Series In Progress
Part 2: July 3, 2017
Updated: July 3, 2017
Minor Edits: August 5, 2017
Letters of Marshall McLuhan
Selected and Edited by: Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan, William Toye
Oxford University Press, 1987
The purpose of this analysis is to point out various people and events that illustrate the Oligarchy’s agenda in operation. Each of these topics–some of which should be really eye-opening for those who can understand–becomes a point for further investigation.
As far as Marshall McLuhan goes, I find his life and his ideas surprising and fascinating. There are many things in his life that I can relate to and other points which I admire. At the same time, I have to note his relationship to certain events and persons who are, as far as I’m concerned, involved in the engineering of a certain kind of global society.
To me, McLuhan is someone I can learn from. I’m not interested in giving myself a headache judging McLuhan and trying to resolve the contradictions between his religious beliefs and his political leanings for example. I suspect that he is just a higher-flying example of most of the rest of us–someone who is caught up in the system as a way to make a living, possibly helping to build it up in some ways while not doing enough to oppose it. I don’t know enough to say.
Despite whatever he was doing in his life, I think that pointing out McLuhan’s thoughts that were in opposition to the modern, “progressive”, technology-worshiping, globalist agenda–can be an actual source of leadership and encouragement for many of us, because his disagreements with the system illustrate that it isn’t just some wonderful world of progress that we should just take at face value.
Summary of Key Topics
- McLuhan’s books, articles and media
- Information External to this Source
- Accepted to Trinity Hall, Cambridge.
-Received BA from Cambridge . . .
-Cambridge PhD on Thomas Nashe
- Taught at the University of Wisconsin
- St. Louis
- Appointed to St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. Created the Centre for Culture and Technology, which was closed in 1980.
- Fan of G. K. Chesterton
- Lifelong supporter of Wyndham Lewis
- Correspondence with Ezra Pound
- Conferences Attended
- Bilderberg Attendance
- Relationship with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada
- Correspondence with Clare Boothe Luce
- What he actually thought about new media
- Opposition to Abortion
www.marshallmcluhan.com: The Official Site for the Estate of Marshall McLuhan
2017 book: The Lost Tetrads of Marshall McLuhan By Marshall McLuhan and Eric McLuhan:
Shortly before his death, together with his media scholar son Eric, McLuhan worked on a new literary/visual code–almost a cross between hieroglyphics and poetry–that he called “the tetrads.” This was the ultimate theoretical framework for analyzing any new medium, a koan-like poetics that transcends traditional means of discourse. Some of the tetrads were published, but only a few. Now Eric McLuhan has recovered all the “lost” tetrads that he and his father developed, and accompanies them here with accessible explanations of how they function.
IMDB page for Marshall McLuhan: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0572956/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
I selected just a few, but most of the quotations on his IMDB page are of interest http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0572956/bio?ref_=nm_dyk_qt_sm#quotes. I don’t see any sources for these quotes, but if accurate, they are relevant to an understanding of McLuhan’s attitudes and role.
This alleged quote is prophetic in light of recent developments in social media:
The new human occupation of the electronic age has become surveillance. CIA-style espionage is now the total human activity. Whether you call it audience rating, consumer surveys and so on – all men are now engaged as hunters of espionage.. Espionage at the speed of light will become the biggest business in the world.. But the CIA and the FBI are really old hat using old hardware by comparison to what’s coming, in which everybody earns pocket money by watching his own mom and dad or his brothers and sisters..The possibilities are unlimited. When anybody can rip off a few million by pressing a couple of buttons on a computer, the need for being watched gets bigger and bigger.
The problem with the following quote (if it’s accurate, but it sounds like the sort of thing he would say) is that he was very aware of the general unwillingness to contemplate the new technologies:
There is absolutely no inevitability, so long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.
Note that he clearly expected an increase in propaganda. Do fans of McLuhan realize that he talked like this about the near future of their own society? Do people realize that the terminology and warnings made by this top academic validates the statements of so-called conspiracy theorists:
Canadian politicians are faced with a serious ‘drop-out’ problem. They’re still talking, but fewer people are bothering to listen. The successor to politics will be propaganda, not in the sense of a message or ideology, but the impact of the whole technology of the times. So politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favour of his image, because the image will be so much more powerful than he could ever be.
By the way, the “image of the politician” reminds me of the “Image of the Beast” in the Book of Revelation [http://powerandreality.com/policy-themes-of-brave-new-world-h-g-wells-on-religion-partial-feb-16-2017/#20], which I don’t see as God-given prophecy, but as encapsulating a long-term human techno-globalist agenda of world empire. I don’t think it is out of place to mention this, because McLuhan’s descriptions of modern technology (technology that is now old) in his letters (and I assume in his other works) relate to their disembodying effect on human beings and to the artificial extension of human senses. His descriptions are very relevant to an understanding of the transhumanist agenda (see http://powerandreality.com/policy-themes-of-brave-new-world-julian-huxley-on-religion-and-science-science-is-for-control-and-established-religion-gets-in-the-way/ and http://powerandreality.com/policy-themes-of-brave-new-world-religion-public-relations-drugs-transhumanism-evolution-doctrine-implies-inevitability-of-developments-instead-of-their-being-the-result-of-planning/.
Library and Archives Canada
I’ve highlighted some points I think are of importance from the biographical description at this Canadian government website:
Herbert Marshall McLuhan (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a communications theorist, author and educator. . . .
What has been referred to as McLuhan’s “aesthetic approach” has its roots in the New Criticism developed at Cambridge in the 1930s. Under the leadership of F.R. Leavis and I.A. Richards, McLuhan developed an appreciation for the formal aspects of literature — an important precursor to his later ideas on technological forms. The New Criticism concentrated on understanding how literature achieved its effect on readers. The meanings of a poem, for instance, were derived from how the words worked together in a formal context, not from authorial intent. The New Critics considered the manipulation and use of form and structure, including language itself, of paramount importance. In other words, form had a direct correlation to the kinds of meanings — or effects — literature communicated to readers. This critical stance informed McLuhan’s famous aphorism, “The medium is the message.” . . .
. . . To keep him, the University of Toronto created the Centre for Culture and Technology in 1963. The need to support a large family eventually led McLuhan to take on a number of lucrative consulting and speaking engagements for large corporations, such as IBM and AT&T. McLuhan even wrote commercials, much to the dismay of his scholarly contemporaries. . . .
I think it’s important to note that a lot of what McLuhan was into, as expert on English literature and then on media, was openly and understandably about consulting on public relations and advertising. I think this is clear from his letters even on a smaller scale early on when he was helping to promote Wyndham Lewis. I would think it should be very clear that, as with other celebrities, it must be very difficult to get an idea of his actual opinions and beliefs from his public persona–especially considering that in his letters he was always insisting that he refused to add his personal opinions about media to his analysis of the media’s effects. I believe that he hoped that people would take his analysis to heart, actually understand it, and be more aware and critical of the effects of new media. In retrospect, it looks to me like he became part of a contradiction. His persona–something superficial–was interpreted as promoting the use of new media and “the global village” as something wonderful for example. However, his actual written statements (in his letters for example) and analysis were clearly warning, sometimes in dire terms, about the creation of a preliterate, more primitive type of society on a worldwide scale, with less thought and less privacy. That’s why he used the word “village.” His main intention, I believe, is for the public to understand the media technologies being used, and is expressed in the title of his book: Understanding Media. I guess that his analysis, when portrayed superficially in non-print media, really didn’t survive the sloganeering and make it into the minds of most people.
Virtually Reconnecting Marshall McLuhan’s Archives and Library
. . . Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds McLuhan’s archives (http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_archives/index.php?fuseaction=genitem.displayItem&lang=eng&rec_nbr=98306&rec_nbr_list=98306)[check link again after October 5, 2020], while the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto (UTL) holds his personal research library. Although the two collections are now separate entities held by different institutions, the division between them is artificial: McLuhan originally kept them together in his office at the University of Toronto and his private residence, and they developed in conjunction with each other over the course of his life.
This page virtually reconnects these now physically separate collections . . .
McLuhan’s Books, Articles and Other Media
More complete list at: https://marshallmcluhan.com/bibliography/
The Mechanical Bride
The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962)
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964)
War and Peace in the Global Village by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore
The Lost Tetrads of Marshall McLuhan By Marshall McLuhan and Eric McLuhan (2017)
. . .
About Letters of Marshall McLuhan
This collection of letters was selected from 100,000 pages of letters from the National Archives of Canada (now: Library and Archives Canada) in addition to letters acquired from other sources.
The editors mention the Ezra Pound material was used with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Directions_Publishing) and Faber & Faber Ltd. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faber_and_Faber). I notice that New Directions also publishes works by Peter Dale Scott (http://www.ndbooks.com/author/peter-scott-pd/).
I notice that the editors consulted Donald F. Theall about concepts such as “secret societies” (p. xii). I discovered that Theall is another source of information about McLuhan and topics studied by McLuhan (see http://www.trentu.ca/donaldtheall/ and http://www.mqup.ca/virtual-marshall-mcluhan–the-products-9780773531543.php).
Early Life and Background
Based on the editors’ introduction (p.1), McLuhan was born in 1911 in Edmonton, Alberta. His Canadian roots go back multiple generations on both sides.
William McLughan from County Down, Ireland settled in Ontario in 1849. His son James moved out to Alberta in 1908. One of his sons was Herbert Ernest McLuhan, Marshall McLuhan’s father. On his mother’s side, John Hall from Bristol, England settled in Nova Scotia before 1790. His great-grandson was Henry Seldon Hall, father of Elsie Naomi Hall, McLuhan’s mother.
The family settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
His mother (p.2), Elsie McLuhan became dissatisfied with her marriage and began to express her creative urge through a career on stage delivering monologues and recitals. Beginning in 1933, she did not return to Winnipeg, and Marshall’s relationship to her was through letters.
McLuhan (p.1 ) began his habit of intensive reading under a Grade 7 teacher. He built crystal radio sets and other things. In high school, he played sports. He attended church regularly at Nassau Baptist Church and its Bible Class. (See https://www.playle.com/listing.php?i=ISLANDDWELLER1323).
He began the University of Manitoba in 1928 and switched from Engineering to an intensive study of English Literature.
The editors give some samples from two of his diaries for 1930 and 1931 from the Public Archives of Canada (3).
He expresses a strong religious belief, putting “implicit faith in my Maker” (3).
He makes a note about 1930 advertising tricks, how they appeal to fear, pride, sex, health, etc. (3).
A lot of his comments have to do with his endless reading of English literature (Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Spenser, etc.). One of the works that impressed him was the biography of Macaulay. He notes of a particular period that his knowledge had increased and that his “standards of real manhood” had been raised.
He expresses a prayer (4) January 1, 1931 “Great God Almighty during the coming year enable me to live among my fellows . . . ” in a beneficial way, etc. He was a total Christian. He asked that his daily life become more and more an expression of “Thy self in me”.
He was a very active and sociable person. On January 1, 1930 he hosted a New Year’s Even party. He spent the holiday skating, tobogganing, playing hockey, etc. (4). He worked out at the YMCA.
His church attendance alternated between Augustine United (http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/augustineunited.shtml) and Knox United (http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/knoxunitedwinnipeg.shtml).
His diaries mention his literary heroes as G. K. Chesterton and Thomas Babington Macaulay (5) but he also discovers Thackeray and others.
McLuhan received his BA from the University of Manitoba in 1933 and stayed to earn his MA in 1934. His thesis was to be on George Meredith (5).
The editor’s note (p. 18) mentions that McLuhan had been disappointed to not receive a Rhodes Scholarship. In October 1933, he applied for and won the IODE Post-Graduate Scholarship of $1600 “for post-graduate study in any British university”. He also was awarded a University Travelling Fellowship of $400 (editor’s comments, p. 18). McLuhan’s parents were very ambitious for him. The editor notes that his father visited one of the professors who was on the IODE awards committee to assure him that his son admired his teaching.
McLuhan was then accepted to Trinity Hall, Cambridge (different from Trinity College).
He took courses from many instructors at Cambridge. I. A. Richards was one of many. (p. 6)
He subscribed to his hero’s newsletter, GK’s Weekly and joined the Distributist League, which Chesterton promoted. He listened to Chesterton on the radio and attended a Distributist dinner in London at which Chesterton spoke (p. 6). Chesterton’s writings on Distributism were compiled in The Outline of Sanity (1926) [editor’s footnote: p. 46].
Information on Distributism:
This is certainly worth further research. Roughly speaking, my understanding of it is that distributism is a non-capitalist anti-materialist economic system, but it does not refer to the socialist idea of redistribution at all. Rather it is a Christian or Catholic-based economic system with an emphasis on the importance of private property rights, family and the separateness of institutions so that no “State” or other all-powerful entity is allowed to dominate and interfere with peoples’ lives. Accumulating endless wealth and resources is not allowed. Allowance is made for separate spheres of private, independent existence of entities down to the level of the family.
I think these sorts of ideas need to be taken a closer look at in the modern world. I think that a sense of the sacredness of humanity in a traditional sense can be regained possibly through an allegiance to particular ideals without necessarily having to agree with particular religious doctrines that can’t be proven. Obviously the Catholic Church and other churches, even other religions, have been totally subverted by what I call “monopoly capitalism” (which funded the three forms of modern socialism as described in Antony Sutton’s Wall Street trilogy). Property rights is not discussed or understood by most members of the public. Freedoms and rights have been deliberately shredded, to be replaced with obsessions over recycling and carbon dioxide and earth worship. War and death and torture and pornography have infiltrated everything. Irrational concepts such as moral relativism has been deliberately used to undermine our lives as human beings so that some shiny new global, slave-driving, genocidal “utopia” can be built on our backs. We should be looking for the way UP rather than waiting to hit the BOTTOM.
There are various books and authors that excited McLuhan when he was young according to the early letters. He is constantly listing literature in his letters. I just wanted to single out a few that seem to be of ongoing significance and made an impression on him, or ones that sound interesting to me:
*Jacques Maritain, e.g. The Little Flowers of St. Francis which relates to his serious interest in Roman Catholicism.
*T. S. Elliot (his works of criticism and Murder in the Cathedral)
*James Joyce’s Ulysses
*Poems of Ezra Pound
*Wyndham Lewis Time and Western Man
*Aldous Huxley Do What You Will (I don’t know what he thought of this book or if he spent much time taking Fabians seriously. A later comment about Huxley in this book was negative.) Adding to reading list:
*Thomas Wolfe Of Time and the River
. . . and many others . .
McLuhan was depressed as he prepared for his exams, but was successful. He received his Cambridge BA on June 23, 1936, and went back home to Canada that summer after having accepted a one-year position at the University of Wisconsin (p. 7).
The letters included in the first section of the book are from 1931 to 1936, mostly from his stay at Cambridge, and include ones to his mother Elsie McLuhan.
A June 1932 letter (p. 11) indicates that he was a huge fan of G. K. Chesterton. As the editor indicates (p. 10), McLuhan expresses strong feelings towards Catholicism and away from Puritanism / Calvinism. He calls Goethe a barbarian after reading his autobiography (p. 11).
One of his childhood friends was Al Bolton, who became an executive of Air Canada (editor’s note, p. 11).
His June 1932 letter to his mother, father and brother (Elsie, Herbert and Maurice (“Red”))(p. 12) describes his voyage to England for a vacation.
He went with his lifelong friend, Tom Easterbrook (William Thomas Easterbrook 1907-85) who became a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Toronto) (editor’s note: p. 10).
He and Tom helped to look after the cattle while on the ship. McLuhan found the Atlantic trip rough and threw up about 150 times he says (13). Castor oil and apples relieved the suffering. He mentions that the best part of the trip was ironically in the Devil’s Hole off the north coast of Ireland. Otherwise the weather was horrible, the trip was boring and the water was filthy. He mentions that he was writing an article for the Manchester Guardian on the summer occupations of American and Canadian students (15). Possibly this was his first article.
In a letter to his mother from Winnipeg (Spring 1934), he mentions how much he enjoyed studying Shakespeare (preferring Coleridge’s commentaries). He mentions Marjorie [Norris], who was his girlfriend until 1936.
Continued: Part 2
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