• E. Khayyat, “The Humility of Thought: An Interview with Friedrich A. Kittler,” boundary 2 39.3 (2012): 7-27

7:  “It was around 1985 when ideas began to take form, when I … was genuinely inventing. This is the beginning of media history,               not media theory, since media theory had started with McLuhan earlier.”

  • Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Adam Michaels, The Electric Information Age Book: McLuhan / Agel / Fiore and the Experimental Paperback (N.Y.: Princeton Architectural P, 2012)48-49: “Contrary to what Agel was wont to claim, he did not ‘discover’ McLuhan in the wake of the May 26, 1964 publication of Understanding Media. … What Agel did ‘discover’ in McLuhan’s work (and in this he may have been aided by Fiore) was an opening toward electronic and television age models of communication like the ones that McLuhan had analyzed critically for decades but was now beginning to put into practice.”

    67: “[T]he turn from message to massage [in The Medium is the Massage] was more than a public relations gambit or an addition to the already extensive catalog of McLuhan puns. It signals two broader shifts. The first is in McLuhan’s thought, from his prior insistence on the environment as ‘extension’ to the more forceful concept of the ‘total media work-over.’ The second is in his language, from linear modes of exposition to ‘a sort of post-alphabetic, non-syntactical language more appropriate to a vision which trumpets the end of the Gutenberg era’” [internal quote from Neil Compton, ‘A Pot of Message,’ Nation, 15 May 1967, p. 631].

  • William J. Buxton and Thierry Bardini, eds., special issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication (37.4) 2012 on “Tracing Innis and McLuhan”


  • Alexander R. Galloway, The Interface Effect (Cambridge: Polity, 2012)

16: For Kittler and McLuhan alike, media mean hypomnesis. They define media via the externalization of man into objects. … Contrast this with an alternate philosophical tradition that views techne as technique, art, habitus, ethos or lived practice.

44: Politics thus reveals why the door or window theory of the interface is inadequate. The door-window model, handed down from McLuhan [sic], can only ever reveal one thing, that the interface is a palimpsest.

149, n.8: Admittedly, McLuhan is sharper than my snapshot will allow. Describing the methodology of Harold Innis, he evokes interface as a type of friction between media, a force of generative irritation rather than a simple device for framing one’s point view.


  • Friedrich Kittler, “Interview with Christoph Weinberger,” Cultural Politics 8.3 (2012): 375-384

380: “In the case of Marshall McLuhan, you can prove that every fifth sentence is wrong and every tenth is funny and very ingenious. And Harold Innis never managed to get into technical details.”

383: CW: “What about your concept of media?”

FK: I only started working on the conceptual history very late. Initially, I simply took the concept from McLuhan’s Understanding Media. In the Germany of 1964 that was a book that broke with established ideas. Thanks to Adorno, everyone decided that it was wrong. But I decided, no, it’s not wrong!”

  • Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, “Well, What Socks is Pynchon Wearing Today?” A Freiburg Scrapbook in Memory of Friedrich Kittler,” Cultural Politics 8.3 (2012): 361-373.

370: In the Weinberger interview Kittler claims that every fifth sentence in McLuhan can be proved wrong. Speaking as a Kittler translator who has spent many an afternoon hunting down factual errors, faulty page references, and bungled quotations, I doubt whether his stats are much better. In many ways (though not for the reasons you will find in media studies handbooks) Kittler was indeed a lot like McLuhan. On the one hand, both were—simply, indubitably, and irrevocably—right; it just took the cum tempore world an average of fifteen years to catch up.

  • Friedrich Kittler, “Of States and Their Terrorists,” Cultural Politics 8.3 (2012) 385-397

395: “[T]he patterns and grids [of] today’s global infrastructure, this more or less successful extension of the United States (to briefly turn Marshall McLuhan from head to feet) turns toward wolves rather than toward pet dogs.”

  • Alexander Nagel, Medieval Modern: Art Out of Time (London: Thames & Hudson, 2012)


157-8: The advent of typography in the fifteenth century, according to McLuhan, introduced a new organization of experience, a rewiring of the human faculties, as words were dislocated from their oral context and came to be understood and manipulated as logical visual arrays, a development that he consistently related to the development of modern European conceptions of time and history, logic and reason, [158] authorship and art, and their political correlates, individualism and nationalism. Post-Renaissance perspectival painting, which presents a plotted world where figures exist in defined dimensions of space and time and where the visual array is organized by a singular posited viewpoint, was a clear correlate to the nearly simultaneous development of typography. In mosaic work, by contrast, figure and ground are not distinguished a priori but are in a relation of ‘dynamic simultaneity’ with their surround. … [S]pace is understood not as something inside the picture but rather as the animated area before and between the walls, a space that includes the viewer. More than an optical witness, the ‘viewer’ enters into a relation of cohabitation with the image.


158-9:  In his 1968 book Through the Vanishing Point, co-authored with the artist Harley Parker, McLuhan glossed William Butler Yeats’s poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ as a kind of prophecy of what the century was to bring, namely a reorientalization of experience [159] and a reintegration of the senses.


160:   For McLuhan, the mosaic mode of being and apprehension was again relevant in the new age of the electronic media, which were exploding the clear boundaries of a mechanically understood world, putting things once again into multiple relations across space and time. … Simultaneous happening is the very modality of mosaic.


160:  The Karsh photo of MM sitting in front of a bank of telephones on a wall with shell images, two books open before him was taken in an art installation of sorts, one in fact shaped by his ideas. The person responsible for its design was Harley Parker, who had studied at Black Mountain College under the former Bauhaus artist and teacher Josef Albers. From 1957 to 1967 he was the head of design and [161] installation at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, as well as a close collaborator of McLuhan’s. Parker’s culminating work at the museum was the new Hall of Fossil Invertebrates, which offered an integrated exhibit about the development of life in the prehistoric seas. This is the strange space in which McLuhan sits, explaining the presence of the shell among the phones. These phones were an innovative precursor to the now familiar acoustiguide, offering visitors information about the exhibit all around them. The use to which they were put explains why these phones have no dialing feature.


161:  In a 1967 article on his rationale for the exhibit, published in the magazine Curator, Parker called it a ‘break-through in museum design,’ based on the principle that ‘space is very seldom purely visual.’ … The new galleries were a direct application of McLuhan’s ideas to the realm of the museum.

162:  In the 1960s Parker layered McLuhan’s medievalism over the Bauhaus medievalism he had learned from Albers.

Steven Feld, Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression (1982; 3rd ed. Durham: Duke UP, 2012)


xxviii:  “While I’m excited to see Sound and Sentiment emerge with a new cover, I admit to a little nostalgia for the one that graced the earlier editions, and I would like to record the story of its origin. In the later 1960s and early 1970s I became aware of the work of the designer Quentin Fiore, through his classic counterculture collaborations with Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage and War and Peace in the Global Village (1967, 1968), and with Buckminster Fuller, I Seem to Be a Verb (1970). Imagine my surprise ten or so years later to find out that Fiore worked freelance for the University of Pennsylvania Press and was assigned to my book! … And in just a few weeks I saw the Sound and Sentiment design with the fruit dove whose nose turns the whole cover purple.”