Norman Mailer & Marshall McLuhan Debate the Electronic Age

There’s noth­ing new about it. Major peri­ods of tech­no­log­i­cal change have always engen­dered dis­lo­ca­tion and debate. Some resist the changes wrought by new tech­nol­o­gy, and oth­ers embrace them. 1968 brings us back to one such moment, when the Amer­i­can nov­el­ist Nor­man Mail­er and com­mu­ni­ca­tion the­o­rist Mar­shall McLuhan appeared on the CBC pro­gram, The Sum­mer Way, to debate the rel­a­tive mer­its of our Electronic/Information Age. Are we alien­at­ing our­selves as we push the elec­tron­ic enve­lope? Or have we entered a val­ue neu­tral state (if not some­thing bet­ter)? The two big thinkers hash out the ques­tion for 28 min­utes. You can watch the con­ver­sa­tion in its entire­ty (28 min­utes) on YouTube.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Nor­man Mail­er & Mar­shall McLuhan Debate the Elec­tron­ic Age

The Vision­ary Thought of Mar­shall McLuhan, Intro­duced and Demys­ti­fied by Tom Wolfe

Mar­shall McLuhan’s 1969 Deck of Cards, Designed For Out-of-the-Box Think­ing

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  • Victoria says:

    McLuhan accu­rate­ly pre­dicts Jihadism and the Tal­iban with “vio­lence as a search for iden­ti­ty”, but poor Mail­er, the obses­sive Vic­to­ri­an mate­ri­al­ist, labours, his own iden­ti­ty rapid­ly erod­ing by the minute as though on acid, and a con­tact high from the point of McLuhan’s ear­ly ref­er­ence to “psy­che­del­ic”. Intim­i­dat­ed by McLuhan, he appears to have lit­tle appre­ci­a­tion of metaphor (for a writer) and unable to make such leaps to phi­los­o­phize. An ersatz Hem­ming­way in juxa­po­si­tion. But then, even Hem­ming­way was no Hemmingway…propelled by pri­mal fear.

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