Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Medium is the Message & We Are Become It:
Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media

McLuhan, considered a contemporary of Roland Barthes (who I know many of you have read), delivers his defining treatise here. As much as "Understanding Media" is behind the times (published in '64) in the particular technology cited, the book is stunningly with/ahead of the times in it's assessment of tech's growing prevalence in western society. It's extrapolation on media's role in our lives, the nature of language altered by manufactured trends brought to us in the vehicle of media, spectatorship and it's influence on behavior/values, is as prescient/applicable now as when it was written. (In fact, moreso). Depicted in a literally visionary (ie; having the prescience to not only know what was to come in the world of media and technology, but also to foresee Western Consumer Society's reaction/assimilation of/into said media) overview by Marshall McLuhan TRULY ONE OF THOSE BOOKS THAT YOU WILL ONLY READ SOMETHING OF IT'S KIN LESS THAN A HALF-DOZEN TIMES IN THE ENTIRETY OF YOUR LIFE. Forget Guy Debord, forget Deleuze and Derrida like those cats from this era , McLuhan's intellectual exploration is one of both theory, philosophy and citing specific trends, behaviors, values and actions from the time. Tracing the course both far back into their origins (psychologically, politically, philosophically)... and accurately into the future in which we live. Unlike the company mentioned above, it's not impenetrably labyrinthian and nearly opaque in the metaphor/language used to explore the trajectory(s) of these ideas. Yeah, this one's essential. And very readable. Don't be daunted by the names/postmod company mentioned above. McLuhan's in a class of his own.