Our increasingly sophisticated media of communication have stimulated much discussion in theological circles today. Some of the avant-garde believe we are shortly to witness the emergence of the “multi-medium man.” The idea derives in part from the analysis of communication theorist Marshall McLuhan, whose formula, “The medium is the message,” is enlisting the most serious attention.
This interest reflects also an aspect of Frank Kermode’s now-familiar analysis of the three stages in the role of art. Some think man’s artistic activities are entering the third of Kermode’s stages, in which art does not merely imitate an order or reinforce a current mode but rather meets man instrumentally. In so doing, it induces him to create a wholly new form of environment or scene. If Kermode and McLuhan are correct at this point, the implications of this newer understanding of communication need to be faced squarely.
The electronic revolution is being estimated variously in our time. McLuhan feels that electric circuitry (which he regards as an extension of man’s central nervous system) will transform the presentation of data so radically that a “new man” will inevitably emerge. This multimedium man will, so the forecasts read, have a mode of thinking structured upon strictly technological lines. This suggests that a new type of corporate mentality is being built in which sequential or linear thought will be largely lost. In its place will come a new form of perception, based upon disjunctive and juxtaposed presentations of different patterns of data.
The power and the demonic possibilities of multi-medium methodologies need to be considered in more depth than has been done to ...1
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