Τρίτη, 4 Οκτωβρίου 2016

McLuhan Said “The Medium Is The Message”; Two Pieces Of Media Decode the Famous Phrase


For my money, “I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say” tops the list of Marshall McLuhan-isms, followed closely and at times surpassed by “You don’t like those ideas? I got others.” Many prefer the immortal “You know nothing of my work!”, the line McLuhan delivers during his brief appearance in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. In 1977, the same year Allen’s protagonist would summon him to defeat that pontificating academic, McLuhan flew to Sydney to deliver a lecture. Then, for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National, he recorded a program answering questions from students, nuns, and others about his views on media. (Find Part 1 above, and Parts 2 and 3 here andhere.) McLuhan happened to view media in a way nobody else did at the time, and the fields of media studies and media theory would go on to develop in large part from his work. This Joyce-loving, God-fearing, sixteenth-century-pamphlet-studying professor of English literature nevertheless deployed modern sound bites with as much industry as he scrutinized them. Hence the endurance, over thirty years after his death and over forty years past the peak of his popularity, of“The medium is the message,” a phrase that, seemingly since the moment McLuhan first uttered it, has stood as a lightning rod to his detractors.
Very often, someone will insist that, no, the content of a message matters too, making the pronouncement with the attitude of having seen through the emperor’s clothes. A disembodied voice makes a similar criticism of McLuhan’s critics in The Medium is the Massage, the 1968 album that mirrors both the content and the dense, experimental visual collage form of McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore’s eponymous book. Listen to the album (side Aside B) at UBUweb’s Marshall McLuhan sound archive and get an aural glimpse into the mind that, upon receiving a proof of his book back from the printer’s with the title misspelled, suddenly realized that only the word Massage, with connotations of the mass media in whose age he lived, expressed the full extent of his meaning. But he did believe that the very existence of the telephone or television, and the effects of their existence on humanity as a whole, made for an infinitely richer object of study than whatever content humans happened to send across them. Through the pieces of media in this post, you can see and hear McLuhan expand upon this idea in his deliberate, oratorically metaphorical, sometimes maddeningly oblique manner. He works through the implications of, extensions of, and possible contradictions to this oddly robust notion, which some, in our hypercommunicative, endlessly mediated internet age, would in hindsight call prophecy.

Σάββατο, 1 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Honoré de Balzac Writes About “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee,” and His Epic Coffee Addiction

Honoré de Balzac Writes About “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee,” and His Epic Coffee Addiction
163 years after his death, Honoré de Balzac remains an extremely modern-sounding wag. Were he alive today, he’d no doubt be pounding out his provocative observations in a coffice, a café whose free wifi, lenient staff, and abundant electrical outlets make it a magnet for writers.
One has a hunch Starbucks would not suffice…
Judging by his humorous essay, “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee,” Balzac would seek out a place that stays open past midnight, and the strongest, most arcane brewing methods. The Bucket of Black Snakes was his Green Fairy. He was that most cunning of addicts, sometimes imbibing up to 50 cups of coffee a day, carefully husbanding his binges, knowing just when to pull back from the edge in order to prolong his vice.
Coffee — he called it a “great power in [his] life” — made possible a grueling writing schedule that had him going to bed at six, rising at 1am to work until eight in the morning, then grabbing forty winks before putting in another seven hours.
It takes more than a couple of cappuccinos to maintain that kind of pace. Whenever a reasonable human dose failed to stimulate, Balzac would begin eating coffee powder on an empty stomach, a “horrible, rather brutal method” that he recommended “only to men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins.”
Apparently it got the job done. He cranked out eighty-five novels in twenty years and died at 51. The cause? Too much work and caffeine, they like to say. Other speculated causes of death includehypertension, atherosclerosis, and even syphilis.
The Coffee Pot That Fueled Honoré de Balzac’s Coffee Addiction

Orson Bean: Η μαύρη λίστα του μακαρθισμού δεν είναι τίποτα μπροστά στο κυνήγι μαγισσών που έχει εξαπολύσει η αριστερά σήμερα

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