by Randy Koppang
The Iraq war is a scene of global theatre being played out. For both the Bush administration, as well as Mideasterners, an identity crisis is being staged. The Bush administration’s immediate prosecution of war was an effort to reinvent its own identity.
Mystery is that unauthorized quantity found in defiant forces of nature. You might call it the hidden-ground. Personal experience confirms the mysteries exclusively. This allied realm, this subtle set of energies, does not replicate well in rational lab tests. Such forces or energies do not exist at all for most people, perceptually speaking.
The holo-dynamics of mystery could be a vitalist virtue of our aesthetic paradigm. However, the anomalous meta-physics of mystery are, as yet, not assets of our present aesthetic moment. This is because the consensus of popular reality – that of the TV-generations – is modeled on, is a model of, mechanical perspectives on natural wonders. It is not practical for a controllable machine (nature) to be guaranteed dependable if it did not “have all the bugs out.” Likewise, the paranormal functions of reality are censored out of experience – relegated to fictional content by those co-conspirators who mold mass conformity.
Economically, the practical bottom line of our social providence is much better served by a model of reality which explains all possibilities in mechanistic terms; terms which are scientifically predictable. This is “our” worldview. It originated in an environment of predictably linear, literate logic. In the visual space of a page is where how we know was ordered, as a mechanical sequence of words. If science is anything it must be predictive.
The problem is, the rational perceptions of our scientific social order are only one way to perceive. We could have a resonant, nonlinear way to know of human activities in nature; perhaps we do, and don’t know it. Our worldview of nature is static; what if there is a second nature? We’ll get to that.
A predictive, rational science of perception is a service to society. It is also a disservice because it has a bad habit of demanding conformity to the scientific limits of how to know. Controlling what is known controls what people do.
As Marshall McLuhan said of NASA and the science responsible for it, “The U.S. space program apes the old hardware economy of the pre-electric age …”1 McLuhan implies, of course, that our “futuristic” applications of space technology are actually obsolete. Given the devolving NASA project failures since they allegedly went to the moon, McLuhan’s observations from 1968 are correct.
McLuhan will figure preeminently here, as a result of his groundbreaking insights into better Understanding the history of what people do. What people persist in doing is manipulate nature with their technologies (Media). But more importantly, as media is used it manipulates the user in return – as if it were part of you – which it is!
20th century techno-evolution led to lucid illustrations advertising the self-realization that ‘Media-R-Us’, like this one from 1973. A chronology of such ads can be viewed in the gallery of Aducation of www.xenochrony.com or see his personal site at http://anw.com/RK/index.htm
One view of history is that it is the evolution of technologies. Another view of history is that it is a series of conspired wars. Technological evolution has largely been the history of inspired weaponry. The nexus of war and technology is a core facet of innovation, but with the advent of cyber-chip software a paradigm shift occurred. The point of convergence is that there are inexorable mysteries to perceive, especially so due to the ever present software environment and never just one way or system for perceiving.
From Habit To Environment
The effects are surgical, as McLuhan said, of the Pavlovian pain “reflex felt by human beings in an environment of electric information. Such an environment is itself a phenomenon of self amputation.”
A foremost principle in McLuhan’s media critique pertains to habits of use. Use habits can become an environment. As the use-pattern of a technology becomes evermore popular, people habituate to it. Technologies transcend their intended purpose. They in turn become an environment with psycho-social effects.
All of history has been subject to this; what’s new, thanks to McLuhan, is this realization. There were environmental effects/affects in the pre-electric mechanical age, just as there are now, in our post-electromechanical computer-chip environment. Yes, digital cyber-techni requires electricity. However, digital-chip effects are an entirely new species, evolved from their electromechanical ancestors. As McLuhan said in 1968, “Our new technological resources have simply bypassed the Newtonian age. Such sudden changes amount to a kind of transvaluation of values and a resulting feeling of the meaninglessness of life and human endeavor because of the disappearance of all the previous goals and objectives.”2
“Everything’s disappeared!” as each thunderous paradigm shift in techno-development persuades people to reacclimate behavior to “new and improved” devices. Simply put, “the medium is the massage.” An innovation can make a long-lived or traditional way of doing something obsolete; new social psychologies emerge as crises of identity. Environmentalizing a new device can re-form how your world is perceived; how you bond with it.
The introduction above asserts that today our Western-worldview is biased on the model of mechanical-reductionism. This may seem contradictory, considering our pre-electric mechanical age is long obsolete. This is more of a paradox than a contradiction. There is a contradiction only because people resist alternate worldviews. The social psychology of electric media is completely different from pre-electric media. Thus, a fair assessment of how electric media influences the user – such as McLuhan’s – would logically lead to an electric-world-view, alternative to our obsolete mechanical-age model.
Through the Persistence of Memory-past, this has not happened – by design. “The knowledge society” of global intelligence is handicapped by the conspiracy of silence, which academic power structures mandate. Mechanical model thinking is one of the philosophical reasons why policies of the George W. Bush administration are entirely 19th century.
The issue is encapsulated in McLuhan’s iconic aphorism, “The medium is the message.” The content utility (message) of any medium is “puny” compared to the influence a medium has, as a sensory extension, upon consciousness. McLuhan generally means to infer that this influence is due to a medium ascending to an environment. The issue is essentially the services and disservices of perceptual change; self inflicted sensory and perceptual change. The environmental status means to imply exactly that: influences of perceptual impact effect a comprehensive set of inter-disciplinary conditions.
The paradox in an environment is that, for modern man, he is “therefor unaware of it.” Environments are invisible. The content of an environment is what makes it perceptible. Social effects from the prior environment bring forth acceptance of the successor, the most universal recent case being how movies became the content of TV, affecting the “watcher” habit of the mass living room audience.
Long before any media environments manifested, some device was invented. Whatever it is, a medium is an extension of ourselves. For millennia people have extended their senses or physical faculties with some gizmo or other. The Trojan Horse effects don’t occur all at once, of course. When the effects hit, however, they can be painful; especially those techno-modernizing effects in pre-literate 3rd/4th-world societies. The effects are surgical, as McLuhan said of the Pavlovian pain “reflex felt by human beings in an environment of electric information. Such an environment is itself a phenomenon of self amputation. Every new technological innovation is an amputation (extension of the physical) of ourselves in order that it my be amplified and manipulated for social power and action.”3
Obviously, the implications of this premise have crucial merit in sorting out the culture-clash crisis since 911: i.e., between the instinctive tribal social values of the Mideast vs. the occupying forces of Western balance of trade and war. We can apply McLuhan’s insights to understand where media effects are being used opportunistically. McLuhan’s insights can serve as a tactic of viewpoint deconstruction. Such forces can serve to “reform” the worldview to conform to the dominant organizing principles of global society: consumerist materialism.
Never forgetting that the marketing of profitable product distribution plays a central role in shaping media environments, following is a highlight of political agendas in this regard.
Dissolving the Boundaries of Unamerican Identity
Iran ruled to confiscate Barbie as a taboo ambassador of American culture. In 1996, the head of a government-backed children’s agency called Barbie a “Trojan Horse” sneaking in Western influences upon women.
On 27 February 2004, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Officials in the Mideast see a secret effort to democratize the region as a bid to reshape their nations without their consent.”4 As America resentfully tries to retrofit the excuse for Iraq war with some alternative contrivance – the neo-conservative (a bi-partisan composite of nostalgic Cold-warriorism) plot thickens. Under the guise of freedom through democratic modernization, once again a strategy leaks out! It is a “secret” plan to “reform” the Islamic countries from Morocco to Pakistan. The plan is an effort to foster “free-market values.”
The Trojan Horse in these free and democratic values is basically the goal of social fragmentation; the goal of “re-forming” the Islamic social order. You might call it a marketing ploy. Or, if you understand cycles of historical novelty, you might call it The Crusades Revisited. “Democracy,” per sŽ, is just a euphemism. It is a P.R. goal in the context of pre-911 plans for regime change in Iraq; a euphemism for opening up and dominating the resources of an addictively-desired market. You might call it imperialism.
In this news item, where the American plan to “reform” is reported, the Arab leaders interpret this as an intent to “reshape” their culture itself. The Arabs couldn’t be more right! The American (war) plan in Iraq is an attempt to “reshape” – “reform” – remake – alter the structural social fabric of identity itself in the Islamic world. They do this by institutionalizing, insisting on, a Western political/economy in Iraq, a systemic shift in organized thinking and behavior. Under the guise of “free-trade values,” economic aid is a strategy of behavior modification via market saturation with consciousness-altering products.
For those who think I’m mixing apples and oranges – this “product” already came to a head in Saudi Arabia. On 28 February 2004, there was a report on how Saudi Arabia had banned Barbie Doll because she was “too realistic.” But whose reality was Barbie Doll too realistically representative of, you may ask? She was banned ten years ago. Saudi Arabia also banned Pokemon! Saudi Arabian religious police were ordered to enforce an official decree – Fatwa – against Pokemon video games/cards.5 Pokemon was found to be altering the attentive-behavior of children. This, in turn, disrupted the child-rearing tradition, crucial to weaving the fabric of social conformity/identity.
In the eyes of the Muslim leaders, their opposition to Pokemon is an issue of game content. But the problem was described as, “children became obsessed with the (video) game … staying glued to the television program, pestering parents to purchase Pokemon items.” “Muslim leaders in Oman, Quatar, Dubai, Jordan, and Egypt have also said Pokemon was religiously unacceptable.”6 “Saudi Arabia’s High Committee for Scientific Research and Islamic Law said Pokemon games and cards have ‘possessed the minds’ of Saudi children.”7 In April 2001, a Fatwa was issued in Dubai saying that the game “is based on the theory of evolution.”8
Meanwhile, back at the feet of Barbie Doll, Iran ruled to confiscate Barbie as a taboo ambassador of American culture. “In 1996, the head of a government-backed children’s agency called Barbie a ‘Trojan Horse’ sneaking in Western influences”9 upon women. So, certain media and its content are Mideast-culture jammers.
What we have here is the drama of cognition over issues of identity. This is occurring everywhere, under the proscenium arch of our satellite environment, streaming down living-omni-media as global theatre. On 5 March 2004, the Los Angeles Times began a theatre review by saying, “In the 60s, Marshall McLuhan predicted that if the videophone caught on the world would become a global theater.” Not quite. Actually, in his 1970 book From ClichŽ to Archetype McLuhan said, “Since Sputnik and the statellites, the planet is enclosed in a manmade environment that ends “Nature” and turns the globe into a repertory theater to be programmed.” The point is, the influential power of global electric conditions, or climate, to raise awareness in some cases succeeds to the degree that cultural values clash over content acceptability.
The momentum of WTO goals toward globalist resource exploitation demands conspicuous consumerism in societies where it has been an acultural option. The Iraq war is the “brass tacks” of globalism, the “remaking of social order” through the long-count hegemony of cultural deconstructionism. Yet, Iraq was the perfect setting for the violent override (speedup) of the “product placement” turnover of Mideastern social order. An article outlining this Iraqi setting appeared front page, Los Angeles Times, 15 April 2004, titled, “I’ll Take That – And That.”
Under the duress of continued urban warfare, the article reported, “As people watch more TV, they’re seeing these foreign brands and just grabbing them.” “Generally, the first purchase for many Iraqis these days is a television – and a satellite dish.” “There may even be a psychological component, as a battered and bruised population indulges in a bit of shopping therapy to brighten its spirits.” Sounds like Bush’s prePost-erous “fuzzy math” psi-op to me.
Issues of Identity Dissolving and Resolving At The Same Time
In McLuhan’s terms, the “reforming” of the Mideast is classic “dissolving boundaries”: Mideast identity into Western. Electric media, plus an add-mixture of habit forming content will get you an affective phase-transition of fast, inexorable “reform.” War is just a quicker way to get hands-on control; oil being only a short term stop-gap hedge, as we run out of it and prices skyrocket. But, most of the pre-war effects moving “forward” toward Westernization, are due to these foreign techno-forces. This is why the Los Angeles Times article above, referring to American plans of “reform,” quoted Egypt and Saudi Arabia saying: the plans were being “imposed on Arab and Islamic countries from the outside.”
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was quoted as saying the plans were to “help…them..move forward.” Yet, the truth is that the model for Americana is retrograde and adversarial. So, we have another paradox: America moves underdeveloped countries “forward” by nostalgically retrieving 19th century protocols of conflict resolution: war. This used to be called “Frontier Justice,” now it is programming.
In other words, the Iraq war is a scene of global theatre being played out. For both the Bush administration, as well as Mideasterners, an identity crisis is being staged. The Bush administration’s immediate prosecution of war was an effort to reinvent its own identity. As Senator Ted Kennedy said of Bush on 5 April 2004, “Iraq is his Vietnam!” Here, is where we reintroduce factors of media effects: “The origins or persistence of war as a quest for that identity that is always threatened by technological innovation.”10 “Every new technology necessitates a new war.”11
McLuhan’s insights can be elusive. In this case, cyber technologies enhance our perceptions of a web-connected world of interdependence. They don’t enhance our perceptions of nostalgic territorial battles on a foreign frontier. On the part of the war perpetrator now, war serves a need to regain the ground of identity being lost to current evolving social perceptions. The environment of electric information is responsible. “Electricity” is a metaphor for the implicate order of interdependent cooperation.
In many ways, content in media – in this case, the details of news about war/terrorism made electrically accessible globally to all those who may react – simply mirrors the effects (services/disservices) wrought upon users by the innovation. Mainstream analysts would disregard perspectives here as incidental. But their specialty is the mere minutia of content. The specialists don’t see that, as McLuhan pointed out, “Under electric conditions the content tends… toward becoming environmental itself.”12 It is a paradox, but a sign of our times.
The Iraq war was held to counter, as an antienvironment, the inter-netting web-connecting wireless Matrix reality of unity. The wireless matrix resonates in connectedness; the war fragments the group-mind with physical deconstructionism. The wireless resonance integrates the mass psyche into the global village, the global neighborhood, the hyperlinked global mind of Buckminster Fuller’s Spaceship Earth. All the while, reactionaries abhor the potential profit-motive erosion of such software communism.
The mechanical hardware diehards of the Bush administration think mechanically, with biblically apocalyptic flair, while the webcast-environment of instantaneous interactive interdependence demands a paradigm shift in identity perceptions. Such perceptions can be denied, of course. Thus, policymakers pretend that media are inanimate and psychically neutral.
Westernization of the east is inexorable under electric conditions; so is easternization of the West. This eventuality scares neo-conservatives. So, the U.S. master plan is bluntly described to “remake the face of the Middle East.” This is an opportunistically created “clash of realities.” Reality is a function of the extent to which your primary sensory orientation is limited. In the case of Bush, Ashcroft, Cheney, et al., their policies are rooted in the visual-bias of the “book.” Theirs is a literate sensory space-time; i.e., a dualistic-dimensional “reality tunnel.” They do things “by the book.”
On printing, McLuhan said, “It created the portable book, which men could read in privacy … men could now inspire – and conspire.” The sub-text of Bush neo-conservatism is a reality colored by the religious guise of Biblical-literacy. When Bush gives a campaign speech people say “Amen!” When “Bush comes to shove,” the endtimes-timeline of their anticipatory futurism evokes policies as exercises in self-fulfilling prophesy.
Mental Fragmentation and Hegelian Dialectics
A new adversary, by definition, is necessary to replace the now dead antithesis of the Commie Soviet “Evil Empire,” antithesis to our American thesis. Now we have Islamic terrorism; next, rogue states; next, near earth asteroids; next, aliens from space…
The applied mode of Bush’s political management derives from the literacy of Hegelian polarization or fragmentation: the dialectic division of thesis vs. antithesis. The dialectic presumes that people, in their imperfections – sins, if you like – can never know ultimate truths. Thus, we are obliged to settle for either of the two propositions – thesis/antithesis. Ultimately, a compromise occurs, and you attain a synthesis of the two. This synthesis then becomes a prevailing thesis, to be challenged by a new adversary or antithesis…
Hegel’s dialectic is highly Germanic in its structure. However, the degree to which the dialectic has been thoroughly concretized as an institution of political thought is uniquely American. Because this institution of thinking is reality itself in American politics, an explanatory insight emerges: beginning with education, the specifically limited fragmentation of dialectic-reality dictates by its very nature that, as applied in America, viable politics can only have two parts – two parties. It wasn’t always the case, but it is now since Prussian/Germanic structures of literate education were exported here in the 19th century.13 The point in this example is that literate education places undue emphasis upon the fragmenting process of the literate reality: the dialectic became a natural byproduct; a national export product.
By its very nature, our current socio-political tradition of dialectic relationship has disaffected our thought itself. The two essential fragments of the dialectic require each other as adversaries. Existentially, this adversarial Gestalt presupposes that reality can only be a continuum of conflict (debate). Since the dialectic is culturally/paradigmatically integral to media content under electric conditions, it’s a fixture in our psychic environment; relationally, it IS the environment, and fragmented. Thus, people are not conscious of it.
This is why, after the ‘cold war’ ended, the most astute political scientists understood that a “new threat” of some sort would soon be found (contrived, perhaps?). A new adversary, by definition, is necessary to replace the dead antithesis of the Commie Soviet “Evil Empire,” antithesis to our American thesis. Now we have Islamic terrorism; next, rogue states; next, near earth asteroids; next, aliens from space…
Without an adversary, those proponents and defenders of the currently dominant dialectic civilization would have no purpose in being. The worldview of dialectic literacy is thus polarized in its dualistic fragmentation. These values inherent in the dialectic are perfectly congruent with McLuhan’s diagnosis: literate, alphabetic man is fragmented. The fragmentary nature of the literacy-paradigm makes all this perfectly (scientifically) predictable. We actually live in a new paradigm, but, it will take a while before the “culture lag” is overcome, and the new perceptions are institutionalized as values. Meanwhile, the neo-conservatives conspire with their “doctrine of the change of course,” reforming adversaries in our image. They believe they have their job cut out for them.
The premise of McLuhan’s assertion regarding fragmentation is rooted in his correlation of interdisciplinary human studies. In The Gutenberg Galaxy, McLuhan quotes a study of literate/non-literate tribal Africans.14 Such studies clearly indicated social effects upon people in modern transition compared to Western society. The changes are severe. They fragment society.
Neutralizing The Magical Word
People (tribes) who are not literate identify themselves through the natural vibrating resonance of their oral communication. Their heightened sense of hearing is alert, in its field of awareness. Their natural environment is one of communicating sounds.
This sensory arrangement is not at all an environment of communication like that of the printed word. Words in print are abstract symbols. The phonetic alphabet of word letters are static sounds of silence in two dimensions. Whereas, oral is 3-D, holodynamic, and integrates physical body-language with verbal language. “Sounds are … dynamic things.” Nowadays, sound is used for alternative healing. Auditory communication becomes multisensory in social expression. But literacy narrows sensory awareness with a “stripping of the senses and the interruption of their interplay in tactile synesthesia.”15
The pre-literate environment of oral communication was this interplay of all senses via the ear. This environment was upset by the print revolution. It was undone by converting an auditory / ambient environment of knowing into a non-resonating two-dimensional environment of printed-knowing.
Phonetic literacy is the neutralizing of the “magical world of the resonant oral word”16 in tribal society. The literate field of attention narrows down sensory awareness to a visual space (“reality tunnel”) of intensified focus. This “intensity of awareness,” which the attention-field of literacy demands, can also induce hypnotic trance. As McLuhan notes, “Psychologists define hypnotism as the filling of the field of attention by one sense only.”17
This trance-effect is not limited to literate, visual-space focused attention. Today in 21C, there is a tranceformation happening with youth culture in this regard. Youth culture has an “obsessional identification with new technological form.” In their case it’s the music CD-walkman and music video habit. As McLuhan deduced, environments of electronica are retribalizing TV generations, and returning them to an auditory bias of focused awareness. This is the post-literate response to media. The disservices can be similar to the tranced effects of literacy, however. This species of auditory/oral culture is not a retrieval of first-nature pre-literate sociology. Attention Deficit Disorder may well also be a reaction to the phenomenon. A.D.D. and short-attention span has already been substantially verified as occurring in small kids watching TV excessively.
By wearing portable CD-player headsets, which very many do everyday, in school and elsewhere, the youth wear their retribalizing tradition of oral rock culture. They wear it as mythic, culturejammer clothing. It is oral, “audile-tactile,” instantaneous and involving. But clearly, I’ve learned from high school teachers, many kids are tranced-out, as they exclude the school surroundings with their headset-internalized electro-oral space; not naturally ambient auditory space. This is internalized oral knowing and discovery. As McLuhan noted, this space would also be a trance inducing “field of attention,” since, the headset isolates the ears from their natural function as mediator for sensory interplay.
Educational Culture Clash
The disservice is that the mythic-music video clothing being worn by youth is contradictory to the demands of literacy goals in their schools. If there is a culture clash between the West and Mideast, there is equally so a culture clash between electronic pop culture of youth and the 19th century environment characterizing education. “The student finds no means of involvement for himself and cannot discover how the educational scheme relates to his mythic world of electronically processed data and experience that his clear and direct responses report.”18 McLuhan stated this in 1967, and the relevancy to educational crises now is many fold greater.
As McLuhan foretold, TV-generations have been re-tribalizing for 35 years now. Proof in his putting is that if tribal is a perceptual setting, clearly defining the social role and identity a child will assume, or the contemporary lack thereof in average “families,” has left a vacuum. This social gap of detribalized culture-lag is where the action is for many youths growing up in re-tribalizing TV-reality. Youth-gangs (in all ethnic groups), Hip-Hop/rapper culture, and Rave culture have increasingly filled environmental needs. The needs being satisfied are those of depth involvement via “massive” aural-tribalesque experience occurring “largely in a world of sound – the world loaded with direct personal significance for the hearer … the ear world is a hot hyperesthetic world.”19
If a low-one ever cruised up next to your car at a stoplight, cranked with its mega-bass stereo blaring rapster drumbeats – piercing so loud you feel it’s inside your own space – you’ve felt the tribal electracism of TV-generations! “The TV child encounters the world in a spirit antithetic to literacy.”
Thus, in school, greater numbers of students disruptively act out their drama of cognition, as electro-sensory youth culture and obsolete literary-stressed school culture clash. This contradiction in terms is not conducive to high achievement, of course. So, on 5 June 2003 the L.A. Daily News reported how one Los Angeles middle school and four high schools were “threatened with sanctions for test scores” going down / not improving. Nationally, the Los Angeles Times reported on 8 August 2003, that “schools in Houston and New York City – under intense pressure to improve – falsified records … 16 middle and high schools in Houston had falsified students’ records, making it seem that kids who had in fact dropped out were merely moving or transferring.” Thus, many schools are falsely appearing to reduce the growing dropout rates.
These accounts of the “dropout” validate McLuhan’s assertion in his book, The Medium is the Massage: “The dropout represents a rejection of 19th century technology as manifested in our educational establishments.” “The classroom is now in a vital struggle for survival with the immensely persuasive “outside” world created by new information media.” McLuhan accurately prefigured the ongoing deterioration of the dropout problem in 2004.
In other words, the common-functional-illiteracy of today, is a function of educational content not able to compete with the ambient “education” by electric information in-a-flow-state. We know how things are actually connected, but education is not designed to impart this understanding. Education is, still, “ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects and schedules.” The system clashes with the outside reality of multimedia, which integrates and recombines all knowledge as comprehensive entertainment. This is the environmental education byproduct – “the software communism” – of our global knowledge society.
Compared to the two-dimensional book, electricity brings you information omnifically at the speed of light. Global information this fast can only be an enveloping space of knowledge, impacting and perceived by all senses, not simply the visual sense. Properties of visual-only space are pictorial “which we often confuse with rationality itself.”
Those groups now finding greater success educating kids in religious structures are achieving short term gains of social conformity in children. Yet, by nostalgically retrieving the visual-space of Bible/Koran/Talmud study clubs, etc., they hoik up an antienvironment. The reality in which global existence is now lived will be increasingly antithetical to book reality. Bush, Ashcroft, et al, already represent the unilateral politics of conservative Christian values – and look what we got – global fear and loathing with the paranoia of lurking terrorism.
The Literate Death of Tribalism Is The Regenesis of the Individual
Crucial to McLuhan’s nexus of insights is the work of J.C. Carothers, writing in Psychiatry (Nov. 1959) on “Culture, Psychiatry and the Written Word”: “Phonetic writing split apart thought and action”20 like no pictographic, ideogrammic or hieroglyphic writing is capable of. This is because the eye/ear is an auditory network for total interdependence and coordination of all senses. Phonetic literacy breaks this network, by alphabetic “abstraction of meaning from sound and the translation of sound into a visual code.”21 The point of this article is to continue to decode our environments.
Tribal people were tranceformed into literate/detribalized individuals in this way. McLuhan credits Carothers: “his great contribution has been to point to the breaking apart of the magical world of the ear and the neutral world of the eye, and to the emergence of the detribalized individual from this split.”22 From mass individuation came the splitting of the extended-village-family into the nuclear family; then, the recent splitting of the nuclear family into many single parent “families” or unmarried singles, etc.: i.e., social fragmentation, or detribalization …
So, this is the media climate of a second nature world we were born into. This is the historical culmination of six thousand years of evolutionary technos. We can now understand this without formal initiation. Climate is an accurate term for the omnific ambience of our electracist reality: the second nature amplifies the mysteries of our first nature.
Resurrecting Our Mystery Body
The new paradigm we live in requires that people understand the tuning of the world and the sky; both on planet and off planet futures. This understanding does not exclude magical phenomena.
We thus return to the introduction here regarding the mysteries. McLuhan himself never denied the paranormal exponent to pre-literate realities, so deftly censored from our own. Clearly, the electro-resonant matrix now immersing us had disposed McLuhan’s common sense to apprehend that resonance is how the mysteries work. Two examples follow:
(1) In the Playboy interview (March 1969, p.72) McLuhan offered, “…the new society will be one mythic integration, a resonating world akin to the old tribal echo chamber where magic will live again; a world of ESP. The current interest of youth in astrology, clairvoyance and the occult is no coincidence. Electric technology, you see, does not require words any more than a digital computer requires numbers. Electricity makes possible … an amplification of human consciousness on a world scale, without any verbalization at all.
“Playboy: Are you talking about global telepathy?
McLuhan: Precisely … mysticism is just tomorrow’s science dreamed today.”
(2) In McLuhan’s book Take Today, The Executive As Dropout (1972, p. 193), he exceeds the pre-literate clairvoyance of ESP, he extends awareness further. He observes, “ESP is old hat when effects precede causes.” This perception challenges the exclusivity of pre-electric or analogue causal processes. I.e., mysterious, anticipatory intersections in our matrix of data-overload do result from enveloping earth with dataflow at the speed of light (the speed of electric waves).
What McLuhan could be describing above is a futuristic culmination of research with brain interface technologies. This is where electric-waves merge with brainwaves. The technology bringing about this merger in the 1960s-70s, was the electro-encephalograph, or EEG. Brainwaves are the key to mastering the mind body system. The EEG led to biofeedback devices for such mastery.
In the 1969-71 era, Robert “Bob” C. Beck, Dsc. was an overt/covert pioneer in perfecting biofeedback devices. As Bob said in one of his radio broadcast lectures (KPFK, Los Angeles), “In those days the skeptics were – as they always have been – opposed to anything this dramatic, this new; something where they would have to tear up their textbooks and start over.”
Technological interfaced behavior modification, or brainwave entrainment, is now more familiar as the biofeedback loop. The various brainwaves are theta, alpha, beta, delta. Brainwaves in the range of theta and at the alpha-theta border are those of creative/psychic inspiration. In a lecture Dr. Beck gave on his work23 he said, “in the relationship between EEG activity and ESP, we found the magic number which is 7.83 Hertz. When you learn to do that (frequency) you’re a better remote viewer,” etc. When you master higher brainwave states you’re “tapping data outside of your own biosphere. You’re hooking into the cosmic computer … tapping the akashic records, whatever you choose to call them.
“Dr. Stanley Kripner and Charles Onerton did studies in New York on the ESP dreams of sleeping subjects with an EEG device on their head. From a distant building they had psychic pictures sent to the sleepers by someone at a paradoxical alpha-stage.” Indeed, biofeedback provides an exceptional possibility of extending the frequencies of human brainwaves. You become adept at perceiving and controlling the balance of how your own psychic resonance is mediated by “morphic fields” of electro-resonant environments (second nature).
It is here, in the area of biofeedback – mind/body balancing, that we find correlations with McLuhan’s principle of how media alters sensory ratios. McLuhan alerts us to the fact of polarization or fragmentation. Preliterate tribal people have a more balanced sensorium. Isolating a single sensory modality and devising a skill, or literate-behavior dependent upon this sensory isolate, will be reflected in a respective brainwave signature. Similarly, Dr. Beck said:
“Most of us operate from a polarized viewpoint. We are Catholic or Protestant; we’re Black or we’re White; we’re Republican or we’re Democrat, or we’re socialist, etc. When we do this it’s very difficult to go down the middle. We get stuck on one of those polar opposites. We’re hung up there and it’s terribly difficult to get off that position … when you drop into alpha (state) volitionally, even for a few seconds, it depolarizes you. You can go down the middle, and do what you want instead of being that broken tape loop.”
Apropos of McLuhanesque humor, Beck quoted a cartoon caption, poignantly advancing the lurking psychodrama of our cognition at this stage of postmodern apprehension: “Daddy, are we live – or are we on tape?” Unfortunately, most of us are on tape.
A further correlation between biofeedback and McLuhan’s insights into behavior are as follows: biofeedback brainwave-behavior response was not effective if the device required the operator to use a visual cue with eyes open. Looking at a moving target, a person cannot also consciously produce alpha waves. A visual display doesn’t work. You must use an audio-display interface with hearing, plus keeping the eyes closed to achieve conscious feedback within a few minutes or hours of practice. This fact shows how instrumental the auditory sense is in integrating the holodynamic central nervous system. This is consistent with McLuhan’s assessment that visually-biased man is fragmented, or dialectic, in setting priorities.
Dr. Beck offers, “The father of British encephalography, W. Gray Walter, who wrote the book The Living Brain, said when diplomats don’t see eye-to-eye, it’s sometimes because they have a different type of brain rhythm. If you’re trying to communicate with someone, and you don’t know neuro-linguistic programming, etc., and if you’ve had biofeedback training – you can shift your consciousness into the other person’s representational system and you have a win-win. (Mr. Walter) further says, that some future world crisis might be averted if diplomats had their brain-rhythm type stamped in their passport! So that incompatibles would not be assigned to negotiate with each other.”
All this clearly emphasizes the long past-occurring quantum leap in human potential – like the skeleton in the cave pointing – toward an entirely new aesthetic paradigm. However, what we know is on hold. The “new”-old Order is confusing the masses with “fear and loathing” in Baghdad. If they can get away with it Iran and Syria are next.
Lastly, a beyond McLuhan anomaly is the matrix-amplification of meaningful coincidence, i.e., synchronicity. If you’re not attuned to synchronicity, it does not appear to exist for you. However, now that our electro-resonant environs are increasingly automated, synchronicities will occur that strangely surprise you. These are a class of synchronicity that require the information highway of living-omni-media for their causation – these are Xenochronies,24 or “strange synchronicities.” With them, the new aesthetic is setting seed.
As McLuhan scholar “Dr.” Bob Dobbs would say, “… at first we think we’re just flesh. Then, that becomes, under I.G. Farben chemistry, what we call the physical, and that’s just the Western version of the body – of the Mystery Body – and then the Astral Body is the Oriental or non-Western version of the Mystery Body, but then the Mystery Body is also made up of Second Nature components: TV and the (computer) Chip Body. So, you get four components making up what we are now. We don’t know the full ramifications of what we are. We call that the Mystery Body. But definitely we’ve moved into a Mystery Body competency when we get into the (new paradigm), because we can mold so much. Remember McLuhan’s phrase, ‘tuning the world.'”
The new paradigm requires that people understand the tuning of the world and the sky; both on planet and off planet futures. This understanding does not exclude magical phenomena. As McLuhan said of our new epoch, “Today in the age of quantum mechanics, for which the chemical bond is, according to Heisenberg and Linus Pauling and others, a resonance, it is perfectly natural to resume a magical attitude to language.”
Randy Koppang is a frequent writer for Paranoia and for Xenochrony: www.xenochrony.com. Or see: http://anw.com/RK/index.htm
1. McLuhan, Herbert Marshall, Culture Is Our Business (New York: McGraw-
2. McLuhan, Herbert Marshall, War and Peace in the Global Village (New York:
4. Arab Leaders Criticize U.S. ‘Reform’ Plan, Los Angeles Times, 2/27/2004.
5. Arabs See Jewish Conspiracy in Pokemon, Los Angeles Times, 4/24/2001.
7. Saudis Outlaw Pokemon, Los Angeles Daily News, 3/27/2001.
8. Arabs See Jewish Conspiracy in Pokemon, Los Angeles Times, 4/24/2001.
9. Iranian Police Throw a Veil Over Barbie, Los Angeles Times, 5/24/2002.
10. McLuhan, Herbert Marshall, War and Peace in the Global Village (New York:
12. McLuhan, Herbert Marshall, Through the Vanishing Point (New York:
Harper Colophon Books, 1969, 1968).
13. Although it was beyond space limitations of this article – crucial to the present analysis is the history/application of systematic public education, as researched by retired teacher John Taylor Gatto. An excellent synopsis of his work is his article, Against School, Harper’s Magazine, Sept. 2001; also his book Underground History of
14. McLuhan, Herbert Marshall, The Gutenberg Galaxy (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1962).
18. McLuhan, Herbert Marshall, The Medium is the Massage (New York: Touchstone
Simon & Schuster, 1989, 1967).
19. McLuhan, Herbert Marshall, The Gutenberg Galaxy (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1962).
23. Beck Robert C., Dsc., privately recorded lecture. Broadcast in Los Angeles,
1990s on the Something’s Happening radio program, KPFK-FM, Host, Roy Tuckman.
24. Xenochrony – For a full and illustrated exegesis on this phenomenon, see the website devoted to it: www.xenochrony.com. or see his personal site http://anw.com/RK/index.htm.