Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
When first published, Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media made history with its radical view of the effects of electronic communications upon man and life in the twentieth century. This edition of McLuhan's best-known book both enhances its accessibility to a general audience and provides the full critical apparatus necessary for scholars. In Terrence Gordon's own words, "McLuhan is in full flight already in the introduction, challenging us to plunge with him into what he calls 'the creative process of knowing.'" Much to the chagrin of his contemporary critics McLuhan's preference was for a prose style that explored rather than explained. Probes, or aphorisms, were an indispensable tool with which he sought to prompt and prod the reader into an "understanding of how media operate" and to provoke reflection.
In the 1960s McLuhan's theories aroused both wrath and admiration. It is intriguing to speculate what he might have to say 40 years later on subjects to which he devoted whole chapters such as Television, The Telephone, Weapons, Housing and Money. Today few would dispute that mass media have indeed decentralized modern living and turned the world into a global village.
This critical edition features an appendix that makes available for the first time the core of the research project that spawned the book and individual chapter notes are supported by a glossary of terms, indices of subjects, names, and works cited. There is also a complete bibliography of McLuhan's published works.
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Anyone that cannot read this book and see the connection between theoretical genius and quasi-prophetic reasoning wishes McLuhan's conclusions to be false more than they wish to use their mental faculties. McLuhan may be the greatest social scientific/humanist scholar of our time. When he writes that "electromagnetic tech. requires utter human docility" he speaks of our age; in his other works when he proclaims "espionage becomes an art form" is not opinion, it is prophecy of the coming of the 'Greatest Generation of Hackers,' whom will reverse the larger artifact's functioning.
If you enjoyed this book, but didn't quite understand some of the references and buzz-allusions, read McLuhan's previous work--you will find that his story is the movement from rhetorical criticism to socio-cultural revelation. We live in a post-modern world, but our ability to keep up is predicated on "finding a way out of the maelstrom," which McLuhan provides.
And the only one star review on this page makes the obviously strong claim that McLuhan is an elitist; that tends to seem to be the case with anyone that states conclusions which go against the grain and then can back it up with four or five different examples, interlocking in complex ways, pulled from social sciences and the English canon.
And McLuhan is reactionary, but not in a chronologically bound sense, only from the sense that he reacts to a few millennia of human history--so reactionary like any scholar, but also exceptionally reactionary from the sense that he applies his conclusions to a larger period of human history than most scholars would dream of touching. McLuhan is not fatalistic about media effects--he does, on the other hand, force readers to make a choice--will you allow electronic media to control you like print, or will you be the one to flip it? You can generally critique McLuhan, but your real problem is with scholarship if that's all you got.
Review: Understanding Media: The Extensions of ManUser Review - Philip Sugai - Goodreads
A true classic, and vital reading for anyone interested in understanding the impact and importance of different media channels on human behavior. McLuhan's writing style is brilliant and there are ... Read full review
Introduction to the Second Edition
The Medium Is the Message
Media Hot and Cold
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