Thursday, August 24, 2006

McLuhan in a different context

I keep writing about McLuhan and Ulmer, but last night, reading From Cliche to Archetype, McLuhan really clarified his difference from Northrop Frye, his nemesis. In defining "symbol," McLuhan quotes Frye's formalist / scientistic definition of symbol as something like (paraphrase here) 'any unit of meaning that can be isolated for examination of significance.' McLuhan's own definition of symbol draws on the etymology of the word, which means "thrown together," and McLuhan sees symbols not as static units to be analyzed, but the process of making symbols, the throwing together of images in order to create new meaning, or in the context of the book the throwing together of cliches (retrieving them) to make them fresh, to establish archetypes (which also happen to be "in play" and not static). In short, McLuhan sets up Frye as the formalist, and presents himself as the rhetorician.

This book also seems to be very much in concert with Derrida's thinking about the role of traces and marks that accumulate and that become part of the instability (or dynamism) of how we communicate. McLuhan even has a paragraph that sounds very much like the deconstruction of metaphysics, the notion that the cliches of the center and transcendence has been / is being replaced, in this era of discontinuity, by humans as, he wonders, "the missing link" or "hairless ape". I didn't understand what he was getting at when I read this passage last night, and why he was offering up the new cliche as a question, but I think I now see that he was documenting the same phenomenon as Derrida--the deconstruction of metaphysics, the replacement of humans as the center of the universe, as connected to or capable of transcendence--but he is questioning (because of his faith, perhaps) the emerging, evolutionary cliches--missing link, hairless ape. He seems to know and understand why those cliches are so prominently in play in the 20th century, but he is not likely excited by or inspired by those cliches.

So, what does it mean to re-read ALL of McLuhan? His texts provide an anti-environment from which to re-read all of the dominant scholarship of the last 50 years. In Cliches to Archetype, he quotes a long passage about the I-Ching being comprehensible in the west since we came to understand the computer. I think we are in a better place to understand McLuhan now (for Bakhtinian reasons, for technological reasons, etc), and when we understand him, we shed new light on more familiar faces.


oakleyses said...

nike free, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet store, tory burch outlet online, coach outlet store online, longchamp handbags, michael kors outlet online sale, polo ralph lauren, michael kors handbags, louis vuitton, prada outlet, ray ban outlet, burberry outlet online, nike air max, coach purses, coach outlet, nike outlet, chanel handbags, true religion outlet, christian louboutin shoes, red bottom shoes, gucci handbags, coach outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, tiffany and co jewelry, michael kors outlet online, oakley vault, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton handbags, nike air max, prada handbags, true religion, louis vuitton outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet, tiffany jewelry, kate spade outlet, burberry outlet online, christian louboutin outlet, jordan shoes, christian louboutin, kate spade outlet online, longchamp outlet online, michael kors outlet

oakleyses said...

air max pas cher, hollister, longchamp pas cher, converse pas cher, ralph lauren, nike air max, air jordan, sac vanessa bruno, abercrombie and fitch, scarpe hogan, sac michael kors, louis vuitton uk, michael kors canada, new balance pas cher, ray ban pas cher, nike roshe, hermes pas cher, true religion outlet, ralph lauren pas cher, tn pas cher, nike free, vans pas cher, north face, nike roshe run, nike air force, nike air max, hollister, sac louis vuitton, burberry pas cher, oakley pas cher, michael kors uk, ray ban uk, mulberry uk, north face pas cher, chaussure louboutin, guess pas cher, louis vuitton, nike blazer pas cher, air max, barbour, lululemon outlet online, lacoste pas cher, timberland, longchamp, louis vuitton pas cher, true religion jeans, nike free pas cher

oakleyses said...

bottega veneta, ugg boots clearance, north face jackets, herve leger, wedding dresses, insanity workout, jimmy choo shoes, soccer jerseys, ugg outlet, mcm handbags, beats headphones, canada goose outlet, chi flat iron, ferragamo shoes, ghd, ugg, canada goose outlet, uggs outlet, asics shoes, giuseppe zanotti, nike trainers, longchamp, soccer shoes, vans outlet, p90x workout, valentino shoes, north face jackets, mac cosmetics, mont blanc pens, nike huarache, babyliss, abercrombie and fitch, replica watches, uggs on sale, celine handbags, new balance outlet, reebok shoes, canada goose outlet, nike roshe, marc jacobs outlet, ugg boots, hollister, ugg outlet, birkin bag, canada goose, lululemon outlet, ugg soldes, instyler ionic styler, nfl jerseys

oakleyses said...

iphone 6 case, timberland shoes, louis vuitton canada, nike air max, moncler outlet, toms outlet, hollister, air max, moncler, canada goose, pandora charms, pandora uk, hollister canada, oakley, louboutin, converse, ralph lauren, wedding dress, ray ban, swarovski jewelry, baseball bats, parajumpers outlet, pandora jewelry, canada goose, gucci, moncler, thomas sabo uk, ugg, montre femme, canada goose pas cher, vans, uggs canada, swarovski uk, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, lancel, converse shoes, hollister clothing, coach outlet, links of london uk, moncler outlet, replica watches, karen millen, moncler, supra shoes, moncler, juicy couture outlet, moncler