Marshall McLuhan Quotes

McLuhan, Marshall (2013-06-14). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Gingko Press. Kindle Edition.


  1. The student of media will not only value slang as a guide to changing perception, but he will also study media as bringing about new perceptual habits. (Kindle Locations 79-80).
  2. The power of the arts to anticipate future social and technological developments, by a generation and more, has long been recognized. In this century Ezra Pound called the artist “the antennae of the race.” Art as radar acts as “an early alarm system,” as it were, enabling us to discover social and psychic targets in lots of time to prepare to cope with them. This concept of the arts as prophetic, contrasts with the popular idea of them as mere self-expression. (Kindle Locations 136-139).
  3. “The personal and social consequences of any medium — that is, of any extension of ourselves — result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” (Kindle Locations 150-151).
  4. The restructuring of human work and association was shaped by the technique of fragmentation that is the essence of machine technology. (Kindle Locations 155-156).
  5. “For the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.” (Kindle Location 164).
  6. “the medium is the message” because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.”  (Kindle Locations 171-172).
  7. Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot. For the “content” of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. (Kindle Locations 317-319).
  8. The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance. The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception. (Kindle Locations 327-329).
  9. Print created individualism and nationalism in the sixteenth century. Program and “content” analysis offer no clues to the magic of these media or to their subliminal charge. (Kindle Locations 346-347).
  10. A hot medium is one that extends one single sense in “high definition.” High definition is the state of being well filled with data. (Kindle Locations 383-384).
  11. Hot media are, therefore, low in participation, and cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience.(Kindle Location 388).
  12. Specialist technologies detribalize. The nonspecialist electric technology retribalizes. (Kindle Locations 414-415).
  13. Artists in various fields are always the first to discover how to enable one medium to use or to release the power of another.(Kindle Locations 837-838).

  14. For in the electric age there is no longer any sense in talking about the artist’s being ahead of his time. Our technology is, also, ahead of its time, if we reckon by the ability to recognize it for what it is. To prevent undue wreckage in society, the artist tends now to move from the ivory tower to the control tower of society. (Kindle Locations 982-984).
  15. To reward and to make celebrities of artists can, also, be a way of ignoring their prophetic work, and preventing its timely use for survival. (Kindle Locations 991-992).
  16. The artist is the man in any field, scientific or humanistic, who grasps the implications of his actions and of new knowledge in his own time. He is the man of integral awareness. The artist can correct the sense ratios before the blow of new technology has numbed conscious procedures. He can correct them before numbness and subliminal groping and reaction begin. (Kindle Locations 992-994).
  17. For more than a century now artists have tried to meet the challenge of the electric age by investing the tactile sense with the role of a nervous system for unifying all the others. Paradoxically, this has been achieved by “abstract art,” which offers a central nervous system for a work of art, rather than the conventional husk of the old pictorial image. (Kindle Locations 1539-1541).