McLuhan: Mothers don’t have jobs. They’re artists. [Marshall McLuhan Monday]

One of my favorite sources for Marshall McLuhan Mondays contains the perfect little exchange for Labor Day. Enjoy this snippet from McLuhan’s conversation with Fr. Patrick Peyton in 1977:

MCLUHAN: When a person has a job, they are specializing in some function. It is said that an artist is always at play, because he uses all of his faculties. He’s always at leisure. When a man is only using a few of his faculties, like adding up his income tax, he’s specializing; he’s not playing, and he’s not at leisure. But the artist – or the playful, creative person – using all of his faculties simultaneously, he is playing, he is at leisure, and he is in role.

Now, when a person is in role, they don’t have a job, they have many jobs. To have a home is not to have a job, it’s to have dozens and dozens of jobs simultaneously. This calls for great flexibility and great diversity. And great tolerance and great flexibility of spirit. The role-player, therefore, is a very rich person.

A mother’s role is never – you can’t prescribe it. It’s totally unpredictable. She has to be many things at many times of the day. So role-playing, in that sense, is a world in which you have a vast repertoire of parts to perform simultaneously.

PEYTON: If I get you rightly, then the role of a mother and a wife is so satisfying, so providing leisure, and joy…

MCLUHAN: …and involvement, and satisfactions, and fulfillment, and quality of life, and everything…

Happy Labor Day – and Happy Feast of a great artist, Pope Saint Gregory the Great!


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