In the last week of May 1959 McLuhan visited Harry Skornia at the NAEB headquarters for a couple days.1 The funding of the Understanding Media project had been obtained, but not yet announced. The project would begin in September and in the meantime McLuhan and his family were headed to UBC where he would teach in its summer session.2
Back from Urbana in Toronto in early June, McLuhan reflected on the project in an undated note to Skornia, received on June 5, 1959, as follows:
the electronic is not static bits but live field. That’s why the artist comes back into the control tower (out of ivory tower) in modern industry and town-planning. That’s why us language men can move up to vanguard in many enterprises today.
The transactional psychologists
The structural linguists
The anthropologists en masse
Those are the 3 main groups who already are moving our way in re media. But they don’t know it yet. Also all those in all the arts are on our side though concepts about the spiritual status of individual art vs. the materialist condition of group art (mass media) prevent perception of actualities for the time [being]. (…) Ours must be mobile war not positional, if we are to salvage an appreciable proportion of our establishment, educational and political. We must waste no time or strength in opposition or diatribe.
- McLuhan was back in Toronto by May 29 when he wrote Skornia. See Present as history, history as present. ↩
- See Communications Programme at UBC. ↩