Category Archives: Necessary Illusions in the Global Village

Media Log

by Marshall Mcluhan (1953-1959)

About 1830 Lamartine pointed to the newspaper as the end of book culture: “The book arrives too late.” At the same time Dickens used the press as base for a new impressionist art, which D. W. Griffiths and Sergei Eisenstein studied in 1920 as the foundation of movie art.

Robert Browning took the newspaper as art model for his impressionist epic The Ring and the Book; Mallarme did the same in Un Coup de Des.

Edgar Allen Poe, a newsman and, like Shelly, a science fictioneer, correctly analyzed the poetic process. Conditions of newspaper serial publication led both him and Deckens to the process of writing backward. This means simultaneity of all parts of a composition. Simultaneity compels sharp focus on effect of thing made. Simultaneity is the form of the press in dealing with Earth City. Simultaneity is formula for the writting of both detective story and symbolist poem. These are derivatives (one “low” and one “high”) of the new technological culture. Simultaneity is related to telegaph, as the telegraph to math and physics.

Joyce’s Ullysses completed the cycle of this technological art form.

The mass media are extensions of the mechanisms of human perception; they are imitators of the modes of human apprehension and judgment.

Technological culture in the newspaper form structures ordinary awareness in patterns that correspond to the most sophisticated maneuvers of mathematical physics.

Newton’s Optics created the techniques of picturesque and Romantic poetry.The technicques of discontinuous juxtaposition in landscape poetry and painting were transferred to the popular press and the popular novel.

In 1830, due to this technological revolution, English popular consciousness was structured in ways that French and European intellectuals did not acquire until a later generation.
Average English and American unawareness has been ahead of official culture and awareness for two hundred years has automatically thrown in his lot with the average man against officialdom.

The Swiss culture historian Giedion has had to invent the concept of “anonymous history” in order to write an account of the new technological culture in Anglo-Saxondom.

The professoriat has turned its back on culture for two hundred years because the high culture of technological society is popular culture and knows no boundaries between high and low.

The children of technological man respond with untaught delight to the poetry of trains, ships, planes, and to the beauty of machine products. In the schoolroom, officialdom suppresses all their natural experience; children are divorced from their culture. They are not permitted to approach the traditional heritage of mankind through the door of technological awareness; this only possible door for them is slammed in their face. The only other door is that of the high-brow. Few find it, and fewer find their way back to popular culture.

T.S. Eliot has said he would prefer an illiterate audience, for the ways of official literacy do not equip the young to know themselves, the past, or the present. The technique of an Eliot themselves, the past, or the present. The technique of an Eliot poem is a direct application of the method of the popular radiotube grid circuit to the shaping and control of the charge of meaning. An Eliot poem is one instance of a direct means of experiencing, under conditions of artistic control, the ordinary awareness and culture of contemporary man.

Photography and cinema have abolished realism as too easy; they substitute themselves for realism. All the new media, including the press, are art forms that have the power of imposing, like poetry, their own assumptions. The new media are not ways of relating us to the old “real” world; they are the real world, and they reshape what remains of the old world at will.

Official culture still strives to force the new media to do the work of the old media. But the horseless carriage did not do the work of the horse; it abolished the horse and did what the horse could never do. Horses are fine. So are books.

Technological art takes the whole earth and its population as its material, not as its form. It is too late to be frightened or disgusted, to greet the unseen with a sneer. Ordinary life-work demands that we harness and subordinate the media to human ends.

The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists, because they are art forms.

Harnessing the Tennessee, Missouri, or Mississippi is kid stuff compared with curbing the movie, press, or television to human ends. The wild broncos of technological culture have yet to find their busters or masters. They have found only their P.T. Barnums.

Europeans cannot master these new powers of technology because they take themselves too seriously and too sentimentally. Europeans cannot imagine the Earth City. They have occupied old city spaces too long to be able to sense the new spaces created by the new media.

The English have lived longer with technological culture than anybody else, but they lost their chance to shape it when the ship yielded to the plane. But the English language is already the base of all technology.

The Russians are impotent to shape technological culture because of their inwardness and grimness. The future masters of technology will have to be lighthearted; the machine easily masters the grim.

Russian austerity is based on fear of the new media and their power to transform social existence. Russia stands pat on the status quo ante 1850 that produced Marx. There culture ends. The Russian revolution reached the stage of book culture. Russian politicians have the same mentality as our professoriat: they wish technology would go away.

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Notes: McLuhans relation to the study of conciousness

In a wider sense technology shares common features with what we call magic. Technology like magic transforms the audience.

As a poet he approaches culture through the lens of artistic expression. He was not interested in a scientific explanation but makes use of its results. Interested in the the nature of reality rather than in its manifestation his laws of media are a tool for investigation into the nature of existence. What it means to be human and alive. He asserts that the mental interplay between the senses is the extension of the human a faculty of self awareness that is by nature creative in a very literal sense. This faculty creates the environment of our conscious being in the same sense reality is created by it. Transcending the matter/form controversy by putting the world inside the mind is an unfamiliar notion for all those who hold on to an outdated model of consciousness in the study of the mind. By explaining the laws governing the process by which men extends himself into the environment McLuhan demands a change in our imaginative picture of the world so familiar to us. It demands to surrender to the common fact that our brain is but a part of the puzzle created by an technological extended mind. It puts an emphasis to shine some light upon the environmental conditions under which a brain exists and builds the rich experience refereed to as reality or consciousness. That the interplay between the senses and the mind extended by technologies configures the sensibilities reflected in a minds expressions. It also demands justification from those who think we are mere thinking machines evolving along a save path.

Thus it is empirical in that neurobiology is the study of the biological aspects of the brain and its neurons. Validated by its insights, cognitive science has to pursue the abstract properties of the brain machinery. From the cellular level onwards symbols replace the ontological difference between concrete and abstract containers of information. Above the biochemical level of investigation one finds a dense gray matter dealing in some way with the external world via the central nervous system and sensory organs. An understanding of how this gray mass constructs an conscious identity can be studied by stipulating a multiple drafts version of consciousness. His understanding into the nature of consciousness is its expression as a theorists fiction in the form of an algorithm.

I want to call the form in which one has to imagine such an algorithm the memespace. At the heart of it is the human brain carried by the biological apparatus through time and space. Like space is linked to the visual stimulus received by the eye so is time a product of the brains performance in creating what we are contained in. It is not a unified space but can be visualized best by imagining layers of electromagnetic fields. No atoms or matter is present to the extend our brain is conditioned to perceive it, just a vortex of energies. The idea behind the memespace is the same as behind the holographic brain theory put forward by Karl Pilgrim. The memespace is the sum of the interference pattern between ripples. The world would look like a hologram if we would not have lense like structures. But since we have crystal structures in the fabric of matter we find it also in the result of the hologram experienced as reality. See the video . In this space the observer is manifested as the product of his selfimage. There is a lot to say about the details of his Theory as well as the implications beeing drawn from it. But it rests on empirical observations of the brain and the neural networks it contains. It is compatible with cognitive theories but differ to the extend that they demand the same change in our imaginative picture of the world as McLuhan.

He was an empiricist and not impressed by theory. In fact, in his posthumos work ‘The Global Village’ he cites Pilgrim believing his theory of how the brain works to be correct. That it is hard to find him in Textbooks on cognitive psychology indicates that he was not. But I leave this aside as well. For the moment this are the fundaments. The meme space is the world we would consciously perceive if we would not have evolved sensory organs. Another way to call it is the .

In 1953 Mcluhan, Robert Dobbs explains his invention, figured out that technology creates memes. They occupy the meme space and these memes are based on the sensory rations and mental interplay or attitudes. Memes are analogues to genes in that they are the catalyst of an evolutionary process geared towards procrastination. But whereas genes refers to the domain of Biology memes are the products of in the domain of culture. Something we generally refer to as artifact. Artifacts are product of the human spirit aided by technology. In this context David Kelly is to call to attention. In his understanding of technology as the 7th kingdom, a cosmic force with its own dynamics, he develops a natural history of what Mcluhan refers to extensions. His view that it is the arena in which humans ‘play the infinite game’ gives a good metaphor for the master theoris’s fiction explained here.

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Necessary Illusions in the Global Village – The birth of an imagined community – part 6

But there is absolutely nothing objective about a nation and its state. This is best illustrated when observing its boarders. Scientist would not be able to find anything in nature that makes the boarder region different from a non boarder region. Historians would not find any hints that history is a objective identity to conclude that the nation state is the normal or even healthy form of development in the world. And a linguist would insist that wether or not something is a dialect or a language is socially constructed, that means politically constructed.

A common language is only a common language because a state makes its standard, insists on it being thought in the schools, uses it in the curt system, uses it in the army and not the other way around. History is always biased by those in power who write history so that power looks natural towards them. And a child to which perception comes so natural

To make my point clear. When Aristotle says, that the art of ship-building is not in the wood, it has to become clear that the art of states craft cannot be found in what constitutes a state whatsoever. Nations and their states are no more natural than diet coke is. Without sparkling water, Aspartan, Colormatter and Plantextracts there would be no diet coke but nothing in this makes it diet coke by nature.

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Necessary Illusions in the Global Village – The birth of an imagined community – part 5

The birth of an imagined community is for the most part an act of will. Perception contribute to less than 1% to the conclusion that a new nation named Kosova was born. What leads to the conclusion is the necessary illusion enshrined in the nationalist myth that let us recognize it for what what is – namely an illusion on part of the perceiver.

The Necessary Illusion is a concept developed by Reinhold Nieblur in the beginning of the 20th century. Necessary Illusions are concepts about the world in which most part of its population are spectators. Its medium is the spectacle.

The nationalist myth argues, that there is some objective reality out there, that we can call a serbian nation or an Kosova (or Kosovo) nation. That the nation state is the norma, normal and healthy form of development in the world. And that every nation ought to have its own state.

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Necessary Illusions in the Global Village – The birth of an imagined community – part 4

But if we are defining by language, than who defines a language? Objectively speaking, a linguist would be able to find less difference between Dutch and Plattdeutsch (low german), spoken in north-central europe, than he would be able to find between a Hamburg in the north and Munich in south of Germany. Yet Plattdeutsch and Bayrisch (what is spoken in the south) are considered dialects of the same language while Dutch is considered a different language from german.

There have been until very recently about two million germans living in Russia. They are called Wolgadeutsch. And there are plenty of states that are smaller than two million. In Transilvania, now part of Rumania, there are german speakers and hungarian speaker who have lived there longer than people from european decent have lived in north america. Should they have a state on there own? Or should they be unified with Germany and Hungary?

In common jargon, wether or not something is a dialect or a language is socially constructed, that means politically constructed. A common language is only a common language because a state makes its standard, insists on it being thought in the schools, uses it in the curt system, uses it in the army.

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Necessary Illusions in the Global Village – The birth of an imagined community – part 3

The nationalist myth is that, what we buy when we consume those pictures with either sympathy or apathy, granting them some kind of objective reality. This reality, that we buy, is socially constructed and are, what Noam Chomsky called, “Necessary Illusions”.

But the people who doing imaginings are usually nationalists, people with political agendas. People working in the media do not necessarily have any political agendas but are not less unaware about the things that totally surrounds them. Thats why we see all Newscasters engaged in showing pictures of the celebrations and protests about the birth of this imagined community while nobody asked what it actually is that make a nation with its state?

Nationalists often argue that it is history that makes a nation a nation. But if the battle of Collagen in the 18th century went somewhat differently, we would have a state of Scotland instead of just a region. An earlier victory might have given us a state of Wales. And what if Germany had one WWII. Would there still be a French nation and state?

After 1991 when nations like ukraine which at least for the last 1000 years had never have a state, began popping up over night, claiming statehood while other states like Tchekosovakia or Yugoslavia, that Americans have taken for granted, suddenly disappeared, even political scientist began to recognize how profoundly unnatural, that is how very political, the nation and identifying it with a state really is.

But even if we wanna to conceive that there is something objective and natural about nations, we still have to ask, what is it?

Somebody who is less impressed with the forces of history in determine a nation and its state could come to language as the factor that makes them seem like a natural phenomenon.

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Necessary Illusions in the Global Village – The birth of an imagined community – part 2

Like with myths we tell our children, the nationalist myth holds within it a set of assumptions that its followers adopt. Children are very open to myths, legends and narratives that every society creates and in which children are born into. These myths are created by myth-makers and adopted over and over again by individuals of a society who retell them to every new generation. The myths get adopted and so sustain time and space.

One thing that is specific about myths is that they are a product of our imagination. And since children seems to have a shire unlimited imagination they are most open to stories of this kind. But the point is that even if some aspects of a myth is true, what is true about it is not the myth itself. Myths are by definition not Truth. They may have some liability in past happenings but are in themselves a product of our imagination. One of the myths that is omnipresent is the nationalist myth.

The nationalist myth argues, that there is some objective reality out there, that we can call a serbian nation or an Kosova (or Kosovo) nation. That the nation state is the norma, normal and healthy form of development in the world. And that every nation ought to have its own state.

Especially the media is engaged in the manufacturing of such myths to a wider audience. Like parents tell myths to there children, journalists are engaging broad debates over every aspect and implication of the nationalist myth. Its Past, History and even its future implications are so widely disseminated that the scope of debate seems almost limitless.

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