The World is a Global Village

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For those who are interested in the evolution of consciousness, or really even the various transformations our mind has undergone through the millennia, Marshall McLuhan is a major thinker in thismcluhan-5301 regard. His work aligns with lesser known theorists like Jean Gebser, and like Gebser his prophetic ideas about the "global village" pertain more to our times than ever before. Like many other theorists this century, he saw the decline of the West (Oswald Spengler) as a turning of the age into a new planetary, or global civilization, as compared to Western/Industrial civilization that's now coming to a close. His ideas are important because, like Gebser, he takes a look at important details: how language's evolution transformed the way we perceive the world (the shift from oral to literate culture shifts the dominant sense from holistic "ear" to Descartes neutral "eye.") Now as we move away from linear thinking, we're returning to a holistic form of consciousness, or so says McLuhan, the return of "tribal man" on a global scale. Like Gebser, McLuhan describes this new human as an "integral" person, one who has regained a form of integrity and wholeness that, for all the way we've come with civilization, we have lost long ago.


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  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Friday, 15 April 2011 19:38 posted by Jeremy Johnson

    Just wanted to quickly share 2 of the highlights from the interview, ones that sound particularly interesting and relevant to the rapid social and technological transformations today. Does anyone know of any authors who are exploring this aspect of McLuhan's ideas?

    "Individual talents and perspectives don’t have to shrivel within a retribalized society; they merely interact within a group consciousness that has the potential for releasing far more creativity than the old atomized culture. Literate man is alienated, impoverished man; retribalized man can lead a far richer and more fulfilling life — not the life of a mindless drone but of the participant in a seamless web of interdependence and harmony. The implosion of electric technology is transmogrifying literate, fragmented man into a complex and depth-structured human being with a deep emotional awareness of his complete interdependence with all of humanity. The old “individualistic” print society was one where the individual was “free” only to be alienated and dissociated, a rootless outsider bereft of tribal dreams; our new electronic environment compels commitment and participation, and fulfills man’s psychic and social needs at profound levels.

    We confront a basic paradox whenever we discuss personal freedom in literate and tribal cultures. Literate mechanical society separated the individual from the group in space, engendering privacy; in thought, engendering point of view; and in work, engendering specialism — thus forging all the values associated with individualism. But at the same time, print technology has homogenized man, creating mass militarism, mass mind and mass uniformity; print gave man private habits of individualism and a public role of absolute conformity. That is why the young today welcome their retribalization, however dimly they perceive it, as a release from the uniformity, alienation and dehumanization of literate society. Print centralizes socially and fragments psychically, whereas the electric media bring man together in a tribal village that is a rich and creative mix, where there is actually more room for creative diversity than within the homogenized mass urban society of Western man."

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