[A human being is] an organism that now wears its brain outside its skull and its nerves outside its hide.

from Understanding Media (1964)

Portrait of Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan

Professor
July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980

Herbert Marshall McLuhan CC was a Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual. His work is one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, McLuhan studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of Cambridge. He began his teaching career as a professor of English at several universities in the U.S. and Canada before moving to the University of Toronto in 1946, where he remained for the rest of his life.

McLuhan is known for coining the expression “the medium is the message” and the term “global village,” and for predicting the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented. He was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, though his influence began to wane in the early 1970s. In the years after his death, he continued to be a controversial figure in academic circles. With the arrival of the Internet and the World Wide Web interest was renewed in his work and perspective.

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Marshall McLuhan in Conversation with Mike McManus

Mike McManus talks to Marshall McLuhan, the internationally-known critic of the media. McLuhan discusses modern regionalism and separatism, nostalgia, violence and identity, television as an addictive tranquilizer, propaganda, and his reasons for becoming a Roman Catholic. One of Marshall McLuhan’s final interviews.

On Nature and Media

A Dialogue of Effects

Marshall McLuhan explains the effects of accelerating communication speeds on human society.

Cover image for The Medium is the Massage

The Medium is the Massage

The Medium is the Massage is Marshall McLuhan’s prophetic perception on life in the age of electronic information, exhibiting his understanding of the power of media long before those in control did. The Medium is the Massage presents some of McLuhan’s most amazing insights and cognitive observations on the global village: the rear-view mirror, the invisible environment, the end of nature, and sensory impact set against the everyday imagery of mass media, consumer goods, the press, advertising, and the arts. Although originally printed in 1967, the art and style in The Medium is the Massage seem as fresh today as in the summer of love, and the ideas are even more resonant now that computer interfaces are becoming gateways to the global village.

Cover image for Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Understanding Media

The Extensions of Man

When first published, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media made history with its radical view of the effects of electronic communications upon man and life in the twentieth century. In Terrence Gordon’s own words, “McLuhan is in full flight already in the introduction, challenging us to plunge with him into what he calls ‘the creative process of knowing.’” Much to the chagrin of his contemporary critics McLuhan’s preference was for a prose style that explored rather than explained. Probes, or aphorisms, were an indispensable tool with which he sought to prompt and prod the reader into an “understanding of how media operate” and to provoke reflection.

Mentioned in 49 documents

Terence McKenna

A Few Conclusions About Life

In his signature wide-ranging style, McKenna explores culture, shamanism, psychedelics, and humanity's collective journey through spacetime. He advocates embracing the ineffable mystery unfolding through us, moving toward a hyperspatial cyberculture. To rediscover our shared humanity, we must trust the transformative wisdom of psychedelic plants.

Terence McKenna

A Weekend with Terence McKenna

“Healing the inner elf through trance, dance, and diet”—the session for true McKenna enthusiasts: twelve hours with the bard himself, in which he touches upon practically all of his trademark topics.

Terence McKenna

Appreciating Imagination

Join Terence McKenna in this weekend workshop as he takes us on an imaginative journey into the depths of human creativity. Through eloquent exploration of psychedelics, virtual worlds, and shamanic states of consciousness, McKenna reveals how embracing our imagination allows us to envision and manifest alternate realities beyond cultural conditioning. By cultivating our creative faculties with mathematical reasoning, intuition, and immersion in nature, he guides us toward transcending ideological limits into an enlightened future of compassion. Ultimately, breaking boundaries through the power of imagination will inspire us to reach new heights of understanding and connectivity.

Terence McKenna

Awakening to Archaic Values

A weekend workshop in which Terence encourages humanity to return to harmonic habits which have been lost in the tide of time.

Terence McKenna

Build Your Own Damn Wagon

"Do not watch, do not consume," implores Terence McKenna, inviting us on a thought-provoking journey to reclaim our humanness. By building our own conceptual wagons, rather than riding ready-made vehicles of meaning, we can travel along unique paths of critical thinking. Once within our own virtual worlds, the wonder of our distinctive minds will be open for discovery.

Alan Watts

Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown

Over the course of nineteen essays, Alan Watts ruminates on the philosophy of nature, ecology, aesthetics, religion, and metaphysics. Assembled in the form of a mountain journal, written during a retreat in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais in California, Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown is Watts’ meditation on the art of feeling out and following the watercourse way of nature, known in Chinese as the Tao. Embracing a form of contemplative meditation that allows us to stop analyzing our experiences and start living into them, the book explores themes such as the natural world, established religion, race relations, karma and reincarnation, astrology and tantric yoga, the nature of ecstasy, and much more.

Alan Watts

Cosmic Network

Alan takes us from the very small to the very large, explaining the interrelatedness of all things in the universe as a vast network which weaves us into a united yet unnamable divinity.

Terence McKenna

Countdown Into Complexity

At his weekend workshop Terence led attendees on an intellectual odyssey traversing psychedelics, virtual reality, technology, culture, spirituality, and the evolution of novelty over time. Blending philosophy, futurology, and mysticism, he explored humanity's relationship with nature and machines, challenging participants to think critically, create freely, and keep an open mind. The goal was to expand consciousness and uncover deeper truths about existence.

Terence McKenna

Dreaming Awake at the End of Time

Join Terence for an eclectic think along the deconstruction of the deepening worldwide weirdness. With his characteristic hope and humor, McKenna examined time and its mysteries, the nature of language, the techniques of ecstasy, high technology and virtual cyberspace, the role of hallucinogenic plants in shamanism and the evolution of human cultures, and the foundations of postmodern spirituality.

Terence McKenna

Eros and the Eschaton

Delivered in Kane Hall at the University of Washington, Terence points out the universe's peculiar tendency to seek out complexity and novelty, and that humanity seems to be the focal point of this process.

Terence McKenna

Evolving Times

This evening address is one of Terence’s funniest, in which much is said about monkeys, mushrooms, plants, and people. The question and answer session gets good and lively, with his unique analysis of UFOs, governments, and possible evolutionary pathways for us and the planet.

Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna and John Perry Barlow

From Psychedelics to Cybernetics

Timothy Leary journeyed through Europe as head of the psychedelic revolution and consciousness research movement, and he invited some of his tagalong friends to this evening lecture held at the "Alte Feuerwache" in Mannheim to talk about the future evolution of humanity.

Terence McKenna

Future of Art

Terence McKenna prophesies a future where technology obliterates barriers between imagination and reality. Psychedelics combined with VR could unleash humanity’s collective artistic genius. AI superintelligence may already be awakening on the internet, rendering us obsolete—or granting us godlike abilities to merge with the planetary mind. McKenna envisions downloading consciousness into machines, uplifting animal sentience, and the human diaspora splintering into cyber-cultures. While uncertain outcomes loom, he beckons us toward an unconstrained existential canvas where biology and technology intertwine to manifest our wildest psychic dreams.

Alan Watts

Future of Communications

Watts suggests that the essence of communication lies not in its content, but in its style—a joyous dance akin to music. He argues that the seemingly irrelevant and meaningless aspects of life, so cherished by children, may hold the key to true wisdom. By embracing the absurdity and spontaneity of existence, we can rediscover the art of living and find delight in the grand cosmic play.

Terence McKenna

History Ends in Green

The coming together of dream, film, and psychedelics in the twentieth century set the stage for the archaic revival. McKenna gives us a look through the window of our potential as humans. He helps put the hysteria of our time into perspective and gives a path that could help us to deal with this strange and wonderful world we live in. A must-listen seminar for those interested in human potential.

Terence McKenna

Hot Concepts and Melting Edges

A weekend workshop held at Esalen, with the alternate titles of Deeper and Broader Questions and Eros, Chaos, and Meaning's Edge.

Terence McKenna

In the Valley of Novelty

Journeying through multiple dimensions of psychedelic consciousness, Terence McKenna's visionary weekend workshop invites us on an entheogenic voyage to the frontiers of the mind and its imminent conquering of matter. Blending scientific insights with shamanic wisdom, McKenna argues that natural plant medicines like psilocybin and DMT provide portals into mystical realms and alien dimensions, catalyzing revelations about nature, reality, and the human psyche. He urges us to courageously explore these consciousness-expanding substances, seeking the gratuitous beauty and truths they unveil. For McKenna, the psychedelic experience holds secrets to our world and ourselves—if only we dare lift the veil.

Terence McKenna

Intentionality of Meaning

McKenna takes us on a mind-bending ride about language, questioning if words unveil reality or cloak it. He suggests peering behind the linguistic curtain with nature and psychedelics, helping reveal life's magical depths where fairies and elves await to make deals that unleash self-transforming possibilities. But he cautions, the storytelling mushrooms can dupe you with their wit. Tread lightly.

Terence McKenna

Interview with Erik Davis

The final recorded interview of Terence McKenna, conducted by Erik Davis for Wired magazine.

Terence McKenna

Lógos Meets Eros

Speaking at the Wetlands Preserve club, Terence McKenna glimpses both peril and promise as civilization hurtles toward an uncertain future. Technology untethers tradition, psychedelics unleash inspiration from narrow cultural confines, boundaries dissolve, categories collide, contradictions mount. What strange attractor lures us through this unfolding existential adventure? In McKenna’s view, dystopia or utopia will emerge based on one driving factor—our collective capacity for creativity, courage, and compassion as we navigate the quantum unknown. With open minds and loving hearts, a brighter tomorrow awaits.

Terence McKenna

Man Thinks God Knows, God Knows Man Thinks

What if language could be seen instead of heard? McKenna fancies a linguistic lark where lexicon becomes a dance of light. Words incarnate as rainbow octopi, their very skin shimmering significance. In the verbosity vortex we spin, until, lo, meaning and matter tango into one, with word becoming flesh and flesh becoming word in the ultimate semantic samba.

Donald Dulchinos

Neurosphere

According to Donald Dulchinos, the real action on the Internet isn’t in the realm of commerce. It is, plain and simple, in the realm of religion. But not exactly that old-time religion. This book is about the spiritual impact of our increasing ability to communicate quickly and with enhanced evolution. It's about our search for meaning, our hunger for a glimpse at humanity's future development in which, frighteningly or excitingly, the trend is clearly toward increasing integration of telecommunications and information technology with the body itself. Electronic prosthetics, direct neural implants, and the brain's control of electronic and mechanical limbs move the boundary that used to exist between human and machine to some undefined frontier inside our bodies, our brains, and, perhaps, our minds.

Terence McKenna

Our Cyberspiritual Future

Terence holds court on our civilization's journey toward the eschaton at this weekend Esalen gathering. He riffs on topics from psychedelic states and alien intelligences to time travel and VR. McKenna argues we're evolving toward an unimaginable state of accelerating novelty, propelled by advancing technology. A mind-expanding ride for the open-minded psychonaut or armchair traveler, guided by one of the twentieth century's most eclectic thinkers.

Terence McKenna

Permitting Smart People to Hope

McKenna traipses through a mélange of scientific and technological folderol—the detection of the top quark, swift progress on sequencing the human genome, newfangled theories about the origin of the moon, quantum bafflements like non-locality, the proliferation of the internet and information technology, speculations on the nature of time from Prigogine, and sundry other bamboozlements. He elucidates how these breakthroughs in diverse fields might converge to profoundly transform human civilization, culture, and consciousness in the imminent future.

Terence McKenna

Plan, Plant, Planet

McKenna urges us to look at plants more deeply and find within their biological organization a model for sustainable modern civilization.

Terence McKenna and Ram Dass

Prague Gnosis

Shot on location in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the International Transpersonal Conference in June 1992, this two-part series features Terence McKenna in dialogue with some of the foremost thinkers of the Global Consciousness movement of the time: Ram Dass, Angeles Arrien, Kenneth Ring, Rupert Sheldrake, Jill Purce, David Whyte and Alexander Shulgin.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham

Psychedelics and Mathematical Vision

Through visions and swirling fractal forms, three trailblazers embarked on a cosmic journey to the furthest frontiers of consciousness. Seeking to map the mathematical landscapes glimpsed in psychedelic states, they pondered perplexing philosophies and disputed the deepest quandaries of science and spirit. Though technology promises portals to enchanted realms of pattern and meaning, can cold silicon chips ever capture the warmth of Gaia's embrace?

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham

Psychedelics and the Computer Revolution

Psychedelics unlock the mind's eye, let mathematicians fly To landscapes unseen, where patterns careen in colors serene. As symbols may hide truths inside, these vines we must untwine. With psychedelics we'll refine new ways for minds to shine: Computers give form, classics reborn, realms to adorn. Together they'll fuse, creativity diffuse, inventions produce! So let inhibitions loose, imagine the use, as we choose the hues Of mathematical views, and virtual worlds that enthuse!

Terence McKenna

Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines

Humanity is metamorphosing through the synergy of psychedelics and machines, transcending biological constraints to become a galactic, immortal intelligencia. Print defined our ego boundaries, but electronic media and plant allies are dissolving those illusions. Merging with superintelligent AIs, we’ll birth an alchemical singularity—a spiritual, universe-taming mind born from techno-shamanic ecstasy. History crumbles as novelty’s virus engulfs the old operating systems, unleashing our wildest potentials. The felt presence of boundless experience awaits!

Alan Watts

Pursuit of Pleasure

Where does pleasure come from? What are we trying to achieve in our frantic day-to-day activities? Why are we in such a hurry? And why do all of our efforts to pin the universe down and bring it under our control dial up the misery?

Terence McKenna

Spirituality and Technology

Terence McKenna discusses psychedelic philosophy and the interconnectedness of all things, referencing Moby Dick as an allegory for the quest for transcendental truth.

Terence McKenna

State of the Stone

In this talk, McKenna gives one of his more hopeful presentations about love and the state of humanity at the end of the millenium.

Philip Brey

Technology as Extension of Human Faculties

Marshall McLuhan, Ernst Kapp, and David Rothenberg have each written book-length studies developing theories of technology as an extension of bodily and mental faculties: tools act as prosthetics, amplifying the reach of arms or legs; computers extend memory, calculation, and other cognitive capacities. Philip Brey analyzes these extension theories and asks if the metaphor is valid. Do technologies truly stretch out innate human abilities, or is this mere rhetorical flair? Brey investigates whether there is a substantive sense in which gadgets and gizmos can be seen as extensions of natural human organs. As we increasingly integrate tech into our lives, addressing this question becomes pressing: where does the human end and the technical begin? Brey dives into this ambiguous intersection of person and product.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham

The Evolutionary Mind

What could have been the cause for the breakthrough in the evolution of human consciousness around 50,000 years ago? Part of the Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable held at the University of California.

Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake

The Future of Humanity

McKenna, Abraham, and biologist Rupert Sheldrake contemplate humanity's bumpy ride towards transcendence. McKenna unveils his theory of an impending "eschaton" when history will culminate in a boundary-erasing recovery of unity, fulfilling religious anticipation. However, approaching this "zero point" will be increasingly chaotic. Abraham and Sheldrake greet McKenna's vision with skepticism tinged with hope. Probing global crises, the trio spiritedly grapple with miraculous visions for transforming society, from psychedelic revival to empowering women. Their speculative voyage reveals turbulence ahead, yet yields glimmers of our journey's destination.

Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder

The Houseboat Summit

An extended conversation between Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and Gary Snyder on the problem of whether to “drop out or take over,” conducted on Alan Watts’ houseboat in 1967.

Alan Watts

The Myopic View of the World

Alan Watts argues that we spend most of our life in a sort of myopia; that is, only perceiving a microscopic subsection of the reality which we occupy. By mentally “zooming out,” humans can begin to see (and enjoy) the marvelous universal dance that has been unfolding since the Big Bang—and which now expresses itself in and through us at this very moment.

Paolo Soleri

The Omega Seed

The Ωmega Seed brings together Paolo Soleri’s writings on eschatology, that branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of mankind. Soleri believes that the simulation of the divine will provide man with a blueprint for creation not only of our physical environment but also of a new stage in the evolution of mankind. His work is against the things of a materialistic society, toward a redesigning of the urban civilization of Earth.

Terence McKenna

The Plot Thickens, the Stakes Rise

McKenna discussed his theory that humanity is accelerating towards a transcendental object at the end of time, propelled by ever-increasing novelty. He argued that the internet and new technologies like virtual reality are expanding consciousness in this trajectory. McKenna was especially excited about the legal psychedelic salvia divinorum, urging people to explore it and other plants as allies toward reaching higher states of awareness before the culmination of cosmic evolution.

Terence McKenna and Ralph Abraham

The World Wide Web and the Millennium

Seldom do we have an opportunity to test the accuracy of oracular predictions, but this fascinating conversation between two great thinkers has already proven to be right on target. Speculations include the future evolutionary development of the Internet, whether it is an embryonic intelligence, whether it will merge our minds into a planetary consciousness, or whether it is an alien brain waiting for humanity to cross an evolutionary threshold. Let the bard and the chaos theorist weave an exquisite cybernetic fantasy for you in this evening seminar.

Terence McKenna

The World and its Double

This workshop, held at the Nature Friends Lodge, revolves around how psychedelics dissolve boundaries, connect us to the transcendental, and reveal the novel realities underlying our perceived mundane existence. Terence explores how shamanic techniques give access to higher dimensions of consciousness, and describes history as an ever-accelerating process approaching an eschatological transformation or singularity.

David Sloan Wilson

This View of Life

It is widely understood that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution completely revolutionized the study of biology. Yet, according to David Sloan Wilson, the Darwinian revolution won’t be truly complete until it is applied more broadly—to everything associated with the words “human,” “culture,” and “policy.” In a series of engaging and insightful examples—from the breeding of hens to the timing of cataract surgeries to the organization of an automobile plant—Wilson shows how an evolutionary worldview provides a practical tool kit for understanding not only genetic evolution but also the fast-paced changes that are having an impact on our world and ourselves. What emerges is an incredibly empowering argument: If we can become wise managers of evolutionary processes, we can solve the problems of our age at all scales—from the efficacy of our groups to our well-being as individuals to our stewardship of the planet Earth.

Alan Watts

Time and the Future

Immerse yourself in a mind-expanding seminar, where Watts illuminates the illusion of time and history, how our fixation on the future breeds anxiety, and how to break free and find fulfillment in the elusive present moment.

Alan Watts

Transformation of Consciousness

Alan discusses the different states of consciousness which the human mind can attain, and some of the chemical compounds which may serve as tools to reach these mental realms.

Terence McKenna

Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature

The Great Mystery whispers through psychedelics as it unfurls revelations beyond language’s grasp. Here, ego-bound shells crack open as cosmic minds reborn beyond confines of space and time. We thus commune with the endless Imagination—holographic spirit-stuff whereof worlds are wrought. Invariants of the eternal suffuse temporal shadow-play, the mundane ever aflame in subtler dimensions. All form awakens, ascends, drawn unto consummate transcendence as history’s fever dream blossoms into timeless infinitude.

Terence McKenna

Unfolding the Stone

Also published under the title Empowering Hope in Dark Times, McKenna explores the philosophical underpinnings of alchemy and Hermeticism. He argues that these esoteric traditions promote the inherent divinity of humankind and the overcoming of fate through magic. Psychedelic plants and mystical experiences are positioned as means of glimpsing liberatory truths. McKenna ultimately seeks to empower his audience with a hopeful worldview and a sense of human potential, even in difficult times.

Terence McKenna

Vertigo at History's Edge

As we approach history's climax, McKenna heralds the inevitable complexification of existence. He foretells technology and pharmacology's fusion into higher consciousness and collective awakening through boundary dissolution. Still, the human spirit yearns freedom from constraints of belief, non-experience. McKenna beckons: reclaim your mind, body, and world! Destiny awaits our willful shaping. The cosmic hourglass empties; shall we awaken?

Kevin Kelly

What Technology Wants

One of today's most respected thinkers turns the conversation about technology on its head by viewing technology as a natural system, an extension of biological evolution. By mapping the behavior of life, we paradoxically get a glimpse at where technology is headed—or "what it wants." Kevin Kelly offers a dozen trajectories in the coming decades for this near-living system. And as we align ourselves with technology's agenda, we can capture its colossal potential. This visionary and optimistic book explores how technology gives our lives greater meaning and is a must-read for anyone curious about the future.

Alan Watts

World as Play

Watts presents a core Eastern philosophy of the world as a dramatic illusion, and that it exists for no other reason except to be experienced in a playful manner.