In 1972, Marshall McLuhan held a press conference in room 204 at the USC Student Activities Center. The 'Los Angeles Times' reported, "To McLuhan, only the form of the media counts, only the way in which societies communicate. The importance of modern technology, the electronic age, is that it has freed mankind from traditional reliance upon the printed word, allowing a return to the oral, tactile experiences of pre-printing press civilization.

"Essentially, McLuhan's view of civilization is built on an extraordinary respect for the five human senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste), which he believes are locked in a perpetual battle for balance with the environment. In a sweeping historical sense, civilization is reducible, to McLuhan, to three major periods, all characterized by the prevalent form of communication. 

"First was the preliterate period, when men relied solely upon speech for information. (At that time, society depended on the memory of older generations to pass on their culture and history from one generation to the next through story telling). It was an aural, tactile world where tribal relationships were essential merely for survival. Men were involved in their surroundings, extroverted. 

"Then came the profound technological development of the printing press in the 15th century (Gutenberg 1439), drastically altering the scheme of cultural behavior. Man became visually oriented, able to turn inward to become his own independent, solitary being. Tribal structures vanished, as the rigid, linear forms of the printed word ascended. 

"Among the multiple, specific social changes effected - mankind became category-conscious in logic, in social roles, in concepts of education. He even began to worry about space, brooding over the problems of getting from point A to point B in the same orderly fashion that his eye moved over printed pages. And nationalism replaced tribalism. 

"Now (by the 1970s), with the advent of the electronic age, the third major era, society is again reverting to its early tribal condition, to reliance upon tactile, aural senses, not the visual. Sensory perceptions are now heightened as never before – and men have become villagers on a global scale." 

China, the world's oldest surviving civilization dating back to the Shang dynasty (1766-1123BC). Founded by Qin Shihuang Di, China's first Emperor in 221BC (some 300 years before Christ), the word Qin pronounced Chin in English, hence the name China. Before the country united, China comprised of 7 feudal states (similar to those feudal states of medieval Europe) "often at war with each other, vying for power and supremacy" during the period 475–221BC.

In 1972 (or 4670 Lunar Calendar as China began with the reign of Yu the Great in 2207BC), Richard Nixon made a historic visit to mainland China to forge "a better relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China ("Chung-hua Jen-min Kung-ho-kuo" in Chinese).

Marshall McLuhan made the observation, "China. Yes. Well, the Chinese are audile-tactile people (relied solely upon speech for information), not at all visual (the printed word). Only Westerners would measure the worth of a thing by sight. The Chinese, for example, buy a jar by feeling it, listening to it, not by looking at it. I’ve seen them do it. You do know, of course, that we are becoming more like the Orientals? East is changing places with the West? The Western world is going off its visual hook entirely?"

Marshall McLuhan also pointed out, "North Americans go outside to be alone. There is no privacy in the American home. We go to ball games to be alone. The supreme privacy in North America is that of the motor car. The businessman does all his thinking and planning in a car. It’s the only form of privacy. We don’t go to movies to socialize. Europeans have ads in movies. Why do we not tolerate it? When you’re out with your date, you want to be alone.

"We all laugh at Charlie Chaplin as the lonely little tramp who wanders the streets and constantly is brushed off. Actually, he never set foot in an American home, but Europeans see Charlie Chaplin movies as documentaries of life in North America. No American talks to people on elevators. Europeans do. That's one of their favorite places to pinch bottoms. The French don't measure intellectual activities by, say, the number of intellectual books read, but by conversation in the cafes."      

Television and radio had made all the world a global village or a "mass society" in which everyone felt the same emotions, thinking the same thoughts, laughing at the same jokes, all at the same time.

In January 1978, some 37 members of the Toronto Exchange attended a seminar conducted by Marshall McLuhan in his office on the University of Totonto which lasted an hour and a half. "Before we go any further, I’d like to show you this mural, that we keep behind the curtain here. It’s the one part of the room that doesn’t change. This was done by an artist who instinctively understood that television uses the eye as an ear. There’s a book about it by Tony Schwartz. This painting refers to television as The Pied Piper.

"We lost that generation, the first generation raised on TV. That's a 2,500-year gap, from the beginnings of literacy to its end. When we first developed TV, we never dreamed that someday we would have to pay the Pied Piper. With television, you are the screen. The TV image pours into your eyes. You don't have to focus. There is no flicker in TV, there are no frames. The flat image comes at you, and your motor muscles are immobilized.

"The TV child loses his powers of convergence. This is dyslexia, and it happens mainly in boys. This causes a huge difference in schools. 90% of all learning disabilities are male. Why? Because male muscles, generally, are more crude. Boys play football or hockey or contact sports. The activities of girls, sewing, for example, require more precise adjustment."

Marshall McLuhan insisted, "The ground, which we live, is ever-changing. The cause is the hidden ground. What we see is the figure. The streaker was the figure, and the problems were the ground. To be a fashion setter, for example, you must tune into the hidden ground of the environment, which is constantly changing. The fashion setter must have charisma. That is, the power of looking like a lot of people. (Jack) Kennedy had it (in 1960). (Jimmy) Carter has it (in 1978). Television compels them to have charisma."

Of television, "The instant replay is the greatest technological achievement in human history. It is the artistic imitation, the aesthetic imitation. This goes back to Aristotle and his definition of drama. It is a mimesis, a profound metaphysical experience. The replay is the meaning, since the initial cognition is simply the cognition and not the meaning.

"The nature of the television experience is fantasy. Movies, on the other hand, are dream visions, dreams that money can buy. A fantasy takes place while you are wide awake. A dream takes place in your unconsciousness. You can never mistake TV for reality. That’s why the judge did the right thing in this Kojak case and threw it out. Even news on television is a fantasy. Now, news in print is another thing entirely and a very difficult thing to grasp. This is what my book 'The Gutenberg Galaxy' is about.

"On the phone, on the air, you have no body. You are just an image. You have no physical body. Electronic man is discarnate. He has no body, and no identity. When people lose their identity they crave nostalgia. That’s all 'Star Wars' is, after all. A return to the past. Nostalgia. We do have a supernatural identity left, but no natural identity is left when natural laws are taken away from us. That’s what happens when we lose our bodies.

"There is no identity left when you live at the speed of light. That is how television outdates Freud. Freud is passe. Everyone then had an identity, even if it was a sick one. Now man has no identity. I just worked with Woody Allen in his movie 'Annie Hall' (1977). Woody Allen is very, very serious. I think Steve Allen is the one who said that the funny man is the one with a grievance. There is no joke that is not based on a grievance.

"Streakers had a gripe. Why the instant, momentary flash? The streaker seemed to be going somewhere. It was a public complaint about having no goals. At the speed of light there are no goals. There is only role play. On the phone, on the air, you have no goals. Streakers were complaining about the absence of jobs, dramatized by public demonstration, by a role play.

"Punk rock is a manifestation of grievance. Delinquency is rage. There are no feet in any language except English. Rock music comes from the South you know. Rock is the technology of the big city processed through the English language. It is not possible in any other language. Prose is becoming obsolete, certainly. Books are becoming obsolete. The pun is now the form of expression, because puns can condense ideas into images.

"We have just scrubbed the identity of the whole younger generation, anybody under 25 (in February 1972), with television. We've wiped them out. Today's youth (the hippie or 'the flower children'), with their long hair, their strange clothes, their communal lifestyles – they're just rebelling, violently, against the environment imposed by the electronic media. It has swept away their sense of identity, so they're hunting for the ultimate inner trip.

"I think if man had known what he was getting into 25 years ago (1947 - Industrial Era), he would have said no to technological progress. But, I personally am not here to solve problems or make judgments. I only want to spot processes. People can do whatever they want with my ideas. We must re-program the entire planet for maximal human self-satisfaction.

"In education, for instance, we must learn that the answers are outside the schools. We can only provide the new generation of students with the questions in classrooms. If we don’t realize this, the drop-out problem of today (in the 1970s) will pale, compared to what it will be 10 years from now (in the 1980s). Our educational system is obsolete."

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