Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Eric McLuhan, "Concerning Media Ecology."

My new/old issue of Explorations in Media Ecology arrived the other day, and Eric McLuhan's "Concerning Media Ecology" arrived just in time to give me a tetrad on terrorism to work with.

Obsolesces: order, law, planning, security, borders, nations, armies.
Retrieves: chaos, nomadic warrior, guerrilla, vigilante,
Enhances: Dread, paranoia, fear, uncertainty
Flips: War.

He also offers a "effect of terrorism" tetrad:

O: ignorance, insouciance, complacency, confidence
R: vulnerability
E: Fear, caution, vigilance
F: exotic evil, banal indifference

The first tetrad works for me; second one seems like it needs tweaking. Terrorism obsolesced the post-cold war calm, global bridge-building, peace, love and understanding; seems to have retrieved a kind of 19th century xenophobia, othering, distrust. E and F are closer to my perceptions of what's going on.

The article as a whole makes the larger claim that we are living through a renaissance more profound than THE renaissance, and it keeps pushing forward the McLuhan descriptions of our world as being both re-tribalized and re-nomadisized (I'm making the second word up). Erik uses mobile technologies to support the nomadic nature of 21st century life, but I kept wondering about the anchoring habits and technologies of America: home theater systems, second homes, vehicles as homes. People can be nomadic (perhaps are forced to be nomadic) but they want all their stuff with them at all times, don't they?

Other provocative ideas in this essay; good issue of EME.

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