Marshall McLuhan on North America’s Cognitive Dissonance, 1948

Last Updated on October 17, 2020 by Hamad Subani

The American mind is not even close to being amenable to the ideogram principle as yet. The reason is simply this. America is 100% 18th Century. The 18th century had chucked out the principle of metaphor and analogy — the basic fact that as A is to B so is C to D. AB:CD. It can see AB relations. But relations in four terms are still verboten. This amounts to deep occultation of nearly all human thought for the USA. I am trying to devise a way of stating this difficulty as it exists.

Until stated and publicly recognized for what it is, poetry and the arts can’t exist in America. Mere exposure to the arts does nothing for a mentality which is incorrigibly dialectical. The vital tensions and nutritive action of ideogram remain inaccessible to this state of mind.

A Canadian Media Theorist on North America's Cognitive Dissonance, Page 207 of Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987 (letter dated 1948)

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