Monday, September 28, 2009

learning in spite of his professors

McLuhan was still a twenty-year old undergraduate at the University of Manitoba, in western Canada, in the dirty thirties, when he wrote in his diary that he would never become an academic. He was learning in spite of his professors, but he would become a professor of English in spite of himself. After Manitoba, graduate work at Cambridge University planted the seed for McLuhan’s eventual move toward media analysis. Looking back on both his own Cambridge years and the longer history of the institution, he reflected that a principal aim of the faculty could be summarized as the training of perception, a phrase that aptly summarizes his own aim throughout his career.

The shock that McLuhan experienced in his first teaching post propelled him toward media analysis. Though his students at the University of Wisconsin were his juniors by only five to eight years, he felt removed from them by a generation. He suspected that this had to do with ways of learning and set out to investigate it. The investigation led him back to lessons on the training of perception from his Cambridge professors, such as I. A. Richards (The Meaning of Meaning, Practical Criticism), and forward to discoveries from James Joyce, the symbolist poets, Ezra Pound; back to antiquity and the myth of Narcissus, forward to the mythic structure of modern Western culture dominated by electric technology.

Understanding Media, first published in 1964, focuses on the media effects that permeate society and culture, but McLuhan’s starting point is always the individual, because he defines media as technological extensions of the body. As a result, McLuhan often puts his inquiry and his conclusions in terms of the ratio between the physical senses (the extent to which we depend on them relative to each other) and the consequences of modifications to that ratio. This invariably entails a psychological dimension. Thus, the invention of the alphabet and the resulting intensification of the visual sense in the communication process gave sight priority over hearing, but the effect was so powerful that it went beyond communication through language to reshape literate society’s conception and use of space.

Understanding Media brought McLuhan to prominence in the same decade that celebrated flower power. San Francisco, the home of the summer of love, hosted the first McLuhan festival, featuring the man himself. The saying “God is dead” was much in vogue in the counterculture that quickly adopted McLuhan but missed the irony of giving a man of deep faith the status of an icon.

Spectacular sales of Understanding Media, in hardback and then in paperback editions, and the San Francisco symposium brought him a steady stream of invitations for speaking engagements. He addressed countless groups, ranging from the American Marketing Association and the Container Corporation of America to AT&T and IBM. In March 1967, NBC aired “This is Marshall McLuhan” in its Experiment in TV series. He played on his own famous saying, publishing The Medium is the Massage (coproduced with Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel), even as he was signing contracts for Culture Is Our Business and From Cliché to Archetype (with Canadian poet Wilfred Watson) with publishers in New York. Dozens of universities awarded McLuhan honorary degrees and he secured a Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at Fordham University. At the University of Toronto’s Centre for Culture and Technology, where McLuhan was director, a steady stream of visitors arrived from around the world to absorb his lessons on media, or just to see him and be seen with him. Andy Warhol was scheduled to visit but did not show (when McLuhan finally met him some time later, he pronounced him a “rube”); John Lennon and Yoko Ono arrived unannounced. Understanding Media, which was eventually translated into more than twenty languages, overshadowed the only McLuhan book-length publication from the 1960s that took him back squarely to his roots as a professor of English literature, the two-volume Voices of Literature (edited in collaboration with Richard J. Schoeck). By the time the decade ended, he had collaborated with Canadian artist Harley Parker on Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting and once more with Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel on War and Peace in the Global Village. This popular paperback, exploding at every page with McLuhan’s observations juxtaposed to a visual chronicle of twentieth century happenings, bore the improbable subtitle, an inventory of some of the current spastic situations that could be eliminated by more feedforward. The book looks and feels light years away from the Cambridge University of the 1930s where McLuhan trained, but that was just where he had picked up the idea of feedforward—from his teacher I. A. Richards.

McLuhan wrote with no knowledge of galvanic skin response technology, terminal node controllers, or the Apple Newton. He might not have been able even to imagine what a biomouse is. But he pointed the way to understanding all of these, not in themselves, but in their relation to each other, to older technologies, and above all in relation to ourselves—our bodies, our physical senses, our psychic balance. When he published Understanding Media in 1964, he was disturbed about mankind’s shuffling toward the twenty-first century in the shackles of nineteenth century perceptions. He might be no less disturbed today. And he would continue to issue the challenge that confronts the reader at every page of his writings to cast off those shackles.

—by Terrence Gordon, July, 2002

W. Terrence Gordon is the author of the biography, Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding. Gingko Press. ISBN: 1-58423-112-2.


main website for Marshall McLuhan

amplified humanity

We are a society of androids. The human body, every cell, is essentially a machine, especially at a nano-level.

I hope the new machines will be better than us. Amplified humanity.

Luminary Philip K Dick says:

These creatures are among us, although morphologically they do not differ from us; we must not posit a difference of essence, but a difference of behavior. In my science fiction I write about about them constantly. Sometimes they themselves do not know they are androids. Like Rachel Rosen, they can be pretty but somehow lack something; or, like Pris in We Can Build You, they can be absolutely born of a human womb and even design androids - the Abraham Lincoln one in that book - and themselves be without warmth; they then fall within the clinical entity "schizoid," which means lacking proper feeling. I am sure we mean the same thing here, with the emphasis on the word "thing." A human being without the proper empathy or feeling is the same as an android built so as to lack it, either by design or mistake. We mean, basically, someone who does not care about the fate which his fellow living creatures fall victim to; he stands detached, a spectator, acting out by his indifference John Donne's theorem that "No man is an island," but giving that theorem a twist: that which is a mental and a moral island
is not a man.
    "Man, Androids and Machine" (1975)
    reprinted in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick (1995) Lawrence Sutin, ed.

VALIS =Vast Active Living Intelligence System

VALIS (1981)
Philip K Dick

* We hypostasize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed. This is a language which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information. We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outwards once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing.

* Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane.

* A lot can be said for the infinite mercies of God, but the smarts of a good pharmacist, when you get down to it, is worth more.

* To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement ... Whoever defeats the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus ... thereby it becomes its enemies.

* The Empire Never Ended

* Mental illness is not funny.

* Crazy people do not apply the principle of scientific parsimony... they shoot for the baroque.

* Helping people was one of the two basic things Fat had been told to give up; helping people and taking dope. He had stopped taking dope, but all his energy and enthusiasm were now totally channelled into saving people. Better he had kept on with the dope.

* Fish cannot carry guns.

* It is amazing that when someone else spouts the nonsense you yourself believe you can readily perceive it as nonsense.

* Certainly it constitutes bad news if the people who agree with you are buggier than batshit.

* Madness has its own dynamism. It just goes on.

utopia 101

"We are the vanguard of fantasy. Where we live is liberated territory in which fantasy moves about freely at all hours of the day, from which it mounts its attacks on occupied territory. My utopia is an environment that works so well we can run wild in it. We are all undesirables. We are full of optimism. We are the future."

- Disorderly Conduct

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The 14 Sexiest Androids in Movies - Inside Movies

According to Moviefone, these are some sexy androids...

The 14 Sexiest Androids in Movies - Inside Movies

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Buddhist references in Transhumanism

The Genomic Bodhisattva

"David Pearce wants to end your suffering. His manifesto The Hedonistic Imperative promises a future where humans live in high-functioning superhappy states devoid of pain and anxiety. For Pearce, the great shift to a hedonic society will come about by genetic intervention: Gene therapy will be targeted both on somatic cells and, with even greater forethought, the germline. If cunningly applied, a combination of the cellular enlargement of the mesolimbic dopamine system, selectively enhanced metabolic function of key intra-cellular sub-types of opioidergic and serotonergic pathways, and the disablement of several countervailing inhibitory feedback processes will put in place the biomolecular architecture for a major transition in human evolution.

See the rest at:

The Genomic Bodhisattva | h+ Magazine

Can a machine deliver bliss? Can technology induce Enlightenment? And can a man-machine hybrid, a cyborg, become Buddha?

Cyborg Buddha: Science and Spirit | h+ Magazine

more references:

IEET Cyborg Buddha Project

Trans-Spirit. Online discussion group

Daniel Ingram's Dharma Web Site. [How meditation is talked about, taught, shared and practiced that draws from the best.]

Enlightenment, the Self, and the Brain. Todd Murphy. video lecture (89 minutes). (Sept. 11th, 2008).

Spirituality & The Brain: Neurotheology, Magnetic Brain Stimulation, Deja Vu, Death, God, Sex, Love, and more. Todd Murphy.

Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book. Daniel M. Ingram. (2008). London: Aeon Books Core-Teachings-Buddha-Unusually/dp/1904658407/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246830888&sr=1-1

Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief. Eugene Aquili and Andrew Newberg. (2001). New York: Ballantine. Go-Away/dp/034544034X/ref=sr_1_1?ie =UTF8&s=books&qid=1246830953&sr=1-1

The Fourth Awakening. Rod Pennington and Jeffery A. Martin. (2009). Charleston, SC: Integration Press. [Thriller novel about intersection of tech and human potential.]

Love Thy Surrogate Self? | h+ Magazine

I saw the film SURROGATES last night and will soon offer up my own review. In the meantime, let's start with an interview from the author, and his intentions. h+ magazine (which has a fall issue now on newstands, so go grab a copy my fellow transhumanists) has featured an interview with author Robert Venditti and a Flesh and Bones review of the movie version. Click the link below to check out.

Love Thy Surrogate Self? | h+ Magazine

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Check out this playlist of some of the classic and modern erotic films covered in Cinema of Obsession: Erotic Fixation and Love Gone Wrong in the Movies

Professor believes cyborgs are people, too

The author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond To The Redesigned Human Of The Future comments on cyborgs in Nashua Telegraph: Professor believes cyborgs are people, too

But of course cyborgs are people too! The only question is, are people really people? Sometimes I am unsure.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

TASCHEN Books: Helmut Newton, SUMO - 10th anniversary release!

TASCHEN Books: Helmut Newton, SUMO

Would LOVE to have this.

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Status: Intact

My name is Dominique Mainon.

This space has been dedicated as the chosen hub for filing field reports and communications to the Future. I communicate with my future self, with my M.U.S.E. (he's not human as we currently acknowledge humanity) and to other (human and non-human) parts of the net universe.

Here are some pictures of me, and various others (taken mainly by me, and various others)

More to come very soon.