Marshall McLuhan had an up and down career of academic and media celebrity, but it ended on on down note. The cycle has turned once again, however, and 100 years after his birth, McLuhan’s ideas are being feted once again. Ian Austen reports for the New York Times:
By the time Marshall McLuhan died in 1980, the once provocative voice that had propelled him to international stardom rare for an academic had been silenced by a stroke. In his home country, Canada, he had become something of a national embarrassment, often seen as an eccentric at best, a charlatan at worst.
All seems to have been forgiven. Last week events in Europe, Washington and three Canadian cities honored the centennial of the birth of the man who is now widely credited as the world’s first media theorist and who introduced ideas like “the medium is the message” and “the global village” into everyday use. The festivities have helped renew debate over the meaning of his often dense and cryptic, yet challenging, work.
Instead of being viewed as an academic fraud, McLuhan is now widely celebrated as the man who prophesied both the Internet and its impact on society…
The author Douglas Coupland (“Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture”) recently read all of McLuhan’s books after he was commissioned to write a short biography of him. But Mr. Coupland found the material so difficult that every two to three pages, he had to take a break from reading.
He has no regrets, however. The task, he said, “opened me up.” But he did suggest that because McLuhan preferred talking to writing, many people might find online videos a more accessible way to explore his ideas…
[continues in the New York Times.]
For those interested in video of McLuhan, check out the disinformation documentary McLuhan’s Wake.