Tuesday, December 19, 2006

McLuhan's Thunder

McLuhan’s last book (not counting the posthumous volumes) was "Take Today", a mélange of McLuhan’s “probes.” It was not a commercial success. Nonetheless, McLuhan used several angles to try to get the publisher to promote the book. When the Watergate scandal broke, he saw an opening and pitched the book to Jovanovich anew. Here’s a great passage from the biography of McLuhan, "Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding", by W. Terrence Gordon:
Jovanovich discounted the opportunity: “Any attempt to give Take Today a pertinence and importance in this avalanche of imagination-boggling information and practical interpretation seems utterly hopeless in any feasible way. It would amount to little more than a whisper in a hurricane” To this McLuhan replied: “Your remark about Take Today as ‘a whisper in a hurricane’ echoes the complaint of the practical man about the poet: ‘the poet’s head is in the clouds,’ to which Victor Hugo replied ‘And so is the thunder.’”