Marshall McLuhan
Quentin Fiore
Gingko Press, Corte Madera, CA, 2008, 2001, 1997; originally published 1967, English
Nonfiction, Graphic Design; Nonfiction, General
ISBN: 9781584230700

From the Publisher (2008 edition). Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage remains his most entertaining, provocative, and piquant book. With every technological and social “advance” McLuhan's proclamation that “the media work us over completely” becomes more evident and plain. In his words, “so pervasive are they in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, or unaltered.”

McLuhan's remarkable observation that “societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication” is undoubtedly more relevant today than ever before. With the rise of the internet and the explosion of the digital revolution there has never been a better time to revisit Marshall McLuhan.

On 3 book lists
Warren Lehrer

In his movie Annie Hall, Woody Allen—while standing on line to see a movie—gets into an argument with an overly pontificating college professor about the meaning of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. To settle the argument, Allen gets the real McLuhan (who happens to be in the lobby) to tell the guy that he knows nothing of his work. This scene was/is so funny partially because McLuhan’s writings were once seen as incomprehensible. In real life, the graphic designer Quentin Fiore initiated the idea to make a book of McLuhan’s writings that would look and feel more like what he was saying. The resulting Medium is the Massage superimposed text and image in ways that parallel the transition of text-based media to “bard” media (radio) and image-based movies and television. The book visualized notions of hot versus cool mediums, how technologies from the wheel to the telephone are extensions of our bodies and create a sense of comfort as well as anxiety. Some pages were printed backward and were meant to be read in a mirror; others were left completely blank. This “experimental” paperback published by Bantam became a best seller and helped popularize McLuhan’s ideas.

Abbott Miller

A model of design and writing, and an exceptional case study of a partnership between a public intellectual and a great designer.

Carola Zwick

This small paperback is the result of a typo at the printing house that McLuhan embraced and used to create a “reader’s digest” version of his “The Medium is the Message.” It uses visual means to support his idea that human artifacts serve as extensions of the human body and brain.

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