Friday, July 21, 2006

(Dialectical) (Media) (Histories)

Way back blogthink, McLuhan-style:
Men trained in book culture are slow to assess these facts. Yet they will admit that even books, by and large, have been written by their reading publics. Authors have always been shaped by their potential publics.

But the new media are not ''authored'' by single individuals any more than a modern newspaper. As the public of the new media increases the ''author'' staff increases. Scott or Dickens could net a nation. But no single writer today can encompass more than a fragment of the available attention of the public. The media have transformed the public in many ways and the public goes on transforming the techniques and consciousness of the authors who would master it. The man who has something to say is the man who has mastered some segment of public awareness. He is capable of lighting up some dim, fusty corner of embryonic social consciousness. Formerly an author could do this by introspection, when he was essentially a member of society. Today when it is no longer possible to be sure of what being a member of society may involve, the ''author'' has to bestir himself as much as any pollster. He lives in an unknown world of strange new components and effects.

Marshall McLuhan, from New Media As Political Forms (1955)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt this was true even in Scott's day or Dickens'. Literary history retrospectively reconstructs them as authors of the national literary culture, eliminating the myriad of magazines and journals and flyers and screeds. The thick texture of textuality is wished away retrospectively.

3:27 PM  

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