This letter from Harold Innis to McLuhan is included in an online exhibit (since taken down) of McLuhan and Innis materials mounted by Library and Archives Canada:
Its February 26, 1951 date is important since it throws light on the famous March 14, 1951 letter (Letters 220-223) from McLuhan to Innis which we have only as a ‘rewrite’. Because Innis apologizes for his slow reply to McLuhan’s original note, it may be guessed that that note was sent to Innis either in January 1951 or already late in 1950.
Feb 26 1951
Needless to say I was very much interested in your letter and, if you have no objections, I would like in have copies typed for circulation to one or two of our mutual friends.
I would like to see your views elaborated since they seem very important [and] could be used as a basis for general discussion. I was interested in your remarks on Deutsch1 and his views as expressed in your pamphlet. I would be very pleased if you would put me on your list of people receiving copies of the mimeographed sheet.
I am sorry not to have answered your letter at an earlier date, but I have only recently escaped from the demands of the Royal Commission.
With many thanks,
Yours ever, HAI
- The reference is to Karl Deutsch (1912–1992), ‘Higher Education and the Unity of Knowledge‘, presented as a lecture in 1948 at the ninth ‘Symposium of the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion’ and printed in 1950 in Goals for American Education, A Symposium, ed, L Bryson, L Finkelstein, R.M. MacIver, pp 55-139. McLuhan was apparently sent the off-print by his friend, Sigfried Giedion — an offprint of this same article is to be found in Giedion’s papers in Zurich. (McLuhan and Giedion met in the spring of 1943 in St Louis when Giedion lectured there.) Giedion was a visiting scholar at MIT in 1950, where he was a colleague of Deutsch and Norbert Wiener. (In a October 26, 1951 letter to Giedion, McLuhan records: “Friends of mine gave me great pleasure in reporting some of your lectures at MIT last year.”) It was probably through the Giedion-MIT connection that McLuhan and Wiener would come to correspond in 1951-52 and Deutsch would write a review of Innis’s Bias of Communication in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science in 1952. The topic of Deutsch’s paper, ‘Higher Education and the Unity of Knowledge‘ was, of course, a central interest of McLuhan during his whole career, but particularly in the two decades from 1940 to 1960. ↩