Unreal Nature

August 5, 2016

They Can No Longer Be Contained

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:28 am

… They are now involved in our lives, as we in theirs …

This is from the Introduction to the first edition of Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan (1964, 1994, 2003):

… In the mechanical age now receding, many actions could be taken without too much concern. Slow movement insured that the reactions were delayed for considerable periods of time. Today the action and the reaction occur almost at the same time. We actually live mythically and integrally, as it were, but we continue to think in the old, fragmented space and time patterns or the pre-electric age.

… As electrically contracted, the globe is no more than a village. Electric speed in bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion has heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree. It is this implosive factor that alters the position of the Negro, the teenager, and some other groups. They can no longer be contained, in the political sense of limited association. They are now involved in our lives, as we in theirs, thanks to the electric media.

McLuhan_portrait
Marshall McLuhan, c. 1936

The following is from the Introduction to the second edition of the book:

… As our proliferating technologies have created a whole series of new environments, men have become aware of the arts as “anti-environments” or “counter-environments” that provide us with the means of perceiving the environment itself. For, as Edward T. Hall has explained in The Silent Language, men are never aware of the ground rules of their environmental systems or cultures. Today technologies and their consequent environments succeed each other so rapidly that one environment makes us aware of the next. Technologies begin to perform the function of art in making us aware of the psychic and social consequences of technology.

Art as anti-environment becomes more than ever a means of training perception and judgment. Art offered as a consumer commodity rather than as a means of training perception is as ludicrous and snobbish as always.

To be continued.

-Julie

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