It really is “Massage”.

14 July, 2006

The Medium (really is) the Massage

In case it appears that I made a monster typo or my sense of humour is even more askew than usual, here is the book in question. I did my best to wipe off the coffee mug rings but the photograph is as is and un-retouched. The title is more often misquoted than any I can think of. Could McLuhan have been making some point here?

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The more things change …

14 July, 2006

Socrates was perturbed by the concept of Google more than 2,300 years ago.

Mashall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan knew this and related the philosopher’s concern in his 1967 book, The Medium is the Massage.

The discovery of the alphabet will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external, written characters and not remember of themselves … they appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing.” — Phaedrus.

Marshall McLuhan died on the last day of 1980, long before Google was more than a noise that happy babies made.

I bought my paperback copy of The Medium is the Massage from the Central Department Store on Wang Burapma in Bangkok in 1969 where I was creative director of the Thai office of the advertising agency McCann-Erickson. It smells brownly the way old books do, but it has held up well.

The cover price was US$1.45, about 30 baht as best I recall. For an extra ten baht around the corner you could get a carton of marijuana filter-tips complete with government tax seals.