- Campbell, Robert. “Technology, Democracy and the Politics of Economic Regeneration [review].” Journal of Canadian Studies 20.4 (1985-1986): 158-172.
159: “[Arthur] Kroker depicts McLuhan as the ‘Aquinas of the electronic age’, a Catholic humanist and rhetorician who illuminated the ’emancipatory tendencies in new technologies.’ The ‘best exponent of the liberal imagination in Canadian letters,’ McLuhan expressed the faith and hope that the ‘universality of reason’ would be directed to the liberation of human creativity and, hence, freedom. This system of ‘technological humanism’ – reminiscent of Pierre Trudeau – offered a cosmopolitan empire based on reason, in which man transcended space and all became centres of the universe. While this system evokes power / empire / economy / necessity, Kroker also demonstrates McLuhan’s feel for the poetry of consciousness within technique. Nevertheless, McLuhan’s radical empiricism, his commitment to reason over passion, and his predilection for form and sign over content are shown to have contributed to a lack of an operative critical dimension. First, Kroker argues that McLuhan’s galactic imagination was utopian and blind to the possible (inevitable?) ‘privatization’ by the state or corporations of these universal technological possibilities. A theory of the relationship between economy and technology is required to show how technology can be used as an ideological and hegemonic constraint on human potential. Moreover, his quest for the transcendental universal order (the U.S. as the ‘New World environment’) blinded McLuhan to the benefits and wisdom inherent in particularism, thereby making him contemptuous of individual nations and their culture and accomplishments.” (159)
- Carey, James. “Walter Benjamin, Marshall McLuhan, and the Emergence of Visual Society.” Prospects 11 (1986): 29-38.
- Courtney, Richard. “Top of the Bill: McLuhan and the Music Hall; or, Who’s the Top Banana?” Etc. 43 (Summer 1986): 200-6.
201: “Even when talking to him [McLuhan] face-to-face, television interviewers would go blank. They’d expect him to be like everyone else: to talk in a linear fashion, sequentially. In one of his last interviews, on TV Ontario , the interviewer bravely soldiered on, trying to make the interview as a whole make some kind of linear sense – like writing. But he finished, slumped in his chair, overwhelmed by Marshall’s torrent of dialogue.
“He was primarily an oralizer. His self-presentation was in living speech. His books fixed him in time, providing an irredeemable tension with the flux of his thought. His writing killed his speech, as Derrida might say. Not just that it was ‘wrong,’ but that it fixed that wrongness – pinned, as Pirandello might say, like a moth to a board. McLuhan’s was an oral technology in a world that had moved through print to the electric media.”
- Duchastel, Jules. “La Contre-culture: L’exemple de Main Mise .” L’Avant-garde culturelle et littéraire des années 70 au Québec . Ed. Jacques Pelletier. Montreal: UQAM, 1986.
73: “[L]’idéologie de Main Mise a totalment intégré les théories de McLuhan. Plusiers articles se réfèrent à lui, sous forme d’interview, d’extraits de ses écrites ou de paraphrase.”
- Eco, Umberto. “Cogito Interruptus.” Travels in Hyperreality: Essays. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986. 221-38.
227: “McLuhan’s thesis, as everyone knows by now, is that the various achievements of technology, from the wheel to electricity, should be considered media and therefore extensions [which] have caused trauma, blunting and restructuring our sensibility. … [Media] have changed our way of seeing the world, and the change that a new medium involves makes irrelevant the content or experience it can transmit. The medium is the message; what is given us through the new extension matters less than the form of the extension itself.”
- Marvin, Carolyn. “Innis, McLuhan, and Marx.” Visible Language 20.3 (1986): 355-9.
359: “McLuhan was perhaps more consistent than his colleague mentor in making a medium of everything, though that strategy, as McLuhan developed it, sacrificed both force and historical precisions. Innis’s implicit definition of media appeals to the characteristics and settings of messages, and to knowledge of their authors, a discouraging state of affairs for a theory which claims to be medium-based. Although oral tradition is not limited in Innis’s discussion to particular kinds of content, he treats clay, stone, parchment, and papyrus as media only when they carry the bureaucratic inscriptions of religious or secular elites. Paper, like speech, is allowed more popular and more culturally divers content. All this seems fairly arbitrary. And what are we to make of the fact that what Innis offers as a radical revision of history disturbs none of our previous periodizations, nor even any of the labels by which we designate (and therefore begin to explain) epochs and peoples. It is as though the arena of history were otherwise uncontested, and historians have simply misnamed its underlying ’causes.’ Even assuming this to be the case (I suspect few historians do), there would be none but aesthetic reasons to prefer Innis’s account except that it appeals to us, since he does not show us what we can do with his theory that has not already been done by scholars working without media explanations.”
- McCafferey, Steve. North of Intention: Critical Writings 1973-1986 . Toronto: Nightwood Editions, 1986.
77: “Information, as McLuhan uses it and presents it to a reader, is non-retentive; it is the instantaneous flow of multi-directional energy along dynamic circuitries and not the careful classification of data upon the pre-observed. His mental guns are trained against academic discipline and all such pedagogical linear power structures that perpetuate the repression of multi-sensory pre-literate awareness.” (77)
- Schafer, R. Murray. “McLuhan and Acoustic Space.” Antigonish Review 62-3 (1985): 105-113.
106: “For McLuhan the electric world was aural; it moved us from visual space into acoustic space. Strange then that this acoustic space has attracted so little attention among McLuhan’s commentators. Perhaps one reason is the hybridity of the expression itself which marks it as transitional, caught between two cultures. For the fixity of the existential noun ‘space’ to give way in the mind of the analyst it will take something more than the application of such a restless and vaguely understood modifier as ‘acoustic.’ And whether an acoustic world is subject at all to critical analysis is questionable. Thus McLuhan tries to intuit its character between the fissures of the Gutenberg crack-up. He lets the accent fall on the first word by discussing the inadequacies of the second. It is surprising how infrequently he actually gives examples from the world of sound in his writings or quotes from authors engaged in this field of research: a quote from Alfred Einstein’s Short History of Music , another from page 3 of von Békésy’s Experiments in Hearing or a few notes from a conversation with John Cage – these are just about the only specifics.”
- Théberge, Pierre. “Counterpoint: Glenn Gould and Marshall McLuhan.”Canadian Journal of Political and Social Thought 10:1-2 (1986): 109-27.
- Zumthor, Paul. “The Living Voice.” The Unesco Courier 38 (August 1985): 4-8.
4: “[L]ove of the ‘live’ word died out long ago in our Western societies, being gradually excluded from the interests of intellectuals and also from our ‘basic’ personality.’ Owing to a prejudice that has been part of Western mentality and tastes for centuries, we are unwilling to accept what is produced by any art derived from language unless it is in written form. The one exception we make is for the theatre. This is why we find it difficult to acknowledge the aesthetic validity of anything which, in intention or in fact, is not written down. In the last five or six centuries all the countries of Europe first, next those of America, then – starting from different premises, Asia, refined the techniques of writing to such a degree that our sensibility automatically rejects what seems to be the immediacy of vocal expression.
“Is this merely a matter of historical circumstances that affect only the superficial things, or is it a shift in hidden structures that govern our perception and our thinking? The Canadian Marshall McLuhan examined this question as early as 1962, and in The Gutenberg Galaxy, a book that attracted much attention, he opened up a path for sociological and philosophical reflection which has been effectively prospected by a number of research workers since then.”