McLuhan, Marshall & Powers, Bruce R. The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21 st Century. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1989. Key Terms: left-brain thinking: linear; systematic; sequential; fixed boundaries; visual; pertaining to the “ground” right-brain thinking: without boundaries; simultaneous; acoustic; pertaining to the “figure” ground: provides setting (background) in which to perceive figure; subliminal figure: “geometric construct” (71); the medium visual space: tangible; fragmented acoustic space: intangible; integrated artifact: medium of communication (eg: words) archetype: the original model after which new models are formed Chapter 1 – “The Resonating Interval:” resonating interval exposes relationship between figure and ground four-fold process of transformation of the artifact: tetrad Tetrad o o main purpose: to expose hidden ground, providing context in which to understand the artifact allows simultaneous understanding of visual and acoustic space o composed of a set of testable questions:


“What does any artifact enlarge or







What does it erode or What does it What does it

retrieve reverse obsolesce

? that had been earlier obsolesced? or flip into when pushed to the limits of its

potential?” (9) eliminates fragmentation of process of understanding – reveals the whole allows humans to think about the effects of the artifact o

“Technological enlargement is a process toward excess… man should make as his first object

the recognition of pattern as a means to avoid excess and achieve equilibrium.” (12) “The medium is the message.” (6) o medium – the technology and what comes along with it o reshapes the “ground” Chapter 2 – “The Wheel and the Axle:” Western communication and education is too linear – the tetrad serves to provide a balance between left and right new divergence in Western society from traditionally visual understanding of the message – newfound emphasis on the relationship of the acoustic space to the visual space fragmented nature of phonetic alphabet o devastating effects of phonetic alphabet on traditionally oral Greek communications o visual emphasis of alphabet/printing the archetype does not account for the “ground” archetype and new technologies – new ideas in the context of old clichés

Chapter 3 – “Visual and Acoustic Space:” visual space as side effect of phonetic alphabet importance of money (metal money as archetype) and the compass, in trade – intensified human consciousness o human need to exchange/store property (42) o even in present day, most things boil down to monetary value o compass as representation (externalization) of human “sense of direction on this planet” (42) phonetic alphabet as basis of Western linguistic development (45) visual space: created by Greek phonetic literacy; connected logically but with no ground; perceived through the eyes; “mind’s eye” acoustic space: natural space; non-literate; “mind’s ear;” no boundaries; cultural

“When we say bicultural we mean the fortune to have a foot placed, as it were, in both

visual and acoustic space…” (45) Chapter 4 – “East Meets West in the Hemispheres:” Western civilization emphasizes “left-brain thinking over right brain cognition” (48) other cultures (eg: Inuit) operate with more “’hemispheric symmetry’” (Trotter) o stronger preference toward right-brain thinking – processes of rituals, familiarity with land o less emphasis on “’seeing is believing’” (56) o o even more value placed upon right-brain thinking comprehension occurs based upon ritual, oral tradition, intuition, etc. species development dependent upon understanding of relationship between left and right

“We must teach ourselves to abandon the tendency to view the environment in a hierarchical and totally connective way, to center ourselves instead in the arena of interplay between the

two modes of perception and analysis, which is comprehensive awareness.” (49) rarity to achieve “true balance” of left and right brain, but achievement yields a “comprehensive awareness” “true consciousness” may be realized through perfect balance of diachronic (visual) and synchronic (acoustic) lines Chapter 5 – “Plato and Angelism:” “multi-sensory” equilibrium allows for immediate readjustment to any new conditions angelism: focus on one point of view, lacking ground; emphasized by Plato Plato fearful of the influence of the right hemisphere on left hemisphere academics (ie: memory, empathy, etc. getting in the way of logic) quantitative philosophy highlights ability of phonetic alphabet to “translate other languages into itself,” whereas right-brained cultures, based on oral tradition, resistant to “penetration” of other cultures and societies left-brain technologies (eg: propaganda) allow influence over oral cultures propaganda of the church and its effects on other cultures while emergence of visual had devastating effects on oral culture, some believe the rise of individualism was brought about by rise of phonetic alphabet

“’But at this time… there arose a new faith in reason, freedom, and the brotherhood of new

men – the new faith, and, as I believe, the only possible faith, of an open society.’” (61)

Chapter 6 – “Hidden Effects:” artifacts as extension of human body experiences always occur on psychic and social grounds - any change to the senses brings about completely different experience (eg: going blind) basis of contemporary Western communications theories: left-hemisphere and lineal; ignores environment; communication as “literal matching rather than making” (75) “The information source changes this message into the signal which is actually sent over the communication channel from the transmitter to the receiver.” (75) Western communication lacks “multiplicity” of effects of medium tetrad must be employed in order to fully understand subliminal effects of the artifact and the ground innovation is the combining of new and old artifacts in order to drive invention – viewing traditional archetypes within the context of their environments nothing has meaning outside of the context of its environment (“figure-minus-ground”) Final Thoughts: in the 21 st century, an age of developing technologies, humankind must take into account both the visual and acoustic interpretations of the medium and the message rise of left-brain visual culture saw the decline in traditional oral tradition re-emergence of appreciation of acoustic space alongside the visual tetrad serves as means of viewing the medium as a whole dangerous to ignore either element of space – risk of missing the message For Discussion: What are the technological evidences of the 21 st century shift from solely visual to visual and acoustic perception of space?