||August 19, 2011
recently celebrated 3 birthdays on 3 consecutive days, one of which has some
contemporary historical significance. Marshal McLuhan
the flawed genius who predicted the global village & much more was born 100
July 21, 1911.
(The other two birthdays were mine on July 22 and my son’s on July 23).
I lived in Toronto in the
1960s & 1970s and read and followed McLuhan’s work
until he went into an hiatus toward the end of his
life in 1980. That the world was becoming a global village through technology
and much more was front & centre in his ideas. In his final years he began to
act strange and he physically lost his voice to brain cancer. More recently he
has become accepted again and his teachings are now well recognized.
Cover of Marshall McCluhan
book by Douglas Coupland Penguin Extraordinary
Canadians Series 2011.
Surprisingly in spite of his
insight about technology he was not in favour of the way media was going. He did
love his role and his insights are still remarkable. (Google Marshall
McLuhan quotes for some of his insights).
On a personal level I recall
being in a long line in a Loblaws when a man started
yelling “we need more help here” as he charged to an empty checkout. Staff came
running. It was Marshall McLuhan putting on a
performance. On another occasion my son was a cameraman at the CBC and filmed
McLuhan while he was interviewed in the back yard of
his house for an hour. I will not forget the moment in the Woody Allen film when
there was an argument about McLuhan and Allen said
just a minute and brought McLuhan in to the argument
out of nowhere to everyone’s surprise.
In 1989 and in 1997 excellent
biographies of McLuhn were written. I have written
about the Extraordinary Canadians Series by Penguin Books on occasion and
recently picked up a new Penguin book on McLuhn by
Douglas Coupland the author and artist. (www.extraordinarycanadians.com)
and thoroughly enjoyed the story and the writing. Coupland
was quite frank about McLuhn’s genius and his
weaknesses using some language I can’t use here.
On July 21 there were
numerous articles on McLuhn in the press all of
which led to some reminiscences among the people at my birthday and the next
day. Certainly an extraordinary if at times strange
personality. As McLuhn said “We look at the
present through a rear view mirror. We march backward into the future.”
The Art Gallery of Ontario
I entertained my interest in
history and art on my birthday when my wife and I visited the renovated Art of
Ontario Gallery and saw the powerful Abstract Expressionist exhibition of works
from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. My wife is an abstract expressionist
painter and was influenced by some of the painters in the show. She recently had
one of her abstracts placed in the permanent collection of the new North Bay
Regional Health Centre. We enjoyed several of the other exhibits as well as the
Impressive architecture. Well worth a visit.
McLuhn said “Art at its most significant is a distant early warning
system that can always be relied upon to tell the old culture what is beginning
to happen to it.”
North Bay Downtown Gallery
Hop April 12
Speaking of art the annual
Gallery Hop at 7 downtown North Bay locations is taking place on the evening of
Friday August 12. The Kennedy Gallery in the Capitol Centre has 2 openings.
Photographer James Forsythe’s – The Secret Garden profiles the work of children
growing their own vegetables. (Gallery II). Marc Gaudreault
shows photographs in Gallery I. Both have official openings from 7 – 9 pm. Art
on Main has the opening of Mim Thompson’s exhibition
as a part of the Gallery Hop on the same night. Check the Thursday Nugget for
email addresses of other Galleries including other Gallery Hop locations – Joan
Ferneyhough Gallery, Blueprints
Jewelry, The Farm, the North Bay Arts Collective and the White Water
Heritage Perspective Home Page