Gerry Fialka gave the following presentation at the Media Ecology conference on June 24, 2017.Following is the proposal for Fialka's MEA presentation, then a transcription of that talk, and then some related links.
Title: Non-Finneganese McLuhanites
Author: Gerry Fialka
Marshall McLuhan called his probes "applied Joyce." Reading Finnegans Wake by James Joyce 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 theater, he challenged people with suspended judgement. This paper-presentation delves deep into how Jefferson Pooley's essay is counter-culturally correct in summarizing surface McLuhan. Pooley's earnest effort is underscored by McLuhan's quip, "A half of truth is still alot of truth." Fialka counters by uncovering the hidden psychic effects of the McLuhan-Finnegans Wake Reading Club as living organism. McLuhan broke the Wake's code by hoicking up its Menippean satirized effects-precede-causes and sense-ratio-shifting. "What McLuhan contributed were not ideas, arguments, theories or critiques, but intuitions, perceptions, wandering explorations of unexplored terrain, satiric responses and poetic reactions...His primary game: teasing people into believing his percepts to be theoretical concepts." -Donald Theall, The Virtual Marshall McLuhan
Joyce, J. ( 1999). Finnegans Wake. New York: Penguin.
Snyder, J. (2004). Confessions of a Wakefiend: Bibliomantic readings in “Finnegans Wake.” James Joyce Quarterly, 41(3), pp. 515-523.
Biographical note and affiliation: Gerry Fialka - Artist, writer, and paramedia ecologist lectures world-wide (MIT, NYU, USC, UCLA, New Zealand, UK) on experimental film, avant-garde art and subversive social media. Called "the multi-media Renaissance man" (Los Angeles Times), and "a cultural revolutionary" (LA Weekly), he hosts the Marshall McLuhan-Finnegans Wake Reading Club (established 1995). https://laughtears.com/McLuhanWake.html
"Let us pry." (- Finnegans Wake) Thanks to all of you, and especially Andrew McLuhan, Marshall's grandson, who is present today. As a one year-old boy, Marshall held him in his arms, and they exchanged babbles.
They were talking Finnaganese together. Welcome to Non-Finneganese McLuhanites. Let us do the "human microphone" ala the Occupy Movement. They retrieved "call and response" from slave days. If you don't study the hidden psychic effects of human inventions, you'll become slaves to them.
Gerry: "You mean my whole fallacy's wrong." [Participants repeat that line.]
You: "You mean my whole fallacy's wrong."
G: "Carefully make plans, then do the opposite."
You: "Carefully make plans, then do the opposite."
G: "What haven't you noticed lately?"
You: "What haven't you noticed lately?"
Thanks. Everything I don't say, I meant to say. “I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own tastes.” That's Duchamp. At a party, Marcel was asked "What do you do for a living?" Duchamp responded, "I'm a breather." So let us consciously do something together that we do on auto-pilot all the time: breathe. One, two, three, breathe in . . . now release. Let's start this Media Yoga Session. Raise my hand if you are telepathic. Raise your hand if you have read Finnegans Wake out loud with a group of people. James Joyce wanted his language about language to be a living organism. He called himself "applied Aquinas." And Marshall called his probes "applied Joyce." McLuhan yelped, "Nobody could pretend serious interest in my work who is not completely familiar with all of Joyce." Marshall was told by friends who took LSD that reading the Wake out loud with others was similar to the psychedelic experience. More so, the Wake is not about a dream, it is a dream. To be counter-culturally correct, one must say the Wake is hell. McLuhan told Walter Ong the Wake is the Black Mass. Thank you Andrew Chrystall (McLuhan scholar) for this new revelation.
So a guy dies and goes to Hell. The devil is at the gates of Hell with a big screen TV, with high speed internet and netflix. The guy says, "Wow there's TV is Hell?" The devil says, "That's all there is."
In a tetradic flip, our Reading Club has been exploring the Wake for over 22 years, and it is Heaven.
Edmund Carpenter wrote “Electricity has made angels of us all.” Alan Watts loves to quote one of McLuhan's heroes G. K. Chesterton, "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly."
We can do it right now with a human microphone exercise.
Gerry: "Laughtears." You: "Laughtears." The human condition is laughing and crying, falling and rising, redemption, resurrection. Joyce culture-jammed the word "laughter" into "laughtears" by adding two letters "a" and "s." That spells "as," the adverb as metaphor. All speech is metaphorical. Joyce used the pun as the paradoxical exuberance of being through language. McLuhan's mosaic writing method evoked the psychogeography of Joyce's verbiage. Bucky Fuller proclaimed, "I seemed to be a verb." Hopi Indians have all verbs, no nouns. They embrace contradiction calmly, as Luis Bunuel did. He and Fellini were Woody Allen's first choices for Annie Hall (instead he got McLuhan), probably because Bunuel yelped, "Thank God, I'm an atheist." Yes, indeed...embracing contradiction. It is a form of jujitsu, from Japanese jujutsu, from ju “softness, gentleness” (from Chinese jou “soft, gentle”) + jutsu “art, science,” from Chinese shu, shut.
First Marshall Law: Name your book Laws Of Media: The New Science.
Gurdjieff knew that laughter is the reconciliation of yes and no. Frank Zappa sang "Nothing is what I want." And how appropriate for our times, Frank said, "I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me on the street." He was influenced by Lenny Bruce, who said that we can call cops three names: police, pigs or peace officers. Why not stress "Peace?" "We become what we behold" (- William Blake).
I am holding this abstract and reading from it. (Gerry throws pages into the air randomly). Now it is abstract. So the McLuhanites (pronounced n-i-g-h-t-s) who have not probed Finnegans Wake are McLuhandazed (d-a-y-s). Pooley is an example. They are "failed" McLuhanites. Well, that's too elitist, let's say "Non-Finnagense McLuhanites." What's a word worth? A pound? Let's needle somnambulism, as Ezra taught Marshall. Can we rescue McLuhan from McLuhanisms and McLuhanites?
My friend was at a party with Richard Schickel, film historian and author. "What do you think of McLuhan?" Richard told him, "Fraud...well, semi-fraud." That's what you are supposed to say! "But what do you think of him as a Menippean satirist?" should have been the follow-up. Another friend, who is a successful playwright, author, and writer for the New York Times, was interested in our meetings. He read a little McLuhan in prep and proclaimed, "This guy is a poet."
The symbolist poets came out of Edgar Allan Poe, who invented the detective novel, reasoning backwards, and effects-precede-causes. Mailer and Melville, etc were trying to write the Great American Novel - GAN. McLuhan knew that you can't, because the GAN is the front page of the newspaper. Another Marshall Law is complex clairvoyance, Toto pulling the curtain and revealing the hidden effects.
Joyce happened upon complex clairvoyance by "putting" Marshall's name in the Wake on page 254, line 3: "Meershal MacMuuhhan." Joyce invented the net and disguised it as a book. No...he invented what is going to be after the net. Please yell what you think is going to be after the net. 1-2-3 (Participants yell words out). Thank you. This is the protagonist as chorus.
Well, that failed. Like Sam Beckett said, "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Zappa: "I am a failure, but not a miserable failure." This is a MESS - a Media Ecology Soul Salon, a Super Session. McLuhan staged the first MESS in the Bahamas with Bucky Fuller and the amazing Mary Jane Shoultz, who invented the word "Splitteracy." She turned all these whining white men onto Gaia, the Goddess of the earth. She probes the hidden psychic effects of our inventions. Recently, she whispered to me, "Cell phones have changed our posture. We are all shaped like question marks." That's the double-duty interrobang. We are walking around like waiters with this food platter...patter...pattern...recognition...a drama of cognition feast.
We can flip breakdowns into breakthroughs, rejection into redirection, weakness into strength. Ask me how Joyce flipped blindness, singing aspirations and his Ibsen-imitating urges into breakthroughs. I am from Flint, Michigan where the Ibsen play Enemy of the People was recently staged. It presages the water crisis.
How do writers play "cloned ESP"? Quantum entanglements? Complex clairvoyance?
How does art flip time, space and secrets? Welly well well, Wakian Thornton Wilder revealed, "Art is confession; art is the secret told. . . . But art is not only the desire to tell one's secret; it is the desire to tell it and hide it at the same time. And the secret is nothing more than the whole drama of the inner life." And the hidden ground of all these dudes, Wyndham Lewis, nailed it with: "Artists are engaged in writing a detailed history of the future because they are the only people who live in the present." Sun Ra beamed, "I don't believe in history, that's his story. I believe in mystery, that's my story."
Another Marshall Law: "The future of the future is the present."
We are here right now at the MEA conference. Be Here Now. Engage McLuhan's tetrad analysis. He reinvented "the medium is the message" into "user as content" and "the global village into "the global theater." We, too, can socially engineer new metaphors, and new questions.
Let's conclude with more human microphone exercises...
Gerry: "We are amusing ourselves to wake."
You: "We are amusing ourselves to wake."
Gerry: "Communication of the new is a miracle but not impossible."
You: "Communication of the new is a miracle but not impossible."
Here's a few of Marshall's favorite 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."
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."
Two caterpillars are sitting on a branch and watch a butterfly fly by. One caterpillar says to the other, "You will never get me up in one of those contraptions."
Mediamystically, I thank you.
I welcome your input.