The Spoken Word: Flower of Evil? – McLuhan

June 12th, 2010

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. 1st MIT Press ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1994.

“Language does for intelligence what the wheel does for the feet and the body. It enables them to move from thing to thing with greater ease and speed and ever less involvement” (113).

McLuhan begins this essay with an example of a rather animated radio DJ that reacts with sounds, comments, groans, etc. to his own comments, noting that it is in this way that the audience participation is created. This is a condition of the one-to-many broadcast. Of course it is arguable that by merely passively listening, the audience is participating. However, the DJ’s reactions perhaps make it seem more active, since operating solely in the spoken and not written realm of experience, he may feel the need to put forth those emotions and reactions, which one might normally draw out more in a written work, since the author tends to add richer detail to prose. Read the rest of this entry »