McLuhan Studies : Issue 3

Intro to Issue 3

Electric Language:
Understanding the Present

Table of Contents

An Ancient Quarrel in Modern Europe

The unconscious cultural bias that underlies political alignments behind the dispute between the Croats and Serbs. America backs the groups that write with the Roman alphabet; Russia backs the groups that write with their (Cyrillic) alphabet: no other alignment is thinkable. (Key themes: media, language, perception]

Anatomy of the Electric Crowd

When Elias Canetti wrote his study of Crowds and Power, he revealed that there were two fundamental forms: open and closed. Electric media actually transform their users into a third formˇa tertium non daturˇone with its own surprising properties. [Key themes: media, culture, perception; tetrads included]

Arachne or Penelope?

A semi-whimsical foray into the nature of the Internet and World-Wide Web and which persona from myth or epicˇfrom Ovid or Homerˇwould be most appropriate as "patron saint." Uses the character and occupations of and associations surrounding Arachne and Penelope to reveal characteristics of the net and web. [Key themes: culture, media, myth, perception]

Blind Spots, and the Rear-View Mirror

Brief take on the two main ways to investigate media and culture: the "usual" way beloved of ideologues and pedagogues and the McLuhans'. Explains the media bias behind the fallacious charge of "technological determinism." [Key themes: perception, culture, media; includes tetrads]

How to Manage the Poetics of the PC

Explores rhetorical changes in the shape and kind of popular attention span and expression as a consequence of widespread use of the personal computer for the last ten to fifteen years. Sentences have shortened noticeably. Paragraphs have changed dramatically. Three new kinds of expression have come to the fore: 1-sentence paragraphs ("Staccato style"), 2- and 3-sentence paragraphs ("Running style"), and 0-sentence paragraphs ("Point-form style"). [Key themes: media, language, perception; tetrads on each style]


The Language of Media: Tetrads and Harmony

Tetradic analysis and how it can be used to reveal the language and nature of media. Many examples. Some tetrads appear in chapters in this book. [Suggest this note go at the beginning as introductory matter, or at the end as an appendix: in either place it should be prominent and accessible as a reference.] [Includes tetrads]


The relation of the electric crowd to literacy, i.e., post-literacy. People today CAN read but for the most part find it too arduous and are impatient for more immediate gratification such as TV and film can provide. [Key themes: media, culture, literacy, perception]


Brief essay on one hidden property of Englishˇhidden, that is, to the speakers. English is universally known as "the hissing language." The result of this hiss registers strangely in our relations with Islam, Iran in particular. [Key themes: language as medium, culture, perception]

On Suicide as a Means of Survival

Explores the collapse of individual identity and its relation to electric mediaˇa complement to the piece on the Electric Crowd, aboveˇusing the myth of Narcissus and Echo. [Key themes: myth, media, culture, perception]

Synesthesia and Society

Surprising correlations between the experience of the blind and that of synesthetes reveal some unexplored aspects of the effects of mediaˇparticularly IM (Interactive Multimedia). Synesthesia provides a physiological basis for the field of etymology and throws a bright new light on the function of the arts in culture and society. [Key themes: perception, language, media, culture, arts; includes tetrad]

Teleconferencing: the Global Theatre

Discusses the nature and character of video-conferencing. Includes suggestions for techniques for the study of any medium. [Key themes: media, culture, perception; includes tetrad]

Virtual Reality

Discusses the nature and character of one technology: virtual reality. VR turns the sense of reality inside-out, disturbs the foundation of identity in the users, other effects. [Key themes: perception, media, culture; includes tetrad]

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