Table of Contents
THE WAR WITHIN THE WORD:
MCLUHAN'S HISTORY OF THE TRIVIUM
"Only the traditionalist can be radical," he would remark in 1947, four years after completing his thesis, "The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time." The sources into which he immerses himself in the thesis are profoundly traditionalist: the mainstream figures of Western thought from the pre-Socratic era to the period of Francis Bacon and Erasmus. But McLuhan's purposes haven't the faintest gloss of traditionalist habits of thought. He has returned to antiquity to retrieve an ancient quarrel, then reconfigured later disputes-philosophical, poetic, scientific-as resumed rounds in that ongoing but unacknowledged conflict between the forces of logic and analogy. Today two great ironies fall in mingled shadow over the Nashe thesis. The first is that it was never published. (In 1969 McGraw-Hill announced the upcoming publication in 1970, but it never appeared. Meantime, the sole available public copy, in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, is reported to be dog-eared and ragged well beyond the normal expiration of a shelf volume.) Not only does the Nashe thesis provide indispensable early vistas on McLuhan's later thought, it is a document of quite independent significance: the only anciently rooted history of the Trivium, and particularly of its ignored member, grammatica, achieved in this century.
But the absence of the Nashe thesis from McLuhan's available work tends to underscore a perhaps greater irony. The Nashe study contains, in historically fixed coordinates that are sighted as distantly as the Greeks, the exact precedents and traditions to which McLuhan's later thought belongs-indeed, the company to which he himself belongs. Even had McLuhan not written the Nashe thesis (if, conceivably, it were to have appeared from another pen) it would nonetheless have provided what arguably no other source yet does: a history of human thought and expression that can easily accommodate the likes of a Marshall McLuhan.
He remarks, in a footnote early in Nashe, "We have taken over the attitudes of Renaissance controversialists without knowing what the controversies were originally about." He is referring to the feud between Ciceronians like Erasmus, Francis Bacon, Thomas Nashe, and the "extraordinary anti-Ciceronian movement which emerges in Machiavelli, Vives, Ramus, Montaigne...and which gives us our post-Renaissance world."
But he is also announcing the precipice at which he makes the audacity of his leap into the Nashe thesis, a precipice that would decades later become almost synonymous with his name. He is suggesting an almost unheard-of interpenetration between ancient disputes and contemporary affinities, between severed historic traditions and the shape and nature of contemporary attitudes. In Nashe these interpenetrations have to do with the split Trivium: the war within the history of the word. In later works they deal with artifacts like the alphabet, printing, and TV. In his final summation, Laws of Media, McLuhan argues that all artifacts have the metaphorical structure of the word; indeed, their histories and effects are moulded by the same structural forces. The shaping duel of the Trivium is the historic crucible which will forge man's relationship to every technology to follow. In his Omega work, it's as if he were peering back almost forty years to its Alpha and sending a nod to the young inflamed man who had created it.
He writes, in the Introduction to Nashe,In the first stage of this study Nashe had not even emerged to my attention. Once he had emerged, he tended to submerge himself again and again in what at first appeared to be a welter of conflicting objects of interest. Gradually some order began to appear in the multiple traditions and interests of the age which he reflects, and from those strengthening perceptions the figure of Nashe began to assume some definition.
One can quickly recognize the young McLuhan's affinities for a figure like Nashe. C.S. Lewis has described him as "the supreme master of literary sansculottisme"-or those sometimes arch, sometimes startling verbal hybrids that made him perhaps the most efflorescent punster of the Elizabethan age. Nashe was a "Cambridge pet" in McLuhan's phrase, seemingly an assured PhD thesis subject awaiting a fresh line of attack. Father Ong has remarked tellingly of McLuhan's Cambridge experience that he came away from Cambridge with more than Cambridge had to offer. This could be said as well of Thomas Nashe. Nashe himself, who figures in this study of nearly 500 pages only from p. 351, is in many ways illustrative to the core argument, rather than a focus of it. And in the Introduction, McLuhan acknowledges:What the present study tries to do directly for Nashe, it does indirectly for his contemporaries; so that if Nashe appears to be a kind of appendix to a chapter in the history of education, he is really intended to be a focal point. Bacon or Donne would have served this function better in some ways than Nashe. It would have been possible to relate them more complexly to their age, in so far as they were more complex and comprehensive writers.
It may well be a distinctively McLuhan approach that when he finds a figure compellingly perplex enough, he is led into an ever-encompassing exploration of what he would later call its "ground." One of history's livelier footnotes about Nashe was his ongoing feud with Gabriel Harvey. The two were writing broadsides at one another, using every fresh literary occasion to draw blood from one another; Thomas Middleton jibed of "the running a tilt of wits in booksellers' shops on both sides of John of Paul's churchyard." In 1599, the Archbishop of Canterbury ended the affair in announcing "that all Nasshes bookes and Doctor Harveyes bookes be taken wheresoever they may be found and that none of theire books bee ever printed thereafter." The feud passed into literary history as another vigorous Elizabethan romp. McLuhan intuited something more.
One of his students at St. Louis at the time, Walter J. Ong, S.J., was examining the sixteenth century logician Peter Ramus and his effects on rhetorical training in the later Elizabethan era and beyond. (In McLuhan's files is a paper dated August 2, 1940 in McLuhan's Renaissance Graduate Reading Course: "The Provinces of Rhetoric, Poetic, and Science; a Preliminary Study, by Walter J. Ong.") Ong's later work on Ramus, showing the effects of typography on his hardening style of logic, would become a core argument in The Gutenberg Galaxy. And Ong has acknowledged his equal indebtedness to McLuhan in guiding him to Ramus. What seems to have driven McLuhan into an exhaustive history of the war between grammar and rhetoric on one side, and dialectic on the other, is the shadow of Ramus as it falls upon the Nashe-Harvey feud.
He quotes Nashe's editor, R.B. McKerrow, describing Harvey: "The most noteworthy feature of his University career would seem to have been his partisanship of the Ramistic logic." And in examining Harvey's contributions to the feud, McLuhan shows his unfailing reliance on shredding Nashe with Ramus's "first lande...Logique." Nashe, however, comes at Harvey with the literary equivalents of roundhouse punches: summoning allegory, hyperbole, paradox, alliteration, pun, enigma, satire, invective, and virtually every other tack of Elizabethan rhetoric. This in itself may seem little more than two disparate personalities fighting with their disparate arsenals. But as McLuhan searched the tradition that reached from Ramus back to Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, then began investigating the tradition running from Nashe through Augustine back to Cicero and the pre-Socratics, he came to see something more: a conflict of which the prize was a control over the spoken and written word:The war between these literary camps is basically the opposition between dialectics and rhetoric to control the modes of literary composition; and the ramifications of this opposition stretch into the realms of ethics and politics, both in antiquity and in the Renaissance.
The trivium and the quadrivium constitute what the ancients and later the medievals call the seven liberal arts. As Thomas Aquinas writes of them, "These subjects are known as the trivium and quadrivium because by them, as if by certain roads, the eager mind enters into the secrets of philosophy." The arts of the trivium are the arts whereby one comes to know and express things, the arts of language, or the Logos: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. The quadrivium consists of the four classic disciplines of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. Why, McLuhan comes to ask in the history of the warring trivium, should the complementary facets of the Logos-the arts of exposition and interpretation (grammar), logic (dialectic) and persuasion (rhetoric)-come into conflict with one another? Why should the analogical and intuitive skills of grammar and rhetoric be challenged and subdued by logic? Why should the history of the trivium be a history of ascendancies, submissions, and capitulations? Why, in the history of the word, have there been such few and such rare moments when it was not at war with itself?
Nothing so profoundly threatened McLuhan, or drove his searching imagination, as disharmony. And there is doubtless no theme so central to a comprehension of his early and later questioning as the theme of things irreducibly "split." In his 1947 essay, "The Southern Quality," he describes American culture in its cleavages of North and South, and the further disjunctions of learning and sensibility in the North. In The Mechanical Bride-it is the source of his title essay-legs have been split from a woman's body, to stand alone on a pedestal. In "Coleridge as Artist," he invokes a Wyndham Lewis phrase to describe "the split between 'the physics of the Self and the Not-Self'" after Newton. And in the evolving galaxy of his thought after 1960, splits become the intractable dominion of virtually every technology to appear between the phonetic alphabet and the telegraph. The word is split from the tongue and the ear, learning is split from the richness of oral tradition, the privatized individual is split from the corporate awareness of things, and ineluctably-for McLuhan, the most anguishing of fractures-the head is split from the heart. For Byron, Baudelaire and Poe, he would write in 1944, the idea of evil isn't one "of Calvinistic depravity, but of the split man and the split civilization." As valid as it may have been for them, it was truer still for McLuhan.
In the beginning, McLuhan implies in the Nashe thesis (and proposes specifically over a decade to follow it), was the Logos, in which all knowledge, scientific and humanistic, is contained. There, eloquence and wisdom are identical, and all knowledge is unified in the tangible equations of the spoken and the known. The heart and mind of man had, so to speak, an Eden of one selfsame and encyclopedic knowledge. Perhaps the best known early example of such profound balance between oratory and wisdom was Isocrates. A later, even more vociferous proponent, would be Cicero.
Yet Cicero would appear centuries after the trivium's "fall," brought on with the ascendancy of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. And while he would not overtake the rising powers of dialectic thought in his lifetime, his model of the virtuous man of encyclopedic learning and eloquent speech, the doctus orator, would serve profoundly in shaping the education of the Middle Ages.
McLuhan structures the Nashe thesis in four chapters: The Trivium until St. Augustine, The Trivium from St. Augustine to Abelard, The Trivium from Abelard to Erasmus, Thomas Nashe. Each chapter is divided into the three arts of the Trivium: Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric. The structure is eloquently simple, as is the rise and fall of the Trivium that it records. Twice in history, McLuhan proposes, the arts of analogy have reigned over the trivium and guaranteed its integrity and balance and wholeness. The first reign, of the pre-Socratics, was disrupted for a millennium by Aristotle and his followers. The second reign, inspired by Cicero and inaugurated by Augustine, likewise lasted almost a millennium; it would be shattered by the renewed rise of dialectic in the Renaissance, particularly in the figure of Peter Ramus.
If this history seems curiously familiar, it is: McLuhan has constructed his history of the trivium as an analogue of Christian history. He introduces an Eden and almost immediately afterwards plunges it into its great fall. Much later there comes a redeemer. Yet it is only centuries after the redeemer's death that his teachings come to suffuse and undergird the entire culture. To whatever extent McLuhan consciously or unconsciously followed the model of Christian history is perhaps beside the point; what's so suggestive in the parallel is the period he identifies as being suffused by the trivium's grace, the Middle Ages. He would have preferred, all things considered, to have been born into the thirteenth century. There is reason to believe him.
If the Middle Ages mark the high point of the balanced trivium, the Renaissance will mark its downfall. What Luther, Calvin and the other reformers would be to a unified Christian Church, Peter Ramus and his followers would be to an education guided by the analogical arts. By implication, at least, the convulsive modern age to follow would be rent from its most interior knowledge of itself by the total sundering of the Logos.
If McLuhan finds in the history of the trivium an allegory to the history of man's relationship to God, he is likewise making a quiet but profound assertion of faith: that, with the guidance of the wisest sources that the history of the Logos insures, a primordial rupture in man's being-in the word-can be repaired.
It is probably impossible to overstate McLuhan's sense of the chasm that separates analogy from logic. The diaries give us reason to suspect that from his earliest years he was frequently wrenched from the assumptions and expectations that others logically adhered to by those intuitive flashes he could find so disparaging in himself. If the Nashe thesis was a five-year search into the forces that have crushed the analogical arts throughout the history of Western civilization, it was also a search for history's analog to his own logic-repellent and metaphoric mind.
From the early 1950s, McLuhan would circle again and again around the question of perception and cognition as they exist for the analogical mind, as they exist for the logical mind. In The Gutenberg Galaxy he set down what would remain the terms of the core difference. Truth to the analogist, he said, is a creative act: "a ratio between the mind and things, made by the shaping imagination." Truth to the logician is mere "mechanical matching" of object with object. To the analogist the world is invention itself, what McLuhan in his later shorthand would abbreviate to percept. The logician by contrast will flatten, fix, nail down every percept into what McLuhan would call concept. In the Nashe thesis, McLuhan searches the gulf between logic and analogy as it appears and reappears through educational tradition over twenty-five centuries. He would continue circling that same territory for the next four decades. One late expression of the gulf comes from a 1978 memo when he commented on a student's PhD thesis by looking back to his own:
When I did a study of the Trivium years ago, I encountered the techniques by which grammatica was eliminated from humanistic studies. The strategy of eliminating the study of language is via abstraction. What is eliminated is the ground of corporate utterance by concentrating on the figures of speech and thought. The rise of logic in the ancient world came with the Euclidean abstractions of figures... The page of nature and the page of scripture kept medieval man in frequent contact with the Logos as ground until the rise of scholasticism when figures and concepts once more usurped the enterprise of perception... Current linguistics, in general, [and the author of the thesis in particular] have set about the adaptation of grammar and literature to the abstract schemes once familiar to the schoolmen and Peter Ramus. This amounts to transforming percepts into concepts and reducing literary experience to logical schema.
The fall began, puzzlingly enough, with the figure believed to be the birth of true Western thought, Socrates.
That Socrates of all men should have separated the ability of thinking wisely and speaking gracefully, functions naturally united, this strikes Cicero as inexplicable. Hence, he goes on to say, arose that divorce of the tongue from the heart, a division as absurd as it is reprehensible.
If to an analogist like Isocrates, knowledge existed to be spoken and used in the arts of grammar and persuasion, for Socrates it came to exist for its own sake. And in that first segmenting of human knowledge from the human tongue came the beginning of the great split. Plato's famed uses of Socrates widened that split. In the Gorgias, Socrates compares rhetoric to cooking. Neither one can be an art, he says, because neither is able "to explain or to give a reason of the nature of its own applications."
But it is Aristotle-ironically the author of the most consulted work on rhetoric in history-who delivers to the analogical arts blows they will only recover from only after centuries, and even then, only temporarily. When rhetoric is given equal berth with logic, Aristotle warns, then the truth of an assertion can equally be a matter of a speaker's powers over an audience, or of its intrinsic merits. One art must be prior to the others, he concludes, "and this task belongs properly, or most appropriately, to dialectic: for dialectic is a process of criticism wherein lies the path to the principles of all inquiries."
In a 1964 tongue-in-cheek questionnaire, McLuhan was asked "What literary work do you consider the most under-rated?" He snapped back, "Ad copy." Throughout McLuhan's observations on the forms of modern rhetoric -particularly advertising, news and political imagery-he is constantly transgressing a fixed set of coordinates most educated Westerners have inherited from Aristotle. The truth or non-truth of an assertion is, most of us presume, determined well before the assertion is made and quite independently of the ways in which it is made. McLuhan from the beginning thought otherwise. When he proclaims in 1962 that "the new reality is in the image and not behind it," he is echoing one of his guiding themes in the Nashe thesis, the potency of rhetoric in creating its own vision of truth, which is analogic, holistic, and "made by the shaping imagination."
Throughout the Nashe thesis, Cicero and the Ciceronian tradition are invoked to what becomes almost incantatory effect. All that the trivium in its balanced and completed state can be McLuhan finds illuminated in the works and followers of Cicero. It is in many respects an earlier instance of what he will invest in his later mentor-in-all-things, James Joyce. Whether Cicero, or eventually Joyce, is worthy of the claims and investitures McLuhan makes is somewhat beside the point. (Who could adequately judge if Joyce is the greatest adman, or media student, or explorer of technological effects who ever lived, as McLuhan would assert?) The need in either case seems clear: to find someone who serves as the "objective correlative" of his argument even in its most serpentine elaborations. Thus there seems an odd imbalance between the majestic historic scale of McLuhan's argument in the Nashe thesis and the figure he installs to uphold the full powers of grammar and rhetoric: Cicero's doctus orator, the man whose wisdom is equalled by-and equated with-his eloquence.
Significantly, the features McLuhan associates most emphatically with Cicero have less to do with the Cicero of his time (106-43 BC) than of the pre-Socratic period he harkens back to, and the Augustinian Middle Ages which his rhetorical ideals would so profoundly shape. In a 1953 essay, "James Joyce, Trivial and Quadrivial," McLuhan remarks:
Cicero's De Oratore is itself a charter of classical humanism, an attempt to unify the Greco-Roman culture in a vision of the ideal orator. As such it underlies not only St. Augustine and St. Jerome but most medieval and Renaissance books of advice to princes and courtiers. However, it is far from being a mere résumé of ancient cultural ideals, for Cicero is consciously pre-Socratic in his bias. His synthesis is directed to the end of forming the perfect man of action rather than the man of speculation and science. He is Isocratean and Sophist, therefore, rather than Socratic or Platonic and Aristotelian.
The perfect embodiment of Cicero's ideal proves, unsurprisingly, to be Joyce's Bloom, "presented as a copywriter and canvasser for ads. He is peripatetic, encyclopedic, and able, like Cicero's orator, to speak eloquently on all subjects." McLuhan continues:The ideal orator will be a man of encyclopedic knowledge because learning precedes eloquence. And because he will be the type of the perfect citizen, he will be eloquent about everything which concerns corporate life. But eloquence implies great tact, a sense of the propriety of word and thing as befits each contingency.
In these passages, which depict Cicero's and his own ideal of social and personal wholeness, McLuhan has delineated two important crossroads. At the first of them, two great ages intersect. At the second, the internal and external capabilities of the whole man, the doctus orator, conjoin. In both of these interstices McLuhan intimates what would be required to unify the fractured arts of the trivium and, by extension, man himself.
In conjoining the pre-Socratic era and the Middle Ages as the high moments in the history of the trivium, McLuhan flips most conceptions of Western history on their heads. It is hardly enticing to imagine what company McLuhan might share by championing preliterate Greece and "the dark ages" as the high moments of human culture. Yet his faith in the analogical balance of the trivium demands this audacious revisiting of history. What might these ages have been had our civilization followed their lead, their aspirations, and not the routes paved by Aristotle, Ramus, Descartes and company? What philosophies, arts, sciences, might have sprung from a Western culture nurtured by an undivided sense of the word? The density, erudition and almost unimaginable scale of exploration in the Nashe thesis attest to the haunting force of such questions for the young McLuhan. But they also prefigure the work to come. In McLuhan's account of the trivium at war with itself, history's two grandest culprits are depicted as Aristotle and Peter Ramus. Each wielded a sword of steel logic against a preceding tradition of rhetorical wholeness, shattering that tradition for centuries. In this account, already, we have the substrate for the history McLuhan would construct in The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media. The balance of the trivium would be replaced by the balances of the human senses. The genius of grammatica and rhetoric would translate to the benign and unifying properties of acoustic space. Yet in large part the conflict would remain identical. In a world where the arts of the spoken word reign, man is whole. In a world where they do not, man becomes like the logic he lives by: specialist, segmented and wrenched from the spirit of the Logos that breathes his true and larger nature.
Few subjects can draw the whip-snap of McLuhan's ire as the spectre of that man who is created by the truncating forces of logic. "The trouble with a cheap, specialised education is that you never stop paying for it." "The specialist is one who never makes small mistakes while moving toward the grand fallacy." "Humpty Dumpty had no business sitting on that wall. Walls are made of uniformly fragmented bricks that arise with specialism and bureaucracies. They are the deadly enemies of integral beings like eggs." Yet what of his obverse? What exactly is the whole man, created by the arts of analogy and the union of mind and tongue? McLuhan cites a passage from Cicero's De Oratore depicting the doctus orator, the ideal philosopher and citizen:Whatever the theme, from whatever art of whatever branch of knowledge it be taken, the orator, just as if he had got up the case for a client, will state it better and more gracefully than the actual discoverer and specialist.
In Cicero's philosophy, knowledge is virtue and leads to happiness. But that knowledge is worthless if it is not encyclopedic. And here McLuhan fixes the inner virtue which will contribute to creating the whole man: an appetite for knowledge which makes no logical and specialist presuppositions as to the merits of that knowledge, a universal consciousness of the world which exists independently of every expectation and assumption of what exact purposes that knowledge might "serve." If such an encyclopedic knowledge seems demanding, McLuhan cites Cicero's doctrine that it can come quickly, because it already resides within us:It is not surprising, therefore, that Cicero should hold that philosophy is something that anybody can easily learn, since, like the Stoics, he held that the principles of philosophy of wisdom are innate in the hearts of all men...and that unless a man can learn a thing quickly he can never learn it at all.
It would be characteristic of McLuhan's later writing that, for example, post-quantum physics, cubist art, newspaper layout and Mallarmé's poetry could coexist in the same sentence, almost inconspicuously. There are few better illustrations of his encyclopedic ideal of knowledge. Not only is it non-specialist, in the sense that someone might describe an education as "generalist," it is unified by principles totally alien to the dialectical or logical mindset. To suggest crudely how discrepant those principles would be from our familiar (and rhetorically impoverished) categories of thought, consider them analogous to Joyce's remark (oft-cited by McLuhan) about Finnegans Wake: "What the reader sees will not be what he hears." Which is to suggest: not only does the man of encyclopedic knowledge give a unique new coherence to that knowledge, it is a form of knowledge that cannot be apprehended by his audience as if it were no different from the knowledge of specialists and logicians.
But encyclopedic knowledge is a preparation for the creation of the true orator, whose prudence-or decorum-fashions his eloquence to make it identical to his wisdom. The driving aspiration of ancient rhetoric lay in this identification of internal wisdom with external delivery. From a 1946 essay, McLuhan condenses his pursuit of that theme in the Nashe thesis:
The origin of this important claim for the inseparable character of eloquence and wisdom would seem to lie in the familiar doctrine of the Logos, which may be supposed to have arisen with Heraclitus. Society is a mirror or speculum of the Logos, as, indeed, are the external world, the mind of man and, above all, human speech. Society, ideally the cosmopolis or perfect state, claimed the devotion of every virtuous man. And just as Zeno considered wisdom or prudence "not only as the first of the virtues, but as the foundation of all," so political prudence is the noblest sphere in which to exercise this virtue.
In classical rhetoric there are five divisions of labour: invention, arrangement, expression or style, memory and delivery. Perhaps nowhere so vividly as in these categories, are wisdom and eloquence one. But the categories must be understood analogically. Since the sixteenth century-it is one of the legacies inherited from Ramus-our knowledge of invention and arrangement (inventio and dispositio) have been governed and shaped by a schooling of logic. "Expression," "memory" and "delivery" seem no more important than did the high school course in public speaking where we trained at them. But considered analogically, these categories become, as McLuhan would say in 1975, "nothing else than the five mental faculties of man, perceived comprehensively." Inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria and pronunciato are inherently not so much disciplines for the orator as they are the very body of human wisdom and decorum.
"Under electric conditions," McLuhan would later frequently say, there is no longer an "inner" and an "outer." In the world of the trivium unified by the analogical arts of grammar and rhetoric, there is likewise no "inner" and no "outer." The orator's skills without are the orator's virtues within. This profoundly analogical doctrine, in retreat within Western thought since the early Renaissance, reappears in a startling array of configurations within McLuhan's later thought. The statements often seem outrageous, impossible. "Invention is bodily fission." "Twiggy is abstract art." "The electric light is pure information." McLuhan's literate critics howled at such unloosed exorbitance of metaphor. But had a medievalist or pre-Socratic stepped through the centuries and managed to hear McLuhan, there would have been instant recognition: here is someone who hasn't been beguiled one whit by the teachers of dialectic.
At both crossroads which meet at the juncture of Cicero-of two great ages, later darkened by the perspective of logistic thought; of the internal and external virtues in the man who lives by the unruptured Logos-McLuhan has mapped much of his own future course. The Nashe thesis, for the enormity of research and absorption it demanded, was doubtless an expansive and profoundly liberating experience for the young McLuhan. He had gone to the wellsprings of Western thought and tracked the dominant modes of discourse to follow. In the end, he found that Western thought was wanting. He concludes the Nashe thesis on a note evocative of so many weary but elated passages in the diaries:And so, I interrupt what I hope to be able to conclude another day. It is impossible not to be conscious of the many defects of this study; but it is, likewise, impossible to have surveyed the territory in question without acquiring a vivid sense of its largely unexplored character.
His thesis advisor was F.P. Wilson, chair of the English Department at the University of London. Corinne McLuhan describes Wilson as "very erudite, very kind, very genial." When McLuhan completed the thesis, in April of 1943, the War dispersed all questions of going to England to defend it. "We sent the thesis from St. Louis," Corinne McLuhan says. "We sent four copies in batches." Some weeks later they heard from Wilson. "We don't have the letter," Corinne says. "But he wrote Marshall, saying he had learned more from that thesis, than from anything else he'd read in his lifetime."