According to The Independent:
Marshall McLuhan might have been one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. But he was one of its most terrible actors.
As well as being famous for his theories, many of which are known by catchy phrases like ‘the medium is the message, Professor McLuhan was also a guest star in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.
Marshall McLuhan: Remembering the philosopher’s bizarre, unplanned Annie Hall appearance
Here are a few quotable gems from the McLuhan archive:
“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
This is a good one to think about when you’re texting your friend while walking across a crowded crosswalk in an intersection.
“Art is anything you can get away with.”
The latest David Lynch resurrection of Twin Peaks 25 years later, for example. Or most stuff in art galleries.
“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.”
Yes, he was the one who came up with the idea of the ‘global village.’ Hello Internet.
“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.”
It’s a long read on The Guardian, but definitely worth it.
Timothy Morton wants humanity to give up some of its core beliefs, from the fantasy that we can control the planet to the notion that we are ‘above’ other beings. His ideas might sound weird, but they’re catching on.
‘A reckoning for our species’: the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene
Adrienne Rich, as a poet, essayist and feminist activist, held strong to her convictions. Here is some ‘life advice’ from her, which has resonated even more crucially as counterbalance to the current political climate.
“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work … you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions…”
Life Advice from Adrienne Rich – LitHub
The ascent of the latest U.S. president has proved Neil Postman’s argument in Amusing Ourselves to Death was right. In a very readable article in The Guardian, Andrew Postman (Neil Postman’s son), gives his take on the similarities of our current reality to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World rather than George Orwell’s 1984. Basically, it’s not about Big Brother watching you, but people chasing entertainment, no matter how infuriatingly ridiculous or ‘fake’ it might be.
As Postman writes:
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture..
Where will we go from here? Postman argues:
Who can be appalled when the coin of the realm in public discourse is not experience, thoughtfulness or diplomacy but the ability to amuse – no matter how maddening or revolting the amusement?
My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – By Andrew Postman
Oh Canada…some food for thought based on an article in The Guardian by Charles Foran:
“The greater Toronto area is now the most diverse city on the planet, with half its residents born outside the country; Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal aren’t far behind. Annual immigration accounts for roughly 1% of the country’s current population of 36 million.”
“The American and European citizen … may find all this chatter about inclusion and welcome ethereal, if not from another planet given the events of 2016, in which the US elected an authoritarian whose main policy plank was building a wall, Britain voted to leave the EU in large part to control immigration, and right wing political parties gleefully hostile to diversity may soon form national governments, including in France.”
“None of this raw populism is going away in 2017, especially as it gets further irritated by the admittedly formidable global challenge of how to deal with unprecedented numbers of people crossing national borders, with or without visas. But denial, standing your nativist ground, doing little or nothing to evolve your society in response to both a crisis and, less obviously, an opportunity: these are reactions, not actions, and certain to make matters worse.”
The Canada experiment: is this the world’s first ‘postnational’ country?
Murat Cem Menguc’s essay on Hyperallergic is worth reading as it brings attention to More’s ‘Utopia.’
“First published in the early winter of 1516, Utopia eventually became one of the most widely read and thought-about texts of the Western world. ”
Why We Still Need Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ in 2016
“Stoicism is a school of philosophy which was founded in Athens in the early 3rd century and then progressed to Rome, where it became a pragmatic way of addressing life’s problems. The central message is, we don’t control what happens to us; we control how we respond.”
Want to know more about the stoics? Marcus Aurelius’s rather humbling Meditations is a key to understanding Roman Stoic philosophy. He said:
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…”
How would the Stoics cope today? By Ryan Holiday