Brain Pickings

Douglas Coupland on Marshall McLuhan’s Prophecy

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We love iconic futurist and media theorist Marshall McLuhan, most famous for popularizing “the medium is the message.” Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!, the newish McLuhan almost-biography by prolific Canadian novelist and design writer Douglas Coupland (of Generation X fame), reveals McLuhan’s genius with unprecedented intimacy and, in the process, engages one of today’s most heated intellectual discussions: How are new media changing the way we think? Half a century before Facebook, Twitter and “information overload,” McLuhan presages the end of print culture and the rise of “electronic inter-dependence” with uncanny accuracy, outlining not only the technological developments of this revolution but the complex shifts in social cognition that it begets.

More than anything, it paints McLuhan as a masterful dot-connector and voracious cross-disciplinary thinker, a curious octopus if you will — the kind of intellectual disposition at the root of our own mission.

One must remember that Marshall arrived at these conclusions not by hanging around, say, NASA or I.B.M., but rather by studying arcane 16th-century Reformation pamphleteers, the writings of James Joyce, and Renaissance perspective drawings. He was a master of pattern recognition, the man who bangs a drum so large that it’s only beaten once every hundred years.” ~ Douglas Coupland

The Medium is The Message

Illustration by Abbott Miller

More than an engrossing read, Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work! is an absolute cultural necessity that not only frames the legacy of modern media but projects, with astounding prophetic accuracy, its sociocultural and technological future.

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