Thursday, June 07, 2007

I must have written this entry before...

I am working on my MEmorial project, but I keep thinking about McLuhan for compositionists. I keep asking "why McLuhan?," maybe phrased in Jeff Rice's language, why invest in McLuhan when the field hasn't for the last 40 years? Is the payoff really so great? I'm thinking about the way postmodernism is pursued as a goal--to have a postmodern pedagogy, to be more postmodern--and I think about the ways that McLuhan complicates that goal. He is sometimes labeled a proto-postmodernists, but I think he is best described as an antimodernist. Elizabeth Flynn has used "antimodernism" as foil to "save" postmodernism, to show the ways in which postmodernism is a better critique of modernism than antimodernism, but if the critique is reversed, I think antimodernism can hold up as a viable critique of modernism, which in and of itself ain't all bad. Maybe what McLuhan, in part through his Laws, can really get us is a break from dialectical thinking, from the Hegelian logic of progress, without giving us what is often perceived as postmodern uncertainty and drift. The Laws provide a structure for making sense of competing world-views as technologies, and for recognizing ebbs and flows historically, but also recognizing the human all to human need to recycle.

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