September 22, 2008

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (McGraw-Hill, 1964).

I've been slowly re-reading this, chapter by chapter. I read it as an undergrad, but don't think I got how forward-thinking McLuhan actually was being looking backwards, coming up to the present [1964]:
"The new media and technologies by which we amplify and extend ourselves constitute huge collective surgery carried out on the social body with complete disregard for antiseptics. If the operations are needed, the inevitability of infecting the whole system during the operation has to be considered. For in operating on society with a new technology, it is not the incised area that is most affected. The area of impact and incision is numb. It is the entire system that is changed" (64).
If we consider that most of the day-to-day "technological advances" have their roots in the military industrial complex &/or NASA (ie, the military), this plays out to McLuhan's cue: cell phones, the internet, the microwave oven . . . . Military technological advances have completely changed the way that damnear most Americans function in the world, and this is the unintended by-product: workers on call literally 24/7, the invisible labor of checking emails after work hours, the demise of the actual lunch HOUR, near ubiquitous (and for the most part accepted) visual, audio, internet, & telephonic surveillance, et cetera et cetera.
Thanks, I'd rather do without TANG.



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