At the meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on "Art in Today's World" in Paris, 1976, Marshall McLuhan told the press art was "a whirlpool, a vortex of dialog and comments. Things become apparent through their absence. They left out popular art. In the Third World there is no high art. Everything they do is art. 

"The press is a popular art. Newspaper people do not like to think that they are artists. It's an insult. They have a degraded opinion of themselves. But the press is a popular art form. It's a Third World art form. The press doesn't know this, it just makes news. The Third World does it with drums. You do it by telegram which is a drum and instantaneous. A news story is structured accoustically in a literary way, it's the pyramid with the first sentence." 

In his graduate seminar, 'The New York Times' reported in 1967, Marshall McLuhan told 25 students, "What is the future of old age? Why? Exploration and discovery. ('Batman' 1966-68 was) simply an exploitation of nostalgia which I predicted years ago. The criminal, like the artist, is a social explorer. Bad news reveals the character of change; good news does not. Most people are alive in an earlier time, but you must be alive in our own time. The artist is the man in any field, scientific or humanistic, who grasps the implications of his actions and of new knowledge in his own time. He is the man of integral awareness." 

"The microphone affects politics in Cuba," Marshall McLuhan told Alejo Carpentier in 1976. "Castro by using television instead of radio has been able to stabilize politics in Cuba while Latin American countries using radio, not television, have no stability. TV is a cool medium, radio is a hot medium. You put a hot medium into the Third World and you have excitement, it's a very dangerous instrument.

"Radio is like rum for Indians, it sends them crazy. Third World people have sensitive ears. The literate man has poor hearing, he can stand the radio raving. The Third World wants to go through crazy industrialization. To throw away its future for the past. The Third World is like a hemisphere in my left hand."

In 1970, Marshall McLuhan told the International Association of Art Critics in Ontario, Canada, "As we introduce new services, we scrap the preceding services. The preceding services then take on the character of art form." Hence art operated in an "environment of garbage. The artist uses ruins as a resource pile." All art was created from garbage or destruction.

Marshall McLuhan argued that as soon as man launched a satellite into orbit, he scrapped nature itself. Art used to involve the reproduction of nature but the new material available now made this superfluous since nature was now the material for art itself although the old criteria were still being considered.

In the 1969 Marshall McLuhan Dew-Line Newsletter, Marshall McLuhan wrote, "Every time a new environment goes around an old one, the old one becomes a midden-heap. Throughout the ages men have built their cities one on top of the other, one world burrowing on another and borrowing on another and borrowing from all the others. The scraps left over from previous cultures become the props of the new one.

"Electronic man has instant access to all the cultural garbage or clothing of past times. The function of art is to enable man to relate to the present. The Chinese phrase is 'make it new.' New art is made by invading the old arts and ravaging them for materials for the new forms: 'to burrow and to borrow and to barrow' is Joyce's phrase for the process of perpetual junking and re-creating of man's life, private and corporate.

"The garbage aspect of our lives was never more evident than now, simply because of the rapidity of technological innovation. Each innovation of new materials or processes scraps the old arrangements, releasing all of their components for a retrieval in new patterns. The young today (in 1969) sense that the world itself has become an affluent garbage dump, the ideal playground.

"They have fittingly responded by garbing themselves like old-clothes men who used to drive 'rag-and-bone' carts through our cities. The new technological environment that made possible the Wild West was not so much the railway as the tin can. The world of the cowboy was built on canned goods. The most important items in the cowboy's kit were canned tomatoes and canned sardines ... The canned tomatoes provided drinking water and the sardines provided protein.

"The Wild West rests on a solid foundation of empty tin cans. These will be excavated some day by an enterprising archaeologist. The same tin cans, however, were actually provided by a man who was to become the most famous archaeologist in the world – Herr Schliemann. Schliemann made a fortune providing tomatoes and sardines for cowboys. He then used this fortune to dig up the garbage-dump of ancient Troy.

"It is not fantastical that the Wild West of Bonanzaland should have been the means of retrieving the splendors of ancient Troy from a garbage dump? - that the barbarian should bring back the classicist? It is no more fantastical than the rapid stages by which the Western world is embedding itself in the junk of Oriental culture, even as the Orient is wrapping itself in the trash and treasures of the Western world. It is affluence that creates poverty, as it is the public that creates privacy. In a tribal society there is neither privacy nor poverty. When everybody starves at the same rate, there is no poverty."

In November 1974, the University of Chicago held 30 events in the month-long "celebration of the medieval heritage". Historian Bernard McGinn described the celebration as "an explosion of interest now in the Middle Ages." Futurologist William Irwin Thompson made the point that the pendulum of Western civilization was swinging backward – and upward – toward a new kind of medieval synthesis of religion, art, and science.

Marshall McLuhan maintained that in some ways the present age was already "more medieval than the Middle Ages. The medieval period was an acoustic era. Everything was bells, music, preaching, and sound." The era from 1500 to 1900 was dominated by printed communications. "But today, through radio, telephone and television, we have re-created the acoustic conditions of medieval society – only a hundred times better."

As 'Newsweek' observed, "Medieval culture, of course, has often attracted the disaffected intellectuals of other eras. The medieval revival in England in the 19th century produced the high-church Oxford Movement (1833-1841) in religion and the pre-Raphaelite style in painting and led to a rebirth of stained glass and Gothic architecture. It also influenced the work of such social theorists as Carlyle and Ruskin and of poets as diverse as Coleridge and Tennyson."

Back to the 1976 UNESCO news conference, Marshall McLuhan explained jokes were an art form in North America. He then proceeded to tell a joke, "This Lufthansa German pilot is coming to Buenos Aires (this is a Third World conference, so he has to get the story in the Third World). The gas is gone. He says on the intercom 'I'm going to ditch the plane. Swim straight on, it's only 12 miles … There are not many sharks. And for those of you who can't swim, thank you for flying Lufthansa.' Every joke is funny because of the hidden ground under it. In this case the hidden ground is canned (standardized) airline courtesy."

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