War and Peace in the Global Village

Quotes / Quotations. War and Peace in the Global Village is a 1968 book  by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore.

"If literate people are reluctant to consider how the ground rules of their world have been laid down by phonetic literacy, they might find some comfort in the quite hilarious description of Medieval Technology and Social Change by Lynn White." - page 26

"As with hit tunes and hit pictures and hit entertainments, fashion rushes in to fill the vacuum in our senses created by technological displacements. Perhaps that is why it seems to be the expression of such a colossal preference while it lasts. James Joyce gives it a key role in Finnegans Wake in his section on the Prankquean. The Prankquean is the very expression of war and aggression. In her life, clothing is weaponry: "I'm the queen of the castle and you're the dirty rascal." In the very opening line of Finnegans Wake — "riverrun, past Eve and Adam's..."— Joyce thus indicates the reversal of nature that has taken place since the fall of man. It is not the world of Adam and Eve, but one in which there is priority of Eve over Adam. Clothing as weaponry had become a primary social factor. Clothing is anti-environmental, but it also creates a new environment. It is also anti- the elements and anti-enemies and anti- competitors and anti-boredom." - page 21 / 22.

"Fashion is, as it were, the poor man's art, the usually unbought grace of life which he participates in only as a spectator. In sensory terms fashion has a kind of infallibility about it. As with hit tunes and hit pictures and hit entertainments, fashion rushes in to fill the vacuum in our senses created by technological displacements." - page 21

"It helps to know that civilization is entirely the product of phonetic literacy, and as it dissolves with the electronic revolution, we rediscover a tribal, integral awareness that manifests itself in a complete shift in our sensory lives." - page 24 / 25

"The new feeling for the hula-hoop compared to the Tom Sawyer-attitude toward the hoop is an example of what Otto Lowenstein describes in his remarkable account of what the newly sighted perceive in the world outside them. The information environment and effects created by the computer are as inaccessible to literate vision as the external world is to the blind. For example, the computer has made possible our satellites which have put a man-made environment around the planet, ending "nature" in the older sense." - page 35 / 36

"In the new age of Malthus and Adam Smith, the quantifying principle was increasingly prevalent. It implied a fragmentation of human sensibility of an extreme kind, and Burke comments on this theme just before bidding farewell to what he felt had been, relatively speaking, a period of integral existence: "Political reason is a computing principle; adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, morally and not metaphysically or mathematically, true moral denominations." His vision of the departing civilization," - page 48

"Various people have pointed out that the computer revolution is greater than that of the wheel in its power to reshape human outlook and human organization. Whereas the wheel is an extension of the foot, the computer gives us a world where the hand of man never set foot. (James Joyce made many such observations. He once said: "I am the greatest engineer who ever lived." When his work is understood and wafted out of the hands of the esthetes, his claim will appear modest.) As much as the wheel is an extension of the foot, the computer is an extension of our nervous system, which exists by virtue of feedback or circuitry." - page 53

"(Apropos his allusion to Adam, any Christian might add that whereas the first Adam was an esthete, viewing and naming and enjoying creatures, a resident in a world he never made, the second Adam remade His first establishment and conferred on man totally new powers of creativity such as the first Adam had not known. To the Christian the Incarnation means that all matter was reconstituted at a historical moment and that matter is now capable of quite superhuman manipulation.)" - page 59

"The matter of symbolism raises at once not only words but artifacts and the environments created by artifacts. Technologically-created environments are as symbolic as any metaphor could ever be. "Man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a metaphor?" The power to read the language of environments was the province of the seer in primitive societies; he related the languages which he discerned in the outer world to the inner world, keeping both as a divine secret committed to him. The secrets he discovered were great breakthroughs or epiphanies or showing forth of the divine through the environmental veils. In the eighteenth century Giambattista Vico devoted his Scienza Nuova to his recovery of what he felt had been a lost science." - page 59

"Literate rationalistic man had relinquished the power of vision in order to manipulate matter, as it were. Vico is entirely concerned with the invisible environments that the biologist Bertalanffy today calls- symbolism. James Joyce devoted his Finnegans Wake to implementing Vico." - page 60

"The nature of the anxiety that now pervades human consciousness had many earlier anticipations. For example, the work of Pavlov, in revealing the fact of conditioned reflexes, had a totally different meaning for the Russian and the European. Pavlov had been unable to condition his dogs in his experiments until he had completely conditioned the laboratory environments in which they lived. Until precise thermal and auditory controls were introduced into the laboratories the conditioning did not occur. The bell did not elicit salivation. To the European it was not the conditioning of the laboratories but the fact of automatic salivation that created the excitement." - page 66

"It is not uncommon for people on these trips, especially with new chemical drugs, as opposed to organic ones, to develop the illusion that they are themselves computers. Similarly, where once psychotic children identified themselves as bunnies and cats and other beasts from the fun animal world, now they identify with cars and television sets. This, of course, is not so much a hallucination as a discovery. The computer is a more sophisticated extension of the central nervous system than ordinary electric relays and circuits. When people live in an environment of such circuitry and feedback, carrying much greater quantities of information than any previous social scene, they develop something akin to what medical men call "referred pain." The impulse to get "turned on" is a simple Pavlovian reflex felt by human beings in an environment of electric information. Such an environment is itself a phenomenon of self-amputation. Every new technological innovation is a literal amputation of ourselves in order that it may be amplified and manipulated for social power and action. Naturally, such amputation is associated with pain that is referred not so much to the body as to brain centers. As Lowenstein points out: "There is hardly a brain center outside the reach of pain pathways." Most people are in the habit of associating technical innovations with the physical upset to their customary routines and their customers." - page 73

"The extreme decentralizing power of the computer in eliminating cities and all concentrations of population whatever is as nothing compared to its power to translate hardware into software and capital goods into information. It is well to remind ourselves that the computer made possible the satellite, which ended nature in the sense that it has been understood during the past three thousand years. What we now call the business world is as incompatible with the computer as the military establishment or the motor car industry. The dense information environment created by the computer is at present still concealed from it by a complex screen or mosaic quilt of antiquated activities that are now advertised as the new field for the computer." - page 88 / 89

"The Orientalization of the Western world is a mere footnote to the electrical supplanting of fragmentation as a technology for coping with nature." - page 93

"When one has been hurt by new technology, when the private person or the corporate body finds its entire identity endangered by physical or psychic change, it lashes back in a fury of self-defense." - page 97

"When our identity is in danger, we feel certain that we have a mandate for war. The old image must be recovered at any cost. But, as in the case of "referred pain," the symptom against which we lash out may quite likely be caused by something about which we know nothing. These hidden factors are the invisible environments created by technological innovation. Nobody, for example, is happy about the decline of the West or its rapid Orientalization. Spengler devoted two stout tomes of romantic description to this theme without offering a single clue as to the causes of change." - page 97

"Fifty years before Lindbergh, Yeats, Eliot, Lewis, Pound, and many other artists explained in detail how, as the Western mechanical world reached the limits of its potential, all of its characteristic modes and functions reversed their characteristics." - page 97

"For the training of his recruits, Napoleon was in the habit of placing long lines of planks on his parade ground in order to teach his clodhoppers and yokels how to march in straight lines. Julius Caesar probably had similar gimmicks at his disposal. Perhaps Napoleon felt a certain sympathy for the semi-literate, since he was semi-literate himself. He was unable to spell or write correctly in any language." - page 103

"Alexander was representative of the Macedonian world which was still tribal, like the current Russian world. The advanced culture of the city states had only tinged this tribal territory and some historians consider that it was this factor that enabled Alexander to transcend the limitations of these exclusive city states and to think in terms of a cosmopolitan world federalism. These are matters directly related to phonetic literacy and its effects on politics and social life." - page 103

"An electric society has the same tendency as the agrarian one since it swiftly translates hardware into software or information. The information approaches the condition of speech and more and more becomes capable of being learned by a child." -page 113

"To say that "readiness for war characterizes contemporary social systems" is saying no more than that the customary handshake is a ritual form of tribal hostility used to maintain a diplomatic or armed truce between entities. Such indeed was the origin of the handshake, as one can read in detail in Jose Ortega y Gasset's Man and People. All courtesy and ceremony have this function of putting limits to aggressive emotions. In the Oriental world, where the excessive proximity of too numerous a population breeds intense aggressiveness, it has been found inexpedient to use personal pronouns." - page 116

"The corporate word from the old men from Iron Mountain is that war is an inseparable feature of the economic establishment" - page 118

"The old men from Iron Mountain have not a clue to the origins or persistence of war as a quest for that identity that is always threatened by technological innovations. They are quite aware of the vast research and development activities that are accelerated by war, but it has never occurred to them that the innovations resulting from this research and development are precisely the ones that obliterate the identity image, indispensable to peace and tranquillity among nations." - page 120  ("tranquillity" sic, intended as "illness"?)

"Electric "software" abolishes the division between industrial worker and savant as much as between civilian and soldier. The old men from Iron Mountain are loyal to the iron law of work and wages and all the other iron-clad laws of conventional economics that were developed in the age of hardware." - page 121

"When the old men from Iron Mountain turn to more psychological aspects of war, they see it as a means that "enables the physically deteriorating older generation to maintain its control of the younger, destroying it, if necessary." Can we detect here an intuition to rival Lord of the Flies or the "territoriality" of Robert Ardrey?" - page 122 / 123

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