Joined: 09 Jul 2005
|Post subject: Five Schools of Media Ecology
Here's the transcript of what BuzzCoastin used:
[... McLuhan could see that the Big Brother top-down conditioning was happening in media, but it was something that people naturally swam in because you create a new environment, people are going to swim in it, because they're gonna learn from it. So that's why he said Orwell described 1900. At best 1934. So McLuhan said he was going to create a distraciton on the sidelines, to distract the triggermen, that would be the assassins Big Brother guys, and uh, what's the rest of it? Stimulate the somnambulists, to wake up the somnambulists, I think it was. So distract the bureaucrats, and yet the population swimming around in the TV-computer environment, he's going to try to wake them up.
So he had two media he had to work at, that's why Don Theall thinks he was schizophrenic. Don doesn't realize he wasn't schizophrenic, he was just operating with many audiences, he had to put on a different medium, different approach-- that's formal causality, studying the audience, figure out how you want to shape the audience, how do you want to respond to their bias. Formal causality was his principle so he would be different media* in relation to different people*. So when you're writing a book, he knows that books are dead as a medium that's shaping people, but he always said 'the best book was Finnegans Wake, so I'm going to explain Finnegans Wake, and update it.' So, I've written an essay, it's called 'Literary/Aesthetic Cliche-Probes In The American Classroom-Without-Walls'........ McLuhan's favourite word for the TV world was the classroom-without-walls. And it's American because, as I said there, American culture, which contains all the media..... America produces a lot of these media, and culture contents, so they're the content of the global classroom. So how would you write a book? What would book culture produce, after McLuhan??
So, McLuhan dies in 1980. The first person to have the McLuhan awareness, and get his books published, and continue what's called the Toronto school of media ecology was Barrington Nevitt. So he put out some very good books in the early 80s. He was qualified to do it because he understood Finnegans Wake as Marshall did. Not any Joyce scholar understood McLuhan [Joyce?] like Eric, his son, and Barry Nevitt did. So Barry rolled with that, so I say that's the first replay of McLuhan's school of media ecology after he did. It's a holeopathic retrieval: he's a hologram, a real thing, emphasizing the book medium. So the first one is Barry Nevitt, replaying the Toronto school of media ecology. The next one, a couple years later, is the New York school of media ecology, and that's what's called Semiotext(e): a professor at Columbia named Sylvere Lotringer, he started putting out French thinkers like Baudrillard, Deleuze and Guattari, Lyotard, Foucault........ I think there's another one there, I can't remember......
BOB: Virilio, right. Those five. They swamped the Pages bookstore in the early 80s, middle 80s, they became very popular, the hip culture was into them, and eventually they became established as academic people, academic books, they were required curriculum in the universities. But Sylvere took the risk of bringing these people over, and I don't know if Sylvere knew it, I know Sylvere would discuss a little bit of this stuff, but every one of those guys was a student of McLuhan. Virilio had met McLuhan. Foucault was always being urged to meet McLuhan but he refused to. Deleuze and Guattari talk about McLuhan, and Derrida, and Baudrillard admits he was a McLuhanite. Baudrillard's first published work is a review of McLuhan's 'The Medium is the Massage' in 1967. So the point is, you now have another replay of McLuhan, out of New York City. So I call it the New York school of media ecology. The next one--- oh, I should say this. Barrington Nevitt...... this place was called the 'Centre for Culture and Technology', so Barry said 'okay......'
Audience member: Still is.
BOB: Is it still?
Audience member: Yeah.
BOB: Okay. Barry, as an engineer, he'd emphasize cultural products like Finnegans Wake, to satirize technological developments. The New York school did the reverse. Foucault and these guys would emphasize technological developments, and show how cultural products reflected that. So they took the opposite tack. But the third school of media ecology came out of Concordia University in Montreal, the Montreal school of media ecology, around Arthur Kroker. Arthur Kroker satirized the Toronto school of media ecology--- he had met Barry Nevitt, Barry used to speak a lot at Concordia in the early 80s--- and he satirized the New York school of media ecology. He realized, rather than get stuck in the dialectic between culture and technology, that culture and technology had merged, and come alive! That technology had taken on a life of its own.
Now there's a particular quote, from 'War and Peace in the Global Village', that we have up on our website, where McLuhan says: ['people do not realize that our electric environments are organic in the fullest sense'] "The important thing to realize is that electric environments are live environments in the full organic sense." McLuhan said media were alive, if you want to take that dialectic and make an emphasis, that technology under electric conditions had become organic. So Kroker knew that, he being a Canadian was better than a New Yorker, and Barry Nevitt was..... how will I say this? replaying McLuhan literal-- literate-- literace-- literately, replaying the..... literally, and was not aware of the newer media that the younger Generation-X kids were dealing with, and those were Kroker's students. So being a younger professor, he's in touch with the later media, so he had to come up with a newer language, so I would compliment him for getting past Barry, and getting past New York.
Now the fourth school of media ecology I call the diasporic school, and that is people who were students, or........ most of them were students of McLuhan, or very involved with McLuhan, and they scattered around the world. One of them stayed here in Toronto. One of them is Bob Logan, right there, he's a member in my terms of the diasporic school. You have William Irwin Thompson, Bruce Powe, Derrick [de Kerkhove], and Neil Postman, all very involved in McLuhan. But their angle is: they, being essentially POBs, Print-Oriented-Bastards and literate academics, they saw the meaning of McLuhan's warning about literate culture.
These guys were all academics, Bruce Powe is still trying to be an academic, and he does teach but he was an academic when he was first influenced, he tried to become a novelist....... But the point is: these guys love books, and they're worried about book culture, and they know McLuhan's warning, they understand enough about McLuhan that it's a serious warning, and they still want to hoick up the values, the humanist values of individualism, creativity, freedom, what we call artistic thinking and making the public smarter in literate terms....... they walked a nervous line. They would do their books but in the books say, you know, they'd be almost like McLuhan: 'this book is expendable, we're gonna try and warn you, but we could, with the computer, make people more literate and read more'. So the diasporic school, in a way, as Neil Postman is classified, as a neo-conservative media ecology. He's neo-conservative not politically, he's a liberal anarchist, but in media terms, he's for preserving 18th century literate values. So 'diasporic school' is the guys who nervously try to keep book culture going, and try to maybe stop the torrent of images, and celebrate McLuhan's preservation of literate values. They all celebrate McLuhnan as a book man, 'cause there was a bumper sticker that went around in the 60s saying: "MCLUHAN READS BOOKS!", 'cause everybody had thought that McLuhan was putting down books and was watching TV like a couch potato all the time. But, nobody understood Finnegans Wake so what do you expect, right?
Bob Logan: We should point out, though, he only read every other page.
BOB: That's right. He was a double-agent, a triple-agent, all told [?].
Bob Logan: No, he literally read every other page.
BOB: And so do you.
Bob Logan: I don't know if I would........ [laughter muddles a few words] ....... I don't read EVERY page. Just the good ones.
BOB: But he read every other page only in serious academic books, he read every book, every page, every word in pulp fiction, and in non-serious books. He read every word!
Bob Logan: Mysteries, yeah, that was entertainment.
BOB: Because, well he said the serious books tended to be redundant, they always repeated themselves, 'cause they probably had some complex academic concept they had to keep referring to, but that's actually what print is, is a ditto device. He said it repeats itself, so if someone is really into book culture, they'll seriously repeat themselves. But pulp fiction is actually people-- Mickey Splaine [?], they write books just to get money so they can go to movies and TV and they ain't teaching kids literate values, so pulp ficton is guys just faking books, and those were more interesting from McLuhan's point of view, right? And also they don't repeat themselves, because they don't have book sensibility, really. They're writing books so they can be made into movies! So that's the fourth school of media ecology, and so each...... Nevitt had his books out first-- I'm saying these people, these schools because these are people [who were] studying McLuhan, and understood him to a great degree, so they're qualified to be a replay of the school of media ecology. So you had the Toronto school with Barry Nevitt, then you have Semiotext(e) comes out in the early Middle Ages, then Kroker gets his books out in the late 80s, Bob and De Kerkhove get books out in the late 80s....... [to Bob Logan] You just got one out in the 80s, The Alphabet.....................right?
Bob Logan: The Alphabet of Canadian States [?]
BOB: And Powe gets a few books out, and........
Bob Logan: Let's not forget '95.
BOB: No that's later, we're coming up to that. I'm going to talk about before '95......
Bob Logan: Oh, I see. Maybe we'll make it into the fifth school.
BOB: .....and Derrick gets one book out and Thompson gets a couple books out....... there was, just for the record, Conrad Black was lobbying for William Irwin Thompson to take over the centre and oust Eric in the early....... in 83, 84, Derrick told me that. So you were going to say something, Bob?...]