Marshall McLuhan

Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory.

McLuhan’s work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.

McLuhan is known for coining the expressions the medium is the message and the global village, and for predicting the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented.

Although he was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, his influence began to wane in the early 1970s.

In the years after his death, he has continued to be a controversial figure in academic circles.

With the arrival of the internet, however, there was renewed interest in his work and perspective.

His work was a major influence on the School of Communication Arts at Loyola College, Concordia University in Montreal.

In his book War and Peace in the Global Village McLuhan illustrates the effects of electronic media and new technology on man using James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as a major inspiration for this study of war throughout history as an indicator as to how war may be conducted in the future.

Find out more about Marshall McLuhan.

War and Peace in the Global Village

War and Peace in the Global Village by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore is a collage of images and text that illustrates the effects of electronic media and new technology on man. Marshall McLuhan used James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as a major inspiration for this study of war throughout history as an indicator as to how war may be conducted in the future.

Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is claimed to be a gigantic cryptogram which reveals a cyclic pattern for the whole history of man through its Ten Thunders.

Each “thunder” below is a 100-character portmanteau of other words to create a statement he likens to an effect that each technology has on the society into which it is introduced.

In order to glean the most understanding out of each, the reader must break the portmanteau into separate words (and many of these are themselves portmanteaus of words taken from multiple languages other than English) and speak them aloud for the spoken effect of each word. There is much dispute over what each portmanteau truly denotes.

McLuhan claims that the ten thunders in Finnegans Wake represent different stages in the history of man:

Thunder 1: Paleolithic to Neolithic. Speech. Split of East/West. From herding to harnessing animals.

Thunder 2: Clothing as weaponry. Enclosure of private parts. First social aggression.

Thunder 3: Specialism. Centralism via wheel, transport, cities: civil life.

Thunder 4: Markets and truck gardens. Patterns of nature submitted to greed and power.

Thunder 5: Printing. Distortion and translation of human patterns and postures and pastors.

Thunder 6: Industrial Revolution. Extreme development of print process and individualism.

Thunder 7: Tribal man again. All choractors end up separate, private man. Return of choric.

Thunder 8: Movies. Pop art, pop Kulch via tribal radio. Wedding of sight and sound.

Thunder 9: Car and Plane. Both centralizing and decentralizing at once create cities in crisis. Speed and death.

Thunder 10: Television. Back to tribal involvement in tribal mood-mud. The last thunder is a turbulent, muddy wake, and murk of non-visual, tactile man.