JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE CENTENARY OF MARSHALL MCLUHAN – SOME PERSPECTIVE ON A MUCH OVERRATED INTELLECTUAL FIGURE   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED COMMENT TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The McLuhan phenomenon must be seen in proper historical perspective.

The tweedy man and his mystical mutterings became famous at a time of great social change and unrest, a time of love-ins, LSD, communes, Mao, and many other now passé things.

I’ve always regarded McLuhan as greatly overrated, and I believe the efforts now to puff him back up into a significant figure are doomed to failure.

I met him once and I liked the tweedy quality, but the mutterings were just that, almost like the work of a bright man with a brain disability.

Yes, here and there, there is a clever, pithy observation, but they are almost like the one-liners of a stand-up comedian – they go nowhere.

I’ve heard contemporary followers of his trying to explain how prescient and advanced his thinking was, but they remain utterly unconvincing, generally themselves sinking into the same incomprehensible strings of clap-trap phrases that McLuhan entertained himself with.

I believe he was likely a professor of above-average classroom interest and the kind of curmudgeon many students were happy to experience, but I do not believe he was a man of far-sighted vision or a revolutionary thinker at all.

His eccentric sense of humor in appearing in a Woody Allen film I think almost certainly summarizes what he was doing when he was making cryptic pronouncements to groups of puzzled faces and being paid handsomely for doing so.

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