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Electric Media and All at Once-ness: Marshall McLuhan on ‘Our World’ broadcast (1967)

“In McLuhan community is based in pattern recognition, not in the nation state but in fragmented smaller groups, which are most often communities-at-a-distance, in global ecumene. Central here is not the citizen, but the communicant. McLuhan’s nomads are bad citizens. This is also a community of speed: speed as a set of interactions in simultaneity: actions, in not sequence, but simultaneity. Thus ‘community is a series of ongoing datelines’, in which the ‘electric media instantly and constantly create a total field of interacting events in which all men participate; (UM:210, 248). There is an ‘immediacy of participation in the experience of others’. Thus following your baseball team though a 160-plus game season, or following a soap opera has little do with the representation of classic narrative. It is not a representation of life, but an extension of it. And there is little, if any, time out. There is ‘instant all at once-ness’, as ‘speed creates a total and inclusive field of relations’. There is immediacy and depth at the same time. You don’t read the codes. You sense them. You sense the patterns. And this field of impulses, this all-at-once mosaic is iterated again and again and again and again. Always new. Yet always repeated. As ephemeral, as useless, as yesterdays papers. But then there are today’s papers. There is today’s big match. The next number one hit. There is summer’s blockbuster movie.”

Source: “Non-linear Power: McLuhan” by Scott Lash, from “Marshall McLuhan: Renaissance for a wired world, Volume 3. Edited by Gary Genosko

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