McLuhan on Dali TV Guide cover

In 1968 and 1969 McLuhan reverted over and over again to Dali’s TV Guide cover…

McLuhan to Sheila Watson, June 12, 1968:1
Obtain cover of TV Guide for June 8-14. It is a Dali explanation of the tactile nature of the TV image. Wonderful interview inside, too.

McLuhan to Warren Brodey, June 12, 1968:2
Don’t fail to study TV Guide cover for June 8-14. (…) The Dali picture on the TV Guide cover reveals his deep understanding of TV as tactility, an interval. Also it includes his awareness of the software environment as the extension of the CNS.

McLuhan to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, June 12, 1968:3
The cover of the June 8 – 14 TV Guide is a Dali masterpiece. It manifests in detail the tactile quality of the TV image. The extension of the central nervous system via electricity is environmentally indicated in the upper right corner by a segment of brain tissue. The two thumbs with the TV images on the nails are carefully separated to indicate the gap or interval constituted by touch. The age of tactility via television and radio is one of innumerable interfaces or gaps that replace the old connections, legal, literate and visual.

Include Me Out: Reversal Of Overheated Image, 1968:4
The extreme coolness and tactility of TV has received its most impressive testimonial in a new painting by Salvador Dali. It appears on the cover of TV Guide for June 8, 1968. Two TV screens appear on two thumbnails. The thumbs are widely separated, looking like cracked sculpture (tactile space is the space of the interval, the icon, the contour).

Foreword to The Interior Landscape (1969):
TV Guide for June 8-14, 1968, has a painting by Dali on the cover. Two thumbs exhibit two TV screens as thumbnails. That is pure poetry, acute new perception. Dali immediately presents the fact that TV is a tactile mode of perception. Touch is the space of the interval, not of visual connection. I have been trying to elucidate this fact for years. In vain. The somnambulist knows better. Can’t he see TV with his eyes? How could it be tactile? Pasteur was thrown out of the medical profession because he insisted that doctors wash their hands before surgery. They knew better. They could see their hands were clean.

Retribalized Makers, 19695
The cover for TV Guide for June 8-14, 1968 consists of a painting by Salvador Dali. It presents two TV images in two thumbnails. The thumbs are coarsely textured and carefully spaced to indicate different worlds. Among other features there is on the horizon a segment of brain tissue. The new “software” environment of electric information is literally an extension of our central nervous system. The interface or touch or “gap” that constitutes the sense of touch is scarcely acknowledged except among artists. As an artist, Dali understands that the TV image is profoundly tactile and quite unlike photo or movie. Touch is not only the world of musical beat but of the Beats [– and the Heepies!6].

  1. Letters, p353.
  3. Letters, p354.
  4. Playboy, December 1968.
  5. In Alexander Klein, ed, Natural Enemies? — Youth and the Clash of Generations, 1969.
  6. See Dali TV Guide interview: watch TV upside down