Nettime mailing list archives

Re: <nettime> The medium is not the message (lecture to students)
. left | coast | lurker . on Fri, 23 Dec 2011 07:37:26 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> The medium is not the message (lecture to students)

> You could therefore rephrase "The Medium is the Message" to say "The
> Environment is What Changes You" and be much closer to McLuhan's own  meaning.

Indeed, it's a worthwhile interpretation to make of this oft-misunderstood
phrase. That said, I think you'd agree Mark that it's a bit of a
simplification, especially when thinking the phrase as a way to describe how
mediums "flip" into each other.

So there's a few more meanings in here, one of the more significant being
that "each medium's message is a previous medium." This adds a temporal
tension to the phrase and removes its immediate reliance upon (human)
subjectivity for it to have analytic value.

This is also a rewriting of the form/content relation into a dialectic: each
medium's content reflects the former medium's form. As medium A flips into
medium B, medium B's content is that of medium A's form.

With the mish-mash of stuff that is everything from the '80s on, not to
mention "social media," both form/content and medium/message seem inadequate
to describe identifiable boundaries between dialectical or binary terms,
with the posited linear progression of media also finding itself splayed in
numerous directions. Indeed, this is why media theory invented terms like
"remediation" and "re/descripting," etc., i.e., with remix culture
medium/message goes sideways and time goes backwards as well as forwards.

Also, I'd say that "the environment changes you" is already rendered
obsolete by McLuhan when he observes how you=the sum total of your
technological prostheses, which is to say, you already = the (medium)
environment. Thus, saying "the environment is what changes you" reduces to
the somewhat banal statement "the environment changes the environment."

True, but hardly insightful. Only with the temporal dimension does McLuhan's
statement shed some light upon remediation, or the incorporation of media
into (each) other, the technics or prosthesis before/at the origin, etc.

I'd like to hear more about the Tetrad, especially in light of the work
Graham Harman has been doing connecting it to Heidegger's Fourfold in what
is now known as Speculative Realism.... has your work touched upon this
connection, Mark? Curious.

Thanks as always.

best/ tobias c. van Veen

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: http://mx.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/nettime-l
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} kein.org