McLuhan and Holeopathic Quadrophrenia | The Mouse-That-Roared Syndrome
ListenBob Dobbs at “Legacy of McLuhan Symposium,” Lincoln Center, Manhattan, sponsored by Fordham University, 28 March 1998
by Bob Dobbs
(published in The Legacy of McLuhan)
"…much of III.3 (Book Three, Chapter Three-ed.) is telephone conversation… As III.3 opens with a person named Yawn and III.4 displays the ingress of daylight upon the night of Finnegans Wake, the note on VI.B.5.29 is interesting:
'Yawn telegraph telephone Dawn wireless thought transference.' "
Roland McHugh,The Sigla of Finnegans Wake, p.19, 1976
"…Orion of the Orgiasts, Meereschal MacMuhun, the Ipse dadden, product of the extremes giving quotidients to our means, as might occur to anyone, your brutest layaman with the princest champion in our archdeaconry, or so yclept from Clio's clippings, which the chroncher of chivalries is sulpicious save he scan, for ancients link with presents as the human chain extends,…"
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p.254, 1939
(In McLuhan's private library in one of his copies of Finnegans Wake he has pencilled in the words "me" and "moon child" next to Joyce's "Meereschal MacMuhun".)
"The ordinary desire of everybody to have everybody else think alike with himself has some explosive implications today."
(the first sentence in the first article McLuhan wrote for Explorations-ed.)
H. M. McLuhan, Culture without Literacy,Explorations Magazine, Volume1, p.117, December, 1953
"Entertainment in the future may have quite different patterns and functions. You'll become a yogi, you'll do your self-entertainment in yoga style."
Marshall McLuhan,Like Yoga, Not Like the Movies,Forbes Magazine, p.40, March 15, 1967
"T. S. Eliot's famous account of 'the auditory imagination' has become an ordinary form of awareness; but Finnegans Wake, as a comprehensive study of the psychic and social dynamics of all media, remains to be brought into the waking life of our world."
Marshall McLuhan,Letter to Playboy Magazine, p.18, March, 1970
"At electric speeds the hieroglyphs of the page of Nature become readily intelligible and the Book of the World becomes a kind of Orphic hymn of revelation."
Marshall McLuhan, Libraries: Past, Present, Future(address at Geneseo, New York-ed.), p.1, July 3, 1970
"The future of government lies in the area of psychic ecology and can no longer be considered on a merely national or international basis."
Marshall McLuhan and Barrington Nevitt,Take Today: The Executive as Dropout, p.227, 1972
"And do you know," he (Eric McLuhan-ed.) enthuses, "there are actually (four-ed.) laws governing media communications? At last we can prove to people that we aren't just theorists. This is a real science.... We know there is one more law," says Eric. "And we'll find it. Sooner or later."
Olivia Ward,Now! Son of Guru!,Toronto Star, p.D1, March 30, 1980
Marshall McLuhan made two decisions in 1937: one was the spiritual strategy of becoming a Roman Catholic, and the other was the secular strategy, after intensive study at Cambridge, of translating James Joyce's Work-in-Progress (later given the title of Finnegans Wake in 1939) into an aesthetic anti-environment useful for countering and probing the cultural assumptions of a practicing Catholic.
For the next twenty years he refined his understanding of, first, the Thomist concept of analogical proportionality as the expression of the tactile interval, and second, its usefulness in perceiving the cultural effects of the new electric technologies, through an ongoing dialogue, analysis, and sensory meditation on the nature of metaphor and consciousness (including extrasensory perception) as an artifact. Since McLuhan defined "metaphor"(1) as the act of looking at one situation through another, each situation constitutive of figure-ground interplay (a concept borrowed from Gestalt psychology), then a metaphor was an instance of mixed media, or two figure-grounds. And so was consciousness - because of its essential subjective experience as doubleness, which is doubled again as the objective effect of its autonomous interplay with other consciousnesses. Metaphor, for McLuhan, was hylomorphic(2). In retrospect, the equation McLuhan was playing with could be flattened out as:
metaphor=mixed media=doubleness =consciousness=tactile interplay=the Christian Holy Cross=figure/ground=analogical mirror=iconic fact= cliché/archetype=resonant field= hendiadys=menippean irony,
each and all (except for "metaphor") squared. However, after he made personal contact with Wyndham Lewis in 1943, their dialogue enhanced his appreciation of adopting Wyndham Lewis' social probing style as a political anti-environment to McLuhan's own commitment to the poetry of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, and James Joyce. Hence, his own studies simulated the doubleness he was observing technically. For the rest of his career McLuhan juggled the artistic approaches of these five artists in miming the tactile qualities of the analogical drama of proper proportions - the drama of being and perception. For him, language was the drama of cognition and recognition, or consciousness.
"The measure of our (Catholics-ed.) unawareness and irrelevance can be taken from the fact that no Thomist has so far seen fit to expound St. Thomas's theory of communication by way of providing modern insight into our problems."
H. M. McLuhan,The Heart of Darkness(unpublished review of Melville's Quarrel with God by Lawrence Thompson, 1952-ed.), p.8, 1952
"The analogical relation between exterior posture and gesture and the interior movements and dispositions of the mind is the irreducible basis of drama. In the Wake this appears everywhere. So that any attempt to reduce its action, at any point, to terms of univocal statement results in radical distortion.(p.33)... It needs to be understood that only short discontinuous shots of such a work as Joyce's are possible. Linear or continuous perspectives of analogical structures are only the result of radical distortion, and the craving for 'simple explanations' is the yearning for univocity."(p.36-7)
Marshall McLuhan,James Joyce: Trivial and Quadrivial (1953) in The Interior Landscape, pp.33 and 36-7, 1969