AlgoMantra, b. 2005

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Where would you look for the message in an electric light?
Proph. Marshall McLuhan is very dense, man. Takes 5 times reading New Media as Political Forms:

What is to be expected in the mainly non-literate India and China, countries which are in a position to by-pass literacy and proceed at once with radio and TV? These countries represent high cultures which are almost entirely oral and pictographic. Their rapport with TV far exceeds our own. If the new medium of the press gave a radical imprint to American politics, how much more might the new medium of TV be ordained to shape power patterns in the Orient? Should this occur, our own political structures, tied to print, would be quite unable to catch up. Russia provides some hints for this process. Enjoying the end products of our technology as regards industry, press, radio, and movie, it assumed them at a pre-industrial point in its own development, just as the Orient is in a position to assume end products of an even later stage of our development into an even earlier stage of its own. The dream-character of movie and TV realism would seem to be connaturally adjusted to ''the dreaming East.'' The giant djinns of oriental fancy are pygmy-like in size and power compared even with the superhuman dimensions conferred by our own daily press and weekly magazines on nobody in particular. But even more, movie and TV have the almost uncontrollable power of inflating the most casually selected persons into million-horsepowered entities. Men trained in book culture are slow to assess these facts. Yet they will admit that even books, by and large, have been written by their reading publics. Authors have always been shaped by their potential publics.

But the new media are not ''authored'' by single individuals any more than a modern newspaper. As the public of the new media increases the ''author'' staff increases. Scott or Dickens could net a nation. But no single writer today can encompass more than a fragment of the available attention of the public. The media have transformed the public in many ways and the public goes on transforming the techniques and consciousness of the authors who would master it. The man who has something to say is the man who has mastered some segment of public awareness. He is capable of lighting up some dim, fusty corner of embryonic social consciousness. Formerly an author could do this by introspection, when he was essentially a member of society. Today when it is no longer possible to be sure of what being a member of society may involve, the ''author'' has to bestir himself as much as any pollster. He lives in an unknown world of strange new components and effects.

Or hear the 57 minute Speaking Freely mp3 that begins with:

Where would you look for the message in an electric light?
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