Marshall McLuhan observed, "Ordinary people prefer to live in the immediate past (as depicted on the TV series 'Bonanza' 1959-1973). We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backward (in the US to the American frontier) into the future." 

The 'Dew-Line Newsletter' elaborated, "Let's get specific for a moment. Throughout history, most people have obsessively viewed new developments merely as extensions of old, worn-out and now-useless concepts (what Dr. McLuhan calls 'living in a rear-view mirror') - and therefore never really saw or understood them at all. For example, the railway engine was at first called the 'Iron Horse'. 

"The automobile was called the 'Horseless Carriage'. The radio was known as the 'Wireless'. And the men and women who so mistitled and so misunderstood them, wake up to their true opportunities only decades after those with clear vision has seized and exploited them … The present has turned a corner when you were not looking, and you have been dangerously left behind!" 

In the "electric age", Marshall McLuhan believed the artist acted as the antennae of the race or the "visual-sensory informer" in the global village (which was also a "brand new world of all at oneness"). Marshall McLuhan maintained the artists communicated cultural and technological change before it transformed a society because artists were living in the present, hence pop art, which made art out of everyday objects, the Beatles (back in the day), and contemporary houses with no barricading walls. 

Marshall McLuhan had predicted the fall of the linear chronology of print. The written word grasped by reading only the right-hand pages took man from tribalism to individualism. TV suddenly carried him out of this "fragmented, literate and visual individualism." In its place, the simultaneity of the electronic world. Marshall McLuhan told the press, "You have to change your opinion completely because satellites, unlike other forms of communication, introduce a new, total and complete electronic environment for the world." And as awareness was pushed more into the environment, art would become environment. 

In 1967, Marshall McLuhan remarked, "Toronto is a comfortable place. Canada is a 19th century country and it's handy to sit here or to go away and come back and watch the United States struggle to adjust in the 20th century. In Canada you can be detached. French-Canadians accept the 20th century naturally. Radio and televisions gave them a new image of themselves, and it's much more powerful than the image railways gave English Canada. 

"The 19th century helped us make business into a culture. The 20th century turns culture into business, and all cultural matters are enormously profitable. The French-Canadians stepped right into this … Having no national identity, Canada has never had any goals. That's why Canada is not as frustrated and therefore not as aggressive as most countries." 

Marshall McLuhan made the point how individuals, corporations, countries and dinosaurs "grew large because of a flow of adrenalin to compensate for their frustration ... The dinosaur didn't know it was extinct either. Dinosaurs never had it so good, as just before they vanished. Paper allowed the Romans to create a military bureaucracy. When the source of paper dried up, the Roman Empire fell into a decline.

"Most Canadians regard Americans as an underprivileged and even inferior group socially, and politically. There seems to be a tremendous ethnic mix-up and a lack of a plain, cultural past. I grew up that way. When I arrived at my first teaching job in Wisconsin I found that there was probably more culture in that town of Madison than in the whole of Canada. I had to jettison all my views of the United States and do it in a hurry."

Betty Milburn of the 'Tucson Daily Citizen' learnt in 1968 art was the outward expression of man's inner life. "Art reveals not only the interpretations of the recognizable (realistic art) but it probes the unknown (abstract). Art communicates - thought, ideas, emotions, the illuminations of the imagination." At the time, Betty joined a group discussion on viewing paintings and made a discovery.

"Let's pretend to look at a painting of – say – a red circle; at what appears to be simply a red circle floating on a white canvas. Don't feel compelled to understand it. How often have you heard, in a gallery, 'I don’t know what that's supposed to be, but this could be a tree, and that a bird, and that the sun – except it's black and at the bottom of the painting …'

"Each of us perceives things differently, and to a different degree, due to our conditioning; what we’re taught to believe what we think we should see. This is art; this is not. This is beautiful; this is ugly. This is good; this is bad. Consequently we often have 'tunnel vision'. We are suspicious of the new, the unfamiliar. We tend to reject anything for which we haven't a ready-made label.

"We have wrapped our minds with layers of convictions and beliefs, and in doing so, have smothered the ability to perceive, to experience the childlike joy and delight of discovery. We expect things – even paintings – to have a purpose. And indeed they did, until recently. They decorated tombs (Egyptian); or praised the Lord (Renaissance) or depicted a likeness (the great portraits) or recounted a story of historical event.

"In the last two centuries (the 18th and 19th), painting has been done just for its own sake. Its only purpose is simply to be. Don't judge our red circle. Don't compare it. Just observe it, expecting and asking nothing of it. How often does one hear 'I don't know much about art, but I know what I like?' If we're lucky, our ideas change, for change is the normal state of man. But how we sometimes resist it!

"Marshall McLuhan has said: 'We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future...' Paintings are products of imagination, which transcend the known, the visible, the understandable and deal with man's inner life, the activity of the invisible, the essence of things. Essence needn't be a great revelation.

"It may be no more than delight in a simple shape, or in a color, or in a line. And our red circle? Simply greet it in a pleasant way and be welcomed by it. Friendship follows more easily with a pleasant greeting. If you find no particular delight in it, after looking – and returning to look again – come back another day. You may yet make a discovery."

Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller both argued against seeing the future in a rear-vision mirror, which Fuller described as "society, backing up into its future, with eyes fixed only on the ever receding and less adequate securities of yesterday." Buckminster Fuller insisted engineering could save the world, whereas politics couldn't, "It (politics) is inherently divisive and biased and, to be effective, must eventually have recourse to its ultimate tools of war-making."

Whereas engineering ("the self-accelerating doing-more-with-less invention revolution) "has been generated thus far (to 1967) almost exclusively by the technology of the world's weaponry race, whose ultimate objective has always been to deliver the greatest blows the farthest, most accurately and most swiftly with the least effort. Evolution seems intent upon making man a success despite his negative fixations.

"The doing-more-with-less economic success of 40% of humanity, accomplished in only half a century, cannot be attributed to any political doctrine. Technology has flourished equally under exactly opposed ideologies. Politics is, inherently, only an accessory after the fact of the design-science revolution. Despite this historically demonstrable fact, world society as yet persists in looking exclusively to its politicians and their ideologies for world problem-solving.

"Peace probably can be accomplished only by design-science revolution which can and may realize the feasible potential by upgrading the performance of units of resources to provide 100% of humanity with an ever higher standard of living."

Marshall McLuhan had said the role of the educator "is to make conscious that which is unconscious." In the global village, information came from every direction at the same moment today and this was called an acoustic sphere. Each person made an unconscious decision as to what material he would digest, which allowed the unconscious to surface, grow and develop as a way of making a private identity.

"Subconscious is a by-product of the luxury of having individuality. TV is remaking us in its own image. All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the massage. A medium works on you much like a chiropractor or some other masseur and really works you over and doesn't leave any part of you unaffected; it is a surround that is a process. It is not a wrapper. It is a process and it does things to you. The medium is what happens to you and that is the message."

On reflection, James J. Kilpatrick begged to differ, "McLuhan is, I think, dead wrong in most of his conclusions … About half the time he sees through a cracked lens, oddly. Nevertheless, the McLuhan mind is a brilliant mind at work. He merits a respectful hearing … It is when McLuhan looks to the future that he seems to lose his clarity of thought. He sees the 'integral men' of the next century (the 21st century) organized in decentralized mini-states.

"The United States will break up; it will become 'a multiplicity of Negro states, Indian states, linguistic and ethnic states.' Society will become tribal once more, but in a new way – for electronic media of the future will produce the unity of a single tribe. In McLuhan's vision, democracy is finished … Man's entire society would be programmed by computer."

Adiel J. Moncrief of 'The Tampa Tribune', 1969: "Marshall McLuhan has observed that the 'knowledge industries' having become the largest in man's modern culture, have made man aware of the 'Silent Language' and the 'Hidden Dimension.' This is shown in many aspects of modern culture. 'The new environments,' he adds, 'seem to act as rear-view mirrors in which we observe the old environments.'

"It has been shown that events shape their own times and spaces. He notes the world of speed-up, caricatured in an article in 'Esquire' magazine featuring 'The New American Woman, Finished at 21.' Like instant coffee, we are getting instant culture. 'Time has become the most real of all dimensions now. That now includes all other times and cultures. History ends in an eternal present."

Marshall McLuhan stressed, "Conversation has more vitality, more fun and more drama than writing. What I say is being used as a probe, and it's not a package. I'm probing around without making special pronouncements. Most people say things as the result of thinking, but I use it to probe. Canadians are unaware of most everything.The media are in the process of changing democratic institutions. Now you can start figuring from there.

"I honestly don't know if the changes will be good or bad, but I think we'd better start thinking about them … Canada is a 19th century country. Why should they (Canadians) be interested (in my books). I'm talking about our own time, and they might get turned on. This Canada is real cool territory, in the old sense. We're protected from the present by layer on layer of political environment and protected from encountering ourselves by layers of colonialism.

"Well, as far as I'm concerned, this is great. Other countries are flapping around in a frenzy of turned-onness. I'm only alerting Canadians to the 20th century so they can duck out. I hope we'll leapfrog it into the 21st century (in 1967). They (French Canada) want to take over Canada and operate it, and I think they will. Separatism has already happened. We'll go on being hypnotized by separatism while something else is happening."

In November 1966, Marshall McLuhan addressed an international gathering of scientists and economists in Washington. 'The Washington Post' reported the occasion was to dedicate the new laboratories of the National Bureau of Standards and the opening of a two-day symposium on technology and world trade. Marshall McLuhan made plain, "Modern suburban man lives in the rear-view mirror of 'Bonanza'."

Marshall McLuhan claimed the effect of television on children was "to Orientalize the Western world and this is completely beyond our perception at a time when we're busy Westernizing the East. (TV is) profoundly involving … It carries us inside ourselves, on a trip as it were. LSD and TV are closely related in their effects … Kierkegaard and Sartre are a part of all this ... The movement is toward the unique and singular."

Separately, "The advertising world is steadily substituting itself for the product … The consumer gets satisfaction from the ad, not from the goods it publicizes." Also, mankind had entered a "satellite environment" and that Earth was no longer the habitat: "The planet itself becomes a man-made environment, a nose cone, an art form in itself.

"The future of investment is going to be the restoration of the planet at all the levels of its previous experience … We'll be doing a Williamsburg job (the American Revolution 1781) on the whole world. The new environment is the human unconscious, jumbled and unassembled." Marshall McLuhan also made the comment many children resented being sent to school "because it interrupts their education. The outside world is far richer in information than the schoolroom." 

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