THROUGH THE VANISHING POINT by Marshall McLuhan

THROUGH THE VANISHING POINT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Before he became an eye and ear man, the transcendental mahatma of radio-TV-film-Mad Ave. ("With the omnipresent ear and the moving eye, we have abolished writing..."), Professor Marshall McLuhan used to write learned articles on Eliot and so forth in obscure journals. This never seemed to get him anywhere, so onwards he pressed into the electric age, strewing conciliatory notes along the way. "It is not that there is anything wrong with the old environment, but it simply will not serve as navigational guide to the new one." The McLuhan future (which is of course the present we refuse to acknowledge) consists of ceaseless innovation, a global culture, total involvement, and mass sensory awareness, all supported, programmed, and blessed by the wonders of technology, including such "cool" media as the tube in your living room, so much more emotion-engaging (even the commercials have that subliminal effect) than such dated "hot" media as the Times on the breakfast table. Through the Vanishing Point is nominally a study of "space in poetry and painting." Actually, it is a collection of pigrammatic campaign speeches in which McLuhan endorses his own brilliance in the guise of commenting on Western culture. On one page M.M. presents the opening stanzas of Gray's "Elegy," On the next page he makes his first observation: "The elegy walks backward into the future." After two inches of space, we get the second: "Sentimentality, like pornography, is fragmented emotion; a natural consequence of a high visual gradient in any culture." More space, then the final remark, which we've yet to figure out. There are also two "straight" essays. Sparkling.
Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1968
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1968




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