Friday, August 18, 2006

McLuhan and Ulmer, again

I just read this in McLuhan's From Cliche to Archetype: "How to elicit creativity from these middenheaps [the rag and bone shop of the heart] has become the problem of modern culture" (184). "Eliciting creativity" is one of the central goals of Ulmer's Internet Invention, although Ulmer foregrounds invention, rather than retrieval, as the primary means of achieving / being creative. That said, Ulmer's popcycle seems to be something very much like a "rag and bone shop of the heart," more personal than cultural, although blurring that line. Ulmer, in fact, is much more concerned about the student and the personal than McLuhan. McLuhan consistently acknowledges students' environments, but he seldom addresses anyone's personal history.

So, in making one more micro comparison of McLuhan and UImer, I also need to figure out where all these comparisons lead. An article for Computers and Composition, in which I compare these two literary scholars and literary pragmatists who haunt Computers and Composition, but were not identified in the "big survey" as among the most influential of the theorists, losing out to the New London Group and Lev Manovich. What do M and U give that the NLG and Manovich don't? Creativity would be a great place to start. A signifcant concern for composing in the general sense, perhaps? I do like this angle--I just need to read more NLG to see if the contrast is significant. Kress certainly makes the right gesture from "analysis to design," but he is making this gesture in the shadow of McLuhan and Ulmer, and "design" isn't quite the same thing as creativity. And of course, creativity is a hot word; companion to affect, perhaps.

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