The following blurb describes the presentation
 Figure Finnegan As Play Ground: Rethinking Figure-Ground Perception by Gerry Fialka for "Media Ethics: Human Ecology in a Connected World" 20th annual convention of the Media Ecology Association, Toronto, June 27, 2019 at 2pm.

I welcome your input.
Thank you,
Gerry Fialka

Figure Finnegan As Play Ground: Rethinking Figure-Ground Perception
 - James Joyce discovered the Internet and disguised it as a book (Finnegans Wake) in 1939. Social engineer Gerry Fialka repurposes the "who new" genres of James Joyce studies by transforming the very format of the seminar into the form and content of Finnegans Wake. Fialka's interactive workshop playfully probes McLuhan's Menippean translation of the Wake through "today"ness, the Gestalt therapy of Fritz Perls, the literature criticism of F.R. Leavis, and New Criticism of I.A Richards. (Integral Awareness? Auditory Imagination?)

Reading the Wake out loud with a group of people helps one to better understand McLuhan. By updating McLuhanisms like "the medium is the message/massage" to "the user is the content," and global village to global theatre, he challenged people with suspended judgement by delving into the hidden psychic effects of sense-ratio-shifting.

To mimic the Wake, topics will be "The retrieval of oral culture in a visual society where the word makes the market with centers everywhere and margins nowhere, museum without walls and city as classroom while cut and pasting pastimes of the mystery landscape with social networks when juggling Thornton Wilder, McLuhan, Lewis, Pound, Cage, Zappa, Duchamp, who travel at the speed of thought amongst inventories of hidden psychic and social effects qualifying every known Menippean narratorial clause because there ain't no sanity clause on the mourning stage at the memory theater of the rogues' gagster gallery, thus all-at-onceness, rearview mirrorism transforms hendiadys, tetrads and percepts synesthesially smelling 'speak that I may see you' which seduces discarnate Mobius strips of past software surfing social media maelstroms."

Joyce wanted his language about language to be a living organism. He called himself "applied Aquinas," and Marshall called his probes "applied Joyce." McLuhan advised, "Nobody could pretend serious interest in my work who is not completely familiar with all of Joyce."  

“Under conditions of electric simultaneity the ground of any figure tends to become more and more noticeable. Perhaps it all began with cubism and the discovery that by eliminating the merely visual or rational relations between services, by presenting the inside and the underside at the same time as the outside, the public became totally involved and aware in a multisensuous way." - McLuhan


“Lose your mind and come to your senses.” ~ Fritz Perls

"The only way to escape misrepresentation is never to commit oneself to any critical judgement that makes an impact – that is, never to say anything. I still, however think that the best way to promote profitable discussion is to be as clear as possible with oneself about what one sees and judges, to try and establish the essential discriminations in the given field of interest, and to state them as clearly as one can (for disagreement, if necessary)." - F. R. Leavis

More: finnegans-woke-or-why.html MARSHALL McLUHAN on FILM & JOYCE


Here's an article on our reading club:

Dream Awake in McFinn's Play Ground by Gerry Fialka

"Carefully make plans, then do the opposite" is a McLuhanism appropriate for all the locals who have not treated themselves to this meet-up in over two decades.

I started the Marshall McLuhan-Finnegans Wake Reading Club in Venice on October 2, 1995. Why? Good question, I don't want to ruin it with an answer. To nurture the community in probing the hidden psychic effects of our inventions? How? To invent new questions by reading the Wake out loud with a group of people? That's what the author, James Joyce, intended, when he discovered the Internet and disguised it as a book in 1939.

Just as Joyce proclaimed he was "applied Aquinas," McLuhan followed with "I am applied Joyce." He probed how human inventions have services and disservices. Their environments shape our behavior. "We shape our tools, then they shape us." - McLuhan. With suspended judgement, we can suss out what we don't like about new ones (electric scooters?), and learn to cope with the disservices. Flip a breakdown into a breakthrough, and wangle "epiphanies in everydayness," Joyce's mantra. 

Actress Penelope Chalence, who calls us "McFinn," affirms, "Our discussions refresh me and for days after I feel a renewed mental clarity and passion to merge forth into more conscious living.”  Ireland-born land planning manager Peter Naughton tells how the Wake has "brought like-minded people into my life who are now my closest friends and allies - guides as I hitchhike through the galaxy.”

Dancer Maribeth Dougherty asserts, "I have gained new perspectives. I believe from brain science that getting blood flow to different areas in your brain will ward off dementia - use it or lose it… THINK DIFFERENT.”  Local historian Eric Dugdale, who has attended for years, says, "Joyce is not an authoritarian author. McLuhan lets us look forward, and back to the ripples in the wake...We, the contentious, are content with no content. Dublin down when looking for meaning, that's how we role.” 

Animator Bruce Woodside calls the Wake a "living organism," whose "voices are aspects of a single unconscious human being, a sleeping giant...who lies dreaming beside the bloodstream of the River Liffey."

Which evokes the people of Venice and our ocean!

As a group, we employ McLuhan's Tetrad, four questions to analyze inventions: 1) What does it enhance or intensify? 2) What does it render obsolete or replace? 3) What does it bring back that was previously obsolesced? 4) What does it become when pressed to an extreme, what does it flip into? 

No previous experience is necessary. We live in the present and write a detailed history of the future. It's water cooler talk, aka phatic communication. Human inventions extend humanness. Clothing extends skin, the knife & fork extend our teeth, film editing extends our eye lid, electricity extends the central nervous system.

Let's drop this jiggery-pokery and talk straight turkey. Please join us. Try it at least once.

Wake enthusiasts include Joseph Campbell, Patti Smith, Philip K. Dick, Thorton Wilder, Jack Kerouac, Anthony Burgess, Johnny Depp, Joyce Carol Oates, Rian Johnson, Frank Gehry and Samuel Beckett, who declared, "You cannot complain that this stuff is not written in English. It is not written at all. It is not to be read. It is to be looked at and listened to. His writing is not about something. It is that something itself." The Wake is "funferall" - fun for all or a fun funeral.

McLuhan loved jokes: "The priest is crossing the Canadian border. The custom officer asks him "What's in that flask?" The priest says "Water." The officer takes a swig and says "That's whiskey" The priest declares "It's a miracle." That conjures McLuhan's "Communication of the new is a miracle but not impossible." One of his favorites: "Two goats are eating celluloid coming out of a film can on the backlot at MGM. One goat says to the other goat, 'The book was better!'" 

"Let us pry." - Joyce. Dream "wide awake this time as we re-enter the tribal night. It is like our contemporary consciousness of the Unconscious.”- McLuhan. It's the human condition in one Finnegainese word "laughtears."


GERRY FIALKA: Artist, writer, and paramedia ecologist lectures world-wide on experimental film, avant-garde art and subversive social media. Fialka has been praised by the Los Angeles Times as "the multi-media Renaissance man." The LA Weekly proclaimed him "a cultural revolutionary." Visit for info on his events, new book Strange Questions: Experimental Film as Conversation and new feature film about Venice: The Brother Side of the Wake.


"I am very impressed by Gerry Fialka's energy in bringing together groups of people to think about ideas. That is very much in the McLuhan spirit to create and foster interdisciplinary, living, educational projects in which people can talk about ideas. He creates forums that bring together a plurality of critical perspectives into one multivalent conversation. " - Janine Marchessault, author of Marshall McLuhan: Cosmic Media and Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinema.
MARSHALL McLUHAN-FINNEGANS WAKE READING CLUB – Join us first Tuesdays from 6-8pm at Lloyd Taber-Marina Del Rey Library, 4533 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292, phone 310-821-3415. Free admission. Gerry Fialka 310-306-7330 -