This classic, WAR & PEACE, attempts to awaken the reader to the realities of media that lie hidden in his own mind. These realities are composed of the everything in the current "electric world," of signs, of real words and nonsense sounds, of pictures, of stuff, of technologies, of clothes, of weapons, of food, and of chemicals, all of which McLuhan calls media and the extensions of man. Can the reader who knows nothing of the pre-electric world be awakened to perceive it? A difficult question since there are all kinds of readers from the primitive to the scientist to the computer programmer.
Indeed, McLuhan and Fiore take the reader on a impossible journey into the guts and gear works of the human brain. Did the Authors bridge any gaps or just create new, unknown ones? Everything about this book is difficult. This includes the often obscure passages on every other page from Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE.
The Authors advance the notion that all behavior, war and violence, stems from man's search for his identity. "So that today war, as it were, has become the little Red Schoolhouse of the global village."(P. 125) War has become the educator and education becomes war. "No one has studied what degree of innovation is required to shatter the self image of a man or a society." And how can man understand himself when he is always engaged in "rearview mirrorism?" Man looks backward because he can't see forward.
In addition, all the media surrounding man is merely raw material for man's info processor, his brain. Thus man is hooked on his current media like a drug addict is hooked on that which alters his sensual input. Man, himself, is but a collection of information. Immersed in this sea of info, like a fish in water, how can man sort out those bits that beg for priority? By understanding the info that composes himself, can man escape his own senses, those that compose and shape his every move? One doubts it!