"The cover of the June 8 - 14 TV Guide is a Dali masterpiece. It manifests in detail the tactile quality of the TV image. The extension of the central nervous system via electricity is environmentally indicated in the upper right corner by a segment of brain tissue. The two thumbs with the TV images on the nails are carefully separated to indicate the "gap" or interval constituted by touch. The age of tactility via television and radio is one of innumerable interfaces or "gaps" that replace the old connections, legal, literate and visual."
- McLuhan letter to Pierre Trudeau, June 12 1968
My father decided in the sixties that he would try as much as he could to present his ideas in an aphoristic style. Aphorisms, as Francis Bacon said, are incomplete, a bit like cartoons. They are not filled-out essay writing that is highly compressed. The aphorism is a poetic form that calls for a lot of participation on the part of the reader. You have to chew on a aphorism and work with it for a while before understanding it fully. A good aphorism could keep you busy for a week – kicking it around, playing with it, exploring it, taking it apart to see what you can get out of it. And applying it here, and everywhere. My father deliberately chose this form of statement because he wanted to teach, not tell or entertain. He said,
"For instruction, you use incomplete knowledge so people can fill things in – they can round it out and fill it in with their own experience."
If what you want to do is simply to tell people something, then by all means spell it out in the connected essay. But if you want to teach, you don't do that. There's no participation in just telling: that's simply for consumers – they sit there and swallow it, or not. But the aphoristic style gives you the opportunity to get a dialogue going, to engage people in the process of discovery.
– Eric McLuhan, in BENEDETTI, Paul et DEHART, Nancy (1996). Foward Through the Rearview Mirror: reflections on and by Marshall McLuhan, Scarbourough: Prentice Hall Canada Inc., p. 45
my satirical intent altogether."
Ezra Pound: "Nothing short of divine vision or a new cure for the clap can possibly be worth all that circumambient peripherisation."
Would you like to START here >>> MY CANVASSES ARE SURREALIST or someWHERE in the MIDDLE??? In any event, when FINN-ished ! ... We invite you to Go Back to the Beginning and start again ... !? or you can read sdrawkcab or maybe skipping around randomly is the best path ? ... NEW JUXTAPOSITIONS are possible BECAUSE we are always adding new 'percepts' and 'remixing' these 222 probes ... yes! IT'S ALIVE !
the global village is populated with 'discarnate' human beings who no longer exist
as physical presences; instead the electronic or discarnate person is simply an image
or an information pattern, nothing more ...
- Marshall McLuhan
"... in experimental art, men are given the exact specifications of coming violence to their own psyches from their own counter- irritants or technology. For those parts of our selves that we thrust out in the form of new invention are attempts to counter or neutralize collective pressures and irritations. But the counter- irritant usually proves a greater plague than the initial irritant, like a drug habit. And it is here that the artist can show us how to "ride with the punch," instead of "taking it on the chin." It can only be repeated that human history is a record of "taking it on the chin."
SSSStarting off behind with an end in view
prairie wet nursus came quick with a message in their mouths.
triangular Racketeers unfurl threelegged garbagecans
sworming with pomefructs ... They tally plausible whatsthats.
Somedivide dittoh pricker Paddy squattor
sumthelot bottlogger anntisquattor
Somedivide prittoh dicker squaddy Pattor
sumthelot anntilogger bottsquattor
oh what a meanderthalltale unleavenweight !
"What may emerge as the most important insight of the twenty-first century is that man was not designed to live at the speed of light. Without the countervailing balance of natural and physical laws, the new video-related media will make man implode upon himself. As he sits in the informational control room, whether at home or at work, receiving data at enormous speeds — imagistic, sound, or tactile — from all areas of the world, the results could be dangerously inflating and schizophrenic. His body will remain in one place but his mind will float out into the electronic void, being everywhere at once in the data bank. Discarnate man is as weightless as an astronaut but can move much faster. He loses his sense of private identity because electronic perceptions are not related to place. Caught up in the hybrid energy released by video technologies, he will be presented with a chimerical “reality” that involves all his senses at a distended pitch, a condition as addictive as any known drug. The mind, as figure, sinks back into ground and drifts somewhere between dream and fantasy. Dreams have some connection to the real world because they have a frame of actual time and place (usually in real time); fantasy has no such commitment."
-MM : The Global Village, page 97
The following is a sample of the many "sheets" McLuhan 'mimeographed' and sent periodically to a small mailing-list of people who shared his interests. He often personalized these sheets with hand writtten comments at the end.
The Winnipeg School of Media Ecology emphasizes:
- McLuhan's notion of Prairie Sky/Prairie Horizon/Prairie Space ...
- McLuhan's 'Boondocks/Outsider/Pariah/Winnipigeon' perspective ...
- the established themes and issues of the 'Prairie Post Modernism' of John Paizs/Guy Madden/The Winnipeg Film Group
- a blinding enthusiasm for Burroughsian/Gysonian CutUps, Culture Jamming, Glitch Abuse, Speed Running, Plunderphonics/Dub/The Remix/MashUps/Turntablism/FLARF and Conceptual Poetry, Richard Meltzer's Aesthetics of Rock, Fluxus, Intermedia and Sun Ra
- Menippean Satire, 'Corporate Psychaitry', Synchronistic Linguistics, Retrocausality, 'effects preceding causes', 'figures deprived of ground', Surrealism, Groucho Marxism, Pataphysics
- Richard Cavell's McLuhan in Space which reinvigorates McLuhan as a 'Space Theorist'...
- " 'the put on' is a situation we study a great deal"
- Arthur Kroker's Digital Humanism : The Processed World of Marshall McLuhan
- Don Theall's The Medium is the Rearview Mirror & The Virtual Marshall McLuhan
- the critical importance of The Letters Of Marshall McLuhan [currently OOP]
- McLuhan's ESSENTIAL review "Notes On Burroughs" Nation Magazine 1964
- Andrew Chrystall's brilliant The New American Vortex : Explorations of McLuhan 
- Bob's Tiny Note Chart
- Eric McLuhan's The Role of Thunder in Finnegans Wake
- double emphasis on McLuhan's 'eccentric' notion of 'TACTILITY'
- "my canvasses are surrealist ... "
- " We live science fiction !"
- "We prefer to study the pattern rather than the theory"
- We prefer the term " Para-Modern" rather than Post-Modern
note to dear reader : HERE ENDETH THE PREFACE
As has been shown in Part One, descriptive or abstract approaches fail to come to grips with Menippean satire for the reason that it is inseparable from its effect on its audience. All of the features hitherto used to describe the form, or any example of it, may be regarded as tactics chosen by a Menippist to engage and retune the sensibilities of a reader by deliberately violating his sense of decorum in one or another way. If the catalog of features appears to grow with each period of Menippism, then, it does so because the Menippist has a new, or at least a different, audience sensibility to contend with. For each change of sensibility implies both an intensifying of awareness in some areas of experience and a blunting of awareness in others. Furthermore, the catalog may be enlarged for the Menippist by the development, either through his own work or others', of new literary patterns and techniques. This may in some measure account for the paradoxical fact that Menippean satire is at once highly experimental and highly conservative of tradition (it is mimetic).
The following list of Menippean topics does not attempt to be exhaustive: it includes little more than the commonplace features - e.g., those discussed by Frye, Williams, Bakhtin and Korkowski. While its size may demonstrate the futility of a merely descriptive approach, the list may serve another purpose. A structural study of these and other Menippean topics may eventually yield basic patterns of Menippean decorum which will in turn provide greater knowledge of how human perception is altered and managed.
Almanackers. They were often used as the butts of the satires, as street-level philosophi gloriosi. Cf. The Owle's Almanacke by L.L. (Laurence Lyly). Astrologers have been attacked regularly by Menippists since Lucian's Astrologia. Cf. Nashe ("Adam Fouleweather"), Rabelais, Dekker.
Anonymous Author. The author's anonymity is apologised for in a fake introduction, for example, one written by the printer or bookseller who might plead any of several reasons. A common reason is that the author, a man of quality, does not wish to reveal himself as a writer of this sort of production. E.g.: Donne's Ignatius, His Conclave, Swift's Tale. In a variant, Joyce would often aver that his interlocutors in conversation, or passersby in the street, were composing and writing Finnegans Wake, not he.
Apologiae for the Work. One or more apologies are often used to establish relations to other Menippists, by citation, by reference, or by plagiarism. They can be used to establish tone, to banter with the reader, or to lay trails of red herrings. They may appear at the beginning of the work (as in Donne's Ignatius or in French editions of La Satyre Menippée) or anywhere inside as a digression (as in Harington's Ajax and Sterne's Tristram Shandy).
Autonomous Author. The author exults in a freedom to do whatever occurs to him. This topic is frequent. Examples include Lucian, Seneca, Fronto, Synesius, Erasmus (Folly), the Obscure Epistolers, Agrippa, Despérieres' dogs, Rabelais, Swift, Sterne, Byron. Sterne: "I have a strong propensity in me to begin this chapter very nonsensically, and I will not balk my fancy. - Accordingly I set off thus." (Tristram, p.74).
Autonomous Pen. The pen, or the act of writing, is remarked to take control of the author or narrative and to pursue its own course, observed and commented upon by the author who feigns powerlessness to control it. Ancient mock-eulogists had similarly feigned powerlessness to control their rambling oratory. E.g.: Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum (1516); Swift, Tale of a Tub; Sterne, Tristram; Nashe, Lenten Stuffe. Sterne has: "In a word, my pen takes its course... I write a careless kind of civil, nonsensical, good humoured Shandean book, which will do all your hearts good...." And: "But this is neither here nor there - why do I mention it? - ask my pen - it governs me – I govern not it." Tristram Shandy, ed., Work, pp.436, 416)Banquet. A favored Menippean device for displaying gluttony and other excesses, this topic also serves as both a strategy and a symbol of Menippean encyclopedism. The range of users is from Petronius (Trimalchio) through Rabelais to Finnegans Wake. (In the ballad, the party at the Wake becomes so rowdy that the corpse rises and joins in the fun.) The Wake is a banquet in many senses: of history, of learning, of languages, of personae, of words and puns, etc. Other examples may be found in Lucian, Convivium, the symposia of Varro, Athenaeus' Deipno-sophists, Macrobius, Beroalde's (Francois Beroalde de Verville's) Moyen de Parvenir (a philosophic banquet of the dead), La Satyre Menippée and Bouchet's Les Serées (1583-4). In the sixteenth century, the French seem to have enjoyed Menippean banquets particularly. Perhaps this topic is a direct link to the derivation of "satire" from satura lanx. See also Michael Coffey's article in the Oxford Classical Dictionary for a brief conspectus of ancient symposium literature.Blustering Narrator. The author asserts his authority (extreme), an assertion often couched in Herculean terms. This is often accompanied by a teasing of the reader and chitchat or feigned worry about the book's organization. Swift's is perhaps the most complete example. The hack, in Tale of a Tub, claims "Absolute Authority in Right, as the freshest Modern, which gives me a Despotic Power over all Authors before me..." and so on. This remark is contained in a "Panegyrical Preface," which is put in Section V of the Tale. The long line of Menippean precedents includes Lucian's Alexander the False Prophet, Cornelius Agrippa's De Incertitudine, Nashe's Lenten Stuffe, Burton's Anatomy (e.g., II.4.2.1, III.2.3, and I.2.4.7), and John Taylor. In A Voyage Round the World, Dunton demands, as he opens a new chapter, "Room for a Rambler - (or else I'll run over ye)."
Bookseller. The bookseller is used as an alternative persona by the (sometimes anonymous) author. In this guise, remarks can be made that bridge lacunas (q.v.) in the text, to provide prefaces or editorial marginalia or footnotes, or all of these. Swift's Tale is a representative example; others include John Taylor and Dunton ("Nimshag's" treatise on gingerbread). The anonymously-provided Catalog appended to C.G. Finney's The Circus of Dr. Lao is a more recent example.
Catalogs and Inventories. This digressive device shatters narrative and disrupts any attempt to establish single point of view or logical sequence. The arch-practitioners are Rabelais and Joyce. In the more learned writers, it is used as a device for moving the basis of the discussion from efficient to formal cause of an event or situation. It can also become a linguistic activity of the text itself, as with Joyce's thunders. Korkowski (p.242) cites Rabelais as the inventor of this topic and attributes its invention to the "new directions" in reading made possible by printing. This topic would seem to be another descendant of satura lanx, and to be writ large in other topics such as the banquet and encyclopedism. In its relation to the latter, it is often used to lampoon the cullings, anthologies and sham learning (reduced and systematized for efficiency) promoted by the gloriosi. The catalog technique is essentially grammatical. Catalogs can (and do) include anything - the contents of pockets, grocery lists, pawnshop receipts, ships' names, book titles (real or fake or both).
Descent into the Underworld or Afterlife. This topic is related to those of the tour through hell (or heaven), the fantastic journey, travel to the moon, Dialogs of the Dead and imaginary conversations (Cf. Landor). A fundamental Menippean strategy directly related to Cynicism, the descent is useful for exposing folly and pretension in this life by way of the "democratic" levelling and occasional comeuppances of the next. Swift's tour of the madhouse is a variety of the tour through hell: several of his "madmen" are doing, by their own inclination, exactly what the damned in other Menippean satires - particularly Dunton's Second Part of the New Quevedo - were doing as a punishment in the next world. This topic is especially used against the philosophi gloriosi, intellectual and social cranks, and snobs of all kinds. Menippus probably wrote one: certainly his two greatest ancient imitators did so - Varro and Lucian. Seneca's Claudius is of this type.
Diagrams and Drawings. The author reproduces in the text engineering plans for assembly of real or imagined machines, that may or may not be referred to in the text of the satire, and that may or may not work when assembled according to instructions (which may or may not be provided). This topic is often used to lampoon physicists, engineers and other "projectors" and schemers. In Harington's Ajax, to cite one example, none of the parts in the "disassembled" drawing can be found in the "assembled" drawing.
Dialogs of the Dead. A variant of the topics of Banquet and Descent into the Underworld, this device allows a cast of characters widely separated in time to be brought together. Their conversation, sometimes with the narrator, may run to matters concerning the audience for the satire, or each other, or trifles, or all of these.
Digressiveness. This has been called the heart and soul of Menippean satire. It is achieved in many ways. Nearly every Menippean topic is a form of digression from the normal or expected, ranging from violations of stylistic decorum to violations of narrative sequence, of time (Dialogs of the Dead), of probability (the author writes before birth or after death), of physical size or capacity (Rabelais), and so on. This can also take the form of repeatedly promising to come to the point, and never doing it, as in Harington, Dunton, Swift and Sterne, for example. The point of a passage in Finnegans Wake is seldom found except after extreme labors with the text, and then it may be an irrelevancy. For the Menippist, the labors are the point. In a variant, John Fowles provided several alternative endings to The French Lieutenant's Woman. Inherent in the structure of the frame tale (Milesian tale) and the double-plot epyllion, digressiveness is a strategy for attacking and adjusting the reader's sensibilities. It is a form of structural ambiguity.
Diogenes. He and other Cynic philosophers may be used in a satire as key characters, or may just be referred to now and then, or they can be used to provide running commentary from the sidelines on a satire. Rabelais gives his reader "licence" concerning his "pantagrueline Sentences" (a satire on Peter Lombard et al.) "to call them Diogenical." He parodies and greatly expands the account in Lucian's How to Write History of Diogenes' tub (Prologue to the Tiers Livre). The Tub, far more to Menippists than just clothing, reappears in Swift's Tale. A "tale of a tub" was, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, an epithet for a kind of writing "suited to flimflam, idle discourse and a tale (sic) of a roasted horse" (A.C. Guthkelch and D.N. Smith, eds. of A Tale of a Tub). Equally, doggishness is invoked, as by Dunton:
"There stood Diogenes the Cynic, snarling at two Devils, that were going to Muzzle him, for he was so abominable Currish, he bit the Devils that came near him, His chief Clamour was... the Devils to quiet him, had promis'd to release him in Fifty years." (Second Part of the New Quevedo, p.78).Menippus also appears frequently in Menippean literature, e.g., in Lucian, or in Butler's "Hudibras in Prose," Mercuriis Menippeus. Burton's use of Democritus is proverbial. This topic is related to the establishment of the pedigree of a satire, as to Dialogs of the Dead and Digressiveness of time. It allows the Cynic spirit to be injected directly into the work.
Do it Yourself. The reader is told to add to, subtract from or rearrange the materials of the text to suit himself. In a muted form, the reader is advised to skip certain chapters or sections of the work as worthless or as potentially offensive (as Sterne, to his sensitive female reader). In another variation, the reader is told to refer immediately to other places in the text, which may be real or imaginary, apposite or not. An aspect of digressiveness, this device breaks narrative and continuity and helps to attract attention to the act of reading and to the text as an artefact. Thus it is related to the topics, lacuna-making and lacuna-pretending. Swift: "The necessity of the Digression will easily excuse the length; and I have chosen for it as proper a Place as I could readily find. If the judicious Reader can assign a fitter, I do here empower him to remove it into any other Corner he pleases. And I so return with great Alacrity to pursue a more important Concern." Sterne opens Vol. V, Chapter X by inviting the reader to fill in his own reasons for the pause in Trim's oration.
Doggishness. This topic includes dog-conversation, dog-philosophy, and other references to dogs. Directly related to the Greek pun on dog and Cynic, this topic serves to establish Menippean pedigree and to introduce the Cynic attitude and tone into a satire. Cf., Lucian, Rabelais, Byron, and others. "The fourth dialogue in the Cymbalum Mundi of Despérieres is a conversation between two dogs, Hylactor, or 'Barker,' and Pamphagus, or 'Devour-all,' who are well-versed in the anti-conventional sentiments of early Greek Cynicism; they look upon the human race with snarling disdain." (Korkowski, p.231)
Euphuism. Though not necessarily a Menippean topic, Euphuism yet has the potential to be one and exhibits a number of Menippean features including the display of learning, the use of incidental verses, and (sometimes) the dialog form. Euphuism was practised chiefly by John Lyly, William Painter, Thomas Lodge, Robert Greene and Nicholas Breton. Greene moved on to Menippism, with his Planetomachia and a series of "deathbed" productions. Whereas Menippean epistolary writings tend to come from the next world, Euphuistic "letters" are exchanged between romantic heroes and heroines, their friends, rivals, parents, and enemies. There is little mock or ridicule of learning in Euphuism.
Excess Baggage. Under this topic may be grouped all manner of illusions, pretensions, false learning or assumptions, etc., that are to be shed. This topic is a typically Cynic aspect of Menippism. Antisthenes, a student of Socrates and the man generally regarded as the first Cynic (in belief if not in outlandish behavior) replied, on being asked what learning was most necessary, "how to get rid of having anything to unlearn." Lucian's Charon observes, "... Hermes, you see what they [normal people] do and how ambitious they are, vying with each other for offices, honours, and possessions, all of which they must leave behind them and come down to us with but a single obol... Nothing that is in honour here is eternal, nor can a man take anything with him when he dies; nay, it is inevitable that he depart naked..." (Lucian, Vol. II, p.437)
Fake books. In some Menippean satires, these are promised to the reader (and never delivered). In variations, they are alluded to or cited as authorities, or whole libraries are invented (as Rabelais' Thélème). Mock erudition is one of the devices for satirizing academic or learned pretentiousness. Examples of this topic include: Harington's "tenth decad" of "the reverent Rabbles;" A Catalogue of Books of the Newest Fashion, "to be sold by Auction, at the Whigs Coffee-House, at the Sign of the Jackanapes, in Prating Alley" (included in The Harleian Miscellany, V.6); Thomas D'Urfey's An Essay Towards the Theory of the Intelligible World... (etc.); Burnet and Duckett's A Second Tale of a Tub: or, the History of Robert Powel the Puppet-Show-Man (they "refer the Dispute" - over whether the dead have sensation - "to my Eighteen Volumes in Folio coming out as a Comment upon Duns Scotus"); Johann Fischart's Catalogue Catalogorum perpetuo durabilis. Das ist: Ein Ewigwerende, Giordianischer, Pergamischer und Tirraninoschar Bibliotecken gleichwichtige und richtige Verzeichnuss und Registratur (1590), and countless others including the Obscure Epistolers, Erasmus, Swift, Sterne, Carlyle's Sartor Resartus and Finnegans Wake. Swift opens the Tale with a list of fake treatises, "which will be speedily published."
Fake Preface. Let this topic include all manner of fake prefatory and introductory material. The locus classicus for this topic is Swift's Tale: it presents the reader with a (digressive) dedicatory note "to the right Honourable John Lord Sommers" (by "the Bookseller," as the Tale was anonymous); a note from "the Bookseller to the Reader," citing Menippean relatives; "the Epistle Dedicatory, to His Royal Highness Prince Posterity" using the Senecan/Lucianic claim of truth; "the Preface," lengthy and digressive; and "Sect. 1 - the Introduction," lengthy, digressive, and replete with (fake) lacunae, citations and descriptions of fake texts. Sterne places a (digressive) dedication at the end of Vol. I, ch. VIII, and uses the next chapter to comment upon and slightly emend it: "... the rest I dedicate to the MOON, who... has most power to set my book a-going, and make the world run mad after it..." His "the Author's Preface" appears in Vol. III, ch. XX. See also D'Urfey's Essay: the section "Of Prefaces" is not a preface; near the end of the book a pointing hand indicates the centred message, "HERE ENDETH THE PREFACE."
Fake Table of Contents. This topic is of a piece with the preceding one and includes misplaced Tables of Contents (as in Du Cliche´ á l'Archetype: la Foire du Sens, where the chapters are in alphabetic order, and the Table under T). Principally, however, this topic refers to a Table of Contents that lies, that promises matter and chapters not in the book. D'Urfey sets out a prefatory table of contents for his Essay, announcing "sections" never to be found, or given in vastly different form.
Forcing the Reader to Think. This is basic to all Menippean strategy and derives from the Cynic demand to "wake up!" A sure means of accomplishing this is by challenging the reader's assumptions and by violating his expectations about narrative continuity, truthfulness, decorum of style, and literary conventions (e.g., that diagrams refer to textual matter, or that promises will be fulfilled). One means is Joco-Seriousness (q.v.), the expenditure of lavish erudition on trifles and vice-versa. Another means is using paradox (including paradoxical encomia) to involve and intrigue the reader, for intellectual detachment and reflection.
Gibberish. Properly one of the language topics, this includes nonsense words, phrases, sentences or paragraphs. The result can be hilarious. E.g., the scholarly labor thus far expended in attempts to decipher the "languages" in Gulliver's Travels are a Menippean "side effect" of that satire whereby the scholars' efforts and reports become an additional "chapter," in which they satirize themselves unwittingly and unmercifully (because they're not playing). Users range from Rabelais' "Corrective conundrums" (Gargantua, 2: gibberish punctuated by gaps), to Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, to Finnegans Wake, which some critics argue is entirely gibberish, "a monstrous joke."
Glosses. This topic embraces fake glosses, false erudition, irrelevant glosses, and includes similar play with footnotes and other marginalia and "editorial" digression from the text. Examples: Lyly, The Owle's Almanacke (mock-serious marginalia), Swift, Dunton. Sterne used a variation by putting his characters into tableaux (his "Shandean way of writing") for sentences, paragraphs or even chapters at a time, so he could mount digressive hobby-horses. Joyce used it all in the "Triv and Quad" chapter of the Wake. Often fake and real are interspersed, leaving matters to the reader to sort out. Swift glossed the Tale with one of the Tale's critics' remarks. This topic is clearly related to Digressiveness.
Groping. There are several forms: one is for the "mot juste." Alternatively, the author either pretends to have lost his way, perhaps due to digressions, and to be unable to find it again (often in Sterne); or he pretends to reach for the ineffable and to lose it, while remarking to the reader that in any case no direct understanding is possible. Korkowski points out (p.281) that Beroalde goes a stage further in noting that his own work, which admits only of being a "moyen de parvenir" and not an actual arrival, "is more honest than other books which offer definitive statement but no comment on the lack of ontological certainty in reading and language":
"Sur quoy je vous diraiy un grand secret, et puis l'autre; c'est que vous ne trouverez point en cecy du truandage de pedantisme, comme des autres, pleins du ravaudage de folle doctrine qui n'aporte pointe á disner. Et davantage, je vous diray le secret des secrets; mais je vous prie, afin qu'il soit secret, de vous embeguiner Ie museau du cadenac de taciturnité, et ecoutez: CE LIVRE EST LE CENTRE DE TOUS LES LIVRES. (Le Moyen de Parvenir, p.32)
Honesty. "I promise you purest truth," followed by whopping lies. A basic and frequent topic, this includes all the varieties of misrepresentation, misleading and fakery. Lucian's True Story is the touchstone.
How to Read the Book. The reader is given clues or instructions by the author. A feature of most Menippean satires. E.g., Sterne Vol. I, ch 13 (instructions promised), Rabelais, Byron, Joyce.
Inability to Edit Anything Out (feigned, of course). This is related to such other topics as Catalogs and Encyclopedism. Examples: Harington, Sterne, Nashe, Swift.
Kidding or Teasing of a Female Reader. Digressive chitchat with female readers (of delicate sensibilities), which may include lines that the writer supposes will come from the reader. This topic is best exemplified in Beroalde and Sterne. Cf. Tristram Shandy I.vi; I.xviii, and passim, to "Sir," "your Lordships," "Madam," or "Dear Jenny." Cf. especially the thinly-veiled hints of sexual horseplay he gives her, at p.226, facing the Marbled page (Word, ed.). Beroalde litters the Moyen with such asides, as does Bouchet. Dunton does the same.
Lacunae. Cf. Digression. The fake lacuna, a form of caprice with narrative continuity and order, is used commonly by Menippeans to tease the reader (Cf. Beroalde, Swift, Sterne). Sterne is the handiest English paradigm. He used blank pages, black pages, marbled pages ("motley emblem of my work," III.xxxvi), and omitted chapters.
Carlyle used a new variation: he told the reader that the materials for the 'Autobiography with "fullest insight"' of Teufelsdrókh arrived in the editor's hands in six "considerable PAPER-BAGS, carefully sealed, and marked... with the symbols of the Six southern Zodiacal signs." These contained a hopeless jumble of assorted Sheets, Shreds and Snips on every imaginable trivial and inconsequential subject. (Sartor Resartus, ch.XI) D'Urfey is replete with chasms, even to a section titled "the Method of Making a Chasm or Hiatus, judiciously; the great Reach of thought requir'd for the Contrivance thereof, together with the Difference between the French Academies and the English."
Language. A variety of topics appear under this heading, which designates matters pertaining to the language found in Menippean satires.
Bad Language. Mis-users of language are often a target of Menippean satires: this is an aspect of the Menippists' relation to grammar and its concerns. Korkowski: "One particular fraternity pretending to learning that has incurred Menippean censure, regardless of periods, is the mis-users of language: the rigid grammarian, the sophist who deals in glittering speech, the hack poet, the fanciful etymologist, the word-torturer, and the 'systematizer' of language are the genuine bétes-noires of the Menippist... on the theme of correct language and in degree of linguistic brilliance, Menippism as a species of controversy has no equal in quality. Bonaventure Despérieres' Cymbalum Mundi, Beroalde de Verville's Moyen de Parvenir and Swift's Tale of a Tub are to the problems of words what the very greatest thinkers' works have been to problems of philosophy." (pp.61-62) Cf. Pope's Peri Bathous (part of the "Martinus Scriblerus" project that produced other, independent Menippean productions, e.g., Gulliver's Travels). Finnegans Wake uses every rhetorical and grammatical device known, and every resource of the language-as-storehouse-of-experience. Joyce noted that he had to "put the language to sleep" to obtain the necessary freedom. The linguistic hi-jinx of the Wake are not without precedent, however. Rabelais used the Menippean form of language-tinkering. Apuleius, Martianus Capella and Alan of Lille wrote the most playful (to a Menippean; "tortured" to the sober critic) Latin extant. Following Rabelais, Etienne Taburot published his Les Bigarrures, a playful and exhaustive tampering with the humorous possibilities of disrupting the ordinary conventions of logical structure, sentence structure, word ordering and even letter orders; puns, obscenities, parodies of printed symbols, and relentless para-logical hoppings from one word to some strange equivalent or associated term, occur. His displays, however, tend to be little more than catalogs, set out one after the other, of ingenious lingual transpositions. (Korkowski, p.267)
Deluding Word. Words' numinosity is related to the topic of their correct usage and is persistent in Menippean satire. (All of the language topics - chief Menippean concerns - show the direct relation of these satirists to grammar.) Cf. the Obscure Epistolers, Martianus Capella (the aptness of the marriage of Mercury and Philology - rhetoric and grammar), Alan of Lille's De Planctu.
Fake Etymologies. This kind of grammatical horseplay by Menippists satirizes the sober ineptitude, clumsiness or superficial learning of the dialectician who tries to take over grammar with logic and philosophy. Equally, it is used to lampoon the inept or unlearned grammarian. Mostly in use since the nominalist/realist debate, it is related to the definition or the absolute meaning, or the absolute nature of things. Cf., Beroalde, Despérieres, Rabelais, Sanford's Mirror of Madness, Swift (e.g., "Antiquity of the English Tongue"). Its use is frequently accompanied by a display of erudition (real or fake, or both) of authorities in support of or contending about the etymologies. "The abnihilization of the etym" (FW 353.22). Related to Nothing.
Gibberish as language (see above).
Letters of the alphabet, as things, as praised, blamed, at peace or at war with each other, etc. This topic occurs often, from Lucian (The Consonants at Law) to Joyce (FW 119-123). Punctuation is also a topic, similarly handled (FW 124, for example), as are parts of speech. Cf. Guarnas' Bellum Grammaticale, Sterne on verbs (copular; copulation) and "auxiliaries," Alan of Lille.
Mixed Languages. This topic refers to the use of more than one language in a text, perhaps without adequate (or any) justification. A form of digressiveness, it can be related to tactics of violating decorum, as each language embodies the perceptions and experiences of the user culture, and it can include fake language (as in Gulliver's Travels). Among others, Varro and Burton display polyglottism. Sterne provides Slawkenbergii Fabella at the outset of Vol. IV (Tristram Shandy), accompanied by a simultaneous translation on the facing pages that is six times as long as the Latin. Joyce inserted sections in Latin and in French into Finnegans Wake, in "Finneganese," and his puns and thunders use fifty or more languages.
Prose-Verse Mixture was used in antiquity as the hallmark of Menippean satire and is still adhered to as a sine qua non by many classicists and critics. A digressive technique related structurally to both etymologies of satire, the mixing of verse with prose constituted a violation of decorum calculated to shock the sensibilities of the percipient reader or hearer into alertness. It is often combined with Joco-Seriousness (and related topics) as high style is employed on base matters, and vice-versa. A variation was the sprinkling, through a prose text or dialog, of lines and verses misappropriated (and misapplied, used on quite different subjects) from ancient or epic poets. Cf. Lucian's Charon.
Words as Gestures, and vice-versa. Words and language are used on a supra-semantic level where they shed their "contents" of usual meanings and function as eloquent acts. This topic is an aspect of all Menippean language-tinkering: the prime example is Joyce's thunders. For the reverse, gestures as words, see Rabelais, Gargantua 2; Pantagrual 19. In either variation it is a form of digression from normal accidence and syntax.
Words as Things, and vice-versa. The preceding topic draws attention to eloquence inherent in the formal character of utterance: this topic deals with the relation between language and artefacts. Both topics are grammatical and formal; though serious, this device is most often used ludicrously. Cf. Swift, Gulliver's Travels, Tale of a Tub. Things-as-words (or events) stand in direct relation to the Medieval grammarian's techniques of exegesis of the Liber Natura, a parallel text to the Liber Scriptura, echoes of which survive and persist in the poets. Cf. Don Juan, III.88 (note the Menippean-Cynic tone):
"But words are things, and a small drop of ink, Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think; T'is strange, the shortest letter which man uses Instead of speech, may form a lasting link Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces Frail men, when paper - even a rag like this, Survives himself, his tomb, and all that's his."The written or printed word is a thing, inarticulate in itself.
Laughter. Laughter may be Democritean (e.g., Lucian and Burton), Diogenical (e.g., Rabelais), Wakean ("Lots of fun at Finnegans Wake") or routinely Cynic-Menippean. Both a topic and a tactic, laughter is indispensable to Cynic joco-seriousness, to retuning the reader's sensibilities by means of an engendered playfulness, and to curing him of undue or misplaced sobriety. In this regard it is related to topics of Digressiveness and of violations of decorum. Bakhtin has this as the quintessence of carnivalism, which he identifies with Menippism. Burton resounds with Democritus' laughter. Cynic laughter and wit runs through Beroalde, who notes in his first chapter that he directs laughter at the philosophers "because mirth must be restored." There's "lots of fun at Finnegans wake."
Learning. Cf. Encyclopedism, Fake Books. Respect for maintenance of the traditions (grammatical) of genuine learning and encyclopedic wisdom is concealed under attacks on all forms of easy, simplified or systematized "learnedness," pseudo-intellectual and philosophical extremism and universalising. Examples: Menippus, Varro, Petronius, Seneca, Lucian, Erasmus, Rabelais, Swift, Flaubert, Joyce. The Scriblerians (Pope, Arbuthnot, Swift, Gay) aimed to produce periodically a Works of the Unlearned: Flaubert got somewhat farther with the project with Bouvard. Cf. Sterne on noses (gnosis).
Medicinal. This topic is related both to the sanative powers of satire in general, and to those of Menippean satire in particular. Menippean authors frequently refer to their satires as having curative properties. This can range from generalities, such as "Written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind" (Swift, title page of the Tale, spoofing the gloriosi), to more pointed claims that the work is a "medicine," as in Rabelais, or in Burton, or Dekker:
"… more potent, and more precious, than was ever that mingle-mangle of drugs which Mithridates boyld together. Feare not to tast it... the Receipt hath beene subscribed unto, by all those that have to do with Simples, with this moth-eaten motto: Probatum est: your Diacatholicon aureum... pledge me, spare not... take a deep draught of our homely counsel." - Dekker, The Guls Horne-Booke (Non-Dramatic Works, Vol. II, pp.213-214)Memory of Time before Birth. The author discusses (as a spectator) events that occurred before his birth. Sterne (Tristram Shandy is not born until well into the third book) presents a mass of irrelevant detail on the events that preceded and surrounded both his narrator's conception and his birth. Dunton rambles through memoirs of his earliest years, including the years before he was born: chapter one of Vol. I treats "Of my Rambles before I came into my Mother's Belly, and while I was there." His rambling narrator, Kainophilus, adds a twist to the theme, complaining that he made no notes on the moment of his birth (though he made, somehow, plenty of notes in utero) as he was born without anything to write with - in fact, "Because I was dead born, I can't remember anything on it to save my life."
Method. Dialectical systematizing and universalizing is a common butt of Menippists, and as such continues the grammarians' attacks in the battle of Ancient vs. Modern. Cf. the Cynic disdain for all forms of easy or systematic (abstract) answers to any of life's problems, which result in the individual not thinking for himself. E.g., Swift spoofs the gloriosus lightly in presenting the Tale "for the Universal Improvement of Mankind," and savagely in the stupidity of his hack. Sterne lightly but thoroughly dissects Locke, Carlyle the German gloriosi. The structure of Burton's Anatomy parodies post-Ramist branched-logic systems. Cf. Moderns.
Mock Eulogy. Taken directly from epideictic rhetoric and the topics of laus et vituperatio, the paradoxical encomium goes back at least as far as Gorgias' Praise of Helen. Just at what point this enters Menippean lists is hard to say. One of Varro's Menippean satires has the title, "Two asses will praise each other" - Mutuum muli scabunt. Lucian wrote many mock-eulogies, e.g., Phalaris I and II, Peregrinus, Alexander, Saltatio and Muscae Laudatio. Cf. also Erasmus' Praise of Folly, Panurge's "Praise of Debtors" (in Le Tiers Livre, ch. 22), the "harangues" of La Satyre Menippée (1594), Burton's Anatomy (III.2.l.l), Swift's praise of Madness in the Tale, Nashe's praise of the red herring in Lenten Stuffe. Further examples in Rabelais and others are discussed in Colie, Paradoxia Epidemica. Sterne is careful always to praise Locke while he demolishes his theories. Korkowski notes that "after Lucian (and even before him) the satirical eulogy is identified with this Menippean tradition by knowledgeable authors. To men of the Renaissance, for example, Lucian's mock-praises appeared germane to snarling Cynicism; almost anything by Lucian, for that matter, was regarded as proceeding from a common Menippus-Lucian temperament... That the mock-encomium and 'other' Menippean forms were perceived as identities can be gathered from Erasmus' epistle to Thomas More, introducing the Praise of Folly..." (p.98)
Moderns. The "moderns," or dialecticians (gloriosi) in all ages, are a target of Menippists. The line of attack runs through Menippus, Varro, Petronius, Lucian (e.g., The Sale of Philosophers), Erasmus, Cervantes, Rabelais, Voltaire, Butler, Dekker, Nashe, Swift, Sterne, Carlyle, Flaubert and Joyce. Cf. Method.
Musical Notation. The verses interspersed with the prose frequently have the potential of being used independently as songs. However, this topic refers particularly to an interruption of the running text by offering the reader the notes and musical notation of songs, with or without the verses, and which may or may not be musical or euphonious. Examples include Bishop Francis Godwin's (1638) The Man in the Moon (the moon-giants discourse in a wordless language of music made up of standardized tunes, several pages of which are presented to the reader as a message of moment to Englanders) and Cyrano de Bergerac's Histoire Comique des Etats et Empires de la Lune et du Soleil (his moon-people are like Godwin's: they speak a language of tunes that appears in the text as musical notation). Korkowski notes (p.330), "this was not new in Menippean satire" and refers the reader to the Sermo Quodlibeticus de Podagrae Laudibus in Dornavius, and Taburot's Bigarrures for precedents. Harington includes pages of music in Ajax. Joyce includes the written melody for "The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly" in Finnegans Wake (pp.44-47), and two other written melodies in the "Ithaca" chapter of Ulysses.
Mutilated Text. The author, either as himself or in the person of a publisher or editor or critic, presents or comments upon a text that he claims is corrupted, mutilated or otherwise interrupted by lacunae. See Lacunae.
Natural Scale. Inseparable from the other Cynic topics, this one refers to Cynic insistence on not exceeding the limits of human scale, which includes constant attention to our human frailties, limitations, susceptibilities to pride, self-aggrandizement, and so on. In Menippean satire, this is an aspect of the Cynic wind that blows through the satire as much as it is an aspect of the purposes of the satire. The reader's sensibilities are to be so revivified that he becomes aware of his deviation from, and will develop a preference for restoring, human or natural scale in his activities, psychic and social.
Non-sequitur. Deliberately used by Menippists, the non-sequitur is related to lacuna-making, digressiveness and all forms of interruption of narrative sequence, q.q.v. Non-sequiturs are the order of Beroalde's book. To make his reader aware that "straight-line" narration is a purely arbitrary order, Sterne, sending up Locke, denies his reader what is expected, interrupts the continuity of narrative logic at every turn, displays the pieces, and then asks innocently what they are and how they should go back together. In Ulysses, Joyce found new variation on this topic in the technique of "simultaneous parallels" with Homer, as well as in the discontinuities of "stream of consciousness."
Nothing. This topic, a frequent subject in Menippean satires, includes writing on recondite trivialities ("nothings"), often with a display of immense erudition, or, literally, writing whole chapters on "nothing." This latter is related to satirizing gloriosi logic-choppers who cut matters so fine that their weighty systems are brought to bear on "nothings." Dunton's Voyage offers "admirable and surprizing Novelty of both Matter and Method; a Book made, as it were, out of nothing, and yet containing every thing..." Ulysses and Finnegans Wake may equally be said to be made of "nothings" and yet to "contain everything." Cf. also Nashe, Sterne. Most Menippeans try their hand at this topic at one time or another as sustaining it calls for high wit and inventiveness. Swift: "I am now trying an experiment very frequent among modern authors; which is, to write upon nothing; when the subject is utterly exhausted, to let the pen still move on; by some called the ghost of wit, delighting to walk after the death of its body..." (etc., from the "Conclusion" to the Tale). Rabelais lavishes formidable amounts of attention upon bagatelles (as does Macrobius on the egg, and Athenaeus on odd kinds of fish). Panurge's decision to marry, for another example, becomes the focus of an enormously prolonged, prolix and pettifoggish debate leading to nothing.
Parody of New Forms. The chameleon-like and mimetic nature of Menippean satire, which contributes to the impossibility of accounting for it descriptively, gives it immense flexibility and adaptability to new forms and new situations. As soon as new genres or modes or media for expression appear, Menippists quickly adapt to the new form and begin to explore its satirical possibilities. This was done, for example, by Rabelais, Nashe, Dekker and Aretino, as Korkowski points out (p.225). Rabelais puts on the pretensions of the new "learned" genres made popular by printing. Somewhat later, Swift creates hiatuses with a new symbol, the asterisk, and Sterne toys with all the devices of the book, even to turning it inside out by putting the marbled end-papers in the middle. Flaubert aped the popular press in declaring his ideal novel would be all style and no content. Joyce used cinematic technique in Ulysses and remarked that the Wake was written "after the style of television." The study of Menippism in modern media has not yet begun. I suggest that there is no reason why it should not have expanded beyond the confines of written or printed texts once audiences were formed by and could be hypnotized by other-than-literate media. One might begin such a study with Orson Welles (Radio), Woody Allen (Film), and Steve Allen or Norman Lear (Television). The mind boggles at what havoc a determined (Cynic) Menippean might wreak with the telephone, or computer data-bases and systems analysis, or satellites. We may yet find out. See Printing.
Philosophus Gloriosus. He is the favorite Menippean whipping-boy. Philosophers (dialecticians) are open to Menippean attack on several grounds. First, their whole enterprise is traditionally based upon abstraction of ideas and reasoning, which the Menippist can castigate as a form of undue exaggeration and equally as a retreat from reality. Second, their reliance on logic as a tool and the fine distinctions and rare abstraction into which that often leads also fuels the Menippean fire. The grammatical side of Menippean satire would have at the gloriosi in any case, as a skirmish in the quarrel of Ancient with Modern. Those are general terms: particular targets are more usually members of fashionable and pseudo-intellectual groups, as in Seneca's Apocolocyntosis (the ignoramus Claudius and his retinue of hack poets) or Petronius' Satyricon, or in Erasmus or Lucian, in Hudibras, or Tristram Shandy. Swift sent up one group in the Tale, quite another (the equivalent of the mad scientist) in Gulliver. Carlyle takes aim at the invasion of German philosophy in Sartor Resartus (tailors are second only to philosophers as Menippean targets), and Wyndham Lewis at Bloomsbury pretentiousness in his Apes of God. The pseudo-learned of all sorts are the favorite quarry: these fakes - the real gloriosi - have usurped the place of the genuinely learned, have bamboozled the less educated, and have used the appearance of learning and wisdom for worldly gain. They are as thieves and polluters. In our time, the bestseller writer is as much a gloriosus as was Locke in Sterne's.
Printing Conventions Trifled With. Cf. Parody, above. This topic concerns horseplay with the conventions of printed books. Practitioners include Rabelais, Nashe, Harington, Sterne, Joyce. In a variant, Rabelais (as Swift, etc.) claimed that his text had been botched by incompetent printers (a common enough complaint even now by authors): "For the benefit of the warriors I am about to rebroach my cask, the contents of which you would sufficiently have appreciated from my two earlier volumes if they had not been adulterated and spoiled by dishonest printers..."
Projectors as targets. This refers principally to the mad scientists and crazed philosophers of Swift's time (Cf. Philosophus Gloriosus): they seem to be accounted as of the same family as astrologers, alchemists, etc. Swift's "Grand Academy of Lagado" has an ancestor in Joseph Hall's Mundus alter et idem, an account of travels to and the fabulous goings-on at "Terra Australia Incognitis." The most populous region of Australia, Fooliana, has a university, called "whether-for-a-pennia," where specimen sciences are taught, including penny astrology. In one college, "Gewgawiasters" are busy inventing a way to blow soap bubbles from walnut shells: they have also invented projects and novelties in "games, buildings, garments and governments," and have devised a new language, the "Supermonicall tongue."
Reader. He is the real target of Cynic Menippism. The reader is kidded, cajoled, threatened, flattered, etc. by turns, and if the satire is successful he will enter into or put on the spirit of the work. Frequently, the author himself (or wearing one or another narrator's persona) will engage in lively discourse with the reader on any topic that comes to mind, including the right arrangement of the book, the reader's habits or his dress, etc. Like Swift before him, and Sterne after, D'Urfey's Gabriel John empowers his reader to transpose things to his own liking (in the section "Which end of a Book to begin at"). As Finnegans Wake is written in a circle, the reader can begin anywhere. Joyce expected his reader to abandon all other pursuits and devote full time to studying the Wake. Rabelais makes the same demand:
"I intend every reader to lay aside his business, to abandon his trade, to relinquish his profession, and to concentrate wholly upon my work. Rapt and absorbed, all might then learn these tales by heart, so that if ever the art of printing perished and books failed, these tales might be handed down, like mystic religious lore, through our children to posterity! Is there not greater profit in them than a rabble of critics would have you believe?" (Prologue to the Second Book)Evidently, Menippists, like the Cynics, regard "staying awake" as a full-time business.
Simultaneity of Past and Present. The cast of characters in a Menippean satire will often include persons widely separated by chronological time. Linear, chronological time may be circumvented by a device such as setting the scene in the afterworld (Dialogs of the Dead, etc.) or may simply be ignored altogether as in Beroalde's Moyen de Parvenir, in some of Landor's Imaginary Conversations, in Pound's Cantos, and in Finnegans Wake, to mention but four. This same attitude to the irrelevancy of mere chronology was present in the translatio studii of the grammarians, and marks another affinity between their enterprise and the Menippean one. As already pointed out, this topic is also implicit in the mimetic nature of Menippean satire. In our time it has received explicit statement in T.S. Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent," and has been used extensively in his poetry, notably in "The Waste Land" and in Four Quartets.
Spoudogeloion. Cf. Joco-seriousness.
Tailors. Tailors are common as the butts of Menippean satires; in some periods they are second only to philosophers as objects of attention. Carlyle mounts a combined attack in Sartor Resartus. Tailors receive attention via Cynic attacks on pomposity and pretentiousness, for covering up bodily defects or for taking attention away from real matters to waste it on illusory corporal beauty - a kind of seduction. Diogenes wore his tub; Dunton has his Parable of the Top-Knots; Swift his Shoulder-Knots. Satires on tailors are to be found in L'Estrange's Quevedo and in Greene's and Dekker's treatments of tailors in Hell. (Dekker weighed the old world's tailors and the new together in The Guls Horne-Booke.) In the Wake, Joyce explores the seduction-via-clothing theme with his Prankquean, and riots with the story of Kersse the tailor trying to fit a suit to a hunch-backed Norwegian ship's captain.
Talking Animal. Korkowski notes (p.170, n.49) that "the talking animal, in ancient literature, hardly appears outside of Menippean writings (i.e., Lucian's Gallus, Apuleius' ass, Plutarch's Gryllus)." In Menippean satires, anything and everything, including animals, and even words or letters, may give voice. In the Circe chapter of Ulysses, speeches are delivered by a gong, a bar of soap, wreaths, gulls (birds, not fools), a timepiece, the quoits of a brass bed, bells, chimes, a crab, a hollybush, bronze buckles, a cap, a gramophone, a gas-jet, a doorhandle, a fan, a hoof, the sins of the past, Sleepy Hollow, Yews, a waterfall, halcyon days, a mummy, characters' voices, Orange Lodges, a pianola, bracelets, "the hue and cry," the voices of "all the damned" and "all the blessed," and a horse.
Tradition. Tradition may be singled out as object of attack: the Menippist impersonates an enemy of (grammatical) tradition, of the Ancients, and bungles the job. Cf. Dekker (The Guls Horne-Booke) and Swift in his "Digression in praise of Digressions."
Universalizing. Glib universalizing appears as the butt of many satires. Cf. Philosophus Gloriosus above. Practitioners include Cynics, Lucian, Rabelais, Swift, Von Hutten, Erasmus, Flaubert.
Universal Schemes (treated variously, above). This refers to Menippean mockery of dialectical or scientific universalizing by projecting crazy schemes of their own, as in Sanford's Mirrour of Madnes, Swift's Modest Proposal or his "Digression concerning the original, the use and improvement of madness..." (which derives from Sanford). Such schemes are proposed, as are many of the satires, "for the universal improvement of mankind." Rabelais and Cervantes are thoroughgoing and merciless, as is Flaubert.
Whatever enters my head. An aspect of the autonomous author, this topic is related to pretended inability to manage a discourse. Seneca has: "dicam quod mihi in buccam venerit." A host of others followed suit, including Burton, D'Urfey, Sterne and the writers of Finnegans Wake (the public, the users of the language whom Joyce patiently studied).
Howth Castle and Environs.
hod, cement and edifices
Haroun Childeric Eggeberth
he calmly extensolies.
Hic cubat edilis.
How Copenhagen ended.
happinest childher everwere.
has its clever mechanics and each
Hush! Caution ! Echoland
How charmingly exquisite!
heathersmoke and cloudweed Eire's
Hither, craching eastuards,
hence, cool at ebb,
hatch, a celt, an earshare
here, creakish from age and all now quite epsilene,
Hark, the corne entreats!
homerigh, castle and earthenhouse.
hive, comb and earwax,
hung king. That you could fell an elmstree
have performed upon thee, thou abramanation, who comest ever
he cursed and recursed and was everseen
Humme the Cheapner, Esc,
humile, commune and ensectuous
hubbub caused in Edenborough.
Hag Chivychas Eve,
his cronies it was equally
Here Comes Everybody.
he always indeed looked, constantly the same as and equal
Habituels conspicuously emergent.
H. C. Earwicker
he clearly expressed
Hesitency was clearly to be evitated.
H. C. Earwicker,
his chronometrum drumdrum and, now standing full erect,
hotel and creamery establishments
High Church of England
Heidelberg mannleich cavern ethics)
he could balbly call to memory that same kveldeve, ere
hearings of a small and stonybroke cashdraper's executive,
hogshome they lovenaned The Barrel, cross Ebblinn's
He'll Cheat E'erawan
hammerfast viking And Gall's curse on the day when Eblana
his curtain's doom's doom. Ei
haardly creditable edventyres
Haberdasher, the two Curchies and the three Enkelchums
has come over the face on wholebroader E?),
he fell for, Lili and Tutu, cork em!)
hen and crusader everintermutuomergent,
haughty, cacuminal, erubescent
his limper looser. Yet certes one is. Eher
he priest and king to that: ulvy came, envy
has been callit by a noted stagey elecutioner
his revulverher in connections with ehim
holy nation, the common or ere-in-garden
Humpheres Cheops Exarchas,
had been jealous over, Lotta Crabtree or Pomona Evlyn.
huge chain envelope,
Hyde and Cheek, Edenberry,
hence these camelback excesses
Houri of the coast of emerald,
her surrender, did not she, come leinster's even,
Hatches Cocks' Eggs,
He Done to Castlecostello, Sleeps with Feathers end
heroic couplet from the fuguall tropical, Opus Elf,
hill and down coombe and on eolithostroton,
Howth or at Coolock or even
haught crested elmer,
he conscious of enemies,
Ham's cribcracking yeggs, thereby at last eliminating
his aerial thorpeto, Auton Dynamon, contacted with the expectant
halas, in the ordinary course, enabling
homelike cottage of elvanstone
his corns either.
hesitency carried to excelcism)
his sprogues as fail to certify whether the wartrophy eluded
hastes and leisures, about to continue that,the queer mixture exchanged
highly commendable exercise,
him quatz unaccountably like the chrystalisations of Alum on Even
high chief evervirens
Helmingham Erchenwyne Rutter Egbert Crumwall Odin Maximus Esme Saxon Esa Vercingetorix Ethelwulf Rupprecht Ydwalla Bentley Osmund Dysart Yggdrasselmann?
heather. Arm bird colour defdum ethnic
had just caused that the effect
H2 C E3
hagious curious encestor
had fled again (open shunshema!) this country of exile,
had claimed endright,
Howforhim chirrupeth evereach
Homo Capite Erectus,
herringtons' white cravat, as, in epochs
Handiman the Chomp, Esquoro,
He Can Explain,
Howke Cotchme Eye,
Him Common Sex, A Nibble at Eve
Huffy Chops Eads,
hardily curiosing entomophilust
his belly coupled with an eye
happen along. In fact, under the closed eyes
hidmost coignings of the <*page*> earth
hanging committees, where two was enough
heinousness of choice to everyknight
Hirish tutores Cornish made easy;
heptagon crystal emprisoms
his check at banck of Indgangd and endurses
his doom at chapel exit;
hock is leading, cocoa comes next, emery
hatched at Cellbridge but ejoculated
he could talk earish
Hwang Chang evelytime;
hoveth chieftains evrywehr,
hereditatis columna erecta,
hagion chiton eraphon;
him all life long; comm, eilerdich
hallucination, cauchman, ectoplasm;
he can get on as early
hard cash earned
Hewitt Castello, Equerry,
Hennery Canterel -- Cockran, eggotisters,
heard in camera and excruciated;
heavengendered, chaosfoedted, earthborn;
honorary captain of the extemporised
H. C. Endersen
his evenin and the crimes of Ivaun the Taurrible every
hears cricket on the earth
has come through all the eras
Hammurabi, or cowld Clesiastes, could espy
home, yeth cometh elope
Hoel of it, could such a none, whiles even
he carried me from the boat, my saviored of eroes,
Hoost! Ahem! There's Ada, Bett, Celia, Delia, Ena,
his cashcash characktericksticks, borrowed for its nonce ends
his duly mile? Or this is a perhaps cleaner example.
hypothesis on the outer tin sides), I can easily
haunting crevices for a deadbeat escupement
hood! cries Antony Romeo),so one grandsumer evening,
he clanked, to my clinking, from veetoes to threetop, every
his polps were charging odours every
Heliogobbleus and Commodus and Enobarbarus
hands! Their interlocative is conprovocative just as every
his odiose by comparison and that whiles eggs
his most distant connections) but every
hearing a coarse song and splash off Eden
he kept on treasuring with condign satisfaction each
his entire low cornaille existence,
history, climate and entertainment
he misused and cuttlefishing every
her Cow, Adam and Ell,
Henressy Crump Expolled,
House in Dreamcolohour, Battle of Waterloo, Colours, Eggs
his cheeks and trousers changing colour every
his smell which all cookmaids eminently
He appreciates it. Copies. ABORTISEMENT.] One cannot even
how that, arrahbejibbers, conspuent to the dominical order and exking
holy childhood up in this two easter
hidden and discovered, nay, condemned fool, anarch, egoarch,
horrible awful poverty of mind so as you couldn't even
hear, colt Cooney? did ye ever,
Huges Caput Earlyfouler.
her but captain spliced? For mine ether
has a codfisck ee.
his childlinen scarf to encourage
her catchment ring she freed them easy,
Her Chuff Exsquire!
her chapboucqs, old Mot Moore, Casey's Euclid
her calamity electrifies
have charred. Kickhams a frumpier ever
Hibernonian market! All that and more under one crinoline envelope
horse of the Peppers. Throw the cobwebs from your eyes,
her seven crutches. And every
his markets, cheap by foul, I know, like any Etrurian
Hircus Civis Eblanensis!
hirtly bemark, a community prayer, everyone
himself, and to conclude with as an exodus,
her brideness! Not Rose, Sevilla nor Citronelle; not Esmeralde,
Her beauman's gone of a cool. Be good enough
his own cashel where every
his creature comfort was an omulette finas erbas
his coronaichon, such as engines
hiccups. The smartest vessel you could find would elazilee
his near cissies, a mickly dazzly eely
hopops so goholden! They've come to chant en
he can eyespy
heing in our created being of ours elvishness,
his whoozebecome woice. Ephthah! Cisamis! Examen
heather cliff emurgency
Howarden's Castle, Englandwales.
Hulker's cieclest elbownunsense.
Housefather calls enthreateningly.
her crown pretenders, obscindgemeinded biekerers, varying directly, uruseye each
hoots, screams, scarf drill, cap fecking, ejaculations
human chain extends,
Hocus Crocus, Esquilocus,
hued and cried of each's
he and what are the sound waves saying ceased ere
have thy children entered
Herod with the Corm (*F2*)well's eczema
him, a chump of the evums,
his chthonic exterior
Hoo cavedin earthwight
Hispano-Cathayan-Euxine, Castillian - Emeratic
Haud certo ergo.
Honour commercio's energy
haunted. The chamber. Of errings.
helm coverchaf emblem
his Castlecowards never in the twowsers (*F2*)and ever
here's my cowrie card, I dalgo, with all my exes,
hce che ech,
hids cubid rute being extructed,
habby cyclic erdor
him, 2 while the catched and dodged exarx
his sole salivarium. Concoct an equoangular
his craft ebbing,
Hoop ! As round as the calf of an egg!
him! call a blood lekar! Where's Dr Brassenaarse?) Es
hof cullchaw end
hung cong. Item, mizpah ends.
Hengler's Circus Entertainment,
harbour craft emittences,
harmonic condenser enginium
House of call is all their evenbreads
Howe cools Eavybrolly!
He was the carelessest man I ever
him cheeringly, their encient,
Heave, coves, emptybloddy!
Hoved politymester. Clontarf, one love, one fear. Ellers
husband's capture and either
hero chief explunderer
her coaxfonder, wiry eyes
Heri the Concorant Erho,
homey,well,that Dook can eye
her changeable eye
here's the fust cataraction! As if ever
hour for the chamber's ensallycopodium
Hermyn C. Entwhistle)
his livepelts so cruschinly like Mebbuck at Messar and expousing
herdsquatters beyond the carcasses and I couldn't erver
he confesses to everywheres
His Cumbulent Embulence,
his culothone in an exitous
Hercushiccups' care to educe.
how comes ever a body
hoody crow was ere.
had contracted out of islands empire,
heaviest corpsus exemption)
having writing to do in connection with equitable
hitch a cock eye,
hoax chestnote from exexive.
hearth and chem ney easy.
his chargehand bombing their eres.
hugon come er
Horkus chiefest ebblynuncies!
Hence counsels Ecclesiast.
Hung Chung Egglyfella
Hired in cameras, extra!
hives the court to exchequer
Hunter, chemins de la croixes and Rosairette's egg,
hoovier, in your corpus entis
helo, chesth of champgnon, eye
hulm culms evurdyburdy.
Hang coersion everyhow!
hospitable corn and eggfactor,
hangars, chimbneys and equilines
how our seaborn isle came into exestuance,
he was completely drowned off Erin
How it did but all come eddaying
home, colonies and empire,
hear, Caller Errin!)
heroest champion of Eren
highly continental evenements,
hundred and sixty odds rods and cones of this even's
house quay, amiable with repastful, cheerus graciously, cheer us! Ever
Hireark Books and Chiefoverseer Cooks in their Eusebian
hungry will be done! On the continent as in Eironesia.
his fore feelhers, flexors, contractors, depressors and extensors,
him, compound eyes
his smalls. As entomate as intimate could pinchably be. Emmet
His Christian's Em?
Here Commerces Enville.
House Condamned by Ediles.
Helpless Corpses Enactment.
he caught the europicolas
how I am extremely ingenuous at the clerking even
he could playact, collaspsed in ensemble
how are Bernadetta's columbillas? and Juliennaw's tubberbunnies? and Eulalina's
Hayes, Conyngham and Erobinson
his lost angeleens is corkyshows do morvaloos, blueygreen eyes
happy, communionistically, among the fieldnights eliceam,
hereupon part company. So for e'er
home cooking everytime.
hormonies to clingleclangle, fudgem, kates and eaps
how I'll try and collect my extraprofessional
his old continence and not on one foot either
home cured emigrant
he could ever
he can cantab as chipper as any oxon ever
hurts and daimons, spites and clops, not even
Hunkalus Childared Easterheld.
his lost chance, Emania
humeplace of Chivitats Ei,
his truetoflesh colours, either
have occasioning cause caus <*page*> ing effects
habit following Mezienius connecting Mezosius including was verted embracing
Hell's Confucium and the Elements!
his conscience and every
Hullo Eve Cenograph in prose and worse every
his coglionial expancian?
Holy snakes, chase me charley, Eva's
He caun ne'er be bothered but maun e'er
his consumers? Your exagmination
Hosty's and Co, Exports,
healed cured and <*page*> embalsemate,
hold the freedman's chareman! Christ light the dully expressed!
hori <*page*> zon cloth! All effects
holy floor and culprines of Erasmus
him circuly. Evovae!
How culious an epiphany!
Hodie casus esobhrakonton?
huggerknut cramwell energuman,
herreraism of a cabotinesque exploser?
his feet in the usual course and was ever
his life. Then, begor, counting as many as eleven
half noon, click o'clock, pip emma,
Hostages and Co, Engineers,
homosexual catheis of empathy
Hotchkiss Culthur's Everready,
his comfy estably
him citing from approved lectionary example
homelies of creed crux ethics.
Human Conger Eel!
hand. Kyrielle elation! Crystal elation!
here and with maternal sanction compellably empanelled
halt! Sponsor programme and close down. That's enough,
Ho, croak, evildoer!
has entered. Big big Calm, announcer. It is most ernst
handshakey congrandyoulikethems, ecclesency.
Haveth Childers Everywhere
Hodder's and Cocker's erithmatic.
hard casted thereass pigstenes upann Congan's shootsmen in Schottenhof, ekeascent?
highly respectable, planning new departure in Mountgomery cyclefinishing, eldest
haunted, condemned and execrated,
his many benefactresses, calories exclusively
Hery Crass Evohodie.
heard it by mmummy goods waif, as I, chiefly endmost
her, arsched overtupped, from bank of call to echobank,
her aldritch cry oloss unheading, what though exceeding
hump the body of the camell: I screwed the Emperor
her chastener ever
huge Chesterfield elms
his poor old dying boosy cough, esker,
he was cured enough
Holiday, Christmas, Easter
Hemself and Co, Esquara,
her to silence and coort; each
have said better) to complore, with complete obsecration, on everybody
his streamline secret. They care for nothing except
Helius Croesus, that white and gold elephant
How chimant in effect!
Horsehem coughs enough.
Honuphrius is a concupiscent exservicemajor
his slave, Mauritius, to ur;,e Magravius, a commercial, emulous
his marital rights she may cause reprehensible conduct between Eugenius
his conjunct in thirtynine several manners (turpiter! affirm ex
her case tomorrow for the ordinary Guglielmus even
heathen church emergency
held supremely that, as no property in law can exist
Hecklar's champion ethnicist.
Hot and cold and electrickery
Herenow chuck english
Heinz cans everywhere
huskiest coaxing experimenter
Humpfrey, champion emir,
hiphigh bearserk! Third position of concord! Excellent
How blame us? Cocorico! Armigerend everfasting
his parasangs in cornish token: mean fawthery eastend
his certain questions vivaviz the secret empire
hugest commercial emporialist,
Humbly to fall and cheaply to rise, exposition
he was chogfulled to beacsate on earn
honoured christmastyde easteredman.
hand from the cloud emerges,
holding a chart expanded.
his course, amid the semitary of Somnionia. Even
Heliotropolis, the castellated, the enchanting.
horned cairns erge,
Henge Ceol <*page*> leges, Exmooth,
hoseshoes, cheriotiers and etceterogenious
hailed chimers' ersekind;
holiday crowd encounter;
hygiennic contrivance socalled from the editor;
he; when no crane in Elga
hullow chyst excavement;
heat, contest and enmity.
Homos Circas Elochlannensis!
Higgins, Cairns and Egen.
Hagiographice canat Ecclesia.
his borrowed chafingdish, before cymbaloosing the apostles at every
hearable a cry and to each
his crown on the Eurasian
Hump cumps Ebblybally!
Health, chalce, endnessnessessity!
Have we cherished expectations?
homely codes, known as eggburst,
heroticisms, catastrophes and eccentricities
highly charged with electrons
hophazards can effective
had the shames to suggest can we ever?
hartiest that Coolock ever!
his pooraroon Eireen, they'll. Pride, comfytousness, enevy!
helpyourselftoastrool cure's easy.
him. But you came safe through. Enough
Hoteform, chain and epolettes,
hardest crux ever.
By Marshall McLuhan
September 21, 1974
TORONTO - Until now there have been many equilibrium theories of inflation. I am going to propose a disequilibrium theory based on the discontinuous nature of the electric information of today.
In the eighteenth century, Adam Smith got economics into orbit by linking the laws of the market to the automatism of the Newtonian universe. By this rhetorical device, the laws of economics were given a rigor and lucidity that they did not then or now possess. At least Adam Smith gave his theories some relevance to the then dominant science of astronomy.
Today, however, in the electric age when The Word Makes The Market, inflation theory still lumbers along the wagon wheels of nineteenth-century rhetoric. The Marxists say inflation can be cured with more production, while the Keynesians say it can be cured with more money applied at the right place and time. Whereas all current inflation theories tend toward Newtonian rationality and balance, there is a huge disequilibrium factor of irrationality that results from information movement in simultaneous and instantaneous patterns.
These patterns are sometimes mistaken for "trends" in media behavior. As Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber wrote in his book, "The Power to Inform"; "One of the most easily confirmed consequences of media activity is the instability that can be created through the media's ability to exacerbate certain trends. This happened during the world monetary crisis that took shape in the 1960s. As soon as dollars started to move en masse into Germany, the press described it as a flood. The movement did in fact take on vast proportions because even modest speculators wanted to benefit from the situation. The press in turn wrote in terms of a veritable panic. Then all holders of capital got the news and reacted accordingly, and the dam burst under a pressure that had been generate solely by the media. The same kind of psychic battering ram brought about the devaluation of the dollar in 1971 and 1973."
The twentieth century opened with Max Planck's theory of quantum mechanics in 1900, stating the discontinuity of the material universe. In the same year Sigmund Freud published his "Interpretation of Dreams" stating the discontinuities of our conscious and unconscious lives. So far as I am aware, economists have not yet matched physics and psychology with any statement of the discontinuity of the economic bond. All existing theories of inflation are hardware theories, nuts and bolts theories, theories of connected and continual rational processed of supply and demand.
The equilibrium theories of supply and demand concern the quantities of "hardware" as it were, whereas the disequilibrium realities occur at the speed of "software." "Software" is the world of electric information and also computer programming. It can, however, be understood to include the entire world of electronic service environments that began with the telegraph and which include the telephone as well as television and satellites. All of these constitute a new service environment of electronics pulsation which makes possible the dealing in "futures" and the anticipation of the gaps and intervals in supply and demand.
At electric speeds of information movement, it is precisely these intervals that invite the dealer in "futures" to gamble. Instant information reveals a wide diversity of new patterns of change; which entice everybody to anticipate changes to come. Ordinary people are thus inspired with the mania which is born of perception, not of the connection, but of the interval between the now and the rapidly approaching new situation. This becomes a way of living "as if every moment were your next."
The instant and simultaneous have no sequence or connections, but are characterized by resonant intervals and discontinuity. In the new world environment of instant information there is need to pay attention to the neglected factor of the gap or interval as crux in creating inflation.
As long as there is an interval of play between the wheel and the axle, there is a rotary action. It is the interval of play that keeps the wheel and axle in touch. And the gap or interval is "where the action is." This fact has gained special attention from the new physics; and it is in the very opening of "The Nature of the Chemical Bond" that Linus Pauling explains there are "no connections" in matter. The development of the theory of quantum mechanics has also introduced into chemical theory a new concept, that of resonance ... and it is our resonant interval ..." What is most relevant here to the nature of inflation may perhaps be seen from the way in which the gap or interval in things creates the mentality of the gambler:
|He either fears his fate too much, |
Or his deserts are small,
Who fears to put it to the touch
To win or lose it all.
It is precisely "touch that is the resonating world of the gap or interval. Touch is literally created by a resonant interval, between, say the hand and the thing. If there were any connection between the hand and the thing, there would be no hand. The gambler is above all the man who must stay in touch, and in the new "physics of the instantaneous electric environment it is precisely the resonant interval or "touch" that characterizes the information that constitutes the universal accessibility of instant information.
For the dominant environment of our age has itself become information or "software." Since at electric speed any figure tends to become ground, and anything, however trivial, can acquire infinite mass, the temptation and the desire to gamble with everything and anything becomes obsessive. One dollar at the speed of light can do as many transactions as a million at pre-electric speeds. Quantitative projections and rational critiques cannot cope here.
In the new electric environment almost any situation has a structure eligible for gambling, much as Lloyds of London was prepared to insure any part of the body - busts, legs, or even states of mind and popularity - against the whims of chance. Using the language of gestalt psychology, it could be said that inflation makes everything a figure against the ground of public interest. Figure and ground constitute the structure of most situations and are in perpetual interface of flux. However, in the pulsating world of the intervals in electric information, there are innumerable opportunities to seize and abstract the interval itself as a new kind of object to be exploited.
There are days when large bodies of corporate funds are not in use, and the idea readily occurs: "Why not make them electrically available for a few hours to some other part of the world?" It was perhaps the dawning awareness of the utility of the interval that prompted the phrase "time is money." At electric speeds, however, a very little time can become a very great deal of money. Inflation makes everything a figure for the public, even as the figure obscures the ground. Play is interface between a figure and a ground (with a suitable interval between them). Gambling is play that uses the interval itself as a thing. Another way of putting it: To gamble is to project the present figure into a "future" which anticipates the possession and control of more or less of the same.
Equilibrium theory, when applied to money, seeks to relate available goods and services by maintaining a quantity of money suited to the encouragement of exchange. Government spending can intervene toward the achieving of such equilibrium. However, all equilibrium theory, whether of supply and demand of goods and services, or credit and interest rates, is based on the old quantitative assumptions of "hardware." Equilibrium theory ignores the quantum leap in the economy which occurs at electric speed of information. Gresham's Law had reported a flip in the structure of exchange which occurred when "bad money" entered the market (it drove out the good).
In the days of "hardware" currencies when a dollar bill carried the phrase "pay to the bearer one dollar in gold," it was a way of dealing in "futures," simply to hoard the money itself. That is, the gold would increase in price simply by being held out of circulation. Now that all money is merely the promise to pay promises, it becomes "bad money" during inflation because all money diminishes in value merely by being held. Money then becomes a means of levying taxation without representation.
The same "interval" which prompted the holder of gold coins to hoard the good ones, the unalloyed, now prompts the holder of paper money to gamble and to invest in "futures," for the present and future of money is a diminishing utility. The old impulse to hoard gold now opens the market in antiques, on the one hand, while "gambling" becomes a way of unloading the new liabilities constituted and incurred by the inflated currency. When money itself becomes an irresistible form of arbitrary taxation, a situation develops which feeds the gambling mania to anticipate events by trading in futures and promises and "intervals."
Again, it is the speed and "replay" of information movement which creates a new kind of pattern recognition which, in turn, makes it possible to see innumerable "software" gaps (information gaps) in the old "hardware" situation of goods and services. To fill in these gaps speculatively is one aspect of the passion for "Development," an aspect which has become inseparable from The Big Con.
The new economic situation, in which the game is to anticipate events at every turn and at every level, using the interval between the present and the coming events as if this interval were a tangible thing, this new situation in comparison with the older nuts-and-bolts economy presents a contrast somewhat similar to the "old journalism" and the "new journalism." The old journalism had aimed at the objectivity by "giving both sides at once." The new journalism seeks, rather, to immerse the reader in the total situation, using the resources of imaginative fiction to provide a multileveled experience.
The new journalism is quite prepared to urge that "news" is necessarily a form of fiction or making. IN the same way, the new economy is based on information and gaps and promises, and precisely to the degree that the new economy is based on the simultaneous, it fosters, invites, demands the rule of the anticipatory, the role of the hunter that the blow must strike where the quarry will be.
It is the peculiar character of the gambler that he seeks to exploit this very "nothing" or "interval" as a situation with its own laws. On this situation, or reified interval, he is prepared to make his bet. And it is the intervals in the processes of the commodity market which, at electric speed, are projected as figure or "thing." The Russian roulette player stakes his life on the intervals in the chamber. The enthralling and all-involving fascination of Russian roulette is the obsession with the gap or interval.
Like the current dealing in "futures" at electric speeds, Russian roulette accelerates the older forms of gambling. The answer comes quickly, and the fascination is in the ratio to the speed of the answer - the fascination of the one armed bandit or slot-machine. At this point Maslow's Rule comes into play: "The closer a need comes to being satisfied, the larger an increment of additional gratification will be required to produce the same satisfaction."
The new inflation goes beyond all markets, turning them into art form or play grounds for economic playboys. The breakdown of markets into playgrounds may also point to a cure for inflation, a cure beyond economics and politics when the planet becomes a theater for the new role-players like Henry A. Kissinger. He is neither a bureaucrat nor a professor nor a politician, but all of these things at once.
The fact that our economy is now constituted in large degree by information structures of pulsating data (like that of the TV image) means that there are innumerable new intervals in every social situation which provide opportunities for new involvements and obsessions, endless games with futures in antiques, in horoscopes, fashions, and commodities.
Such opportunities are nowhere thicker than in the old commodity markets of supply and demand, especially when they move at the speed of light. It is here that it is possible to buy up "futures" in oil, or meat, or grain, or real estate, or antiques, using the time intervals between supply and demand as the point of intervention and gambling. At electric speed it is possible to play Russian roulette with whole economies, with entire educational systems and with political regimes.
Henry Kissinger seems to be the current triggerman in this planetary game among the intervals of first, second, third and fourth worlds, the first world being the industrialized West, the second being Russian Socialism, the third the nonindustrialized lands, and the fourth the electric world that has gone around the rest, becoming the primum mobile of inflation in all the rest.
Perhaps there is no better way of indicating the discontinuous simultaneous pattern of the new situation in economics and society than to point to the nature of the TV image, which is structured by innumerable pulsations which move toward the viewer through the monitor. The TV image is literally constituted by a mesh or mosaic of live intervals which provide an overwhelming inducement to involvement on the part of the TV audience. The entire world of electric information now presents pulsating intervals for the intervention and involvement of the world population. The Arabs had small chance for action in the old "hardware" world of specialist markets and production. The new software world of electric information offers them ample entry points and intervals.
By Gerald O’Grady
(Marshall McLuhan, Director of the Center for Culture and Technology
at the University of Toronto, died on December 31, 1980. Gerald
O'Grady, who remembers him here, is President of Media Study/
"Is it what's in the jigger that makes them bigger?" - Marshall
McLuhan, commenting on the Lord Calvert's whiskey “Men of Distinction”
There is not a moment to be lost in dumping another generation of
readers into the drink, the stormy seas of Marshall McLuhan's mind.
His major books created a cultural thunderstorm throughout the 1960's.
Every literary man of distinction - Benjamin DeMott, Dwight Macdonald,
George Steiner, Jonathan Miller, Harold Rosenberg, Tom Wolfe, Richard
Schickel, Michael Arlen and scores of others - attempted to navigate
By the end of the decade, their various essays were gathered in three
critical anthologies, all titled "McLuhan" and subtitled "Hot and
Cool," "Pro and Con" and "Sense and Nonsense." All had got caught in
his maelstrom and drowned. We have had another decade to think why
Their attention was almost entirely spent on misunderstanding McLuhan
as a popular medium rather than understanding his work. They spent so
much effort in falsely charging him with believing that human culture
was determined by technology that they missed the human-motivated
trajectory of his lifelong project. It went unnoticed that the
leitmotif of his three major books was the "man" of their subtitles,
and that each approached media from a different perspective.
"The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Mechanical Man" (1951) attempted to
understand the NEW MYTHOLOGY created by newspapers, magazines and
"The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man" (1962) was
HISTORICAL and juxtaposed a mosaic of meditations on the cultural
interactions arising from the invention of the printing press.
"Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" (1964) was FORMAL,
treating the media as models and structures shaping our physical
environment by extending our senses. For McLuhan, every man was a
center for understanding media.
His critics seemed obsessed with deriving a theory from his writings,
coming to them with the academic expectancy for the definitive
treatment of a field called communications. They never grasped that
his meaning was merged with his method, and that the method rested
entirely and completely on metaphor, that every word, sentence and
paragraph he wrote was part of a process to generate insight, not to
establish classifications. He would create new words like
colloidoscope by jamming together colloid and kaleidoscope. He would
force new identifications in sentences like “The medium is the
message" or "The user is the content.” His books worked the same way.
"The Gutenberg Galaxy" begins by considering a sixteenth century
English play, "King Lear," and then, a few pages later, thrusts it up
against Kikuyu love magic ceremonies in twentieth century Africa. He
loved to make things collide.
We traded definitions of the symbol. He liked the one I found by the
American architect Louis Sullivan, "a snowball with a rock in it,"
delighting all the more because Sullivan was unaware that the Greek
word "sym-ballein" literally meant "to throw with,"… "to throw
(things) together." He was even happier when he found Marilyn Monroe's
reply to an interviewer who asked if she were a sex symbol: "You mean
those things that bands bang together?" He was himself highly
sensitive to such sound effects and later defined symbolism as "a kind
of witty jazz." Jazz is characterized by improvisation and by special
features peculiar to the individual interpretation of a player. When
he wrote that "Heidegger surf-boards along on the electronic wave as
triumphantly as Descartes rode the mechanical wave," he was clearly
asking to be apprehended as a poet, but his critics would not allow
it. He understood that the plowshares of the agricultural field had
been beaten into the television antennas of the electronic field, but
they didn't, even though the slang term of being on someone's
"wavelength" (to understand) had already entered the language many
years before. No one, for example, ever saw that "Understanding Media"
was a poetic book, a magical number of prefatory chapters (seven)
being followed by 26 more dealing with the social and psychic
consequences of the new media, symbolically equal to the number of
letters in the old alphabet. Such strategies and games were beyond his
readers even though he provided a clue, subtitling his chapter on
games "extensions of man,” which was also the subtitle of his book on
all the media.
McLuhan’s critics persisted until his death. Last week, American
televisionnetworks called him “the philosopher of pop” and the New York Times
"the prophet of grooviness.” They entirely missed the point that
McLuhan was a cultural conservative and that, to the extent that his
vision of contemporary culture was existential, it was shaped by his
conversion and deep commitment to Roman Catholicism. While British
culture knew how to understand the work of a Graham Greene and French
culture the writings of a Gabriel Marcel, American critics were either
ignorant of or embarrassed by this aspect of McLuhan. It has taken
time to see that this Canadian presented us with a European
foreignness which was not quite comprehensible. The worst joke was his
being called “the apostle of advertising.” He did say: "The ads are by
far the best parts of any magazine or newspaper. Ads are news. What is
wrong with them is that they are always good news." But he was aware
that "good news" meant "gospel" and that contemporary mechanical and
electronic media, just because they were financed in this country by
advertising, placed a tremendous emphasis on the acquisition of
material goods. In fact, his strategy was to conVERT us from our
adVERTising-induced VERTigo by reading his prose VERse. He knew the
turns of meaning of all of these words (verto – turn).
He made this clear in his introduction to "The Mechanical Bride." He
wrote: "In 'A Descent into the Maelstrom,' Poe's sailor saved himself
by studying the action of the whirlpool and by cooperating with it.
The present book likewise makes few attempts to attack the very
considerable currents and pressures set up around us today by the
mechanical agencies of the press, radio, movies and advertising…. It
was this amusement born of his rational detachment as a spectator of
his own situation that gave him a thread which led him out of the
labyrinth. And it is in the same spirit that this book is offered as
McLuhan’s critics were not amused. They never saw the importance of
the enjoyment and fun in his work and because they never took his
metaphoric method seriously, they were unable to apprehend that his
style was the result of a careful deliberation, and that he was
nothing if not serious. I remember going with him once to visit
Buckminster Fuller at his World Resources Inventory office above a
women's beauty salon in Carbondale, Illinois, and our retreating
around the corner to a Dunkin' Donut shop with Fuller's colleague, the
late John McHale. McLuhan told us a joke about a bartender's false eye
dropping, unnoticed, into the cocktail of a customer. Later he became
constipated and went to a proctologist who, upon examining him,
eyeball to eyeball, said: "What's the matter, don't you trust me?"
This story turned out to be a parable (Greek PARA-BALLEIN, "to throw
side by side," related to our parabola) for the constipation of our
visual sense, one of McLuhan's basic ideas being that "the
interiorization of the technology of the phonetic alphabet translates
man from the magic world of the ear to the neutral world of the eye."
He felt that a culture tuned to the voice and the ear was more
involving and participative, while one centered on the eye was
individuating and alienating.
He once told me, in the course of a telephone call, that "conversation
was the ‘depthiest' medium." And I can now recognize that it, too, was
rooted in a TURNING back and forth, a give and take, a dialogic of
oral form. His own awareness of the pressures which the new media were
placing on language did not mean that he failed to note that "language
was the first mass medium." He meant of course, that everyone had
access to speaking it (the literal meaning of "infant," by the way, is
"unable to speak"). He was ironically aware that his own message was
given great resonance and amplification on broadcast television
through "talk shows" in which everyone had access only to listening.
When he appeared at Rice University in 1965, he gave a lecture which
few were attentive enough to understand. He was consciously developing
a new kind of lecture performance in which the audience would overhear
him talking to and with himself. If the audience wished to swing and
"turn" with him, it had to engage and involve itself, an effort which
he explained in terms of a popular version of a Robert Browning verse:
"A man's reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a metaphor."
Understanding McLuhan was possible only if one were open to continual
transpositions of language. He called slang "language on the hoof" and
wrote: "Slang is based not on theories but on immediate experience."
When I first tried to make students aware of the pattern of his work,
it was in the context of a "free university" course offered to
graduate and undergraduate students at Rice University, the University
of St. Thomas and the University of Houston in that city, and it was
found that the only time they could all arrange their schedules to
meet was at 10 o'clock on Sunday morning. The course was playfully
referred to as "10 o'clock Mass Culture,' and then "10 o'clock Mascom"
on the analogy to the title of John McHale's review of "The Gutenberg
Galaxy" which was entitled "The Man from Mascom" (Progressive
Architecture, 1967), and finally, by a student who had the kind of
perception, earthiness, honesty and comic sense that McLuhan himself
would have appreciated "10 o'clock come." It was in his March, 1969
interview in Playboy (how and where else!) that McLuhan revealed that
his puns and hyperboles (Greek HYPER-BALLEIN, "to throw high" - to
exaggerate) were strategies for drawing attention to his new insights.
In another interview, he said: "My books are not packages, but part of
a dialogue, part of a conversation." Never did a person give so many
clues as to how to understand his work.
My own conversation with Marshall McLuhan had begun as an
undergraduate when I read his Cambridge University graduate
dissertation on "The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Culture of His
Time" (unpublished, 1942). My interest was in the rhetorical
strategies of late medieval prose and Nashe was an early Renaissance
prose writer. McLuhan's treatment was linear and sequential and clear,
just what his later critics would have admired. They were mystified
when McLuhan quoted a passage from Nashe in "The Gutenberg Galaxy," a
description of Hero’s first seeing Leander's drowned body tossed up on
a shore after a storm at sea, and remarked: "Read aloud by a trained
rhetorician from the new grammar schools, the passage takes on the
brash variety of a Louis Armstrong trumpet solo." McLuhan was writing
about the same century, but now the whole style, not just this
allusion, was jazz. In the same way, my reading of a straightforward
and diagram-laden 1960 "Report on Project in Understanding New Media"
prepared me for the jazz version best-seller, "Understanding Media:
The Extensions of Man," which was not released until 1964. The style
of these later books, in each case, was conversational and dialogic,
and they were calculated to be experienced heuristically, that is, to
engender as many insights by the reader as by the writer. Critic after
critic made the standard observation that the difficulty with McLuhan
was that he was trying to use an old medium (print) to explain about
new ones (movies, television), but exactly the opposite was true. He
had retreated to a deliberate mimesis of the oral form (language)
which was centered on memory in order to talk about the new recorded
forms (print, film, etc.) which brought us a new form of stored or
canned wisdom. Martin Williams' comment on phonograph records in "The
Jazz Tradition" is apposite to an understanding of McLuhan's books:
"Thus phonograph records are in a sense a contradiction of the meaning
of music. That is, they tend to make permanent and absolute, music
that is created for the moment. On the other hand, records attest that
what is made up for the moment can survive the moment aesthetically."
As the sponsors of his research in the new media might indicate,
Marshall McLuhan was a teacher. He wanted to release us from the ad
world, to switch from Calvert, as it were, and he offered us a
stylistic highball (without eyeball) so potent that anyone taking a
drink had to run the risk of drowning. He was not the oracle of
Madison Avenue but a magician of media who, like Shakespeare's
Prospero, was willing to say "I'll drown my book," once he had saved
us from shipwreck and worked his "end upon our senses." When asked if
he himself understood what he wrote, he joked: "I don't pretend to
understand it. After all, my stuff is very difficult." He took his
definition of education, "how kids learn stuff," from the mouth of a
seven-year old, and Elizabethan explorer that he was, fully realized
that his great global village itself was an "unsubstantial pageant"
and that "We are such stuff/As dreams are made on, and our little life/
Is rounded with a sleep (The Tempest. IV, i. 156-158).
[An earlier version of this essay was published in THE BUFFALO NEWS,
Sunday, January 11, 1981.]