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SUBJECT: A Review of B.W. Powe’s “The Charge in the Global Membrane by Robert K. Logan
DATE: 1st Aug 2019

It’s a book,
No – it’s a poem,
No – it’s a diary,
No – it’s an art book
No – it’s a searing analysis of today’s politics,
No – it’s an indictment of the misuse of digital media seen through the lens of media ecology,
No – it’s a review of poetry and song lyrics.

Actually, it is B. W.’s meditations distilled into, words, colors, and fonts along with images by Marshall Soules and a masterful job of typesetting and page layout by NeoPoiesis Press.

Here is B. W.’s description of the Membrane in his own words because only B. W.’s words could describe this totally revolutionary way of writing a book, a poem, a diary, a political analysis, a critique and a literary review all in one:

Here’s  /
a seizing of moments  /
a venturing into the vibrations  /
a poetry collage essay  /  a journal diary
a gathering of aphorisms  /
a thought experiment that’s an attempt  /
to put my finger  /
on the pulse  /
the passion
Again  /  journeying on the waves  /  cycling back  /
Into the current  /
Yes  /  I admit  /
To following my fascinations  /  my obsessions  /

The Charge in the Global Membrane places you in Marshall McLuhan’s global village located on Teilhard de Chardin’s Noosphere contemplating Lama Anagarika Govinda’s mystery of electricity and the way it manifests itself as life, consciousness and communication. Here B. W. muses about and meditates on the global membrane including xenophobia, the refugee crises, pilgrims both physical and digital, Trump and other authoritarian despots, cult leaders, shock jocks, trolls, hackers, the loss of privacy in the “web whorl”, the misuse and sale of our data, the disappointment of the digital environment to meet our basic needs of connection and community, information overload, fake news, our misuse of the environment, global warming, climate change, the compromise if not the loss of literacy, the loss of intimacy. He touches on many other topics ranging from the “me too” movement and the obsessions with selfies to tattoos, graffiti, yoga, headphones, smartphones, iPhones, search engines, Google, Alexa, Facebook, robots, AI, virtual reality, blogs, podcasts, never-ending upgrades and all the other trappings of the 21st Century. In vivid detail, Powe reveals the dystopia of digital-based and screen-based life, with its endless flow of banal data “signifying nothing”.

While not providing remedies and solutions for the shortcomings of our global membrane, Powe through his searing analysis of all the woes that beset us at least identifies their stark reality, which is the first step in the amelioration of those woes. He also reveals their interconnections making another important contribution.

Powe’s communications’ analysis of Trumpism and the harm it does do society is connected to his media ecology analysis of the digital environment that makes Trump’s form of authoritarianism so compelling to so many. Powe shows how Trump uses twitter and TV sound bites to mesmerize his base. Powe also analyzes the way in which print media, television, and Twitter, as well as other social media, impact political dialogue and politics itself.

Powe combines the literary criticism tradition of his mentor and professor, Northrop Frye, with the media ecology tradition of his other mentor and professor, Marshall McLuhan. He interweaves the two traditions in a fascinating analysis of our brave new world of digital media and the new literary forms of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Like McLuhan, he critiques education, classrooms and reading styles. He references an endless stream of poets and writers: Emily Brontë, Blake, Mary and Percy Shelley, Dante, Simone Weil, Emily Dickinson, Coleridge, Whitman, T. S. Eliot, Alice Munro, Don DeLillo, Elena Ferrante, Thomas Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy, Anne Carson, Marilynne Robinson, Sylvia Plath, Sam Shepard, and Allan Ginsberg.

He reflects on pop culture, rock, and Woodstock and connects the lyrics of the songwriters Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, David Bowie, and Joni Mitchell, to the poetry of Rimbaud and Baudelaire.

Given Powe’s fascinating style, the reader should not expect a linear narrative. Rather B. W. creates a mosaic structure more in the style of mentor McLuhan rather than that of mentor Frye. But, I would suggest that B. W.’s writing style while somewhat similar to that of McLuhan’s that in a certain sense it is post-McLuhan in the way so many different streams of thought are juxtaposed challenging the reader to see the connections that animate B. W.’s vision of today’s digitalized reality. There is another major difference in the writing styles of McLuhan and Powe which is the beauty in the way B. W. expresses himself in a text that is highly poetic. As I said at the beginning of this review: “No – it’s a poem.”

Powe jumps from one theme to another often tracking back to a former topic and then pushing on in a never-ending flow of ideas moving forward again in a spiral whorl and whirling spiral of reflections and observations. By juxtaposing different currents of contemporary culture new insights emerge.

Powe’s Membrane is quite addictive. I read the book (I should say devoured it) in two sittings only interrupted by the need to get some shut-eye resuming my read upon awakening the next morning. Once you start this book it is hard to stop. There are no chapters, no sections, not even page numbers. No preface. No footnotes. No index. One page flows into the next in a non-stop flow of ideas, words, insights, and images. The book itself is a highly charged global membrane.

As the book comes to a close, Powe pens a poignant letter to the Net Gens, the digital natives describing their challenges and what digital media are doing to their brains and their spirits. He offers them his advice for what it is worth.

Powe then closes with his hopes for the future setting a religious tone that runs throughout the Membrane. His diary entries, for example, correspond to various religious festivals and special days of the calendar with a spiritual dimension to them: Ash Wednesday, International Women’s Day, Daylight Savings, the clocks change, The First Day of Spring, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, a day of rest for some cultures, Easter Monday, Earth Day, Mother’s Day, Ramadan, World Environment Day. Then there are the references to the sacred books, Genesis, Book of Proverbs, Book of Job, Isaiah, and the Kabbalah.

Maintaining this focus on things spiritual he writes as the Membrane comes to a close:

When cries and moans become prayers and calls for grace… “Greetings
/ Blessings / I hope / for / the approach of hope / sparks / for / sparks/ of
hope / hope/”

And I close my review with my hope – hope you too enjoy B. W. Powe’s The Charge in the Global Membrane. It is well worth the read and the ensuing reflections that are sure to follow.

And I must say I have never written a review like this one because I never read a book like this one either.

https://mcluhangalaxy.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/a-review-of-b-w-powes-the-charge-in-the-global-membrane-by-robert-k-logan/

https://mcluhangalaxy.wordpress.com/

I’ll go farther than that, not wanting to stop at “remedying” and remaining at 0-level. I’ll submit that Kindness, Compassion, Empathy are

  • values at the high end of ECOSONANCE
  • worth consciously & purposefully developing
    because they are
  • the “soft skills” that can guarantee a human lifeworld of felicitous relatedness

___________________

Reference

It’s been almost a year since my post about Dr Eric McLuhan’s passing on.

I’m writing on the occasion of Eric’s son, Andrew McLuhan, screening the recording of the last lecture Eric gave just several hours before he passed on.

This post is also tasked to refer you to the YouTube channel of

where Eric’s lecture will be made available to the public – said Andrew at the screening.

Andrew being the founder of TMI, was one of a number of scholars and non-academic contributors to the area of Media Ecology who received a MEA Award

  • at the MEA2019 Gala Dinner, held at St. Michael’s College

So, i’ll also take the opportunity to refer you to the Conference website:

quoting:

Dear Friends – It is with a heavy heart that I offer my condolences to the entire McLuhan family to his wife Sabrina, his children Andrew, Emily and Anna and to his siblings Teri, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Mary and Michael. Eric will be missed by them as well as the entire Media Ecology community, Eric’s  extended family. Eric has been an inspiration to all of us for preserving the legacy of his father, Marshall, and for breaking new ground with his many insights as he expanded the corpus of the media ecology cannon, particularly the way in which he enriched the field with the expansion of the Laws of the Media and the notion of formal cause. I personally will miss my interactions with my friend, miss his interpretations, his insights, his kindness, his gentleness and his humour. Rest in peace Eric and thank you for enriching our lives – Bob Logan
______________________
Robert K. Logan
Prof. Emeritus – Physics – U. of Toronto
Fellow University of St. Michael’s College
Chief Scientist – sLab at OCAD

With some delay, posting below a message with Eric’s last written words grace a Alex Kuskis’, PhD listserv

NOTE To restore Eric McLuhan’s online guestbook with a donation, go to: https://www.legacy.com/guestbooks/thestar/eric-marshall-mcluhan-thomas-sponsor-guestbook/189085044?
__________________________
Date: Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 12:30 AM
Subject: Andrew Mcluhan 2 June 2018 On Eric McLuhan’s ‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century

[Eric McLuhan’s last speech, ‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century,’ was delivered at El Nogal in Bogotá, Colombia, on May 17th 2018. He died, suddenly, the following afternoon. The following remarks were written to introduce that speech when it’s published along with the speeches which Lance Strate and Sergio Roncallo-Dow gave that evening.]

ME21 — Introduction

Asked to travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to give an opening address at the Universidad de la Sabana’s launch of their doctorate program in communication, Eric McLuhan used the opportunity to make some comments regarding what he felt needed immediate (and overdue) attention in the area of media ecology, and to offer some advice to people wading into that field of study. He felt that those just starting out, especially as they are in Colombia, removed from what now constitutes a tradition in North America, have a great opportunity to make a fresh start; to avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes; to begin again.

Eric McLuhan was there when the idea of media ecology was born. Indeed, he maintained that he came up with the term while in New York City in 1967–68 helping his father Marshall McLuhan as he taught at Fordham, and that Neil Postman “ran with it.”

In the McLuhan school of media ecology, it is not simply an area of study, but an area of action, and this is what Eric wanted to get across in his speech. We have to be more than observers, we have to be agents of change. It’s been more than 50 years. Enough talk, time to act.

This activist stance, taken seriously — as it is meant to be taken — is not popular. It’s radical. It requires great changes in various cultures’ attitudes and habits, and it means significant reduction of profits for technology companies and their shareholders. That is some of what we’re up against.

In a letter dated May 6, 1969, Marshall McLuhan wrote to Jacques Maritain:

“There is a deep-seated repugnance in the human breast against understanding the processes in which we are involved. Such understanding involves far too much responsibility for our actions. … Since we are doing these things to ourselves, there is no earthly reason for submitting to them unconsciously or irrationally.”[1]
My father was becoming bold in his statements. A devout and life-long Catholic, he was more willing to speak in public about his faith, especially as it related to his work. He had, in the last year or two since the publication of The Sensus Communis, Synesthesia and the Soul (BPS Books, 2015) spoken publicly a few times about his ideas for a ‘Catholic theory of communication,’ particularly when we traveled to Saskatoon where he gave the Keenan lecture at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatoon, in November 2017.[2]
I had been traveling with my father for the last ten years or so. Because of his at-times fragile health, he needed someone with him who could assist in an emergency. It was during these trips that I began to get interested in ‘the family business,’ as it were. Hearing him talk, and in our own conversations during travel, I began to get an understanding of what it was all about. Understanding is addictive. My interest was cemented when I spent almost two years documenting and inventorying Marshall McLuhan’s personal library prior to its relocation to the Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto.[3]

Because of Eric’s advancing age and increasing difficulty with travel — he was 76 years old, and I had started to wheel him through airports in a wheelchair because he couldn’t walk very long distances — we had decided he would retire from traveling to speak in 2018. We had already committed to two engagements this year, Colombia and Germany[4], and decided to keep them.

In the tragedy and shock of my father’s death On Friday, May 18th while we were in Colombia, there was a surprising amount of beauty.

As Marshall tended to teach at Catholic institutions, so my father seemed to get invited to speak at Catholic institutions. Our last three trips were to St. Mary’s College in California (Keynote address to the Media Ecology Association’s annual conference), St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon (The 29th Michael Keenan Memorial Lecture), and La Universidad de la Sabana in Chia just outside of Bogotá, Colombia.

Eric took the opportunity to pray in the university’s two chapels, and had been remarking on an abundance of roses, a sign he related to St. Theresa de Lisieux, who he had a particular fondness for.
It is a comfort to his family that Eric died while in the bosom of his faith; practising it with his characteristic devotion, feeling its real presence around him.

It is fitting that his last public address would be about looking forward to media ecology in the 21st century, entreating us to be bold, have courage, blaze new trails.

He went out with style, and grace.

I will miss his presence, his wit, his obsession with all forms of puns, his humour. I will miss his instruction, his patience in answering my every question with their often-obvious answers. The world is poorer for the loss of his knowledge and skill. I will wish I paid closer attention. I will have to be content with what I was able to learn, and trust that it prepared me to go forward. I will treasure it all as well, and I am glad he left behind much on the record, for us all.

‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century’ is more than a wonderful speech; it is a map, a way forward.

The short and emotionally charged conclusion to the speech was written by hand while Eric waited to go on stage. He urges us to be bold, dares us to be radical, fortifies us with courage.

Let’s go — there’s little time to waste.

Andrew McLuhan
Picton
June 2, 2018.
[1] The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion, edited by Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek (Stoddart, 1999)
[2] Eric McLuhan’s lecture ‘Catholicism and Communication: The Sensus Communis, Synesthesia and the Soul’ was recorded and is available on The McLuhan Institute’s YouTube channel.
[3] Marshall McLuhan’s library has recently been added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World registry.
[4] Our last trip together was to be in Germany this November (2018) at the Munster School of Design. A conference loosely organized around the 30th anniversary of the publication of Laws of Media: The New Science.

so, i came across a new design of the Golden Rule poster by Scarborough Missions

Huffington Post’s Lee Moran article HERE
.

Woman Pulls Hilarious Plant-Watering Prank On Husband Years After Her Death

“It would have tickled her so much to know that he’s actually done it.”

.
 

Isn’t this LOVELY SNOWY WINTER a reason to CELEBRATE?!

Toronto hardly got any snow last winter, and half-way through this winter, we’ve only had reason to minimally shovel a couple of times.

THANKS for posting, Bucket List Publications 🙂

I’ll never tire of beach vacations, but it’s always good to shake it up a bit and Mont Tremblant offers a multitude of winter bucket list activities for the entire family. We recently spend four days in Mont Tremblant discovering the best winter activities available and I quickly understood why people choose ski vacations. Mont Tremblant, […]

via Winter in Mont Tremblant — Bucket List Publications

more later… 🙂

united by gold bound to her distant fingers bored until broken more art? http://www.artofkundalini.com

via the vow — Silver Poetry

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