The United States as a nation is doomed … to break up into a series of regional and racial ministates; … a civil war would merely accelerate that process.

McLuhan, interview with Eric Norden, Playboy (March 1969) 68


World War III is a guerilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.

McLuhan, Culture is Our Business (N.Y.: McGraw-Hill, 1970) 66


Jarrett Earnest, “Art is a Drug,” New York Review (11 May 2023)


“[T]he three members of General Idea … continued elaborating [their story] for decades, shifting details and emphasis with each iteration, until the fable was as hard and glittering as a diamond. Assuming the role of artists as critics, they injected themselves into a variety of cultural situations, testing what could be communicated through varying formats. In 1972 they created FILE Megazine as their artistic and conceptual mouthpiece, and in 1974 founded Art Metropole, a hub for exchanging and selling artists’ books and multiples—editions of inexpensive art objects. These two projects connected artists and writers across North America and around the world, cross-pollinating an alternative culture.


The megazine’s interior was designed as elaborate image-text collages recalling the techno-positivist communication theorist Marshall McLuhan’s picture book [sic] with Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage (1968), as well as the countercultural prophets William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin with their cut-up techniques. General Idea adapted many ideas and phrases from Burroughs, including his dictum ‘Language is a virus,’ a mechanism of social control that perpetuates itself within its host through speech, broadcasts, and publications. ‘Image is virus’ became its catchphrase. Over the better part of twenty years General Idea created an oracular ‘voice’ in FILE, blending the positive and negative perspectives of McLuhan and Burroughs into a complex engine of theorization, cultural analysis, and literary fiction. Importantly, and above all else, they insisted that FILE was a ‘frame’ in which to resituate found materials, sharing the ideas and activities of wide swaths of artists and integrating many different kinds of work into their own.”

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