Ron Rosenbaum writes for Pyjamas Media as well; and, I kinda like the guy's work. When I read about someone such as Jeff Jarvis (or, more recently, E. Tolle), I think of the following:"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;and, whoever humbles himself will be exalted."— Matthew 23 : 11-12
True, Judith, but Rosenbaum also comes across as exalting himself, or jealous that Jarvis beat him to it. A flavor of sour grapes is laced all through this piece, at least to my palette.
Sour gripes? Let me actually go read the entire piece closely now that I have time to do more than simply skim the first few 'graphs; you're a fair reader, Art; thus, your sense of RR's approach gives me cause for pause. If it's a case of Pot, Kettle, Blackitude; then, I stand corrected. BRB . . .
You're abso-deffo correct, Art. It is nothing more than a case of sour gripes. Good for you for making me return and examine it closely; I'm kinda stunned RR'd suggest that, because JJ deploys the term, "Laws," JJ considers himself to be the new McLuhan.It is to howl or ha-ha (in horror, almost)! I don't think there's a human being on this planet who could fill those boots (although, for the record, Camille Paglia's tried but failed to so do).MM was a prophet; I don't think JJ considers himself to be on some sort of zealous messianic mission (and, in fact, it would seem RR's actually more in that camp, come to think of it). Neil Postman, Eric McLuhan, Terence Gordon, Philip Marchand, Tom Wolfe, Donald Theall, et.al. are, as I am, better considered McLuhanatics, if nothing else, for the sake of brevity here. (It's a badge we wear proudly, I guess, despite its intended disparaging insultuition.)And, let's not forget McLuhan's debt to Innes, as well as Lewis and many many others, for that matter. (He was a magpie; so was Eliot; ain't a crime :).)That said, however, I do remember finding JJ's lumping of "journalists" with managers and bean-counters a little disingenuous a while ago (and, understandably for we who have no power in the so-called business model that kisses the dots and dashes of the asses snaking along the bottom line).It's hierarchical and I objected to being blamed, as an award-winning literary "journalist," for not seeing the writing on the wail when I damned well did so; as early as 1995-6; and, I was fired for having the temerity to suggest we take our literary show on the cyber-road.The PTB didn't understand what I was suggesting; and, that editor, still the book editor at the newspaper where I was turfed for sounding like an idiot to those who were firmly marching backwards into the future, had next-to-nil in the department of power-brokering. I won't name names; I don't hold my firing against anyone but the bean-counters; the editor's just the editor, the same way Frank was just the editor; neither had (nor has) the power to effect meaningful and forward-looking change, sadly.It was JJ's terminology, more than the thrust of his argument, I found (and still find) offensive, for the record.Journalists — at least, this journalist and any I know working in literary or artistic critical pursuits, I guess — have nada to say when it comes to changes that are systemically top-down; we just work here; check specs; and, pray we can continue to collect the gawd-damned ever-shrinking cheques (especially in Canada where our dollar's lost one-fifth of its value against yours in the last month alone!).That's my short answer. If you like, I'll happily continue this very interesting, to me, conversation. You're such a good and fair discussionaire; and, IMO, such qualities in terms of respectful and intelligent debate become increasingly rare.Also, when it comes to that, RR's smarmy tone sort of demonstrates what I mean about respectful discourse. Oh, he says he liked JJ; and, he respected some of his ideas; but, he's arrogant. That's it. And, in matters where no one can accurately read the future, let alone the present, that borders on self-aggrandising fatuity to the Nth degree, IMO.
Well, I'm definitely a McLuhanite, always have been since I first encountered his work when I was still a teenager and his work was just becoming famous. (There are great audio and video excerpts of him on Ubuweb, BTW. www.ubu.com)You're right that Paglia has tried to fill those boots, unsuccessfully. Arthur Kroker has, too, perhaps a little better, but also less well-known. The folks behind the late lamented magazine Mondo 2000 came closest, in the last couple of decades, I think.I came to his work, and Bucky Fuller's, via John Cage, who not only recommend them but discussed them in interesting ways. A lot of Cage's thinking on these matters appeared in his ongoing public journal that feels like a blog but predates the form by decades, "Diary: How To Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)". What a great title. Various segments of the Diary appear in various of Cage's books, and he did a reading/recording of them for German radio that I have on CDs.What's interesting to me about the sour grapes aspect of this is that people who don't read futurist publications like Mondo 2000 or Wired Magazine think this is all somehow new. I give Jarvis credit for riding a wave, and preaching to a lot of people who really need to hear the message who otherwise wouldn't. Rosenbaum it seems has also done this. So have others. Our own Frank here was the one who first introduced me to the Black Swan idea, which I think he has become very relevant, and of which no doubt McLuhan might have had some positive opinions. But it's interesting to me, because I've been reading these ideas, and talking about them, even before the blogosphere; my circle of artist friends and musicians all read Mondo and Wired, for example, along with more specifically music trade publications, since the late 80s. (My current trade favorite is Computer Music out of the UK, a genuinely wonderful magazine resource.) So, I appreciate the word being spread, no matter who does it, because it's all Important Knowledge. The infighting about who gets first attribution, credit, or fame—well, that's all personality-ego stuff, and writers certainly aren't immune from that. It is true that Jarvis seems to be riding a wave of fame; I give him credit for at least TRYING to stay humble about it, and resist the ego-inflation balloon of temptation. Whether or not he actually succeeds, well, Rosenbaum may have some valid points there, but R's rhetoric is tinged by outright jealousy, or at least that's the tone I was picking up.I am always aware of the psychology behind why people do what they do, say what they say. I think it's wise to always watch for the hidden motivations and silent agendas. maybe I was in advertising and marketing too long, rather than journalism, but I do have a tendency to not take people at their word, but look behind the curtains. Skepticism isn't a bad thing, now more than ever.I agree with you that the folks who really get a handle on where things are going tend to be magpies. The late Jonathon WIlliams was one of those, too, and erudite as a result. I freely admit to being a magpie, interested in Everything. I think we've had 300 years of increasing (sub-)specialization in all disciplines, since the Renaissance, and it's time to be generalists (in the Renaissance Man sense) rather than specialists. McLuhan was definitely one of these, as were Cage and Bucky Fuller.
I like the Krokers; I think they did compile some important data; and, of course, I have an abiding respect for Cage; I come from the same disciplines you do: Music, computers, physics, linguistics, rhetoric, the ancients, poetry, and The Big Fuck; but, let's face it, Art, there won't be another McLu because, by definition, he has been. Same way there won't be another Jesus Christ. Nor should there be, IMO. (Carpenter, too; and, you know I greatly admire him and what he, at least, tried to do.)Your notion of what's behind the curtain? I consider that "strategy," as in The Art of War. It's an old lesson, one involving the feint, I guess; do one thing to effect another; and, American politics certainly proves exactly that principle; when the heat got turned too high on what's his name (nix that noise), Patty Hearst happened.It's all about distraction; and, those pulling the strings know it since media, corporations, and government all go to the same Diner and slurp from the same trough. But, McLuhan said that, too.I am rushing because we're under a severe weather watch here; and, I have to cook something (since I actually have some food staring me down and I am so hungry!); but, I have far more in common with you than you might even suspect. I even quote Mondo 2000 in my "Introduction" to Wise Guy, but one of three biographies of McLuhan officially sanctioned by his estate. The other two are by Gordon and Marchand. So, we're in good company; and, even Debord acknowledges his debt to McLu (as do most honourable secular humanists and scholarly types, too).Yeah, that's why CP did that anthology, IMO. Because McLuhan, the professor with the PhD from Cambridge in English literature, put together a couple wonderful anthologies of poetry. He worshipped Eliot, Joyce, Poe, hated Pound, loved Freud . . .Oh, man, that chocolate's just yelling at moi . . .!
Judith and Art, I know almost nothing about Marshall McLuhan, but I recently ran across an essay about him, and an essay by his son about Francis Bacon, when I was looking for something about Bacon's prose style(s). What do you two think of the points made in the following quotations (or, if you have the time to read them, in the two essays quoted)?:Elena Lamberti wrote that MM's critical writing is '. . . a sort of "verbal hyper-text" ante litteram. Each line, each pun is carefully constructed so as to shock (and shake) the reader. The lack of linearity, the use of analogy—these are intended by McLuhan to give shape to his new attitude to knowledge, an attitude he characterised in one of his more celebrated "slogans": "I’m not an explainer; I’m an explorer." Like a true explorer he ventured onto the frontier of language as reshaped by electric media in the form of what Walter Ong called "secondary orality," and dismissed more traditional analysis. "As an investigator, I have no fixed point of view, no commitment to any theory—my own or anyone else’s. (...) I consider myself a generalist, not a specialist." McLuhan’s "verbal playfulness" could, in fact, be inscribed within an ancient, rhetorical tradition, favouring the aphoristic narration against the discursive one, as theorised by Francis Bacon in his essay On The Advancement of Learning.[*] Not surprisingly, McLuhan quotes Bacon in The Gutenberg Galaxy: '"But the writing of aphorisms hath many excellent virtues, whereto the writing in method doth not approach. For first, it trieth the writer, whether he be superficial or solid; for aphorisms, except they should be rediculous, cannot be made but of the pith and heart of sciences; for discourse of illustration is cut off: recitals of examples are cut off; discourse of connection and order is cut off; descriptions of practice are cut off. So there remaineth nothing to fill the Aphorisms but some good quantity of observation: and therefore no man can suffice, nor in reason will attempt to write aphorisms but he that is sound and grounded." 'The "technique of discontinuity," which Bacon here prefigures, provided a perfect objective correlative to McLuhan’s search "not for goals but for roles," enabling him to give rhetorical shape to what he considered "the greatest discovery of the twentieth century," that is the technique of "suspended judgement." In the age of information overload, it is no more possible to master everything using our traditional, cognitive methods: as the Modernist writers learned, aporias replace established truths and language itself becomes a powerful heuristic tool.' =======*MM's son, Eric, has written about FRANCIS BACON'S THEORY of COMMUNICATION and MEDIA, and points out that ". . . the choice of aphoristic style was calculated to freshen awareness and assist in purging the bias of communication."
Thanks, Dave, that's very cool. I agree with most of those points. I think the essay represents McLuhan's purpose and method rather well. He also incorporated graphics in his book-test versions, such as "The Medium is the Massage," and in his audio and CBC radio recordings that cover some of the same material. The audio versions sound incredibly relevant and contemporary: they prefigure sampling and audio collage, and thus they prefigure hip-hop and rap, as well as overlapping somewhat with the CBC audio pieces that Glenn Gould was doing at almost the same time.Here's McLuhan's audio versions on Ubuweb:http://www.ubu.com/sound/mcluhan.htmlHere are some of Gould's:http://www.ubu.com/sound/gould.htmlThe points in the essay about nonlinearity and heuristic learning are extremely relevant. As has been pointed out, McLuhan's approach prefigures hypertext, in the ways things can be linked both from multiple directionsI'd have to go back into my library and look it up, but I seem to recall that the physicists at CERN who invented the WWW protocols cited McLuhan, when they were describing HTML hypertext. (The WWW was a protocol built on top of the ARPAnet, the infrastructure of the Internet.)It's fascinating to see how Bacon prefigured McLuhan, and the rest of it, as this essay points up. Didn't Vico also do something similar? There was another Renaissance or Baroque era thinker who developed the idea of the total encyclopedia, which in some ways the WWW has become. Again, I'd have to go find the citation; if I have time this weekend, I'll get to it.i've never had any problem understanding McLuhan. But I approach things with an artist's viewpoint at least as much as a scientist's. The so-called difficulty in comprehending McLuhan, it seems to me, comes from that wing of critical studies that is wedded to linear, mathematical, logical-positivist modes of learning, and heuristic and non-linear modes can be a major cognitive shock for some people. One thinks of "the shock of the new," as anthropologists such as David Maybury-Lewis and Edward Carpenter have written about.I also think of PL Travers, not only the inventor of Mary Poppins, but a brilliant essayist and contributing editor in the early years of Parabola Magazine. Travers described her essay-writing method as "thinking is linking." I wrote an appreciation of Travers here:http://artdurkee.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-bee-knows.htmlI'm writing this comment in a non-linear, thinking-is-linking style, you may have already noticed. This is another area in which I feel McLuhan's influence. I find it a very fertile way of essaying on questions that concern me.The technique of discontinuity, and aphorisms. Yeah, that rings true to me, anyway.
Now nobody's gonna tell me you're going to find a discussion like this in the print media.
Dave, both essays you cite are crucial as "entry points" into what McLuhan really did and who he really was, as Elena, especially, takes pains to explain. Bacon? He worshipped Bacon (and Vico, as Art mentions); but, it's almost impossible to say who didn't affect him in one way or another; his enduring passion (and I use the word carefully, given its etymological basis in "the passive," as it were)? Aquinas; thus, in order to understand something of what McLuhan was doing, in the thirties, allow me to quote a brief section of what he saw, one day, his function in life would be (and, remember, he converted to Catholicism (under the influence of Chesterton); it ultimately formed the foundation of his profoundly "intrasigent" faith):A Christian who reads the Bible daily, McLuhan had attended Winnipeg's Nassau Baptist Church (at his mother's insistence), even though his father was Presbyterian; as he matured, McLuhan opted to attend any Church but the dull and stuffy Baptist one. One breezy evening in April 1930, sitting on the throne and pondering what he'd just learned in Sunday school that day, it comes to him:He'll write a Great Book that will prove all life - mental, material, spiritual, physical - is governed by laws, laws that no one else has even noticed, laws that no else has even considered discussing between the covers of a book. His book will be philosophically grounded in this world; it will not be a religious book; but, its central idea, issuing from Christ's precepts and McLuhan's understanding of the primary importance of Pentecost in view of the laws he's perceived, will provide comfort and enlightenment. The laws are infallible - as precise as mathematics, as ubiquitous as weather - and, if a person correctly grasps them in all their glory, a person goes a long way.Pentecost is the divine mystery, the all-encompassing power or energy responsible for the miracle of creation.Thus, because the world exists - living beings see, feel, hear, taste, touch, smell, and know it - the human race owes allegiance to it (or, more accurately, to its Creator and the fruits of His labour). In believing in Pentecost as the divine mystery, McLuhan pledges his own allegiance to the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274), the theologian canonized as the patron saint of students and universities in 1323 as well as one of the greatest and most influential religious thinkers (who had, incidentally, taken a vow of chastity and renounced the trappings of this world).St. Thomas wrote numerous lucid and erudite volumes (including the Summa Theologica), and he also preached with great eloquence and inspiring conviction concerning his certainty God exists and His proof is everywhere (in everything) in this world in which we live. Throughout his life McLuhan will maintain close ties with the so-called Thomist School. His idea of the "sensuously orchestrated" individual of the future corresponds with doctrines aligning God with universal laws and forces; but, as a self-described Thomist, his philosophical position maintains existence is the supreme perfection - being in God and creation - while human knowledge is acquired through sense experience which leads to reflective activity. He often quips, "Should Old Aquinas be forgot," when he's queried about his faith, thus demonstrating his willingness to show his true Thomistic colours.The colourful McLuhan comes to believe that "all the university taught you to do was bullshit." Still, he's anxious to discuss his revealing insights and fresh ideas with fellow student and kindred spirit, Tom Easterbrook. Tom and Marsh, the best of buddies, argue incessantly, sparring over virtually everything, some nights roaming the streets well into the wee hours, when the rising sun reminds them a little shut-eye might not be such a bad idea.Both Eric (who is a close friend) and Lamberti (who is an astute reader of McLuhan), address and make transparent his way into (and out of) human consciousness; if you read the work on McLuhan that is on my 'site, you get the flavour of his "adventures"; but, he did say, and I believe it's the key to unlock the door of his view on perception and simultaneity, the following:"The better part of my work on media is actually somewhat like a safe-cracker's. I don't know what's inside; maybe it's nothing. I just sit down and start to work. I grope, I listen, I test, I accept and discard; I try out different sequences — untilthe tumblers fall and the doors spring open."McLuhan believed Joyce accomplished what he'd wanted to accomplish with the writing of Finnegans Wake; and, I believe likewise. But, these are difficult beliefs to reduce to a brief answer in a comment in a Blog; I can only suggest you find a copy of my biography and read it; and, yes, I am a natural-born Catholic, like Frank, a fact which allows us to co-exist despite our transient understanding of the contemporary political landscape, such as it is. But, Bacon did figure prominently in McLuhan's "probes," his "outerings" (a.k.a. "utterings"); and, as a librarian, you will easily be able to pick up a copy of the book and see it as a way into what he was attempting to do. His mind was massive. He was a genius. And, I marvel at Art's understanding of Gould and the artist as other points of entry because they're all relevant and right, BION. He was such a global thinker, in the primary sense, it's damned-near impossible to reduce him to a linear train of thought. That's why the first line of River, for example, the book where he appears in several guises, Tiresius included, begins (after an epigraph from Emily): "He teaches me to jump from a moving train of thought."I owe you that book; and, one day, it will show up, I promise. Both Eric and Elena are right, though; and, I entirely agree with their work on him.I spent so many years utterly under the spell of McLuhan, the writing of the book, the readings, the meetings, all of it from the late seventies until the appearance of the book in 1999 / 2000 and then, the translations that followed, I'm too close and will always remain too close.There isn't much that he missed, though, not in the history of religion, theology, rhetoric, philosophy, physics, science, art, poetry, music, you name it. He knew it; he made it his business to know *everything* because it all fascinated him.He was a thinker; and, a doer, an actor, an agent, a seer, IMO. He also dismissed pomo-palaverations out-of-hand from the beginning. His affect on me is so great, I cannot distinguish my theories from his, half the time, any more; but, I do know his sense of the aphorism (which immediately puts me in mind of Shakespeare and his punnaciousness as well as his obsessive neologising), it's so vast, I can only suggest you read the book; and, then, you'll see the Bacon and the eggheads that influenced him as well as those he influenced.It's a lifelong journey; it's almost akin to trying to explain Christ's doctrines in a few pithy axiomatic statements; and, it's neither fair to you, me, nor McLuhan that I do that. But, Bacon was one of his heroes, no doubt about it. And, Eric would say the same, does, in fact.Why are you asking, BTW? Are you working on something to do with Bacon?Oh, and Art? I figured out why Paglia can't be McLuhan: She's crass; and, he had class :). They both may have big brains and high IQs (but, I think that's essential reason why she will never achieve that height and, I don't think I know who will). He was a true OneOf; but, I love what you wrote for Dave and it's interesting to me how we dovetail on all of this, coming from different cultures and orientations. Just goes to show, though, McLuhan does that to one; you become awake and, that's truly his gift, to remove you from the role of sleepwalking and place you on the path of achieving the goal of being truly conscious (which is not mystical but, especially now, absolutely essential for the preservation of the holy, the human, and the glorious beating heart of the world in situ.p.s. This is a quick riff, as it were, a chance to glance through the glass of safe-cracking melodies you either hear or you don't :) . . .
Frank Wilson said . . . Now nobody's gonna tell me you're going to find a discussion like this in the print media.10:07 PMNope. And, nobody never won't, either, LOL.See, Frank, this is what I meant: We got it; and, we paid for being the ones who brought it to the MSM too many years ago. To say more would be to sound arrogant and smug; I'm just glad I wasn't stupid about it. Best advice anyone ever gave me: Smarten up and don't be stupid. I kid you not.And, I meant "effect," not "affect," in the above; so, sue me :) . . .Love, Sue
Remember, I come at it from Cage's direction, and McLuhan's influence on Cage was profound. Speaking of magpies, Cage was a major magpie, as the Diary shows.i think you're right about Paglia. She tries way too hard to be "with it," but it's still intellectualized rather than immersive.What did McLuhan have to say about Meister Eckhart, who once held the Aquinas chair at the University of Paris? I also wonder what McLuhan thought of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. These other two Catholic, and catholic, thinkers were very much in the fold of the divine mystery of the Godhead which lies behind all images of God. I am not Catholic, nor even Christian, but I am a mystic, and a practising mystic at that. I felt pushed away from all things Christian for many years, and condemned by them; it was via Thomas Merton that I found my way back into an appreciation of the mystical tradition in Christianity, what Matthew Fox calls the green thread of creation-centered spirituality (cf. "Original Blessing" by Fox). I find the same thread in Rumi, Rilke, and yes, Bucky Fuller and McLuhan. I don't find it to be explicitly religious, however, but very much contemplating the creation rather than the orthodoxy. But that could just be my biases at play.But you know, even Aquinas eventually seemed to say that the artistic/creative approach to the godhead is more fertile than the strictly logical (Scholastic) approach. I find in McLuhan that his non-linear approach really is an artistic exploration in the best sense of the word. I also find it interesting that the other Doctors of the Church were also all mystics, rather than purely scholastic theologians. Somebody in the Church gets it, even if they get so much else wrong.
I asked Eric to provide a definitive answer on Meister E. and T d C and he did; and, I quoted him here a couple months ago with his permission; but, he says something to the effect he knew those ideas were in the air; but, it was the "Noosphere" notion he rejected or dismissed; that doesn't mean that he didn't find their ideas compelling and correct in many ways; but, he had already written GG and TMB by the time he did discover them. Later, he got really deeply involved in the right/left brain theories because he, like yours truly, was a southpaw, and that was what he was working towards expanding when he was struck dumb by the second stroke; and, he could no longer speak, sadly. All the names you mention figure in the equation, Art, abso-deffo. And, we can go so far as to to say that, despite their differences -- they did disagree on some things -- Bucky Fuller had much more in common with classy McLu than crassy PagHag ever did.IMMERSIVE! Exactly. That's the key. And, you just let it drop so nonchalently :). It is immersive; you cannot dip your toe in the River; you go with the (electr(on)ic) currents or you're screwed. All-inclusive nowness, he called it.But, no, they didn't influence him; in fact, however, he had an abiding respect for Merton (as I do) and, I'm thinking the next names we're going to hear here is Barzun and Rimbaud and Baudelaire and we can go forever on this, and that's why there will never be another McLuhan, thank the Lard; he makes my head hurt (so good).I love the fact he challenges me and, every day, continues to keep me awake and alive. I loved, no, love, the man. I always will. And, so will Tom Dilworth, the biographer of David Jones whom Robin Robertson loves and of whom, Eliot said, "he is the true genius of our generation." Jones was highly influenced by McLuhan; how could he not be, given McLuhan's worshipry of the Richards, Leavis, et.al. school, and love of Eliot and Joyce. See, it's all circles within circles for me, and they just keep rippling . . .Cage? I saw Cage. Gould? Music wouldn't be what it is without him; I had the great good fortune to have a best friend who would speak with Glenn for hours on end on the telephone at night and they would often ask me to play referee. Imagine! I always took the slipperiest way I could discover and nobody was ever wrong. I think I learned tact from those two, not a thing you want NOT to have in this world, IMO.I could bring the big bad wolf into this discussion; but, for now, I can only hope you read Wise Guy because it is a way to understand McLu that isn't academic, it's a lay person's book, intended for young minds, not a tome; just a guide to what he was, who he wasn't, and why he matters.Oh, gawd, he matters (more and more). Had we but world enough and time . . .But, Art, your brain's too big and your heart's too huge. Good!
p.s. Yes, you don't need to do the research: McLuhan saw Finnegans Wake as the first "hypertext," as it were (and, he expounded upon what that meant; and, he was proven correct when the 'net was invented; he divined it before it existed; and, CERN, TB-L, all of them, they knew that and paid tribute to MM's contribution to "the grid," "the web," interconnectedness, all-inclusive nowness, the global works. Lights! Action! Chimera!And, religion may have names; but, it's a frame of mind. Frank nails it: Faith is the ineffable; and, it is the backbone of humane existence in an increasingly barabarian world. FAITH. It comes in many flavours, packages, and teachings, both east and west; but, it all can be reduced to one word: FAITH.
Thanks Art and Judith for your comments, your elucidations, your elaborations, your making of connections: so much to followup on, to find out about, to think about."Why are you asking, BTW? Are you working on something to do with Bacon?"I was reading Roy Clark's blog posting From Pepys to Your Peeps, Finding Your Voice as a Blogger, in which I found this quotation from Norman O. Brown's Love's Body: "Broken flesh, broken mind, broken speech. Truth, a broken body: fragments, or aphorism; as opposed to systematic form or methods: 'Aphorisms, representing a knowledge broken, do invite men to inquire farther; whereas Methods, carrying the show of a total, do secure men, as if they were at farthest.' Bacon in McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy, 102-103." Immediately after reading that I went looking for the context of the quotation of Francis Bacon, not in the Gutenberg Galaxy, but in the work of Bacon's it was taken from. And I found one text linked to another until I ran into the two essays I quoted from (first Eric McLuhan's and then Elena Lamberti's).BTW, Judith, your quoting of Eric M. on Teilhard de Chardin and MM is in a comment on the posting Marshalled evidence ..., THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2008.
Faith. Hmn. Faith.There's a telling scene in the movie "Constantine," when John (JC = John Constantine) is talking to the angel Gabriel; John is a paranormal expert, and is fuming about why he has to send so many demons back to hell with no reward. He says, why, I believe in heaven and hell. And Gabriel interrupts to say, No, John, you KNOW. You don't have to believe.Maybe you had to be there. But the point is that there are differences between faith, belief, and knowledge. They're not the same things at all. Personally, speaking for myself, I don't believe anything; but there are some things I know to be true. it's funny; when you get chosen by the Powers That Be, drafted more like, to be something like a mystic, it all becomes very experiential and not at all taken on faith. But that's just me. There are things I know I don't know, and there are things I probably don't know that I don't know; my big thing is that I don't label, I leave it a Mystery. It works better that way.Joseph Campbell was also a student of the Wake, and he agreed with McLuhan in terms of it being a form of everything/hypertext. (I was once an amateur Joyce scholar; read everything in print up to about 1982.) Campbell of course came from the direction of Jung and the study of mythology, archetypes, etc.It really is all about connections. This has been very engaging. Don't stop now on my account.I'm ambidextrous, BTW.
Good you mentioned Nobby. One of my poet friends was a student of Norman O. Brown, and we've gone around on that. It definitely ties in, what's in "Love's Body," which I read at that same fertile teen time as I read McLuhan. They do indeed tie together, at least in my mind.Nobby's aphoristic style is another precursor, as probably is Nietzsche's, for example in "The Gay Science" and "The Birth of Tragedy," which was a big influence on Mark Rothko, who I was reading about earlier tonight. I found a book catalog of the Rothko works on paper exhibition from the 1908s. The sublime aspect of his fields of color strikes me as the spiritual ground upon which the media sometimes move: removed, floating, but vibrant. I've often thought about models of interface between self and world, how the interface shapes the experience, but also how the interface itself is a model. Different kinds of interface affect the experience of immersion.Just riffing now. Time for bed.
I felt like Bernadette when I tried to go to sleep last night so I got up and ate some more and more. I had a banana; then? I had some cheese and crackers; then? I had some yoghurt; and, knowing that food usually knocks me out, I topped it off with some olives. Several. Right out of the jar, gasp! It worked . . . but, I was up at my normal . . .Oh, Dave; I did try to find that L'Inq. to Eric (and, thank you for so doing). Now, I understand why you asked, at least (and, I know two people who are very yappy-happy you did). What a great discussion, though; and, you, Mr. OWL, started it all by tipping off Frank to RR on JJ.Art! You only touch upon about a million things needing saying in every comment; your brain makes me swoon in delicious intellectual (yeah, I can do that, too, honest!) pain-strain; but, it's a good feeling, firing on all synapses, making these connections, knowing where they're going, understanding the sky's no limit when it comes to climbing innit.See, this is exactly what I mean:And, my reference to FAITH without qualification, without modification, stands alone. One believes "IN" something; one has knowledge "OF" something; but, FAITH? NOPE. (That's emphasis, not yellcapping (cf. kneecapping, BTW :).)One takes something on faith or in faith; but, it isn't about anything substantive (or, for that matter, substantial). A priori, it simply exists (or not, depending on what or how you think of it).One possesses faith that "x" will follow "y" because it does, as surely as poetry equals prayer for me.Interesting what you say about Brown. I went through a true love affair with his writing; and ,then, found it glib and repugnant; but, then, again, when I was writing Twenty-Six Ways Out of This World, I came across one of his books; and, there, right there, in the centre of the maelstrom, was the perfect compressed telegraphic epigrammatic succinct synopses of what I wanted that book to do (and, I believe I achieved that with it because, by that time, I no longer felt myself to be an apprentice; and, it wasn't confidence nor arrrogance that I felt I had been granted; it was faith I was on the right train and that track was the one I wanted to pursue).One can question / debate belief as well as prove or disprove knowledge; but, faith? No. It simply is. And, it may have some bearing on my understanding of it because I am a Catholic and that's a part of my daily sustenance, so to speak.(Oh, okay, BTW, I'm left-hand dominant; that is, I unconsciously am left-eared and left-eyed as well; but, when I was in grade school, my left hand was tied behind my back by the nuns because I was sinistre; so, I had to learn to print and write with my right hand at that time; now, if I ever had to take someone out, I can do the old left-right swing-ding thing.)Wait a minute, I don't have anyone I want to hurt (and, I never have, not since I punched my younger sister on the nose in grade school when she wouldn't give me her orange from her lunch; but, that was before I was adopted and I still feel guilt about it and I hope she forgot it :). We were only five and six, I think. Mea culpable, though.)McLuhan was hopeless in the mechanical department, did you know that? He didn't even learn to drive for many many years. I don't think he ever did, as a matter of fact. I think Corinne did most of the driving, even when the family would go back and forth between California and Canada with a caboodle of kids (and there are five of them).He was an abused and battered child; his mom beat the shit out of him. He was not the most loving and demonstrative father, either. He opposed homosexuality, abortion, all sorts of things, as much a product of his times as his faith.(I don't use the word lightly; so what? I can forgive others what I consider their shortcomings because I have my own, some of which I've overcome, some of which still stare me down or knock me upside the head). Nobody's perfekk (or everybody is).I think, when I turn sixty, I will start streaking, standing up in rowboats, and making a fuss in restaurants about coffee being too hot and toast being too lightly toasted.Now, I'm pretty sure I've complained my whinings and pined my pinings for the day; besides, I actually think I possess faith I have a life (and, please, don't disillusion me) . . .But, sans façon, this has been a thrilling, spilling, willing discussion for yours truly, thanks to each of you, my illustrious co-commentarians, naturally, too. Adieu. [*G*]
I think both Nobby and Nietzsche talk about having faith in something you can't name, label, understand, have any idea what it is, and don't want to diminish it by categorizing it or putting it in a conceptual box. I'm comfortable with not-knowing. I make up poetic names to avoid familiarity that allows thinking to collapse into certainty. I have been influenced by Native American spiritualities in this, too, in which the spiritual is also tactile, right there but ineffable, breathing and alive. Sometimes I wonder if I should have been raised Navajo instead of Lutheran.All names for God reduce Mystery to verbiage. Maybe that makes IT more comprehensible, more manageable, more identifiable; but it also reduces something incomprehensibly huge to something the size of a poker chip one can shove around on a table. The most important thing, it seems to me, to preserve faith, is to resist making the poker chips too easy to grasp. It's okay to use an image, any image, of God, imago dei, to talk to, to have a personal relationship with, as long as one always remembers that one is talking to a mask, and to the actual. That's something Meister Eckhart reminds us of. There's also something profoundly McLuhanesque media-savvy about one of Eckhart's sayings, "The eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me." Recursive and multidirectional as data.I'm comfortable not knowing, not defining, just contemplating. Seeing but not needing to name. That's a kind of faith I carry, that it's right and proper to do that. It's also where Eckhart approaches Zen. Zen teacher D.T. Suzuki was the first to point out to Merton, who then went and read Eckhart, and eventually transformed into the mature mystic that he became, those last ten years of his life. Connections.Faith is a kind of trust. Sometimes trust comes hard to abused, bullied, or battered kids. I wonder about the nuances of that in regard to McLuhan. (I knew about the paradox of his being mechanically unsavvy.) Certainly harder to trust in things human, which include those things fellow humans say about spiritual matters. Strikes that McLuhan might have taken mistrust into analysis, thereby actually seeing things others didn't because he looked at what was actually there rather than what people thought was there. (Another Zen style of looking.) In "Massage" he writes explicitly about the Emperor's New Clothes; and he is speaking for himself, I think. Trust in received wisdom and transmitted authority can be weakened in the bullied and abused. I was 13 when I started looking for something more authentic, more fundamental, more per-verbal even, then the religion i was raised in. I eventually found what works for me. Faith and knowing are tangled, though, where I ended up; sometimes you can't tell which is which. And sometimes things I know are things other people insist can only be taken on faith, and vice versa. But again, that's probably just me.Last night I said Edward Carpenter, but I meant Edmund Carpenter, the McLuhanite anthropologist who wrote "Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me!" and a couple of other books. It's cross-cultural media savvy, is what that book is about.