• Andrew Blauvelt, ed. Hippie Modernism (Minneapolis: Walker Art Centre, 2015)

[Tina Rivers Ryan, “An interview with Gerd Stern of USCO” 375-382]

380 GS: Marshall was a friend of mine; we met in 1962. I feel that Marshall was a prophet, and we still believe what he showed us. I think that people don’t think about the advance of technology; everybody’s more concerned about the problems that it causes. You know, fifty years from now—who’s talking about that? Marshall talked about fifty years from then. And then was quite a while ago! I introduced him to art critic Harold Rosenberg, and he wrote one of the best pieces ever written about Marshall.

[Esther Choi, “An interview with Günter Zamp Kelp of Haus-Rucker-Co] 395-402

396 EC:  Vienna had such a lively scene at the time. You were in conversation with figures such as Joseph Beuys, Walter Pichler, and Hans Hollein. Were there particular texts that you had read that were seminal to your work?

GZK:  Marshall McLuhan, of course—everybody was influenced by him.

[Esther Choi, “An interview with Woodson Rainey and Ron Williams of ONYX”] 411-418

EC: Were you reading about systems theory or thinking about technology in a conscious way? Did that interest you at the time?

WR:  I recall being very interested in Marshall McLuhan and his first book, The Mechanical Bride.

[Jeffrey T. Schnapp, “An Interview with Maurice Stein, Larry Miller, and Marshall Henrichs” 419-424]

MH: McLuhan was my main man in 1970. … No one wanted to talk to me about him, but I was steeped in McLuhan and his bibliography.


  • Shane Butler, The Ancient Phonograph (N.Y.: Zone, 2015)

9:  “’Good morning. How do you do? How do you like the phonograph?’ Thus did Thomas Edison’s cheerful new machine greet the editors of Scientific American,’to the astonishment of all present.’ For media theorists, this was one of history’s great turning points, and Friedrich Kittler, who begins his account of modern media in Edison’s laboratory, looks forward from the recorded saluations of 1877 to a world that, almost at once, would never be the same. The present book looks instead back—indeed, far back, not onloy befoe Edison, but long before Marshall McLuhan’s earlier starting point of Gutenberg, to an age for which, from our own distant perspective, even writing itself was still relatively new. To return with the right ears to those early chapters of Western writing, I shall argue, is to hear something no less astonishing than what rose from the spinning cylinder of the ‘wizard of Menlo Park.’ ‘How do you like the phonograph?’: the new machine’s name was a neologism, but like the roots from which that name was compounded, its question was an ancient one.”

194:  “Ego enim idem sum. Inimici mei mea mihi, non me ipsum ademerunt. To be sure, these are words born of a desperate fear of erasure parlayed, in the writing that began once exile was over, into that most predictable of vanities: a bid for authorial immortality. But this did not prevent Petrarch from hearing in them (and in the rest of Cicero) a human presence, from believing that human artifacts do no simply represent or signify a human but are themselves as human as any other human body is, that they are, in Marshall McLuhan’s well-worn phrase, ‘extensions of man.’ But of which ‘man’? … [A]t least one modern philosopher, Adriana Cavarero, has found in the voice (of a woman singing) an arresting expression of difference: not just sexual difference, but the radical difference  of each human being from every other. But even if plural bodies necessarily have plural voices, every seemingly new voice just as surely presents us with a sound we already know. This is plainer in the case of the recorded voice, which at its most singular emerges as the sound of a mass-produced machine: the vox Ciceronis becomes the voice of Latin rhetoric, he voice of classical Latin, and even, for Petrarch the vox humana itself. ‘Ciceronian’ voices—Cicero’s for Latin prose, Petrarch’s for Italian poetry—fundamentally offer only the mirage of radical identity in the recorded voice: not exceptions that prove the rule, but exceptionally definitive demonstrations of rules that they did not so much invent as infer. ‘Cicero,’ in other words, is not a freeform signature in endlessly pliant matter, but a map of mediatic possibilities and constraints. Truly Ciceronian users [195] of that map … do not try to sound like Cicero; rather, they try to sound, like Cicero. That they usually wind up also sounding something like Cicero is a function of limits in the media they share with him. Those shared media include, at the most basic level, alphabetic writing itself, but they extend upward even into generic conventions, including ones that might at first seem banal, like the use of the first person: epistle, sonnet and dialogue are all forever saying ‘I am.’”

  • Stephen Sale and Laura Salisbury, eds. Kittler Now (Cambridge: Polity, 2015)

“Editors’ Introduction” (xvii-xxxix)

xviii: “Following the material, technical forms of media rather than the texts they produce, Kittler’s work ranges across traditional disciplinary boundaries, deftly melding French poststructuralism (particularly Foucault and Lacan) with McLuhan and the Toronto School, while always following a path set down by his beloved Germans: Heidegger, Hegel and Nietzsche. There are also some British influences, but they are not the usual suspects: we hear about Alan Turing and Pink Floyd rather than Raymond Williams.”

xxiv: “As with Marshall McLuhan, another important influence on Kittler, human capabilities start to appear as imperfect implementations of media technology. However, Kittler, is emphatic in avoiding what he views as a residual anthropomorphism in McLuhan.”

John Durham Peters, “Assessing Kittler’s Musik und Mathematik” (20-41)

28-29: “Early McLuhan was interested in the history of the trivium, but late Kittler was interested in the history of the quadrivium. … [T]he two media theorists part company, as their preferences for the trivium and quadrivium suggest.”

[“Many people would probably welcome an elucidation of Joyce’s celebrated retort to a critic of his puns: ‘Yes, some of them are trivial and some of them are quadrivial.’ For, as usual, Joyce was being quite precise and helpful. He means literally that his puns are crossroads of meaning in his communication network, and that his techniques for managing the flow of messages in his network were taken from the traditional disciplines of grammar, logic, rhetoric, on one hand, and of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, on the other. … [F]or Joyce as much as for St. Augustine, the trivial and quadrivial arts form a harmony of philology and science which is indispensable to the exegetist of scripture and of language, too. … Music was, esthetically speaking, the meeting place of poetics and mathematics, of grammatica and astronomy. Each letter of the alphabet had its numerical power attached to it quite as definitely as Rimbaud joined vowel and color. … [T]rivium and quadrivium … are propaedeutic to other studies. … Dialectics seeks a syllogistic certitude which is alien to the mode of vision of art. Art must employ dialectics as matter, not as the way or conclusion of its quest. … Dialectics shuns the way of these nets of analogies, seeking to reduce them to univocal discourse and linear statements. So there is special propriety in the analogical juxtaposition of the antithetic modes of dialectics, Scylla and Charybdis, Aristotle and Plato, as providing the true course of the poet. ‘One word burrowing on another’ is a typical (Joycean) pun which invokes the two-way process of borrowing and burrowing plus the image of burial mounds and the tree-pillar cults which themselves were modes of communication between the living and the dead.” Marshall McLuhan, “James Joyce: Trivial and Quadrivial,” Thought 28 no. 108 (Spring 1953).]

37: “McLuhan readers have to bushwhack through jungles of outrageousness to get at the mineral deposits. Innis’ oil seems available only by fracking. Kittler is one in a long line of media theorists who require and repay creative reading.”

Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, “Siren Recursions” (67-87)

74-5: “All media technologies are ‘archives of cultural engineering’ (Ernst, ‘Media Archaeology’ 243), and in ways which give a lot of additional meaning to McLuhan’s mantra that the content of one medium is always another medium, each archive recursively processes another.”

81-2: “The answer to Tiberius’ question quid Sirenes cantare sint solitae, then, is not only to quote Homer but to insist that the message is the medium itself. In Kittler’s terminology, the Siren song is the first discourse on discourse channel conditions, insofar as the song performs its own notational and musical properties. But we should not completely bury the message in the medium, for according to Kittler the invitation expressed by the Sirens—‘Come hither Odysseus’—is an invitation to have sex. … In the senior Kittlersphere, however, sex is a recursion of gods in humans, for it amounts to a human repetition of the act first performed by the gods.”

Caroline Bassett, “Staring into the Sun” (178-193)

184:  “Conceiving mobile media as intimate media in its turn encourages a reading based on prosthesis or extension. McLuhan, of course, explored reorganization of the human sensorium wrought by mass communication systems—this is what makes him famous / notorious as a technological determinist. However, he also understood those systems as extensions of man, specifically as extensions of the nervous system, entailing a form of fusion that might be said to re-embody technology as well as to dis-embody the human somewhat, but that might write the human into the developing system.”

  • Bernhard Siegert, Cultural Techniques: Grids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real, trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (New York: Fordham UP, 2015)

[loc 275] “Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan already emphasized that the decision taken by communication studies, sociology, and economics to speak of media only in terms of mass media is woefully insufficient. Any approach to communication that places media exclusively in the ‘public sphere’ (itself a fictional construct bequeathed to us by Enlightenment thought) will systematically misconstrue the abyss of non-meaning in and from which media operate.”

  • Melle Jan Kromhout, ‘“Antennas Have Long Since Invaded Our Brains’: Listening to the ‘Other Music’ in Friedrich Kittler,” in Sander van Maas, ed., Thresholds of Listening: Sound, Technics, Space (New York: Fordham, 2015)

92:  “In the digital age, computers developed a fundamentally mathematical logic and surpassed human capacities, fulfilling the promise of the complete manipulability of all sounds. The example of the popular smartphone app Shazam shows how computers developed new and different ‘listening’ strategies, running parallel to human ways of processing sense data. Being neither an extension of the senses in Marshall McLuhan’s sense nor their radical detachment or autonomization, digital ‘listening’ technologies operate alongside humans. They establish what Kittler described as a feedback loop between machines and their users, in which the one feeds on the other. Indeed, as Kittler wrote in ‘Musik als Medium,’ it is ‘pure media-technology’ or ‘pure control flow.’

This ‘pure control flow’ points to a future, only just becoming visible in 1995, in which the constant flow of commands between humans and machines in the age of digital media change, shape, and manipulate digital data as symbolic representations of the physical world. As such, it constitutes the fulfillment, as well as the dissolution, of the traditional media technologies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and is the final step in the completion of an ‘other music.’”


  • Judith Skelton Grant, A Meeting of the Minds: The Massey College Story (Toronto: U Toronto P, 2015)

147:  “The college made much of [Vincent; founder of Massey College] Massey’s eightieth birthday on 20 February 1967. Moira Whalon [College secretary], Colin Friesen [bursar], and Douglas Lochhead [librarian] jointly sent warm birthday greetings by telegram; the senior fellows [of Massey College] drank to his health and long life at [Massey College’s] High Table and sent good wishes by telegram as well, while [Robertson] Davies [College Master]  asked Derrick Breach, by now a senior fellow, and three junior fellows – Michiel Horn, Ian Lancashire, and Bill Dean – to make the trip to Batterwood [Vincent Massey’s country house east of Toronto] to convey the college’s best wishes in person. There they encountered Massey in his “country” clothes – brown tweed jacket, fawn trousers, open-necked shirt, and silk cravat. The four presented “greetings  from  the  college”  and gifts,  including “a  small wooden plaque on which the college coat of arms had been painted and an etching by a contemporary Canadian artist.” Breach then “produced a large box which he said was a case of Mr Massey’s fa- vourite champagne.” To Massey’s amused delight, this proved to be twelve bottles of O’Keefe Ale, which the group had noticed was his drink of choice in the [Massey College] Common Room. In return he offered them a glass of Tio Pepe and asked their opinion of Marshall McLuhan, since he had been reading The Gutenberg Galaxy and suspected McLuhan of being a fraud. Bill Dean agreed with his assessment enthusiastically; Ian Lancashire re-called that they “agreed that its hots and its cools muddled us,” while Breach and Horn, who hadn’t read McLuhan, sensibly remained quiet.”




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