The Medium Is the Message Is the Metaphor: Cool Reason and the Young Intellectual Public of Marshall McLuhan

Authors

  • Joel Deshaye Memorial University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.22230/cjc.2019v44n1a3322

Keywords:

Marshall McLuhan, Youth, Celebrity, Intellectual, Metaphor, Rhetoric / Marshall McLuhan, Jeunesse, Célébrité, Intellectuel, Métaphore, Rhétorique

Abstract

Background  Following recent reappraisals of the work of media and communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, this article argues that an overlooked aspect of his appeal and celebrity is not only his famous use of metaphor, but also a countercultural stance suggested by this use of metaphor.

Analysis  Applying Michael Warner’s arguments about publics to McLuhan’s rhetorical style, the article focuses partly on 1) the 1967 film This Is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium Is the Massage and how it might have addressed an audience of countercultural youth; and 2) related texts that helped to construct McLuhan’s celebrity.

Conclusions and implications  Ultimately, the article historicizes McLuhan’s celebrity to explain both its relatively short heyday in the 1960s and the comeback that can be attributed to the development of his young audience into teachers and reappraisers.

RÉSUMÉ

Contexte  À la suite de récentes réévaluations de l’œuvre du théoricien des médias et des communications Marshall McLuhan, cet article affirme qu’un aspect négligé de son attrait et de sa célébrité n’est pas seulement son fameux emploi de la métaphore, mais aussi son image contre-culturelle renforcée par cet emploi de la métaphore.

Analyse En appliquant au style rhétorique de McLuhan les arguments de Michael Warner sur les publics, l’article se focalise partiellement 1) sur le film de 1967 This Is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium Is the Massage et comment il a pu interpeler un public de jeunes contre-culturels; et 2) sur des textes connexes qui ont aidé à fabriquer la célébrité de McLuhan.

Conclusions et implications Cet article, en fin de compte, situe la célébrité de McLuhan dans son contexte historique afin d’expliquer son apogée relativement courte dans les années 1960 et son retour en force à mesure que les jeunes amateurs du théoricien sont devenus enseignants et critiques.

Author Biography

Joel Deshaye, Memorial University

Joel Deshaye is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Memorial University in St. John's. He has published nationally and internationally on subjects such as Canadian literature, metaphor, literary history, film, and philosophy. He is at work on a book on the genre of the Western in Canadian literature.

Published

2019-02-26