Marshall McLuhan is viewed as one of the cornerstones in the study of media theory. He was a fixture from the late 1960s to his death and continues to be an influential and controversial figure.
He is known for the expression the medium is the message and popularized the term global village though it first came from Margaret Meade (no, Hillary Clinton didn’t invent it, just as Al Gore didn’t invent the internet). Here are a few more quotes he said that caught my attention as well as many around the world:
The story of modern America begins With the discovery of the white man by
Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public
Whereas convictions depend on speed-ups, justice requires delay.
The nature of people demands that most of them be engaged in the most
frivolous possible activities—like making money.
With telephone and TV it is not so much the message as the sender that is
Money is the poor man’s credit card.
We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into
Spaceship earth is still operated by railway conductors, just as NASA is
managed by men with Newtonian goals.
Invention is the mother of necessities.
You mean my whole fallacy’s wrong?
Mud sometimes gives the illusion of depth.
The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell, of urban and suburban man.
Why is it so easy to acquire the solutions of past problems and so difficult to solve current ones?
The trouble with a cheap, specialized education is that you never stop paying for it.
People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.
The road is our major architectural form.
Today each of us lives several hundred years in a decade.
Today the business of business is becoming the constant invention of new business.
The price of eternal vigilance is indifference.
News, far more than art, is artifact.
When you are on the phone or on the air, you have no body.
Tomorrow is our permanent address.
All advertising advertises advertising.
The answers are always inside the problem, not outside.
“Camp” is popular because it gives people a sense of reality to see a replay of their lives.
This information is top security. When you have read it, destroy yourself.
The specialist is one who never makes small mistakes while moving toward the grand fallacy.
One of the nicest things about being big is the luxury of thinking little.
Politics offers yesterday’s answers to today’s questions.
The missing link created far more interest than all the chains and explanations of being.
In big industry new ideas are invited to rear their heads so they can be clobbered at once. The idea department of a big firm is a sort of lab for isolating dangerous viruses.
When a thing is current, it creates currency.
Food for the mind is like food for the body: the inputs are never the same as the outputs.
Men on frontiers, whether of time or space, abandon their previous identities. Neighborhood gives identity. Frontiers snatch it away.
The future of the book is the blurb.
The ignorance of how to use new knowledge stockpiles exponentially.
A road is a flattened-out wheel, rolled up in the belly of an airplane.
At the speed of light, policies and political parties yield place to charismatic images.
“I may be wrong, but I’m never in doubt.”
—Copyright © 1986, McLuhan Associates, Ltd.
One more, not a McLuhanism, but pithy none the less
It was R. W. Emerson who wrote that “The human body is the magazine of inventions, the patent-office, where are the models from which every hint was taken. All the tools and engines on earth are only extensions of its limbs and senses” (1870).