McLuhan 4: Mailer And McLuhan

There’s a 1968 TV show called The Summer Way that has been posted online by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation featuring Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan in conversation.

Fabulous it is too: two intellectual heavyweights delicately tip-toeing around one another in front of a live audience and, presumably in those days, also broadcast live. Mailer looks very nervous early on and is clearly at sea, and in the end just muscles his way out of trouble. McLuhan is very calm, very cool, and seems completely in control. He just flies loops around Mailer, and the amused looks on his face at some of Mailer’s comments are absolutely priceless.

It’s about half an hour long and is pure historical gold. [Edit December 2017: original link now broken.]

Quote(s) of the Month

In designing all functions and all data structures, a computer programmer tries always to use variables rather than constants. On the level of the human-computer interface, this principle means that the user is given many options to modify the performance of a program or a media object, be it a computer game, Web site, Web browser, or the operating system itself. The user can change the profile of a game character, modify how folders appear on the desktop, how files are displayed, what icons are used, and so forth. If we apply this principle to culture at large, it would mean that every choice responsible for giving a cultural object a unique identity can potentially always remain open.

Lev Manovich

The method of our time is to use not a single but multiple models for exploration—the technique of the suspended judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century as the technique of invention was the discovery of the nineteenth.

Marshall McLuhan