The angelic discarnate man of the electric age
Just found this. Father Patrick Peyton ("The rosary priest") interviews Marshall McLuhan on television show, "Family Theatre" on 14 November 1971.
Since first studying his work at UPenn a dozen years ago, what has always impressed me about McLuhan is how well he understood and predicted our digital future. Make no mistake, he wasn’t very happy about where things were going. He was a sceptic who thought that we were ill-prepared for the coming electronic age. He saw media’s influence and growth as something to be wary of, and he was convinced that our institutions were not at all ready.
He was also deeply religious and a devout Catholic. And what is incredible, to me, is how McLuhan draws parallels between technology and connectedness to the church. At points, you expect him to say the word “internet”, and instead he says “rosary” or “church” or something else. I’m not trying to be blasphemous. I just find it incredible how easy it is to conflate the internet with mystical bodies.
In the electric age, man becomes a kind of disembodied spirit. I don't think our institutions have any way of coping with this new dimension of man ... The angelic discarnate man of the electric age who is always in the presence of all the other men in the world.
Most of the relationships between men are now invisible. The human bond, the electric instant bond around the planet, is invisible ... which is not unlike the things we were taking about with relation to the mystical body, which is entirely around us and entirely invisible.
It is hard to understand where the media starts and ends. The media is an all-encompassing service, and man seems to be an inadequate figure.
The bit on “interface” is incredible. See 8m26sec. If this doesn’t foreshadow social networks, instant messaging, and microblogging, then I don’t know what does.
He wants an interface, a resonant dialogue. He wants to rap, chat and empathize with everybody about everything, and this constitutes an interface of change in dialogue. It isn’t just the passing of gossip back and forth. It is a kind of interrelating by which people feel that they are changed, that they are getting with it, they are getting involved, they are participating.
All of these things seem to me to be profoundly related to the rosary and to the church and the mystical body.
Incredible that this was in the 1970’s and the topic of conversation was more about the telephone and satellites than anything else.
I’m considering a change of line to, i-boy, the angelic discarnate man of the electric age who is always in the presence of all the other men in the world
This is from 1971. Think about it.