West Coast McLuhan Events 1996

 edited: January 21 1996 Contact: Mark Beaulieu markbeau@mac.com

McLuhan Presentation in San Francisco

San Francisco, SFSU Downtown, 425 Market & 2nd
March 29 1996 Friday evening;
admission $10, $5 for MSP students.

PRESENTATION on Marshall McLuhan by Eric McLuhan. - Suggestion : read "Understanding Media", come with your interpretations and questions for everyone about McLuhan and media.

McLuhan Course in San Francisco

TIME: Fri., Mar.15-29, 6:30-9:30 pm LOCATION: SFSU Downtown Center, 425 Market

Understanding Media: The Individual and Society a 3 day course.

Renaissance McLuhan & Media Festival

(Sorry to report, but the planned Los Angeles Festival is cancelled.)

Where we are headed
The Renaissance reaction to the Middle Ages ended a world defined by fixed feudal fortresses. Wealth and privelege formerly concentrated in monolithic kingdoms had overspent itself. Artists and scientific-minded generations emerged in a battle to simply look at reality. To study and depict human nature of their time meant examining real human bodies, creating intimate portraits, sometimes shockingly naked in form. The Renaissance put nature and humanity in perspective. New architects looked at the forgotten forms under their very feet. From the ruins of a previous time, the Roman patio, the arch, the dome, the personal villa were made new again. Extraordinary historic eras begin with new thinking and are preceded by a radical change of perception. First the senses, then the mind, then the action of the inner Renaissance played to the world stage.

McLuhan studied the nature of media. His great emphasis was not looking at the content or idea of a medium, but on its overall effect on both the individual and at large on society. New medium like any war technology creates advantage resulting in social imbalance. The rapidity of technology change now creates generational division as much as it used to create national differences. The remote control advantage of writing and paper produced empires and the effect of writing moved humans from an oral to a visual fixation. While the mechanical era of the printing press stamped our visual fate, the new electronic person will shift back to the oral state, to being in touch. Both the speed of electric technology and its immediate feedback have a shock effect. Today's global digital technology is paradoxically both abstract and immediate presenting to the world at large challenges and responses that will define a planetary culture.

In our current era we see a revolutionary change in the definition of all media being used simultaneously as multimedia - text, graphics, animation, movies, sound. What is the character of a media form which only comes to life with private individual interaction? What are the possible effects of new individual and social digital architectures?

McLuhan gave us critical insights and tools for how to perceive and interpret the present and past. But the future we are inventing is an altogether unique exercise in media definition. How do we assess the character of the new programming and what might be the new rules for the individual and the world at large?

We are witnessing a grand reversal of the effects of electronic networks where people at electric speed had no body and were nobodies. The implosion of electric networks caused by the digital carrier is creating the new terrain for enormous depth of individual expression - we are creating a planet of persona.

Mark Beaulieu
Santa Cruz
January 21 1996



Eric McLuhan cowrote books with his father Marshall McLuhan. He has degrees in literary studies and teaches courses on media and literature worldwide. Many of Eric's works are deconstructions of issues Marshall raised, while he now develops new investigations in modern communications theory. His recent book "The Essential McLuhan", 1995 selects texts across the entire McLuhan library and provides a useful teaching text for media studies.