Marshall McLuchan. The Gutenberg Galaxy: the Making of Typographic Man

ImageThere are books which influenced radically on the field of study they refer to. And there are books which shaped new avenues of scientific inquiry. These books are something that can be called a landmarks in the history of science. Marshall McLuchan`s  “The Gutenberg Galaxy” is definitely one of such books.

Published in 1962, it was one of the first profound media-oriented insights into the nature of culture, technology revolutions, printing press, mass media and ,finally, the human consciousness.

According to Marshall McLuchan, the way of producing, consumption and circulation of knowledge among people is a crucial factor of shaping the way of thinking itself. Text is no longer considered the utilitarian result of conveying a message, but is a major actor which can shape the very way of thinking and , therefore, producing new messages in culture. Every vigorous leap ahead in the history of civilization is prompted, if not shaped, by the emergence of new type of producing text and spreading knowledge.

Thereby,  the whole history of culture can be clustered into major epochs: Oral tribe culture, Manuscript culture, Gutenberg Galaxy and Electronic Age. On its way of progress culture underwent deep changes which are marked by invention of new medias. As M.McLuchan put it, humanity is on its way from oral practices and traditions to a new mode of knowledge circulation and way of text production, shaped by electronic mass medias of nowadays.

Invention and wide spread usage of movable type was essential to emergence of the rigorous and fixed text-oriented culture. This print culture brought about the hegemony of visual over the oral and established a mode of mentality strongly dependent on the authority of specialist’s outlook.

Gutenberg epoch, an era of common printed texts also spawned such major cultural phenomenons as nationalism, predominance of rationalism, uniformation, adherence to expert opinion and ,finally, the alienation of individuals.

According to McLucan, now, with emergence of new electronic medias , we all are facing profound changes not only in our everyday lifes but in the very way of thinking. Consequently, our mentality is shaped and affected by the current mode of text existence within culture.

It`s definitely worth mentioning, that not only statements and theoretical notions in M. Mcluchan`s book are scientifically prominent, but the very way of organization of chapters is a thing of substantial importance.

The philosopher structured narration into small chapters all logically organized but apparently self-sufficient. This mode of organizing text and information it contains is a special feature of modern way of consuming knowledge and messages. Mosaic structure of pieces of information is what we are facing today and what can be characterized as actual mode of text existence in culture. Another mind-shaping crucial books of modern era are organized the same way. For instance, R. Barth`s Mythologies is one of them.

by Tieriekhova Masha

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