The Medium is the Massage is a book that describes how the mediums through which humans experience things in the world contribute to the meanings of the things themselves.  Marshall McLuhan talks about how the human culture has changed dramatically over the centuries and he attributes this change to the varying ways humans have perceived the world.   He describes how ancient people viewed things as a whole because there was not written language.  Oral traditions and oral civilizations caused people to experience things in ways that was more complete and fluid.  He describes how primitive people’s art contained everything that they knew about and not simply what they could see with their eyes.  He uses a picture of a man hunting a seal where the wildlife under the ice is visible.  With the development of language, people’s perceptions and understandings of things have become more disjointed due to the nature of alphabets.  Instead of using all of one’s senses, writing only requires vision which limits experience of the world.  By trying to describe and experience the outside world, which is fluid, with a disjointed medium of writing, humans change their perspectives and the meanings of things in the world.

Marshall McLuhan riddles his book with images that make for a one of a kind reading.  His words in the actual text are disjointed at times which requires the reader to approach it unlike any other book they may have read previously.  On a personal stand point, the book was extremely hard to follow at first and I had to read some parts twice in order to understand McLuhan’s arguments properly.  The place where I think that the main argument is most fully expressed is on p. 26 when McLuhan says, “All media work us over completely.  They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered”.  This statement directly goes along with the title of the book which describes a medium as a “massage”.  Instead of writing, pictures, electric media, etc. simply being a means of expression, McLuhan argues that the medium is a physical thing which acts upon us as we experience it.  As these various mediums change, humans change along with it.

All of the pictures and the unique way that the book is constructed give the book both advantages and disadvantages while reading it.  One of the advantages I thought that the images gave the book was like anything that is unique; it helped to set the book apart from anything that I had read in the past.  I had to step back and approach the book differently instead of just start reading it.  This also helped to add to the argument of the book.  Since the book was in a different medium from what I was used to, it affected me in a different way.  Not only did it describe how mediums interact and massage the person experiencing but it also interacted with me, the reader, as well.  Another advantage I noticed from the setup of the book was the expression of images getting messages across rather than being restricted by only words.  The book reminded me of the saying, “a picture says a thousand words”.  McLuhan was able to interact with the reader through images in order to strengthen his argument as well as express himself with words.  The pictures of hands and fingers emphasizing the physical aspect of massages that mediums perform were especially effective in getting my attention.  This advantage of the pictures also presented a disadvantage of the book.  Although at times the pictures were helpful in understanding aspects of the book, at times they left me confused and caused gaps in the book between key points that I had trouble bridging.

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