What If He Is Right?

New York Magazine, November 1965.


There are currently hundreds of studs of the business world, breakfast food package designers, television net work creative department vice-presidents, advertising “media reps,” lighting fixture fortune heirs, smiley patent lawyers, industrial spies, we- need vision board chairmen, all sorts of business studs who are all wondering if this man, Marshall McLuhan … is right…. He sits in a little office off on the edge of the University of Toronto that looks like the receiving bin of a second-hand book store, grading papers, grading papers, for days on end, wearing-well, he doesn’t seem to care what he wears. If he feels like it, he just puts on the old striped tie with the plastic neck band. You just snap the plastic band around your neck and there the tie is, hanging down and ready to go, Pree-Tide. 

But what if-all sorts of huge world-mover & shaker corporations are trying to put McLuhan in a box or some thing. Valuable! Ours! Suppose he is what he sounds like, the most important thinker since Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Pavlov, studs of the intelligentsia game suppose he is the oracle of the modern times – what if he is right? he’ll be in there. It almost seems that way. An “undisclosed corporation” has put a huge “undis closed sum” into, McLuhan’s Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. One of thebig American corporations has offered him $5000 to present a closed- circuit-ours!-television lecture on-oracle!-the ways the products in its industry will be used in the future. Even before all this, IBM, General Electric, Bell Telephone were flying McLuhan in from Toronto to New York, Pittsburgh, God knows where else, to talk to their hierarchs about . . . well, about whatever this unseen world of electronic environments that only he sees fully is all about. 

Digital Lantern