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From Cliche to Archetype Hardcover – October 14, 2011
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About the Author
One of the most controversial and original thinkers of our time, McLuhan is universally regarded as the father of communications and media studies.
But he is far more than that. A charisÂmatic figure, whose remarkable perÂception propelled him onto the interÂnational stage, McLuhan became the prophet of the new information age.
In his own time he drew both accolades and criticism for his intuitive vision, his steady stream of thought-provoking metaphors, and fast-for ward glimpses into a world where software would eclipse hardware and the power of mass media would eclipse the power of government. The information superhighway fulfilled his perceptive observation that the world would ultimately become a global village.
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As in the original issue, chapters appear in strict alphabetical order -- including the Introduction, under I, and the Table of Contents, under T. More specifically, the pages and 30 chapter headings appear as in the original: 3 Absurd, Theater of the, 11 Anesthesia, 16 Archetype], 22 Author as Cliché (Book as Probe), 25 Casuistry (Art as Lie), 30 Centennial Metaphor, 35 Cliché/Archetype as Systole-Diastole, 39 Cliché as Breakdown, 42 Cliché as Probe, 51 Consciousness, 55 Doubt, 57 Emotion-Sentiment, 61 Environment (as Cliché), 64 Eye, Ear, 67 Genres, 87 Hendiadys: Cliché as Double Probe, 90 Identity – The Culture Hero, 94 Introduction, 108 Jokes, 110 Lovejoy and the Daisy Chain, 112 Matching Sense, 119 Mimesis, or Making Sense, 123 Notes on Sources, 129 The One and the Mini, 134 Paradox, 143 Parody, 146 Public as Cliché, 153 Rag and Bone Shop, 157 Retrieval, 161 Table of Contents, 162 Theater. However, the pagination is a little different in this newer edition, and there are helpful fundamentals and index sections at the end.
Sources such as a Cyberchimp/Understanding Media Course and McLuhan Galaxy (as of this writing) suggest important chapters and an order in which to read them to apprehend the book’s meaning updated here to the reissue: (i) Cliché as Probe (p. 42), (ii) Environment (as Cliché) (p. 61), (iii) Archetype (p. 16), (iv) Introduction, (p. 94), and (v) Retrieval (p. 157). The other chapters also inform these themes with many literary and artistic references.
In the reissue, the editorial additions are especially useful as in clarifying the “cliché->archetype->cliché” process. That is, an oft repeated phrase/feature becomes worn and/or commonplace due to extensive or over utilization. The phrase/feature is returned/retrieved and recognized as a pattern and reused in a new way. Then, through reuse the phrase feature becomes a cliché again. As Joyce is quoted “Love thy label as thyself.” Such explanations also assist in grasping the differences in the verbal (perceptual) and non-verbal (conceptual) instances of this process. The non-verbal occurrences are those typically applied to physical media/technologies. These aspects are beneficial in further understanding the addition of retrieval as one of the aspects of the McLuhan tetrad or laws of media. This sequence also reflects the artistic process as represented in Yeats’ poem ‘The Circus Animals Desertion.’ As Gordon relates, there are 12 mentions of the poem in the text which recalls repeated trips to the “Rag and Bone Shop” in the act of creation. The way the book is organized and physically presented becomes an example of such creativity in examining the cliched form of the book and raising it to archetype status.
When rereading this new edition, I rediscovered how much there is to be mined from this volume. Among a few immediate stand-outs for me were references to Northrop Frye as this book seems to have come in reaction to talks that mention McLuhan assembled in Frye’s “The Critical Path” and their relationship as dealt with in Bruce Powe’s “McLuhan and Frye” (see my reviews). In addition, chapters that deal with books as in ‘Author as Cliché (Book as Probe)’ and ‘Public as Cliché’ were also beneficial in re-looking at writers and criticism.
Consider this reissue as an invaluable resource in retrieving McLuhan and his insights on renewal and innovation.
Gingko Press deserves praise for reissuing this book with such a pleasant and elegant layout. It is very true to the first edition with a few additions. A 5 star effort.
They kept the same alphabetical order of the "chapters" of the book so the "Table of Contents" is near the end of the book (under T). Except, the "Notes on Sources" was moved into the alpha order instead of being at the end of the book.
One addition is that each chapter in the new edition includes an editor's note. There are three additions at the end: Acknowledgements, Fundamentals and an Index of Names. Fundamentals is short definitions of 10 terms that are important to understand McLuhan's work.
Terrence Gordon opens the book with a four page Editor's Introduction about cliche and archetype. Then he discusses various quotes in the book. This is more than a quick read, so no review of this introduction is yet appropriate from me.
I rated the book four stars because even with the reissue, this is not the best introduction to McLuhan nor is it his best work. However, this book is very relevant to the study of McLuhan's Laws of Media. So if you've read other McLuhan books, especially the Laws of Media, you will find this new edition of interest.