Unreal Nature

September 16, 2016

Disinterested

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:23 am

… the power to separate thought and feeling, to be able to act without reacting … split literate man out of the tribal world …

This is from ‘The Printed Word: Architect of Nationalism’ found in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan (1964, 1994, 2003):

… Perhaps the most significant of the gifts of typography to man is that of detachment and noninvolvement — the power to act without reacting. Science since the Renaissance has exalted this gift which has become an embarrassment in the electric age, in which all people are involved in all others at all times. The very world “disinterested,” expressing the loftiest detachment and ethical integrity of typographic man, has in the past decade been increasingly used to mean: “He couldn’t care less.”

[line break added] The same integrity indicated by the term “disinterested” as a mark of the scientific and scholarly tempter of a literate and enlightened society is now increasingly repudiated as “specialization” and fragmentation of knowledge and sensibility. The fragmenting and analytic power of the printed word in our psychic lives gave us that “dissociation of sensibility” which in the arts and literature since Cézanne and since Baudelaire has been a top priority for elimination in every program of reform in taste and knowledge.

[line break added] In the “implosion” of the electric age the separation of thought and feeling has come to seem as strange as the departmentalization of knowledge in schools and universities. Yet it was precisely the power to separate thought and feeling, to be able to act without reacting, that split literate man out of the tribal world of close family bonds in private and social life.

My most recent previous post from McLuhan’s book is here.

-Julie

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