Talk:Marshall McLuhan

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The quote "There is absolutely no inevitability, as long as there is willingness to contemplate what is happening" that is cited under THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE is not a McLuhan quote. It was a chapter header, in which McLuhan clearly credits Alfred North Whitehead.

I misquoted it by accident in AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER magazine, October 1972 edition in an article entitled "Videography. What Does It All Mean?" BobKiger 03:51, 5 February 2010 (UTC)BobKigerReply[reply]


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Marshall McLuhan.

  • Technology is that which separates us from our environment.
  • I don't pretend to understand my stuff. After all, my writing is very difficult.
  • I don't necessarily agree with everything I say.
  • We are the genitals of our technology. We exist only to improve next years model.
  • Ads are the cave art of the twentieth century.
  • Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century.
  • Spaceship earth is still operated by railway conductors, just as NASA is managed by men with Newtonian goals.
  • The Leonardo da Vinci of our time.
  • I don't know who discovered water but it certainly wasn't a fish.
  • We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror.
  • People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.
  • I may be wrong, but I’m never in doubt.
  • If it works, it's obsolete.
  • Rene Levesque looks like a distressed seminarian.
  • First Man made the hammer, then the hammer made the Man.
  • Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn't know the first thing about either
    • This is sourced at Setting the Record Straight - McLuhan Misunderstood [1] as being from McLuhan, M. (1967). ‘The New Education’. The Basilian Teacher, Vol. 11(2), pp. 66-73. Don't have a copy nearby, though, to check.--WiseWoman (talk) 20:57, 15 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Concepts are a provisional affair. (1951)
  • The perfection of the means of communication has given [the] average power complex of the human being an enormous extension of expression. (1953)
  • With the return to simultaneity we enter the tribal and acoustic world once more. Globally. (1956)
  • Man the tool-making animal, whether in speech or in writing or in radio, has long been engaged in extending one or another of his sense organs in such a manner as to disturb all of his other senses and faculties. (1962)
  • Any technology tends to create a new human environment... Technological environments are not merely passive containers of people but are active processes that reshape people and other technologies alike. (1962)
  • A moral point of view too often serves as a substitute for understanding in technological matters. (1964)
  • Radio provides a speed-up of information that also causes acceleration in other media. It certainly contracts the world to village size and creates insatiable village tastes for gossip, rumor, and personal malice. (1964)
  • In the electric age we wear all mankind as our skin. (1964)
  • Money is the poor man's credit card. (1964)
  • We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. (1964)
  • There are no remote places. Under instant circuitry, nothing is remote in time or in space. It's now. (1965)
  • Moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity. (1967)
  • Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication. (1967)
  • The American bureaucracy ... was set up for very slow speeds of the printed word and railways. At electric speeds, nothing in the USA makes sense. (1970)
  • The artist is the only person; his antennae pick up these messages before anybody. So he is always thought of as being way ahead of his time because he lives in the present. (1970)
  • What is very little understood about the electronic age is that it angelizes man, disembodies him. Turns him into software. (1971)
  • Jobs are finished; role-playing has taken over; the job is a passe entity. The job belonged to the specialist. The kids know that they no longer live in a specialist world; you cannot have a goal today. You cannot say, "I'm going to start here and I'm going to work for the next three years and I'm going to go all that distance." Every kid knows that within three years, everything will have changed including himself and the goal. (1971)
  • Electrically speaking, there's nothing but nuzzling and cuddling and cooing, alternating with wild yells for love and food and help. It's always May Day in the global nursery. (1974)
  • At the moment of Sputnik, the planet became a global theater in which there are no spectators but only actors. (1974)
  • Violence, whether spiritual or physical, is a quest for identity and the meaningful. The less identity, the more violence. (1976)
  • As we transfer our whole being to the data bank, privacy will become a ghost or echo of its former self and what remains of community will disappear. (1980)


  • Today men’s nerves surround us; they have gone outside as electrical environment.
    • "Notes on Burroughs," 1966
  • At the speed of light, political policies and parties yield place to charismatic images.
    • quoted in The Composition of Everyday Life, Brief Edition, by John Mauk, John Metz, p. 158
  • The greatest propaganda in the world is our mother tongue, that is what we learn as children, and which we learn unconsciously. That shapes our perceptions for life. That is propaganda at its most extreme form.
    • quoted in Marshall McLuhan: Media in America, p. 44
  • The new electric environment of simultaneous and diversified information creates acoustic man. He is surrounded by sound – from behind, from the side, from above. His environment is made up of information in all kinds of simultaneous forms, and he puts on this electric environment as we put on our clothes, or as the fish puts on water.
    • quoted in Marshall McLuhan: Media in America, p. 225
  • New art is sensory violence on the frontiers of experience.
    • quoted in Marshall McLuhan: Media in America, p. 147
  • Percepts of existence always lie behind concepts of nature.
    • quoted in Crashing Into the Vanishing Points By Barry Vacker, p. 101
  • The extreme distraction presented by the acoustic and cinematic rivals of the book brings decreasing opportunities for attentive and uninterrupted reading.
    • Do Books Matter? (ed. Brian Baumfield), p. 32
  • Today man has no physical body...He is translated into information, or an image.
    • quoted in Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger by Philip Marchand, p. 30
  • Everybody at the speed of light tends to become a nobody.
    • McLuhan probe, source and date unknown, On McLuhan: Forward Through the Rearview Mirror, p. 101
  • Today, with all our technology, and because of it, we stand once more in the magical acoustical sphere of pre-literate man.
    • "Space, Time and Poetry" McLuhan Unbound 13, ed. W. Terrance Gordon