RETRO: Shaping Tools, Minds

8 February, 2007 at 12:38 am (literary, webjunk)

Can’t remember what got me started on this line of thought, but I was trying to come up with a concise list of the authors who had the most influence upon my personal prose style. My speech and writing patterns are aberrant, I know this, but it still comes as a bit of as shock when I find that my personal communication can be, as they say, a complete impediment to understanding. So perhaps it was simply to be able to have a list so that I would better know what outdated sources are so far from the common mind made my personal sphere of cognition so particular. Not to be able to better indoctrinate those who don’t understand me, but to recognize the sources as the spring to my lips, so that I might be able to choose another frame of reference. As I say, I don’t quite recall.

Regardless, this led me down a winding path to also forming a list of those matériel that were essential in forming my worldview. Why do I think the way that I do?

I have an old audiocassette taped, presumably, from the radio broadcast of the Columbia Broadcast System’s media version of Marshall McLuhan’s influential work The Medium is the Message. I’ve not read the book, although I have a copy of another bizarre multimedia version of it, a slim volume that alternates each page of text with a full-page photograph that was reproduced in miniature, like a printer’s mark, at the bottom of the previous page. I have, however, listened to this tape at least once a year since I was eleven or twelve and the cassette had been given to me as a birthday present.

Woody Allen and Marshall McLuhan in ANNIE HALLIt’s unusual to find reference to McLuhan — outside of his famous appearance in Annie Hall — in today’s society. I tend to think that this is largely due to the universal honesty of his observations. He has the dubious honor of having stated that which had never been expressed before, but which was immediately true and almost self-evident. To some degree, I think this meant that much of his insight was enveloped into public perception with automatic speed, rendering talking about it and its author almost… superfluous. Now, none of that is entirely true, of course, as I recognize that McLuhan was not without controversy, but… he’s just not on the radar anymore! How does that happen? We still talk about Freud, but not McLuhan?

Which is why, all copyright issues aside, that I was amazed and gratified to find this website, which allows the visitor to download MP3s of the recording that I have listened to and cherished for such a long time. Cut and mixed with a frenetic, Laugh-In sensibility, the recording is able to jam in dozens of moments that will make you laugh alongside pithy epigrams that belie their pensive disquiet. Go, download. This document made me who I am today.


  1. Chris McLaren said,

    Downloaded and enqueued for in the car listening.

  2. Chris McLaren said,

    Oh man.This thing is _genius_.

  3. Link Trackback | What I said about myself... said,

    […] of these days I’ll actually get around to writing up the complete version of a long-standing musing about the top five writers and documents that most influenced my prosody and thought processes […]

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