Exploring ignorance (2)

In Chrystall’s exploring ignorance proposal to the MEA, he uses the word ‘extend’, innocuously enough perhaps , As a general rule, however, whenever words like ‘extend’, ‘extension’ etc are used in reference to McLuhan to indicate a desirable end (as in Robert Logan’s title [!] Understanding New Media: Extending Marshall McLuhan), there is something amiss.  For McLuhan, ‘extensions’ are not a good thing (or, for that matter, a bad thing), they are a problematic thing. They are at work to further only at the generally unconsidered expense that they are at work at the same time also to limit. So, eg, no increased sight without an implicated blindness. Similarly for any other sense or for all the senses together.

More is always also less for humans — ‘odos ano kato. (“The way up is the way down” from Heraclitus, which Eliot uses as one of his mottos to the Four Quartets and which McLuhan cites in Take Today (283) as an “ancient adage”).

Especially in the context of ‘exploring ignorance’, no mention of ‘extending’ should be proffered in McLuhan scholarship without counter-balancing acknowledgement of its inevitable shadow side.


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