The Limits of My Language Mean the Limits of my Probes

Apart from being a surgical instrument used for exploring a wound, a probe is a method of perceiving. According to Eric McLuhan and William Kuhns, a probe can be verbal, and hence, discontinuous and nonlinear. The probe resists any single point of view, and “because it works by gaps and interference,” it’s a better form for examining our time than expository, linear, boring, plain, fixed, restricting, prose. They insist that in the “electric age we in the West [very MM-like to say that, don’t you think?], are moving into a world where not the connections but the interval becomes the crucial event in organization.”A probe is but an interval, a node, a resistant spark in the dark, and I could not agree more with them. I read this on David Carson and Sasha Drux’s compilation/remix/designing of MMcLuhan’s probes, published by Gingko Press in 2003, that I bought a little while ago at the SF MoMa shop. It’s a very pretty book; 574 thick pages, some of them of shinny paper, some mate, some with barely any words on it, some filled by essays like the one by Eric and William I just quoted, “Poetics on the Warpath.”

Hence, this is what I have to say after re-reading Marshall’s  “The Galaxy Reconfigured or the Plight of Mass Man in an Individualistic Society” and his über famous “The Medium is the Message” for a thousand times:

“[L]iterature will be at war with itself and with the social mechanisms of conscious goals and motivations. For the matter of literary vision will be collective and mythic, while the forms of literary expression and communication will be individualist, segmental and mechanical. The vision will be tribal and collective, the expression private and marketable.” (McLuhan “Galaxy”)

“Art reversed its role from guide for perception into convenient amenity or package. But the producer or artist was compelled, as never before, to study the effect of this art.” (McLuhan “Galaxy”)

La verdadera causa de este cambio reversible hacia los efectos de la literatura, más allá de sus orígenes, tiene que ver con el proceso inherente mismo de la técnica Gutenberg de segmentación homogénea que se remonta a la producción sobre el consumo mismo. Planear la producción supone comprender un proceso de “atrás p’alante,” comenzando desde el final, lo que implica un estudio de la experiencia del consumidor.

In a word, it became necessary to examine the effect of art and literature before producing anything at all. This is the literal entrance to the world of myth.” (McLuhan “Galaxy”)

“In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium –that is, of any extension of ourselves— result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any technology.” (McLuhan “Medium”)

“The medium is the message.” (you)

Los límites del hombre son los límites de su percepción, William Blake dixit. Los límites de esta percepción están determinados por las tecnologías disponibles del hombre, hete aquí, las extensiones de Marshall.

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” (Wittgenstein)