What nobody knows

ἐπειδὴ καὶ σχεδὸν ἀνώνυμον ὂν τυγχάνει τὸ τῶν αὐτεπιτακτῶν γένος (Plato, Statesman, 260e, ‘since the class of those who issue orders on their own is virtually nameless’)

Movies and TV complete the cycle of mechanization of the human sensorium. With the omnipresent ear and the moving eye, we have abolished writing, the specialized acoustic => visual metaphor1 that established the dynamics2 of Western civilization.
By surpassing writing, we have regained our WHOLENESS, not on a national or cultural, but cosmic, plane.3 We have evoked a super-civilized sub-primitive man.4 
NOBODY yet knows the language inherent in the new technological culture; we are all deaf-blind mutes5 in terms of the new situation. Our most impressive words and thoughts betray us by referring to the previously existent, not to the present.6
We are back in acoustic space. We begin again to structure the primordial7 feelings and emotions from which 3000 years of literacy divorced us. (‘Five Sovereign Fingers Taxed The Breath’, Counterblast, 1954) 

the full analogical sense of exact orchestration (…) implies the complete self-effacement of the writer (…) Existence must speak for itself. It is already richly and radiantly signed. The artist has merely to reveal, not to forge the signatures of existence. (Joyce, Mallarmé, and the Press, 1954)

Have you encountered the work of Ed T Hall? He says he got the idea of our technologies as outerings of sense and function from Buckminster Fuller. I got it from nobody.8 (McLuhan to Walter Ong, February 27, 1962, Letters 287) 

Nothing has its meaning alone. (Take Today, 3)

  1. McLuhan has “the specialized acoustic-visual metaphor” here which might be taken to indicate that his thinking about the question of how to express the sensory foundations, plural, of media was still in development at this point.  The essential difference between “the omnipresent ear and the moving eye” together in “movies and TV” and “the specialized acoustic-visual metaphor” of writing is captured only in the word “specialized”.  The essential time difference between the either/or emphasis of the chronological ‘acoustic => visual’ transformation eventuating in writing, and the both/and synchronic emphases of ‘ear <=> eye’ in “movies and TV” remains silent in his formulation — as does writing’s marginalization of the acoustic and correlative centrification of the visual.
  2. “Dynamics” here points to “cosmic” in the next sentence. Going back to Plato and Aristotle, and continued to this day in the liturgy of the eastern church, δύναμις names the power that is the basis of order throughout the κόσμος. Cf, in Plato: “wise men tell us, Callicles, that heaven and earth and gods and men are held together by communion and friendship, by orderliness, temperance, and justice; and that is the reason, my friend, why they call the whole of this world by the name of order (κόσμος), not of disorder (ἀκοσμία) or dissoluteness (ἀκολασία). Now you, as it seems to me, do not give proper attention to this, for all your cleverness, but have failed to observe the great power (μέγα δύναται) of geometrical equality amongst both gods and men: you hold that self-advantage is what one ought to practice, because you neglect geometry.” (Gorgias 207e-208a)
  3. Here is the nub of McLuhan’s difference from, say, Richards and Havelock. He starts from an ontological or “cosmic plane”.  Only from it can there be “WHOLENESS, (…) on a national or cultural (…) plane” or, indeed, on an individual one.
  4. ‘Super-sub’ invokes Heraclitus B60: ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή (the way up and the way down are one and the same) — one of the epigrams to Eliot’s Four Quartets.  This image implicates in turn his central themes of figure/ground and the synchronic “interior trip into the darkness of our own being”, aka into the “interior landscape”.
  5. McLuhan invokes “the language inherent” here in contrast to “mutes” and to “words and thoughts (that) betray us”.  The Logos as “the language inherent” in all things is a “cosmic” third against the “specialized acoustic” (“deaf”) and “specialized (…) visual” (“blind”) — or (as it may just as well be put) against the “specialized acoustic” (“blind”) and “specialized (…) visual” (“deaf”).
  6. Here the question of time emerges that would preoccupy McLuhan for the rest of his life. How to express “the new situation” in terms of the “all” that “is always now” (Eliot)?
  7. Primordial aka “cosmic”.
  8. “I got it from nobody” may be considered in many different ways,  Heard as an historical claim, this is of course nonsense: McLuhan plainly had the idea from Henry Wright.