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Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by [McLuhan, Marshall]
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Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 640 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2348 KB
  • Print Length: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Gingko Press; Critical edition (14 Jun. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #363,007 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I found this book in a second-hand bookstore for under one dollar. Had never heard of it, had never heard of him but I am fascinated by the media, specifically advertising. I wore this book out and replaced it with the new edition from MIT Press. I love this book. I still can't understand it in places (this makes me study it even more to try and understand where he is coming from) but it definitely changed the way I view the media and my place within it. We are definitely beyond being influenced by the media; the media has become the ground from which we operate.
The book is challenging and it is scattered and chaotic but there is a cohesiveness to it. I suppose that style of writing was supposed to be symbolic of the way the world is (or is becoming). This book will help you to regain your ability to reintegrate yourself with the real world and stop living life as if you have "autoamputated" your true self only to watch it live on television.
While many of the analogies are "out there," most are poignant and relevent. One example is McLuhan's interpretation of the Narcissus myth from Greek mythology. Narcissus did not fall in love with his own reflection. Narcissus had no idea that the reflection he saw was himself; he thought that what he saw was something other than himself. He became transfixed by the image; it was not love, it was numbness. The television screen is our reflection; we are not separate from it -- it is merely what is inside of us extended to the outside for us to look at, thus the subtitle, The Extensions of Man. We have become Narcissus; the media is the reflection we see and, instead of falling in love with the reflection, we have become numb, forgetting (or not aware) that what we are seeing is really us. Tell me that is not relevant today.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'The medium is the message' and 'global village' are phrases often quoted but little understood. Whilst preparing a talk about changes in publishing brought about by new technology, I thought I'd better look at the original. It was amazingly percipient - written twenty years before the internet, and drawing on his observations about radio and television, it anticipated how the ubiquitous, always-on nature of new media would change our ways of dealing with the content they carry. It it a learned and erudite book, reflecting McLuhan's earlier academic career in English Literature, but I find some of the analogies and references rather contrived and stretched. It's oddly organised, too, as though written for hypertext thirty years before its time. Hard work, but always thought-provoking, and as relevant now (perhaps more so) than when written.
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Format: Paperback
This book is essential if we want to understand what is happening in today's world in the field of the media and communication. McLuhan considers the vast history of human communication media from language invented by Homo Sapiens, i.e. us, some at least 300,000 years ago in Africa, to alphabetical writing invented by Homo Sapiens some 5,000 years ago all over the world in a great number of civilizations along with non-alphabetical writing systems. Then he jumps to printing that turns the printed book into a consumer commodity which will enable the development of modern science and the mechanical industry of the first industrial revolution. The next stage is identified by him as the electric age when communication became the transfer of information via some material device that transferred the information in a virtual form: electric impulses (telegraph and telephone); waves of all types (radio, television, and now Internet with the development of computers, smart phones and tablets). The book stops before the Internet (the first "internet" connection was successful only in September 1969 between Stanford and Oakland, both in California.

Let me consider some of the 26 means of communication he studies, targeting in my review those that have to do with what he calls the extensions of the central nervous system.

The spoken word: Extension of all senses but centered on the ear seen as the capturing sense of the sacred universe and the sacred. Plus connection to the mind, the intellect seen as one way only by McLuhan; the intellect precedes and is non-verbal, which is of course at least debatable.

Language: Extension of intelligence, the intellect within McLuhan's limited vision of language/mind. Note he never uses the concept "mind".
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Format: Paperback
I will stick my neck out here and state what I think is obvious but hasn't been noticed because of the erotic talisman cast by the terrible wizard Dawkins, and his hosts of genetic goblins, screaming forth from the citadels of orthodox science...phew!

This Marshall goblin argues, indeed shows, that 'human inventiveness' (various mediums invented via the cerebral cortex) is changing human behaviour, and not those ageless genes that have been swimming around since the dawn of biology.

By the way, you can download a lecture by Terence McKenna. His take on all this typographic man business easily surpasses other explanations of what Marshall Mkluhan was trying to say. It is easily googled.

I won't go into examples here because we can see the way mobile phones are changing human behaviour already. You only need to sit in a cafe and look around you. Ok, I will like to use one little example that I only noticed after reading this book, as only masterpieces can change the field of vision of a reader. (Marshall McLuhan saw very far and he is more than the 'global village' cliché. I mean, Marshall McLuhan's ideas are a direct challenge to reductionist science but the poor man is only remembered for slogans!)

Anyway here goes my example... If you look at old black and white photo's from the age before they had automobiles (1890); the people just stand in the middle of roads, like idiots! They are just relaxing and chatting away, right in the middle of a main road in broad daylight. I have even examined old oil paintings from the 18th century and the people were just as suicidal! We would never do that today, would we? You couldn't pay me one million pounds to stand in the middle of the road like those people in the photograph.
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