Wednesday 23 July 2008

Marshall McLuhan of Toronto

Returned home late last night to find a September 1967 copy of Toronto Life waiting for me – a gift from my friend Adair Brouwer in Canada. The cover shows a grim-faced Marshall McLuhan standing in front of an illuminated street scene.

‘Toronto is a HAPPENING!’ reads the headline.
‘Downtown’ says the illuminated sign behind him

While the text for the accompanying photo-shoot could easily be filed under ‘Marshall McLuhan: The Word-Play Years’, it seemed as if his spirit had somehow spread throughout the entire magazine: one that in 1967 advertised ‘Turn-On TV’ on Channel 11 and ‘a new and daring concept in go-go psychedelic interpretations’ at the Friars Club: ‘famous for roast prime ribs of beef, also featuring spare ribs and steaks’.

‘Go-go Dancer,’ McLuhan responds in the main body of his text. ‘Virgin in deep frieze. The inner trip doesn’t need any connections with the outer world. The dancers become icons, things. There is no storyline. They live out of time in an eternal present.’

A random selection of articles to be found elsewhere in the same issue of Toronto Life also suggests McLuhan’s influence: ‘A Cunning Little Game Called One-Downmanship’, ‘Why Not a Cellar in the Penthouse’, ‘How To Tell If You’re A Progressive Conservative’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Fragrance is a Thing Called Scent’.

To detect an idea’s influence is perhaps to be aware of how quickly it manages to blend into the foreground

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