The art in THE BOOK OF PROBES starts early, with pictures and computer graphics generated by David Carson going out of the blue and into the black on pages 4-400 including 33 pages preceding the author, title, list of editors, and contents, which lists "Probes 8 - 545" for pages that have a mixture of such art, Commentary on pages 403-448 and Fragments, before the Album with regular pictures, explanations, and credits on pages 547-574. People familiar with the book will become able to find portions by checking the color of the edges of the pages. Pages 4-33 and 54-397 are white along the bottom, in a strip which includes tiny page numbers; pages 402-425 (except for the yellow strip on the bottom of pages 405-406) have the numbers in a blue strip; pages 440-449 have a green bottom strip; etc. The primary concern is with communication, but I would like to pick up the pieces in the alphabetically arranged Fragments that suggest how closely the atomic nature of evidence of modernity includes expectations of a mushroom cloud in our future.
"All invention is a form of bodily fission, with the ensuing chain reaction in the body and the environment." (p. 456).
"Light is information without `content,' much as the missile is a vehicle without the additions of wheel or highway. As the missile is a self-contained transportation system that consumes not only fuel but its engine, so light is a self-contained communication system in which the medium is the message." (p. 487).
"Rapid changes of identity, happening suddenly and in very brief intervals of time, have proved more deadly and destructive of human values than wars fought with hardware weapons." (p. 503).
"The environment always manages somehow to be invisible. Only the content, the previous environment, is noticeable. The BOMB itself became content, having had a short reign as environment." (p. 517).
"The metropolis is obsolete. Ask the Army." (p. 524).
"Western literate man is easily inclined to make moral protests, but is seemingly incapable of recognizing the formal or `acoustic' structure of situations which are disturbing and destroying him." (p. 538).
I am getting off of the subject, as modern readers tend to do, but I have so many concerns that I am worried about why the following biological observation applies so well to mass politics:
"Smoothness and repetitive order, the attributes of teeth, enter into the very nature of the power structure." (p. 505).
The pages with a green strip on the bottom, 441-448, contain "McLuhan and Saussure" by W. Terence Gordon. Saussure's "Course in General Linguuistics" predicted that universal laws of semiotics could be discovered, and McLuhan used `LOM' as his note for Laws of Media "over and over and listing the passages where Saussure's groundwork buttressed the emerging synthesis of ideas that McLuhan would articulate first in 1977 and fully explore in the posthumously published Laws of Media (1988)." (p. 442). Politics is largely the result of accepted terminologies for approaching areas that are perceived as problems, particularly in democracies, where a person's politics provides some frame of reference for picking the future he or she would prefer. "To use a brand of car, drink, smoke or food that is nationally advertised gives a man the feeling that he belongs to something bigger than himself." (p. 535). Spending a trillion dollars for a strategic weapons system that could destroy parts of our world which do not conform to our wishes is like the icing on the cake of modern life.