If life were only like this… Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall

Related imageImage result for marshall mcluhan booksAccording 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.

Image result for Marshall McLuhan“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.”

Image result for marshall mcluhan books

 

Advertisements

The Brave New World is more Huxley’s than Orwellian

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..Image result for amusing ourselves to death

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 

 

Drew Christie’s ‘Emperor of Time’

Here’s some good advice from Drew Christie, the animator and writer behind the video ‘The Emperor of Time‘ and many others:

“I would also say listen to every type of music that exists on the planet while you’re working. I think this is extremely important in stimulating different parts of the brain and creativity. Listen to West African Kora music, Isan Thai folk and pop music, North Indian classical music, Shirley Collins and Anne Briggs from the British Isles, Victor Jara from Chile, Michael Hurley, Abner Jay, Hala Strana, LAKE, and Kate Wolf from the U.S.

Other than that, I say, give your family hugs.”

Well worth a read and watch:

Behind the Video: Drew Christie’s Emperor of Time

David Bowie 1947-2016

DavidBowie-portrait

The first time I saw David Bowie, he was staring back at me from the record cover of ‘Hunky Dory.’ Someone had left the record on an upright piano in a hall while I was away at summer camp, and before I first heard ‘Changes’ and ‘Life on Mars?,’ I was perplexed by this strange man who looked like a woman. It would have been very early in my childhood, but it was to have a lasting influence in my thinking about music.

Billy Bragg, a voice of reason in all the noise, said it is “… not only the timing of his death and that fact that he was 69 that links Alan Rickman to David Bowie … both were working class kids from council estates who went to art school where they gained enough confidence in their own creativity that they were able to go on to find fame and fortune … The social mobility that Rickman and Bowie experienced is increasingly stifled.”

That would truly be a shame, because the world needs more people like David Bowie and Alan Rickman.

Starman. Life on Mars. Space Oddity. Heroes. Ashes to Ashes. Under Pressure. Let’s Dance. Modern Love. Black Star. So many songs, sounds and visions. His career spanned six decades.

heroes

Perhaps his shape-shifting nature was what made him so popular. Perhaps it was his extensive collaboration with musicians and vocalists (some with successful results-think Freddie Mercury, others less so-think Mick Jagger). Perhaps it was the staying power of someone who met with failure and bounced back, wrestling with personal demons and using music as catharsis.

He captured people’s imagination in a way that made it all right to be different. In fact, he actually made it cool to be different from the norm and challenge the status quo. According to Annie Lennox, Bowie was “…a quintessential visionary, pushing the limits of his shape-shifting persona. The ultimate iconoclast – gracious, dangerous and legendary.”

He was a black star, but only because we live in a world in which all the characters, as David Bowie’s imagination created them, could exist, however alien. He will continue to inspire as the music lives on. We can be heroes, but only if we can be ourselves, allow young people to imagine, and create visions that resonate and transcend beyond the prosaic realities of life.

Starman – 1972

Ashes to Ashes – 1980

 

Chris Hadfield singing Space Oddity (revised) in Space – 2013

Melodians Steel Orchestra – The Man Who Sold the World for Jeremy Deller’s English Magic – 2014

Blackstar – 2016

References:

Hitt, Carolyn (January 16, 2016) Working class heroes Bowie and Rickman were forging their career paths at a time when the arts were seen as a necessity rather than a luxury, Wales Online

 

For those less enthused by that galaxy far, far away…

Station-ElevenNo, I haven’t seen it yet. Yes, I’m going to, so no spoilers please. I found this article in The Tyee about the franchise-ation of Star Wars that has become a marketing tidal wave bigger than anyone could have ever imagined. The article makes for interesting reading relating to the author’s love of science fiction and some fascinating novels, such as those by Finnish writers Leena Krohn and Emmi Itäranta. In Canada there is Emily St. John Mandel’s environmentally-themed climate change novel Station Eleven, which are promising places to start.

“…More literate critics … picked up on George Lucas’s use of Thomas Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which deals with the basic structures and images of mythmaking and storytelling. You could build a whole dissertation out of parsing the Star Wars franchise, and I’m sure many have If it had been a one-off, or even just a trilogy, it might have been a classic. Instead, it became both an industry and a culture of its own, now thriving well into its first half-century….”

A Better Force Awakens: The Tyee

Can social movements ‘save’ us?

img-bookI am looking forward to reading Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, which links climate change to the economic system. There is also a film to follow. This is an issue that has not been addressed adequately, and it looks as though she has written a thoughtful, succinct book. Can social movements save us, though? Are we already past the point of no return? I would argue that social movements from civil rights to gender equality are still as relevant as ever, and are one of the only ways to affect change. I am adding this book to my to-be-read pile.

“This is the best book about climate change in a very long time— reminding us just how much the powers-that-be depend on the power of coal, gas and oil. And that in turn should give us hope, because it means the fight for a just world is the same as the fight for a liveable one.”

— Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and co-founder of 350.org

“An enormous, complex, compelling and, by turns, distressing and rallying analysis of the dysfunctional symbiotic relationships between free-market capitalism, the fossil fuel industry and global warming”

— Booklist Review

Sorry, Naomi Klein, social movements are not enough to save us | rabble.ca

The film trailer: