Recorded by: WRUF
Title: “Electric Man and the End of the Neolithic” – Marshall McLuhan
Dates: July 23, 1965
Identification: Tape recording 143
File name: WRUF 5
Originally recorded on reel to reel at 7.5 ips
Digitally reformatted on February 2008
This lecture was the fourth in a series of lectures sponsored by the University College in 1965.
McLuhan's talk focused on how electonic communications from the telegraph to television radically changed our environment. Rather than a tool based culture (where tools were an extension of the human body) we became an information based one. In the very beginning of his lecture he mentions the disappearance of the story line and any unifying connection. The novel Ulysses by James Joyce and newspapers are given as examples of this phenomenon. He mentions the role of artists which is to create anti-environments to enable people to perceive their environment because otherwise the environment is invisible to them. The sudden leap out of the Neolithic Period with its fragmented technologies into an integral world of circuitry is as drastic a leap as man has taken in any period of evolution. McLuhan concludes by saying that until now there has been no strategy to cope with the advent of a new technology. Following his talk a question and answer period follows which is interesting.