“…To account for the transference of the idioms of print to those of the electronic media – McLuhan examined two technological revolutions that overturned the epistemological status quo.
First, in the mid-fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type – which deconstructed the illuminated wisdom preserved on manuscript in monasteries, encouraged people to organize their perceptions of the world along the straight lines of the printed page.
Second, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the applications of electricity (telegraph, telephone, radio, movie camera, television screen, eventually the computer) – favored a sensibility that runs in circles, compressing or eliminating the dimensions of space and time, narrative dissolving into montage – the word replaced with the icon and the rebus.
Within a year of its publication Understanding Media acquired the standing of Holy Scripture – and made of its author the foremost oracle of the age.
The New York Herald Tribune proclaimed him “the most important thinker since Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Pavlov.”
Although never at a loss for Delphic aphorism – “The electric light is pure information”; “In the electric age, we wear all mankind as our skin” –
– McLuhan assumed that he had done nothing more than look into the window of the future at what was both obvious and certain…”
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