Spring 1967 • Vol. XXIX No. 2 Department KR: A Section of Briefer CommentMarch 1, 1967 |

Misunderstanding Media: Obscurity as Authority

In the beginning was the word. Or, rather, the word was the word, and it was with God. Now, as we know, it is with Herbert Marshall McLuhan, and "the medium is the message." The very alliteration of the catch phrase is suspicious, exhibiting that predominance of sound over sense characteristic of the new experts in "communications media." It is resonant with the wonders of technology, and anyone who opposes the emotional reversion, who still believes that the word is the word rather than a medium, is automatically reactionary, arrière-garde, square and/or dead. It is all most convenient, and the Container Corporation can subsidize the new apostle of conformity under the banner of experiment. Since, for a variety of reasons, the new is more likely to agitate as the authentic in America than elsewhere—Margaret Mead contending that "Americans have substituted anthropology for history"—technology replaces the genuine magic of old, and Donald Duck now travels not on his carpet bu

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece

Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More


Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.


With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.