- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Gingko Pr Inc; Reissue edition (November 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1584230509
- ISBN-13: 978-1584230502
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,675,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Mechanical Bride : Folklore of Industrial Man Reissue Edition
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He describes a number of corrupting influences, e.g. "the notion of distinction and culture as being a matter of consumption rather than the possession of discriminating perception and judgment," "the automatic leveling process exercised by applied science" that has equated the sexes, "the supremacy of technique at the expense of nutriment," the belief that success is measured by purchasing power, that the ultimate happiness consists in the acquisition of material goods, that culture is conferred upon those who purchase expensive and refined products, that the race to the top is so dehumanizing that the winners "arrive in a nude and starving condition."
For McLuhan, popular culture is an open book of all the unconscious or accidental motivations of the American people. They are unconscious because they are environmental, i.e. they are the unchallenged a priori principles and assumption that drive the American lifestyle. But all is not lost. If we stand back and contemplate this phantasmagoria with rational detachment rather than participate in mindless conduct, we will derive solutions to bring it under control.
McLuhan's genius and originality consist in applying the techniques of Freudian dream analysis to the social, cultural and economic spheres insofar as they evoke exhibits of the "American dream," and he did so with a consummate command of language, satirical wit, and the authority of unimpeachable scholarship.
The reader should keep in mind that this is still premature McLuhan, for he had not yet read Harold Innis's 1950 classic--which represents the true birth of media studies--Empire and Communications. This book hit McLuhan like an atomic bomb, for it completely ruptured his thinking regarding media. In The Mechanical Bride, he is still analyzing the content of the media, deciphering what the subliminal messages are saying to us unconsciously; but after reading Innis, he realized that it was not the message that was important (at least not for him) but rather the type of medium through which the message was conveyed, for Innis's discussions of how particular kinds of media affected the nature and structure of ancient empires caused McLuhan to realize that it was actually the medium that was the important thing. Whether a culture used clay or papyrus as its means of communication, Innis asserted, determined much about the fate of that culture.
With that caveat in mind, then, the reader is free to roam through these pages, observing a McLuhan that would never exist in the same way again. He comments, sometimes hilariously, on one advertisement, movie poster or magazine after the next. He has interesting things to say about genres like the Western or the soap opera (for instance, he says that the Western is the masculine equivalent to the soap opera, for its values are the opposite of those of the domestic drama) and we also find here, for the first time, his speculations on Sherlock Holmes, a theme that will recur in many of his later writings.
McLuhan at this point had read and metabolized such key thinkers for him as Lewis Mumford and Siegfried Giedion, and they are referred to often in the body of the text. (There even occurs a reference to Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces; apparently the only book he ever read by Campbell, his Irish intellectual colleague who was more concerned with deciphering the messages than the media themselves). McLuhan, in The Mechanical Bride, is still feeling his way, and he is not yet sure of himself. But it is a delight for the reader to watch this great American thinker--the equivalent, easily, of any of the great French postmodernists (this book bears certain similarities, for instance, to Barthes' Mythologies)--tentatively poking his way about in the middenheap of popular culture, looking for ways in which to organize it into something one can get a grasp on.
I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did. But do let me know if you don't.
SEE ALSO MY YOUTUBE VIDEO "MARSHALL MCLUHAN CULTURE WITHOUT LITERACY DISCUSSION BY JOHN DAVID EBERT"
--John David Ebert, author of "The New Media Invasion: Digital Technologies and the World They Unmake" (McFarland Books, 2011)