January 6, 2009

A resonant interval

I thought I knew about Marshall McLuhan well enough, but Andrew recently lent me his copy of The Medium is the Massage and I first mistook it for a meta-meta tribute/parody. Little did I know that it was the real thing, that slider move that knocks meaning out of it's ruts. It was nice to refresh myself on that stuff, to know the contribution of Quenton Fiore.

The title, like Marcel's glass, broke... it was not the intended title but McLuhan went with the break. McLuhan embraced the moment:

McLuhan frequently punned on the word "message" changing it to "mass age", "mess age", and "massage"; a later book, The Medium is the Massage by McLuhan and Quentin Fiore,[6] was originally to be titled The Medium is the Message, but McLuhan preferred the new title which is said to have been a printing error.
What was nice was to see how much "noise" he was accepting into his vision, how he was finding the plot of his sociological subject with a poet's predilection. So I read through what I should have years ago to find several predecessor thoughts that I used to think were mine-all-mine.

Combing through YouTube, I find this little fillip:

Right about five minutes into the video, the second of three parts, he lays his case for belief in the church. (!) It was surprising to me since I have always considered McLuhan as the high priest of the secular left. Here he's clamping together connections between the secular creative community to the Judeo-Christian paradigm. Worth watching in its entirety. In part one, he describes his vision of the information age and he quickly zeros in to what we can call a transcendental state. He called it various names: interface, a space between, creating an interval, resonance. Curiously, this interval was spurred by the pain of change, another shock of the new. Technological extensions of the body into the world render us at once radiant angels and lost, disembodied spirits. A resonant interval, that space between self and things, a possibility of dialogue, that moment when we are decoupled, in free fall, the moment when action becomes manifest...

...he relates this weightless, painful moment to... the rosary, the church, they mystical body. To faith.

About seven minutes in, he challenges us to pray as he did, to verify the truth of Christian faith on its' ground: "I decided to meet that need of prayer, to get down on my knees and ask: show me. Is it true?" It's a must-see. I can imagine whipping this out in an MFA crit: "Let's get on our knees and pray for guidance... no, let's really do it". As McLuhan said in the interview with Father Patrick Peyton: "...you have to knock, but you have to knock pretty hard."

Posted by Dennis at January 6, 2009 4:24 PM

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