Reaction vs. Reflection [Marshall McLuhan Monday]

Photo: McLuhan in his office (University of Toronto)
Photo: McLuhan in his office (University of Toronto)

This week, in the face of Gaudete / Joyful / Rose Sunday of Advent, humanity seeks to grapple with the inhumanity of Connecticut’s tragic shooting and China’s horrific slashings.

On social networks, we’re bombarded with reactions: Rage, Confusion, Despair, Mourning, Arguments Pro-/Anti- Gun Control, Anti-Abortion, Anti-/Pro- President Obama…(etc.) For my part, I’ve refrained from “reacting” and have instead tried to reflect upon all this.

Marshall McLuhan spoke much about violence and its causes, but rather than present you, Dear Reader, with more talk of violence, I’ll pass on this gem for your reflection:

Many reviewers [of McLuhan’s work] displayed a high degree of hostility. Some of these reviewers were distinguished writers and poets. Their anger seemed inexplicable and they gave no evidence of having actually read the book except to pick out substantiating examples of the intellectual vices they attributed to McLuhan. Amazingly, no attention was paid to McLuhan’s basic ideas, repeated in letter after letter. The cause of this irrational response was anticipated and explained by McLuhan when he remarked that “the mere moralistic expression of approval or disapproval, preference or detestation, is currently being used in our world as a substitute for study.”

-  George Sanderson, in “McLuhan: The Man and His Message”

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