… The passive consumer wants packages, but those, he suggested, who are concerned in pursuing knowledge and in seeking causes will resort to aphorisms, just because they are incomplete and require participation in depth.
This is from ‘Media Hot and Cold’ found in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan (1964, 1994, 2003):
… speech is a cool medium of low definition because so little is given and so much has to be filled in by the listener. On the other hand, hot media do not leave so much to be filled in or completed by the audience. Hot media are, therefore, low in participation, and cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience.
… our own time is crowded with examples of the principle that the hot form excludes, and the cool one includes.
… Intensity or high definition engenders specialism and fragmentation in living as in entertainment, which explains why any intense experience must be “forgotten,” “censored,” and reduced to a very cool state before it can be “learned” or assimilated.
… it makes all the difference whether a hot medium is used in a not or a cool culture. The hot radio medium used in cool or nonliterate cultures has a violent effect, quite unlike its effect, say in England or America, where radio is felt as entertainment. A cool or low literacy culture cannot accept hot media like movies or radio as entertainment. They are at least as radically upsetting for them as the cool TV medium has proved to be for our high literacy world.
… The neat tight package is suited to hot media, like radio and gramophone. Francis Bacon never tired of contrasting hot and cool prose. Writing in “methods” or complete packages, he contrasted with writing in aphorisms, or single observations such as “Revenge is a kind of wild justice.” The passive consumer wants packages, but those, he suggested, who are concerned in pursuing knowledge and in seeking causes will resort to aphorisms, just because they are incomplete and require participation in depth.
… “Comfort” consists in abandoning a visual arrangement in favor of one that permits casual participation of the senses, a state that is excluded when any one sense, but especially the visual sense, is hotted up to the point of dominant command of a situation.
On the other hand, in experiments in which all outer sensation is withdrawn, the subject begins a furious fill-in or completion of senses that is sheer hallucination. So the hotting-up of one sense tends to effect hypnosis, and the cooling of all sense tends to result in hallucination.