Monthly Archives: August 2019

Bradbrook’s School of Night and the dynamics of experience

Beyond posing the important question “if anything comes out of Shakespeare’s mind recognizably akin to what it was on going in” (153),1 Bradbrook’s 1936 School of Night had a series of further points that McLuhan would find of great interest for his future investigations.

For example, his entire Nashe PhD thesis from 1943, together with the associated ‘Ancient Quarrel’ essay from 1946,2 amounted to a huge expansion of Bradbrook’s observation:

There appears to have been a kind of literary ‘war’ between [Ralegh’s] school [of night] and the faction of Essex, not unlike the dramatists’ ‘war’ of 1598-9, or the earlier one between Harvey and Nashe. (7)

As tutored by Rupert Lodge in philosophy in Winnipeg,3 and as he found also in Coleridge in his English studies there, McLuhan arrived in Cambridge in 1934 with the idea that confrontation with plural possibilities is a perennial or synchronic feature of the exercise of mind. As he stated earlier that same year in his Manitoba M.A. thesis on George Meredith:

In his table talk, Coleridge noted that all men (…) are born either Platonists or Aristotelians. There are similarly, in all times and places, definite types of temperament displaying consistency of conformation. The literary or artistic expression of such temperaments has properly the same validity as has the philosophizing of the Idealist and the Realist.4

This insight was confirmed and deepened at Cambridge through his further study of Coleridge,5 combined with his new studies of Eliot and Richards there.6 As McLuhan reported in his first publication after leaving Cambridge, ‘The Cambridge English School’ (1938):

Donne, and the later Shakespeare, on the one hand, and the Romantics on the other, have been read at Cambridge as though they were contemporaries of Mr. Eliot — which of course they are. For the continuing life of the language itself is such as to constitute a medium in which they are all contemporary.

The “continuing life of the language itself” in this conception is a matter of dynamics. Like the vast diversity of the physical world which is based on a limited number of elementary structures (themselves the expression only of protons, neutrons and electrons), so here the diversity of language over space and time was imagined as eventuating out of some few basic possibilities.

In the allied 1936 studies of Francis Yates7 and Bradbrook8, McLuhan found these dynamics described as a “civil war of wits”.9 Then in Etienne Gilson, particularly in his Unity of Philosophical Experience from 1938, McLuhan found a comparable use of this same imagery with the superlative advantage for him at that time that it was integrated into Gilson’s unparalleled knowledge of Catholic philosophy:

In a metaphysical system wherein the whole of reality is included, such a doctrine does not limit itself to ideas, it applies to things. The conflict between philosophies then becomes a conflict between philosophers; the “battlefield of endless controversies” described by Kant under the name of metaphysics is, therefore, a battlefield of men, where each philosopher, as a  particular moment of the universal law, has to be the antithesis of another, until both are resolved into the synthesis of a third. That which is contradiction between ideas is war between men, and in such a world, war is by no means an accident. It is law.10

Bradbrook cited Nashe in this context of mind’s position before discrete synchronic possibilities:

In all points our brains are like the firmament, and exhale in everie respect the like grose mistempered vapors and meteors. (175)11

McLuhan must have been flabbergasted to find in Bradbrook’s citation of Nashe here with its “the like grose mistempered vapors and meteors” what he had offered far less flamboyantly a few years before in his Manitoba M.A. thesis as “consistency of conformation”:

There are (…) in all times and places, definite types of temperament displaying consistency of conformation. 

Focusing on the contesting disciplines of the classical trivium, McLuhan’s Nashe thesis, together with his following ‘Ancient Quarrel’ article, would attempt to trace this “civil war of wits” over the two and a half millennia from Socrates in fifth century BC Athens to ‘modern America’.

Not incidentally, the last chapter of Bradbrook’s book, ‘Shakespeare, the School, and Nashe’, put forward the notion that the writings of Nashe might supply particular illumination on the quarreling ‘schools’ of the 1590s. McLuhan would take up this idea, but reverse it. To understand Nashe, he suggested, it was first of all necessary to understand the wars of mind which are continually waged in all human experience:

No sound evaluation of a writer can be given in terms which exclude his basic assumptions as an artist. Nashe has never been considered on his own [basic] terms (The Classical Trivium — The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time, 2006, 4).

The war between these literary camps is basically the opposition between dialectics and rhetoric to control the modes of literary composition; and the ramifications of this opposition stretch into the realms of ethics and politics, both in antiquity and in the Renaissance.  For example, the ethical, political, and stylistic opposition between Machiavelli and Castiglione, between Harvey and Nashe, are at bottom and on the surface, owing to a reconstitution of ancient rivalries between dialectics and rhetoric. While Harvey and Nashe are scarcely commensurate with the others, their relevance to this study is such as to make it important to bring them into the focus of [such] discussion… (Ibid, 42)

Nashe was thus a fulIy enlightened protagonist in an ancient quarrel (…) It was not a quarrel between Catholic and Protestant, but a dispute about methods of exegesis in theology and preaching, concerning which some [on each side of the divide between] Catholics and Protestants held patristic views and some held to scholastic positions. (Ibid, 226)

But to understand the “civil war of wits” between dialectics and rhetoric, it was necessary to start from the third position, or superposition, of the trivium in which the complete grammar of ‘trivial’ possibilities was arrayed:

In studying the history of dialectics and rhetoric, as indeed, of grammar, it is unavoidable that one adopts the point of view of one of these arts12 and the history of the trivium is largely a history of the rivalry among them for ascendancy. (…) The essential opposition between the arts of the trivium being such, then, as frequently to pit the one against the other, with results of the greatest importance, it is useful to recognize that the present exposition of the history of the trivium is being made from a  grammatical point of view. Exposition and interpretation of stated doctrines are grammatical problems… (Ibid, 41-42)

  1. For discussion and citations see “Food for the mind is like food for the body”.
  2. ‘An Ancient Quarrel in Modern America’, Classical Journal, 41:4, January 1946, 156-162. Originally a 1944 lecture in St Louis. Reprinted in The Interior Landscape.
  3. See The Comparative Method of Rupert Lodge for discussion and citations.
  4. The last part of the last sentence was a nod to Lodge, the first part a nod to McLuhan’s continuing allegiance to literature despite Lodge’s case for philosophy.
  5. I.A. Richards published Coleridge on Imagination in 1934, the year McLuhan arrived in Cambridge and began hearing Richards’ lectures.
  6. McLuhan to E.K. Brown, December 12, 1935: “You probably know all about the very exciting and thriving time that the Cambridge English School is experiencing. Dr Richards has been a great stimulus, even to his opponents (!), and  the easy accessibility of Willey, Tillyard, Lucas and Leavis (editor of Scrutiny) makes for an intellectual variety that not even my wildest hopes had prefigured.” (Letters, 79) The exclamation point is original.
  7. F.A. Yates, A Study of Love’s Labour’s Lost, Cambridge, 1936.
  8. M.C. Bradbrook, The School of Night, Cambridge, 1936.
  9. Yates, 158. Cf, Understanding Media, 48: “this civil war (in the world of art and entertainment) affects us in the depths of our psychic lives, as well, since the war is conducted by forces that are extensions and amplifications of our own beings. Indeed, the interplay among media is only another name for this civil war that rages in our society and our psyches alike.”
  10. Gilson, The Unity of Philosophical Experience, 1938, reprint 1955, 250.
  11. Without attribution, Bradbrook cited here from Nashe’s 1594 tract on dreams, Terrors of the Night.
  12. “Unavoidable that one adopts the point of view of one of these arts” because they are treated by McLuhan, following Rupert Lodge, as both basic and incommensurate.

“Food for the mind is like food for the body”

McLuhan and Muriel Bradbrook seem to have become friends during his first stint in Cambridge.1  During his second stint, immediately after his marriage with Corinne, Bradbrook advised him on his PhD thesis on Nashe before leaving Cambridge for war duty in London. 

Bradbrook’s 1936 book, The School of Night, which McLuhan probably read the year it was published, is referenced in a note in the thesis (212,n7), along with a book on a related subject which was published that same year by Francis Yates, A Study of Love’s Labour’s Lost.2 The School of Night has not aged well: it’s proposals about a school around Sir Walter Ralegh (Bradbrook’s spelling) have largely been discarded by contemporary scholarship. Nonetheless, the book had profound effect on McLuhan that was still strikingly evident 35 years later.

Here is Yates:

One must never forget to reckon with the subtlety of Shakespeare and with the fact that he was intensely creative. The imaginative artist uses but does not exactly reproduce his experience. (19)

Two decades later, Gombrich’s Art and Illusion (1960, but based on 1956 lectures) demonstrated this thesis in detail, helping to spur McLuhan to his 1960 breakthrough:

Early in 1960 it dawned on me that the sensory impression proffered by a medium like movie or radio, was not the sensory effect obtained.3

Bradbrook sharpened Yates’ point:

It may be questioned if anything comes out of Shakespeare’s mind recognizably akin to what (…) was (…) going in. (153)4

And here is McLuhan in Take Today, 35 years later:

sensations and concepts [involve] (…) the continual transformation of sensory inputs into outputs of quite different kinds. Food for the mind is like food for the body; the inputs are never the same as the outputs! This pattern of non-lineality is evident in every human activity. (Take Today, 137)


  1. A note in McLuhan’s Letters, doubtless from Corinne McLuhan, says that McLuhan and Muriel Bradbrook met only in 1939 (462, n1). But the index to the same Letters volume identifies Bradbrook with references to a “Miss B” in McLuhan letters from 1935 (Letters 67 and 120). In fact, there is an unindexed mention of a “Miss B” even earlier than this, in a Dec 6, 1934 letter to McLuhan’s family (Letters 41). But this “Miss B” is called “Margery”, not “Muriel”. An interesting possibility is that “Margery” was a Freudian slip mixing McLuhan’s erstwhile girlfriend back in Winnipeg, Marjorie Norris (mentioned earlier in the same letter), with someone else, perhaps Muriel. The name “Margery” would then say ‘girlfriend (Marjorie) — changed (Margery)’. However any of this may have been, McLuhan and Bradbrook remained correspondents for the rest of his life.
  2. The Classical Trivium — The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time, 2006, 212,n7: “M. C. Bradbrook, The School of Night, Cambridge. 1936; F. A. Yates, A Study of Love’s Labour’s Lost, Cambridge, 1936. As Miss Bradbrook points out (page 16) the ‘school’ chafed against those exegetists of Scripture who held that the literal interpretation was divinely inspired. Ramist rhetoric was, of course, a godsend to the rationalists; for, once all figures had  been planed away from the text, it could mean anything or nothing.”
  3.  Project in Understanding New Media. For discussion and citations from Art and Illusion, see Ernst Gombrich.
  4. Bradbrook: “It may be questioned if anything comes out of Shakespeare’s mind recognizably akin to what it was on going in.”

Aesthetic Pattern (singular) in Keats’ Odes

McLuhan’s 1943 essay, ‘Aesthetic Pattern in Keats’ Odes’,1 treats aesthetic patterns in Keats’ odes: why, then, his specification of the singular “aesthetic pattern” in the title?

Instead, however, of oscillating “up” and “down” movements, there is in this ode a single motion of expanding awareness…  (112)2

The answer to this question goes to the very heart of McLuhan’s project and may be put simply: from early on McLuhan sought what in physics is termed a superposition that would define at once what a work of great culture achieves and what rigorous criticism must be able to recognize as present or absent in particular works (be they aesthetic works or works in education, commerce, politics or religion).3 Such a superposition embraces all the possibilities available before any individual work (in multiple senses of ‘before’) and is therefore able to explicate in terms of their complete range the achievement, or lack of achievement, in that work. McLuhan would later come to call such a superposition “the emotion of multitude” from Yeats’ short 1903 text of this title.4

Without as yet knowing how to specify such a superposition (or, therefore, the individual positions subsumed by it), McLuhan’s 1943 Keats essay5 repeatedly gestured towards it in the following terms:

  • the high place which the odes have held in the regard of those who care for poetry is owing to qualities (…) of intense organization arising from the strict discipline of a critical intelligence. (99)
  • a basis of stability [is achieved] (…) resolution in “rational” wakefulness. (100)
  • there is something basically characteristic of Keats’s artistic mode arising from his preoccupation with these paradoxes or conflicts in the very heart of experience. How very far he was from refusing to undertake their resolution with the full intellectual energy of a great artist has been quite insufficiently recognized. (102)
  • the achievement of a patterned economy (104)
  • an equilibrium born of previous conflicts  (107)
  • one notes a harmonious conjunction and assimilation of the themes of depression (…) and the flight on the “wings of Poesy” (…). That is, the first “down” movement and the second “up” movement recur6 together as a new thing. (107)
  • [there is] a change of tone. The poem is now, for the first time, at the level of explicit rationality, and it is at this level that the resolution of the conflicting claims of all the other modes of life in the poem is effected. (110)
  • The “meaning” of this poem is only to be apprehended in terms of this complex structure and the reverberation and interaction of its delicately modulated themes. (111)
  • the stability was achieved not by espousal or rejection of life, nor by affirmation nor negation, but by a mode of being which Keats, himself , called “negative capability“. Keats’ definition of this phrase is (…): “. . . when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason. (112)7
  • Instead, however, of oscillating “up” and “down” movements, there is in this ode a single motion of expanding awareness…  (112)8
  •  Rossetti, Swinburne, Pater, and Tennyson (…) had only a small share of that artistic toughness of fiber which made Keats finally reject anything less than a total view of his experience. It is just such a totality (…) which is the concern of these odes. (113)


  1.  University of Toronto Quarterly, 12:2, January 1943, 167-179.
  2. This and all references below are to the reprinting of the essay in The Interior Landscape (where the Keats essay is the earliest piece included in the collection).
  3. Formulation of a superposition is critical in art and science both individually and in their mutual connection, according to McLuhan, but also to religion and to social, even world order. However, the larger the claim, the more the imperative for precise definition and open investigation. Hence the need for McLuhan’s work for the 20 years between 1940 and 1960 to be directed to the question of how to specify a superposition such that the required collective study might at last begin.
  4. For discussion see Lévi-Strauss on method in anthropology.
  5. Probably McLuhan had been drafting studies of Keats over many years going back at least to the late 1930’s, if not to the middle 30’s in Cambridge. Using these drafts he must have brought the Keats essay to completion in parallel to his Nashe thesis by 1942 at the latest. What is here called his gesture towards a superposition is called in the thesis the “grammar” component of the trivium: “The essential opposition between the (rhetorical and dialectical) arts of the trivium being such, then, as frequently to pit the one against the other, with results of the greatest importance, it is useful to recognize that the present exposition of the history of the trivium is being made from a grammatical point of view. Exposition and interpretation of stated doctrines are grammatical problems; and derivative philosophy and almost all histories of philosophy are the products of grammarians” (The Classical Trivium — The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time, 2006, 42). Hence, Keats’ “negative capability” can be defined in ‘trivial’ terms as follows: it unfolds “when a (hu)man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, (grammar) without any irritable reaching-after-fact (rhetoric) & reason (dialectic)“. Such a “capability” may therefore be termed an incomplete (hence its “uncertainties, mysteries, doubts” ) intuition of a complete domain. So, for example, when the elements of geometry or of chemistry were first hypothesized, millennia apart, they were not by any means known in their complete range. But the implicated intuition of those ranges was wondrously accurate, so that they were able to supply frameworks for endless investigation in the future. Endless investigation, that is, exactly of their “uncertainties, mysteries, doubts”. McLuhan’s 1960 proposal for “understanding media” represented a comparable flyer.
  6. McLuhan’s considerations of a superposition would increasingly turn on ‘repetition’ verbs like ‘recur’, ‘retrace’, ‘recognize’, ‘retrieve’, ‘recollect’, ‘remember’, ‘replay’, ‘reflect’. Implicated questions were: when does this repetition take place? how? ‘who’ does it?
  7. Keats’ “negative capability” from a December 1817 letter to his brothers would have been generally familiar at Cambridge. It is noteworthy, however, that McLuhan’s friend and sometime adviser, Muriel Bradbrook, cites it in her 1936 School of Night: “(Ralegh) possessed the faculty which Keats thought of the first necessity for a man of achievement, ‘negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’.” (64) There are many reasons to believe that Bradbrook’s little book, although it is not in McLuhan’s library at UT, and whose theses have largely been rejected by scholarship, influenced McLuhan decisively for the rest of his life.
  8. This formulation is particularly close to the superposition specification in physics of orientation in quantum particles.

Lodge in Dalhousie Review

McLuhan’s mentor at the University of Manitoba, Rupert Lodge, published two essays in The Dalhousie Review in 1934 and 1936:

Philosophy and Education, Dalhousie Review, 14:3, 1934, 281-290

Plato’s Secret, Dalhousie Review, 16:1, 1936, 36-40

McLuhan was working closely with Lodge when the first of these was published. In regard to the second, he knew more than enough about Lodge’s Platonism from courses with him in Winnipeg to criticize it in letters home from Cambridge.1

Lodge must have established some kind of connection with the Dalhousie Review editor, Herbert Leslie Stewart, in the early 1930s.2 Perhaps they met or re-met at a conference or learned in some other way of a common interest in philosophy and education (to judge from Lodge’s first paper in the Review).3 Since Lodge was encouraging McLuhan to publish in philosophy at the time (perhaps hoping to turn him from literature), he may well have recommended McLuhan to Stewart for a submission. If so, it may be that McLuhan came to publish in Dalhousie Review not through Gerald Phelan, as previously conjectured4, but through Lodge.5

The choice of an essay on Chesterton would, however, hardly fit with Lodge’s philosophical interests or with the idea of promoting a possible career in philosophy for McLuhan. It is not impossible, therefore, that the Dalhousie Review connection came about in some fashion through Lodge and Phelan. At a guess, if McLuhan first came to Stewart’s attention though Lodge, and if McLuhan then proposed a paper on Chesterton, Stewart may well have turned to his decades-old Halifax friend, Fr PheIan, for input on the notion. Phelan’s interest and expertise in Chesterton was well known. In this case, the profound influence Phelan came to exercise on McLuhan’s life (encouraging his study of Phelan’s Toronto colleagues Maritain and Gilson, guiding his conversion, obtaining his first full-time teaching position at SLU, bringing him back to Canada to teach with the Basilians at Windsor and, finally, securing his position in Toronto at St Mike’s) may in some small part have originated through McLuhan’s old Winnipeg connection with Rupert Clendon Lodge.



  1. “Lodge is a decided Platonist and I learned (to think) that way as long as I was trying to interpret Christianity in terms of comparative religion. Having perceived the sterility of that process, I now realize that Aristotle is the soundest basis for Xian doctrine” (McLuhan to his family, February 1935, Letters 53).
  2. It turns out that both Lodge and Stewart began their North American teaching careers at the same place, Dalhousie, in the same year, 1913! As recorded in the Dalhousie Gazette from November 1913 (p 44), Stewart’s mother took ill just when he was to take up his Dalhousie appointment. As a result, he could not teach his first term there in the fall of 1913. Lodge filled in for him. So the two certainly knew of each other from that time and in all probability met personally when Stewart finally arrived to take up his duties. For a picture and biographical information for Lodge see his entry in The Database of Classical Scholars.
  3. Lodge enlarged his DR paper into a book on Philosophy of Education in 1937 (revised edition 1947); cf, also Plato’s Theory of Education, 1947, reprint 2000.
  4. For discussion see McLuhan and Father Gerald Phelan 1934-1936.
  5. In the same DR issue with Lodge’s ‘Philosophy and Education‘ paper there is an article by Watson Kirkconnell on ‘Icelandic-Canadian Poetry‘. Kirkconnell was another of McLuhan’s mentors from Winnipeg and sent the article to McLuhan in Cambridge. So with Phelan and Lodge, Kirkconnell was a further contact with DR.

McLuhan’s 1963 Dalhousie book review

McLuhan published his first article (outside of University of Manitoba student publications) in The Dalhousie Review in 1936: ‘Chesterton: A Practical Mystic’. But in 1963 he also published a review1 there of a new translation of Maritain’s Art and Scholasticism.2

Here is McLuhan’s review:

Art and Scholasticism and The Frontiers of Poetry
Jacques Maritain

A new translation by Joseph W. Evans
New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons [Toronto: S. J. Reginald Saunders], 1962. Pp. 234. $5.00

Scholastic philosophy was for Maritain, as for James Joyce, an aesthetic discovery in itself. Maritain first presented his discovery of scholastic precision and inclusiveness to his readers under the title “The Philosophy of Art”. The scholastic definition of the imitative faculty as offering a dramatic enactment of nature itself in sua operatione came most acceptably to the 1920’s. The age of mathematical physics was quite prepared to approach art, not as a visual representation of any recognizable surfaces, but as a live model, as it were, of processes not otherwise to be apprehended or experienced. The rediscovery of scholastic definitions, already familiar to readers of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, came like the rediscovery of the letters of the alphabet as plastic and sculptural forms by Bracque. Maritain’s rehearsal of scholastic definitions similarly recovered for aesthetic thought and language a kind of sculptural and tactile firmness and richness that was new and exciting. Comparable novelty and relevance today attaches, not to the observations of Aquinas so much as to the archetypal dramas of Ovid’s Metamorphoses as they were assimilated by Dante and Joyce and Eliot and St. Jean Perse.
Maritain’s familiarity with the work of the symbolist poets and the painting of his time provided him with a sensibility that gave him access to scholasticism, not as an historical, but as a contemporary, mode of awareness. The present volume stresses this fact by combining the study of scholastic aesthetic with his essays on contemporary poetry and art.
Professor Evans has made a fine translation that brings a wide range of Maritain’s essays into a unified style.
Marshall McLuhan
St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto 

  1. Dalhousie Review, 42:4, 1963, p 532. A search at the Dalhousie Review website for ‘McLuhan’ as ‘author’ returns only the 1936 article. Apparently book review authors have not been tagged in the otherwise excellent database.
  2. Art and Scholasticism was first published in 1920, translated in 1923, and read by McLuhan at Cambridge.

The Keats essay from 1943

McLuhan’s January 1943 essay on Keats1 is an important milestone on his way in many respects. For one thing, it was doubtless organized by Father Gerald Phelan as part of a plan to secure an appointment for McLuhan in Toronto. Three years later the plan would be brought to completion and McLuhan would then spend the remaining three and half decades of his life teaching there.

For another, the Keats essay was exemplary of a whole series of portraits in English literature written by McLuhan. These had begun when McLuhan was not yet 20 with ‘Macaulay: What a Man!‘ (for the The Manitoban student newspaper).2 Then his first published paper outside of Manitoba student organs was another portrait of another Englishman, ‘G. K. Chesterton: A Practical Mystic’ in 1936.3

At Cambridge and in his first teaching positions at the University of Wisconsin and St Louis University, McLuhan continued to draft such portraits which came to include (often focused on a single work) Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Byron and Shelley as well as Keats. Together these portraits were called Character Anthology and are preserved today in McLuhan’s papers in Ottawa. In the 1940s, although he may never have brought it into definitive shape, the ambition was to publish the anthology and McLuhan solicited the aid of Sigfried Giedion and Cleanth Brooks and doubtless others in this hope — which was never fulfilled. It may be that his 1944 Kenyon Review essay on Hopkins began its life in this same context, as in all probability did his three published pieces on Tennyson.4

Also preserved in Ottawa are a great many finished and unfinished pieces on Eliot, few of which ever saw the light of day. McLuhan intended to bring them together in a portrait volume to be called Great Tom. He also did many pieces on Wyndham Lewis, at least three of which were published.5

In all of this, McLuhan was continuing the work of his mother, Elsie.  What she had done in sound portraits, he did in visual literary ones. But he, too, loved to imitate the voices of people like Eliot and Lewis. It may be, indeed, that around 1960 he was finally able to realize his project of ‘understanding media’, when he came to perceive how sound and sight are not alternate modes of information coding, but are both present in all human experience as a co-variable ratio:

The break-through in media study has come at last, and it can be stated as the principle of complementarity: that the structural impact of any situation is subjectively completed as to the cycle of the senses. (McLuhan to Bernard Muller-Thym, February 19th, 1960)6 

It is remarkable that one of the central points of this thesis — that the eye and the ear together might serve to focus the collective study of experience — was already present in germ in the Keats essay. McLuhan noted “the delightful visual and auditory life” (103) in Ode to a Nightingale and the associated contrast in it of “the superior senses of eye and ear”  to “the lower senses of taste and touch” (ibid). 

Important steps on his way in the next two decades would be the realization that he himself in his pursuit of the literary life was dominated by the eye and by print — by the Gutenberg galaxy — and that he therefore needed to balance that dominance with an appreciation of “acoustic space”. This would not come for another decade with Carl Williams’ suggestion of this possibility in a 1954 meeting of the culture and communication seminar. But already in the Keats essay, as a kind of unconscious directive to himself, he observed:

In the case of these odes it is necessary to grasp that the relations between their parts rather resemble the internal structure of a fugue or a sonata than a paragraph of statements. (100)

It was not enough, however, simply to step up appreciation of the auditory relative to the visual. It was also necessary, indeed it was even more important, to realize that it was the hinge between them, their variable relation, that first allowed the required specification and resulting collective study. This was exactly that “complementarity” and “cycle of the senses” that McLuhan would finally come to perceive early in 1960. 

This variable hinge was the medium [that] is the message — a phrase which McLuhan began to emphasize beginning in 1958 — again as a kind of directive to himself that he came fully to understand only two years later. This hinge was often called ‘tactility’ by McLuhan as the nominally sensory7 joint between the eye and ear. Such ‘tactility’ was not one of the lower senses” as he had suggested of touch in the Keats essay, but the very heart of the sensorium through which it ceaselessly transformed.

But here again the Keats essay was prescient and directive. In its concluding remarks on Keats’ Ode to Autumn:

There is here a world of rich organic and tactual awareness… (113)

  1.  University of Toronto Quarterly, 12:2, January 1943, 167-179.
  2. October 28, 1930.
  3. The Dalhousie Review, January 1936. See the Chesterton posts and Innis and McLuhan in 1936 for further discussion.
  4. On Hopkins: ‘The Analogical Mirrors’, The Kenyon Review, VI:3, 1944, 322-332. On Tennyson: ‘Tennyson and Picturesque Poetry’, Essays in Criticism, I:3, 1951, 262–282; ‘Introduction’ to Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selected Poetry, 1955, v-xxiv; ‘Tennyson and the Romantic Epic’, in J. Killham (ed), Critical Essays on the Poetry of Tennyson, 1960, 86-95.
  5. ‘Wyndham Lewis: Lemuel in Lilliput’, Key Thinkers and Modern Thought: St. Louis University Studies in Honour of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume 2, 1944, 58-72; ‘Wyndham Lewis: His Theory of Art and Communication’, Shenandoah 4.2-3, 1953, 77- 88; ‘Wyndham Lewis’, Atlantic Monthly, December 1969, 93-98.
  6.  Cited in Gordon, Escape into Understanding, 313-314. What McLuhan called “complementarity” and “the cycle of the senses” was just sound and sight as a co-variable ratio of the two in all human experience — like the proton and electron in all physical material.
  7. ‘Nominally sensory’, because the essence of McLuhan’s way of “understanding media” was that “the cycle of the senses” cannot be read from their input, but only from their output.  Hence television was no a visual medium although its input was visual, but ‘tactual’. Symphonic music was not auditory although its input was auditory, but ‘visual’. And so on.

McLuhan on “dichotomizing” in 1944

McLuhan’s first sentence in ‘Kipling and Forster’ (1944)1 named its chief matter: “facile dichotomizing”. He returned to it again and again in the essay:

  • The glib assumption that art and life stand apart, and that either one is a substitute for the other, suggests a reversible, inversible mechanism of mentality not at all friendly to artistic production. (332)
  • To take only the Plain Tales From the Hills, it is easy to see that Kipling is amphibiously living in divided and distinguished worlds. (333)
  • The ‘double vision’ (…) is admittedly the vision of all Forster’s novels. It is the vision of action vs feeling, England vs India, youth vs age. (339)
  • Is it not possible, however, that an essential intellectual obtuseness lurks behind the dichotomizing habit of Forster’s mind? In accepting as absolutes such well-worn clichés as art vs reality, spontaneity vs caution, pedantry vs experience, courage vs respectability, highbrow vs lowbrow, intelligence vs stupidity, hasn’t Forster really swallowed his own world, making an act of faith of an unconsidered bolus? No artist is bound to accept his world as the material of his art in this way; but having done so he has no resource beyond a whimsical and ironical espousal now of one of the absolutes, now of another. (337-338)
  • Of course, the conflicts and cleavages of melodrama can never yield new insight because they are mechanically predetermined. In fact, melodrama, like the split man, is not an artistic achievement but the by-product of cultural neurosis. The hypnotized acceptance of rigid distinctions is necessary to any kind of violent clash between characters in such a world — characters which are always stiffly and stupidly dull because born of a bogus parentage. With such counters as he accepts from the ready-made dichotomies of his world, Forster, like Kipling, can only go through the motions of testing, assaying and judging, because everything has really been decided in advance. The sheep and the goats carry well-known brands. (343)

There is little analysis in McLuhan’s essay.  But it looks backward and forward in his career and therefore provides a useful vantage over it.

Looking backward, in its suggestion of the possibility and need for a genuine criticism of “testing, assaying and judging”, where everything would not be “decided in advance”, it recalls his work with Lodge and Wright in Winnipeg and with Richards and Leavis in Cambridge. All were attempting to understand “the interior landscape” of human being (verbal) in a rigorous way and this would be the goal of McLuhan’s lifework in his turn.

Looking forward, the essay raises questions which McLuhan would have to address along his future way. For example, ‘world’ is used strangely in it as something which seems to be both given (“living in divided and distinguished worlds”, “ready-made dichotomies”and constructed (“own world”, “his world”). But how to consider these without “espousal now of one of the absolutes, now of another”? How avoid the reduction of world to an objectively given singularity without setting loose an endless series of mirrored ‘worlds’ in which even the “apparent world” is abolished?  Or, conversely, how put a stop to the endless mirroring of worlds without the arbitrary assertion of one ‘true world’?

Again, how was “the dichotomizing habit” to be rigorously understood without implicating one more dualism between that “habit” and the understanding of it?  Between assertions “born of a bogus parentage” and ‘legitimate’ ones?

Aside from problems like these requiring novel consideration, the observation that “hypnotized acceptance of rigid distinctions is necessary to any kind of violent clash” looks ahead two decades to McLuhan’s ever-repeated warning in the 1960s that disturbed identity precipitates violence.  On the one hand, threats to identity can lead to a hardened “dichotomizing” between ‘them’ and ‘us’ — and to violence based on this perception. On the other, the dissolution of identity (self-dichotomizing?) can itself be expressed in violence in an anguished attempt to regain it.

Finally, the suggestion that there is something suspicious in “dichotomizing”, something unthought in it, would prove to be a fertile line of inquiry for McLuhan and, beyond McLuhan, for quantum physics. For McLuhan, the questions were: how did this “split” first arise and develop? how was it then multiplied in the Gutenberg era and with what effects in education, science, commerce, politics, warfare and religion? and how was it transformed again in the nineteenth century with the symbolists in the arts and with new technologies like the telegraph and electric lighting? These were the questions which would animate his two great books in the early 1960s, The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media.

For quantum physics, these questions were generalized — the medium is the message — as concerning the range of possible values between zero and one. The “dichotomizing” formulation zero or one was found to apply neither in the domain of the very small nor of the very large. Instead of such bare opposition, a superposition needed to be considered that covered the entire range of the possibilities between zero and one. 

Now a superposition was exactly what McLuhan in common with the New Criticism was attempting to define as both what great art can achieve and as what criticism should expose as present or absent in particular works.

The merger of art and science foreseen by McLuhan was no soft image, but an exacting need of each for the other.

In the ‘Kipling and Forster’ essay this need was hardly mentioned, let alone defined. But it was indicated:

The ‘two world’ view (…) is especially useful to the artist who cannot localize or understand his dissatisfactions nor overcome the dualism of his experience.  Santayana pointed out that Henry James overcame the crude split and limitations of the genteel tradition in the classic way — by understanding them.  (332-333)

it is noteworthy that both men [Kipling and Forster] regarded as insurmountable the contradictions and cleavages between art and action. Neither man penetrated his data nor resolved his experience. (336-337)

In ‘Kipling and Forster’ McLuhan did not attempt to provide the required understanding, penetration and resolution. But he ended his essay by promising them elsewhere:

Another essay will attempt to peer behind these blind conflicts to which Kipling and Forster bring their characters and from which they find no escape. (343)

McLuhan was probably thinking here of ‘Poetic and Rhetorical Exegesis:  The Case for Leavis against Richards and Empson’, which was published that same year (1944) in the same journal (Sewanee Review).2 But in January 1943, in a UTQ article on Keats3, he had already identified the position (or superposition) that he would spend the next 20 years looking for a way to specify and to communicate.

  1.  Sewanee Review, 52(3), 332-343, 1944, reprinted in E.M. Forster: critical assessments, ed John Henry Stape, vol 1, 1998, 131-139.
  2.  Sewanee Review, 52(2), 266–76, 1944
  3. Aesthetic Pattern in Keats’ Odes’,  University of Toronto Quarterly, XII:2, 167-179, 1943, reprinted in The Interior Landscape, 99-113.

Lévi-Strauss on method in anthropology

the emotion of multitude (…) is a state in which we live constantly, that is, on the border. We live constantly in two worlds… (Canada: the Borderline Case, 1967)

the principle of poetic organization is not narrative but interface based on the resonant interval. Yeats refers to it as the “emotion of multitude”, and Joyce calls (…) language the mirror of the mind of man, the square wheel without spokes which encompasses all cycles of human experience in a simultaneous present. (McLuhan, Discontinuity and Communication in Literature, 1970)

In 1903, W. B. Yeats, meditating on the “emotion of multitude,” explained that it is achieved by a discontinuous parallel between two actions (…) Depth awareness is created by parallel suggestion, not by connected statement. (McLuhan to The Listener, 1971)1

Here is Claude Lévi-Strauss in 1949:2

anthropology cannot remain indifferent to historical processes and to the most highly conscious expressions of social phenomena. But if the anthropologist brings to them the same scrupulous attention as the historian, it is in order to eliminate, by a kind of backward course, all that they owe to the historical process and to conscious thought. His goal is to grasp, beyond the conscious and always shifting images which men hold, the complete  range of unconscious possibilities. These are not unlimited, and the relationships of compatibility or incompatibility which each maintains with all the others provide a logical framework for historical  developments, which, while perhaps unpredictable, are never arbitrary. In this sense, the famous statement by Marx, “Men make their own history, but they do not know that they are making it,” justifies, first, history and, second, anthropology. At the same time, it shows that the two approaches are inseparable. (…)
It would be inaccurate, therefore, to say that on the road toward the understanding of man, which goes from the study of conscious content to that of unconscious forms, the historian and the anthropologist travel in opposite directions. On the contrary, they both go the same way. The fact that their journey together appears to each of them in a different light — to the historian, transition from the explicit to the implicit; to the anthropologist, transition from the particular to the universal — does not in the least alter the identical character of their fundamental approach. They have undertaken the same journey on the same road in the same direction; only their orientation is different. (…) A true two-faced Janus, it is the solidarity of the two disciplines that makes it possible to keep the whole road in sight.

Lévi-Strauss put his finger here on a series of fundamental points which were basic also to McLuhan (despite the seeming wide disparity of their work) and at exactly this same time around 1950 (when McLuhan was fascinated by the multi-leveled epyllion3 form and was introduced to Innis’ structuralism):

  • There are two realms each with their own time (one particular-historical-conscious-actual and the other universal-logical-unconscious-possible) which must be understood both in their difference and in their interconnection — the latter realm supplying the “framework” for the former and the former realm being the always particular expression of the latter.  A science of human being — Lévi-Strauss’s “anthropology” — cannot have a different structure from the physical sciences, all of which have this same “two-faced Janus” relationship between levels of theory and factual instance which are yet knotted in their mutual “solidarity”.
  • Because there cannot be an understanding of a ‘part’ aside from the ‘whole’ of which it is a part, both history and its “framework” must be grasped in their “complete range”. To compare, chemistry approaches all of material being with a complete theory of its elements and their interactions. But both this chemical theory and the material being which is the object of its investigations remain radically open. Indeed, it is a central aspect of the birth of any science to revise for its domain just what ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’ entail in it and how they relate to each other there. A ‘complete’ explanation is suddenly seen — but the investigation of that ‘complete’ explanation, if it turns out to be valid, can and will go on forever since it is always also incomplete.
  • Because reality has this dynamic possible/actual structure, so must investigation of it be correspondingly “structural” (relational, double, a ratio). And this is especially the case in the sciences of human being where the study itself always amounts to some representation of an individual or collective representation.   

Now McLuhan was aware4 of these points very early — in his late twenties and early thirties around 1940 when he was teaching at St Louis University. In his first publication there, in 1938, describing ‘The Cambridge English School’ he was explicit about the plurality and multiple levels of time:

Donne, and the later Shakespeare, on the one hand, and the Romantics on the other, have been read at Cambridge as though they were contemporaries of Mr. Eliot — which of course they are. For the continuing life of the language itself is such as to constitute a medium in which they are all contemporary.

Here “language itself” as a “medium” which is always “contemporary” is just Lévi-Strauss’s “complete range of unconscious possibilities” supplying “a logical framework for historical  developments”. 

A couple years later (probably in 1941, although publication followed only in 1944) he ended his paper on ‘Poetic and Rhetorical Exegesis: The Case for Leavis against Richards and Empson’5 by characterizing Leavis’ work as implementing:

the program which Mr. Eliot (…) indicated but relinquished (…) the arduous stage of the journey which remains to be accomplished before winning an overall view, which is plenary critical judgment.

Here again, then, is to be seen the need for “overall” or “plenary” specification of the “complete range of unconscious possibilities” which would supply “a logical framework for historical  developments” — and hence the springboard for the sort of “critical judgment” made, constantly and universally, in every science.6

McLuhan did not know it at the time, but he would come to see W.B. Yeats as the modern progenitor of this insight in his 1903 ‘Emotion of Multitude’.7 In a 1970 lecture, ‘Discontinuity and Communication in Literature’,8 McLuhan read the complete 2-page text of ‘Emotion of Multitude’ by way of saying, ‘Here is the font — consider it well’: 

I [WBY] have been thinking a good deal about plays lately, and I have been wondering why I dislike the clear and logical construction which seems necessary it one is to succeed on the modern stage. It came into my head the other day that this construction, which all the world has learnt from France, has everything of high literature except the emotion of multitude. The Greek drama has got the emotion of the multitude from its chorus, which called up famous sorrows, even all the gods and all heroes, to witness as it were, some well-ordered fable, some action separated but for this from all but itself. The French play delights in the well-ordered fable, but by leaving out the chorus, it has created an art where poetry and imagination, always the children of far-off multitudinous things, must of necessity grow less important than the mere will. This is why, I said to myself, French dramatic poetry is so often a little rhetorical, for rhetoric is the will trying to do the work of the imagination. The Shakespearian drama gets the emotion of multitude out of the sub-plot which copies the main plot, much as a shadow upon the wall copies one’s body in the firelight. We think of KING LEAR less as the history of one man and his sorrows than as the history of a whole evil time. Lear’s shadow is in Gloucester, who also has ungrateful children and the mind goes on imagining other shadows, shadow beyond shadow, till it has pictured the world. In Hamlet, one hardly notices, so subtly is the web woven, that the murder of Hamlet’s father and the sorrow of Hamlet are shadowed in the lives of Fortinbras and Ophelia and Laertes, whose fathers, too, have been killed. It is so in all the plays, or in all but all, and very commonly the subplot is the main plot working itself out in more ordinary men and women and so doubly calling up before us the image of multitude. Ibsen and Maeterlinck have on the other hand created a new form, for they get multitude from the Wild Duck in the Attic, or from the Crown at the bottom of the Fountain, vague symbols that set the mind wandering from idea to idea, emotion to emotion. Indeed all the great masters have understood that there cannot be great art without the little limited life of the fable, which is always the better the simpler it is, and the rich far-wandering many imaged life of the half-seen world beyond it. There are some who understand that the simple unmysterious things living as in a clear noonlight are of the nature of the sun, and that vague, many-imaged things have in them the strength of the moon. Did not the Egyptian carve it on emerald that all living things have the sun for father and the moon for mother, and has it not been said that a man of genius takes the most after his mother?

How early McLuhan had first set off on this way may be seen in texts we have from 1934:

There are (…) in all times and places, definite types of temperament displaying consistency of conformation. (McLuhan’s University of Manitoba M.A. thesis on Meredith)9

Of late I have been wayfaring among the work of T.S. Eliot (…) the poems I am reading have the unmistakable character of greatness. They transform, and diffuse and recoalesce the commonest every day occurrences of 20th century city life till one begins to see double indeed — the extremely unthinkable character, the glory and the horror of the reality in life… (McLuhan letter to his family from Cambridge, Dec 5, 1934)10

The need, specified by here by McLuhan when he was just 23, is just that of Lévi-Strauss: “to grasp, beyond the conscious and always shifting images which men hold, the complete range of unconscious possibilities”, extending from “glory” to “horror”. But this not in some spectrum separated from life, but is exactly “the reality in life”, as perceived through a near “unthinkable” focus that is “double indeed” and yet “recoalesce[d]”. As Lévi-Strauss has it in ‘History and Anthropology’ (full passage above):

A true two-faced Janus, it is the solidarity of the two disciplines that makes it possible to keep the whole road in sight.

  1. Oct 8, 1971, Letters, 444.
  2. ‘History and Anthropology’, the first chapter of Structural Anthropology (1963), originally published as “Histoire et Ethnologie,” in Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale, LIV:3-4, 363-91, 1949. Structural Anthropology was one of the books on the reading list for McLuhan’s communications seminar.
  3. See The Road to Xanadu for discussion and references.
  4. Being aware and requiring further investigation go together. Awareness is never definitive, but may be — though rarely — originary.
  5. Sewanee Review, 52:2, 266–76, 1944.
  6. Not that sciences cannot make errors (of course).  But it is exactly because every observation and prediction made in a science is supposed to be a universally valid example of ‘critical judgment’ that any failure is revelatory!
  7. Originally in Ideas Of Good And Evil (1903); usually cited by McLuhan from Essays and Introductions (1961).
  8. Originally a lecture given at University College, Nov 21, 1970, published in P. R. Leon, ed, Problèmes de L’Analyse Textuelle/Problems of Textual Analysis, 189-199, 1971.
  9. This is Lévi-Strauss’s “transition from the particular to the universal”.
  10. Letters 41; emphasis on ‘in’ is original.

Heine on ‘Plato’ and ‘Aristotle’

Heinrich Heine, On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany (1835):1

Plato and Aristotle! These are not merely two systems, they are types of two distinct human natures, which from time immemorial, under every sort of disguise, stand more or less inimically opposed. The whole medieval world in particular was riven by this conflict, which persists down to the present day, and which forms the most essential content of the history of the Christian Church. Although under other names, it is always of Plato and Aristotle that we speak. Visionary, mystical, Platonic natures disclose Christian ideas and the corresponding symbols from the fathomless depths of their souls. Practical, orderly, Aristotelian natures build out of these ideas and symbols a fixed system, a dogma and a cult. Finally the Church embraces both natures, one of them entrenched in the clergy and the other in monasticism, but both keeping up a constant feud. 

In his 1934 M.A. thesis McLuhan noted Coleridge’s remark in his table talk “that all men (…) are born either Platonists or Aristotelians”2 and, shortly thereafter, he referred to ‘the’ contrast between them in discussing religion in letters to his family from Cambridge.3

But this sort of typology is useless for purposes of rigorous investigation and this for many reasons:

  • Figures like Plato and Aristotle, or Goethe and Schiller — or Shakespeare by himself — are no singulars. Like everybody — but more consciously than us mortals — they are massive conglomerates of types, whole worlds. What cannot be said to be ‘Shakespearean’?  Styling something according to such types is similar to saying of physical materials that they are ‘air’ or ‘water’ or ‘earth’ or ‘fire’. The great need is to break through such congeries to the underlying elements.
  • Further, such great figures were well aware of the type problem and considered it in various ways. While they of course exemplified psychological types like every human being at every moment, they were also the greatest theoreticians of it. It is upside down when we attempt to use them as types. Instead, they use us.
  • Since we cannot function aside from psychological type, what we take to be ‘Plato’ or ‘Aristotle’ (or ‘the whole medieval world’ or ‘the Christian Church’ or ‘the clergy’ or ‘monasticism’) remains arbitrary so long as the elements of psychological being (verbal) remain undefined and uninvestigated. It was exactly such arbitrary groundlessness that Nietzsche exposed as our ‘longest error’ that would necessarily terminate in nihilism. For the cogency of anything decided by fiat depends upon the prior authority of the fiat. Can the truth and reality of the fiat of arbitrary will be certified by — the fiat of arbitrary will?
  • As has been exposed by centuries of consideration of the ‘interior landscape’, it is not less complicated than the exterior one. No human activity exemplifies a single type over time (or even at any moment?) any more than a sample of physical material ever exemplifies a single element.  Here, too, it may be expected that compound complexes are the invariable rule and that these are as subject to dynamic change as any weather system or the body of any plant or animal. Even if ‘Plato’ and ‘Aristotle’ were in fact “two distinct human natures” (which of course they are not), the question of the dynamics of these types would remain. As can be seen in chemistry (or any science), elements by themselves explain little or nothing: it is equally important to understand the valence of their relations.4 
  1.  Jung used this passage from Heine as the epigraph for Psychological Types.
  2. See On the “necessary conjoint” of Platonists and Aristotelians.
  3. See McLuhan’s realism 5: Cambridge 1934-1935.
  4. The elements of any language might be taken as the always limited number of phonemes used by it in the construction of its meaningful sounds (like words, but not only words). Grammar is the consideration of how those sounds are compounded into complexes (like conjugations or sentences) carrying meaning. Comparative grammar is, of course, much more revealing than comparative phonetics.

McLuhan’s course books

At the back of Who Was Marshall McLuhan there is a list of books he used in his seminar. Students were told to read 3 of them and to report back what they had learned.  They were not to report what was in the books, but the effect on them from the books.

Here is the list from 1966-67 “with additions” presumably from later seminars (marked below with an asterisk).  The printed list has no information other than author and title; publishing information has been added here.

Noteworthy for their absence are any titles from T.S. Eliot, Etienne Gilson, James Joyce, I.A. Richards, A.N. Whitehead and Bernard Muller-Thym, all of whom influenced McLuhan himself significantly. It may be that many of these were felt more fitting to McLuhan’s English courses.

Ruth Nanda Anshen, ed, Language: An Enquiry into Its Meaning and Function, 19571
Silvio A BediniThe scent of time: a study of the use of fire and incense for time measurement in Oriental countries, 1963
Claude BernardAn introduction to the study of experimental medicine, translation 1949, orig. 1865
Norman O. Brown, Life against Death, 19592
Elias CanettiCrowds and Power, translation 1962, orig. 1960
Milic CapekThe Philosophical Impact Of Contemporary Physics, 1961
H.J. Chaytor, From Script To Print, 1945
Colin Cherry, On Human Communication, 1957
C.W. Churchman and P. RatooshMeasurement: Definitions and Theories, 1959
H.F. Sloan and H.S. ClarkClassrooms In The Factories, 1958
Tobias Dantzig, Number: The Language of Science, 1930
Karl W. Deutsch, The Nerves of Government: Models of Political Communication and Control, 1966
Alexander Dorner
, The Way Beyond Art, 1958
Constantinos Doxiadis, Architecture in Transition, 1963
Peter F. Drucker, The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society, 1966
Hugh D. Duncan, Language and Literature in Society, 1953
J. T. Dunlop , ed, Automation and Technological Change, 19623
Anton EhrenzweigPsychoanalysis of Artistic Vision and Hearing: an Introduction to a Theory of Unconscious Perception, 1953
Jacques EllulThe Technological Society, 1964
Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, 1962
Pedro Entralgo, Mind and Body, Psychosomatic Pathology: A short history of the evolution of medical thought, 1955
Pedro EntralgoThe Therapy of the Word in Classical Antiquity, 1970*
Jack Fincher, Human intelligence, 1976*
Michel FoucaultMadness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, translation 1964, orig 1960
Sigmund FreudThe Interpretation of Dreams, 1900
Erich Fromm, The Forgotten Language, 1951
R. Buckminster FullerUtopia or Oblivion, 1963
R. Buckminster Fuller, Ideas and Integrities, 1963
R. Buckminster Fuller, Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth, 1968*
Sigfried GiedionSpaceTime and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition, 1941
Sigfried GiedionMechanization Takes Command, 1948
Sigfried Giedion
The Beginnings of Architecture, 1964
E.H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, 1960
E. T. HallThe Silent Language, 1959
E. T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension, 1966
E. A. Havelock, Preface to Plato, 1963
E. A. Havelock, Prologue to Greek Literacy, 1971
E. A. Havelock, Origins of Western Literacy, 1976
W. HeisenbergThe Physicist’s Conception of Nature, translation 1958, orig, 1955
J. HuizingaHomo Ludens, translation 1949, orig. 1938
Harold Innis, The Bias of Communication, 1951
W. IvinsArt and Geometry: A Study in Spatial Intuitions, 1946
Julian JaynesThe Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1976*
T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962
Frank Leavis, New Bearings in English Poetry, 1932
Claude Lévi-StraussStructural Anthropology, translation 1963, orig. 1958
Wyndham Lewis, Time and Western Man, 1927
Jacques Lusseyran, And There was Light, translation 1963, orig. 1953
George Mandler and William Kessen, The Language Of Psychology, 1959
Bruce Mazlish, ed, The Railroad and the Space Program: An Exploration in Historical Analogy, 19654
Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, 1934
J.R. Pierce, Symbols, Signals and Noise, 1961
Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, 1944
Ezra PoundThe ABC of Reading, 1934
Edgar Rubin, Visual Figures, 19155
Donald A. Schon, The Displacement of Concepts, 1963
Hans Selye, The Stress of Life, 1956
A.T.W. Simeons, Man’s Presumptuous Brain: An Evolutionary Interpretation of Psychosomatic Disease, 1961
Erwin StraussThe Primary World of Senses: a vindication of sensory experience, 1963
A.P. Usher, A History of Mechanical Inventions, 1929
J.Z. Young, Doubt and Certainty in Science: A Biologist’s Reflections on the Brain, 1951
Lynn White, jr, Medieval Technology and Social Change, 1962

  1. Essays included in the volume: Part 1 — The Principle. Language as idea / Ruth Nanda Anshen; The nature of language / Kurt Goldstein; The origin of language / N.H. Tur-Sinai; Aum: the word of words / Swami Nikhilananda; Language and the theory of sign / Jacques Maritain; Symbols and history / George Boas; The word of God / Paul Tillich; The language of silence / Richard P. Blackmur. Part 2 — The Application. The cardinal dichotomy in language / Roman Jakobson; Squares and oblongs / W.H. Auden; Mysticism and its language / Charles W. Morris; Symbolic language of dreams / Erich Fromm; Language of poetry / Leo Spitzer; Language of jurisprudence / Huntington Cairns; Language of politics / Harold D. Lasswell; Language of the theater / Francis Fergusson; Art as symbolic speech / Margaret Naumburg; A philosophy of translation / Jean P. de Menasce; Language as communication / Ruth Nanda Anshen.
  2. Brown was doing his PhD in classics in Madison when McLuhan was a teaching assistant there in English in 1935-1936.  It is not known if they met.
  3.  Essays included in the volume: Introduction — Problems and potentials / John T. Dunlop; The impact of technology: the historic debate / Robert L. Heilbroner; Educational and social consequences / Lee A. DuBridge; Psychological and organizational impacts / Floyd C. Mann; Managerial decisions / Melvin Anshen; Collective bargaining / George W. Taylor; Some economic considerations / W. Allen Wallis; Employment / Ewan Clague and Leon Greenberg; International aspects / Richard N. Cooper; The technology behind productivity / Francis Bello; Perspective / Henry M. Wriston.
  4. Essays included in the volume: Historical analogy: the railroad and the space program and their impact on society / Bruce Mazlish; A technological frontier: the railway / Thomas Parke Hughes; Railroads as an analogy to the space effort: some economic aspects / Robert William Fogel; The economic impact of the railroad innovation / Paul H. Cootner; The railroads: innovators in modern business administration / Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., and Stephen Salsbury; The social impact of the railroad / Thomas C. Cochran; Political impact: a case study of a railroad monopoly in Mississippi / Robert L. Brandon; The impact of the railroad on the American imagination, as a possible comparison for the space impact / Leo Marx.
  5. There does not seem to be an English translation of Rubin’s 1915 thesis in Danish, Synsoplevede Figurer. It may be that McLuhan had some kind of handout for his students. The 1949 publication of Rubin’s Experimenta psychologica: collected scientific papers in German, English & French included two papers in English: ‘Taste’ and ‘Some Elementary Time Experiences’.