backwards spiral seen from above

"The effect of TV, as the most recent and spectacular electric extension of our central nervous system, is hard to grasp for various reasons. Since it has affected the totality of our lives, personal and social and political, it would be quite unrealistic to attempt a 'systematic' or visual presentation of such influence. Instead, it is more feasible to 'present' TV as a complex gestalt of data gathered almost at random."

Marshall McLuhan,
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, p.317, 1964.


quantum retrocausality said...

My writings baffle most people simply because I begin with ground and they begin with figure. It begins with effects and works to causes. Once it is understood that the hidden ground of our time is information moved at the speed of light … then it becomes easy to see.

quantum retrocausality said...

"Electromagnetic technology requires utter human docility and quiescence of meditation such as befits an organism that now wears its brain outside its skull and its nerves outside its hide. Man must serve his electronic technology with the same servo-mechanistic fidelity with which he served his coracle, his canoe, his typography, and all other extensions of his physical organs. But there is this difference, that previous technologies were partial and fragmentary, and the electric is total and inclusive.... No further acceleration is possible this side of the light barrier."

quantum retrocausality said...

McLuhan knew how to keep a straight face. If he often laughed at his own jokes, it may have been as much to signal baffled listeners that a joke had occurred as to express spontaneous mirth - for when he wanted to "put on" his audience, he could do so without the trace of a smile.

quantum retrocausality said...

" ...all media, from the phonetic alphabet to the computer, are extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes in him and transform his environment. Such an extension is an intensification, an amplification of an organ, sense or function, and whenever it takes place, the central nervous system appears to institute a self-protective numbing of the affected area, insulating and anesthetizing it from conscious awareness of what's happening to it. It's a process rather like that which occurs to the body under shock or stress conditions, or to the mind in line with the Freudian concept of repression. I call this peculiar form of self-hypnosis Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby man remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of his new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible."

quantum retrocausality said...

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.

Naturally, under these conditions, old categories and figures tend to blur and disappear. New figures spring up only to submerge again in a blur, and formerly identifiable categories, e.g. artist, frontiersman, and enemy, push towards invisibility:

Today the end of steel is no mere metaphor, since the ‘hardware’
now disappears inside the computer by design; but the new frontier is as invisible as a radio wave. There are no tracks to identify or locate the new frontiersman, even nostalgically. He has neither retrospect nor prospect in his instant space-time field. It is
all pasts and all futures in an eternal present.

This theme has since been developed at length by Paul Virilio who has made great use of McLuhan’s diagnosis of the effects of speed-up: “With acceleration there is no more here and there, only the mental confusion of near and far, present and future, real and unreal — a mix of history, stories, and the hallucinatory utopia of communication technologies,” Paul Virilio, The Art of the Motor

Ours is an age of rapid oscillation or phase shifting (pulsating intervals) between ecstasy (and the thrills of widespread festive celebration), and paranoia (or a state of “…panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed coexistence”) McLuhan saw that paranoia was evoked when: (a) there is a pervasive feeling that every kind of change affects everything else, (b) there is a general awareness that the technological game is out of control, and (c) “war” becomes the “environment” of our time.