere discredited in cultural studies today. Its continuing influence may be observed, for instance, in that technological determinism of which MacLuhanism [sic] remains the most interesting contemporary expression , but of which certain more properly Marxist studies like Walter Benjamin’s ambiguous Baudelaire are also variants.”


  • de Kerckhove, Derrick. “Understanding McLuhan.” Canadian Forum 51 (May 1981): 8-9; 33.

33: “Contrary to the Shannon-Weaver model of communication devised in the late forties for application to information theory and machines, McLuhan’s interpretation was that in communication there is no transportation of information (concepts or ‘content’) from a source to a target, but a transformation of the source and target simultaneously.


  • Levinson, Paul. “McLuhan and Rationality.” Journal of Communication 31.3 (1981): 179-188.

182: “But for a variety of reasons, McLuhan often proffers his method as a better alternative to, rather than a necessary complement of, the more common way of doing thinking. Part of this attack on logic and traditional discourse is no doubt a reflection of the uncomprehending criticism his work continues to receive from much of the literary and academic establishment. … But of far greater significance is the extent to which McLuhan, in setting himself not only apart from but against traditional modes of discourse, may have been a victim of his own metaphors and discoveries.”


  • “McLuhan Was the Message.” Maclean’s 94 (January 12 1981): 16.


“It was journalist Tom Wolfe who asked puckishly in 1965: ‘What if he is right?’ and the debate continues whether he was a charlatan wordsmith or a charismatic wonder. He did, however, make people reach beyond themselves with his free-association performances pirouetting across religion, novels, film, science and history as he washed over audiences, a one-man multi-sensory happening.”


  • “Obituary.” Afterimage 8 (1981): 3


“In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964) and The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967), co-authored by Quentin Fiore, he [McLuhan] refined further his thesis on the cultural effects of technological shifts, concentrating on the advent and spread of electronic media – radio, television, the telephone, etc. The meaning of this shift, according to McLuhan, is revolutionary; the society of the future will become the ‘global village,’ interconnected by electronic communications networks. Electronic media, he explained, are an extension of the human nervous system just as all technology is an extension of some part of the body – the wheel extends the foot as does the automobile, the house extends the skin, printed media extend the eye, and so forth. McLuhan also popularized the terms ‘hot’ and ‘cool’ as applied to various media – ‘cool’ describes a medium which invites participation, while ‘hot’ designates the opposite, a medium which allows for little participation because it is laden with information. For example books are hot, but comic books are cool. Television, with its scan lines and relatively low resolution, is a very cool medium.” (3)


  • O’Driscoll, Robert, ed. “Marshall McLuhan / W. H. Auden: Duel or Duet [discussion].” Forum 61 (May 1981): 5-7.


” Chairman : I should like to ask Marshall McLuhan what he thinks of the underground theatre. I think he has views of theatre as something which takes off a little from the ground.

” McLuhan : We’ve just seen Apollo 14, which has some visual effects going with it. It’s a new type of theatre, obviously, and there is another observable form of theatre, namely, student activists as they present themselves in new settings with new scripts and as they call in the media to assist their presentations. Since Sputnik the planet has gone inside a man-made environment of satellites; this makes everything on the planet simultaneously present to consciousness. They call it ecology, but when everything happens at once and everybody is involved, there is no audience, there are only actors. I think this is a new dimension of the electric theatre. The role of the audience as actor is worth watching and it might be possible to have comments from the panel on the varying degrees of audience participation in the past. I suppose the Mass is the greatest form of theatre possible and the one in which the audience is necessarily participant – in which there is no audience.” (5)


  • Ong, Walter J. “McLuhan as Teacher: The Future as a Thing of the Past.”Journal of Communication 31.3 (1981): 129-35.

129: “A good teacher is one who can encourage others to think actively. A superior teacher can make the thinking pleasant for the learners. A superb teacher can make the thinking an overpowering activity, delightful even when it is disturbing and exhausting. By these criteria, Marshall McLuhan was a superb teacher who could stir people’s minds. Even those who found themselves baffled or exasperated generally found themselves changed.”


  • Olson, David. “McLuhan: Preface to Literacy.” Journal of Communication 31.3 (1981): 136-133.

137: “Certainly McLuhan wrote in a way that permits the reader to read for his or her own purposes, to construct his or her own meanings, and to do so with enjoyment. His writings make a genuine contribution to art, but they also make a genuine contribution to science. Hans Reichenbach (17, p. 7), in his analysis of the structure of scientific thought, differentiated the context of discovery from the context of justification, the idea of proof. McLuhan’s contributions are largely of the first type.”


  • O’Neill, John. “McLuhan’s Loss of Innis-Sense.” Canadian Forum (May 1981): 13-15.

14: “Our present situation cannot be interpreted in terms of the forced choice between Innis’s (or for that matter, George Grant’s) homogeneous state and McLuhan’s global village flickering in the family room. The global village is an artifact of the multinational corporations – like tourism it goes round the world by missing most of the world. Our everyday world is smaller – nationalist, class divided and xenophobic for the most part, but with charitable moments of internationalism and federalism. We are increasingly depoliticized and defamilized – if not de-gendered. The notions of the homogeneous state and the global village merely grasp superficial features of the new body politic without being able to relate them to any analytic framework of the ties between the modern administrative state and the political economy whose speculative processes are serviced by the media.”


  • Powers, Bruce. “Final Thoughts: A Collaborator on Marshall’s Methods and Meanings.” Journal of Communication 31.3 (1981): 189-90.

189: “The probe is a semantic wedge that pries dead though processes apart. Take for example: “The medium is the message.” Marshall really did not expect people to take this literally. But he knew that when most people experience a medium, whether press, radio, TV, or film, they are fixed on the content. By forcing people to focus on the form of the medium, he compelled them to shift mental levels. In the process, they realized that considering only content was as outrageous as seeing only form.” (189)


  • “Prophet of Cool.” Time 117 (January 12 1981): 27.

27: “Much of what McLuhan said was what Critic Dwight Macdonald called ‘impure nonsense,’ that is, ‘nonsense adulterated by sense.’ Though his sensible observations about the power of TV now seem obvious, they were angrily contested when he first made them. Others may have recognized what was happening: McLuhan was the first to say so.”


  • Watson, Wilfred. “McLuhan’s Wordplay.” Canadian Forum 61 (May 1981): 10- 12.

11: “The McLuhan wordplay is first of all a vortex. It sucks in its vocabulary from the chaotic energies twisting the post-war period into imminent disaster. This vocabulary was used to discuss the chaos everywhere and to identify patterns by which it could be dealt with as a vortex. McLuhan became outstanding from his adoption of a vocabulary chosen for its relevance to the network of technologies and media he recognized as the vortices of power generating the technological unconscious of contemporary man. These vortices, he insisted, couldn’t be analyzed in the linear arguments and formulations of discursive reasoning. McLuhan’s world isn’t the discursive world of Dennis Lee, it isn’t exactly the multi-faceted world of Picasso the cubist painter, it is much more the world of Picasso the metteur en montage , it is almost the multi-conscious world of Percy Wyndham Lewis, where the central concept is the modification of the human mind, not only by motion pictures, radio, television or computer, but by all the technologies man invents to exteriorize his needs.”