Screen reading as a ricercar

In nature, nearly everything seen is light on, reflected light. The list of things that emit light — light through — is very short: the sun (and other stars), lightning, fire, bioluminescence and molten lava. Only fire and the stars can be stared at for any length of time. Before people learned to produce fire, it too would not necessarily be common. The flash of lightning is evanescent. Bioluminescence is faint and rare. For most, experience with molten lava would be unknown or unusual.

After the mastering of metal craft, glowing red hot objects might often be encountered. The transformation of metal from ore to tool or weapon was seen as a sacred rite.

Edison’s introduction of electric light was unsettling:
“…
When the first electric lights cast their golden glow over Menlo Park on New Year’s Eve 1880, a crowd of 3,000 people gathered in awe. Edison, the worker of miracles, had triumphed. Historian and author Carolyn Marvin says, “Victorians saw the electric light and the effect of electricity (or ‘the lightning’) as having an almost religious power. Edison was both godlike, because he could manipulate the lightning, and a very dark and satanic figure for the same reason. He could challenge God’s order.”
…”
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/edison/filmmore/description.html

For those whose only experience with illumination had been candle, kerosene or gas, Edison’s electric torchlight parade had men lit up like candles or lamps.

My speculation is that the mind evolved to process reflected light and that glowing and flickering
sources tend to open the doors of perception — as shown by the Dream Machine of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs. It follows then that reading on a screen is a sort of ricercar. The text is something secondary; the effect of the light source itself is the theme.

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McLuhan called Satan the prince of the airwaves.

On Jun 5, 2014, at 8:28 AM, Anthony Olszewski wrote:

> I seem to recall that in one of the McLuhan on Maui audio archives,
> it’s mentioned that in a final taped interview with a York University
> student, McLuhan called Satan the prince of the airwaves.
>
> In Ephesians 2 Paul writes of “the ruler of the kingdom of the air,
> the spirit who is now at work in
> those who are disobedient.”
Fundamentalist Christians have pointed to
> this as proof that the devil works through television.
>
> I don’t know how Professor McLuhan intended his statement to be
> interpreted, but he appears to have been alluding to the New
> Testament.
>
> FWIW
>
> Anthony Olszewski

# # #

Bob Dobbs
Wednesday, Jul 2 02:48 PM
to Anthony Olszewski anthony.olszewski@gmail.com
Re: Satan the prince of the airwaves?

Yes, he did and was.

You can read his letter to Jacques Maritain in the 1969 section of THE LETTERS OF MARSHALL McLUHAN where he discusses the “Prince of the Air”.

Bob

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