McLuhan to Overduin on water and fish

In an undocumented quotation, but apparently from a 1971 letter to Henry Overduin1 which was excerpted at length on the preceding page, Graeme Patterson cites McLuhan as follows:

In such surrounds, or all-enveloping situations, most people see the “content” or the figure rather than the ground in which the figure is placed. A fish may see other other fish but never see water.2

  1. Hendrik (Henry) Overduin (1942-2008) had been head of the Department of Mass Communication at McNeese State University in Louisiana before retiring to London (ON) where he continued teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of Western Ontario.
  2. Graeme Patterson, History and Communications, 1990, 120, apparently from a November 1, 1971 letter to Henry Overduin in the McLuhan papers in the Ottawa archive. Cf Patterson, p234, n20.