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Narcissus, the Gadget Lover


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“The Greek myth of Narcissus is directly concerned with a fact of human experience, as the word Narcissus indicates. It is from the Greek word narcosis or numbness. The youth Narcissus mistook his own reflection in the water for another person. This extension of himself by mirror numbed his perceptions until he became the servomechanism of his own extended or repeated image. The nymph Echo tried to win his love with fragments of his own speech, but in vain. He was numb. He had adapted to his extension of himself and had become a closed system.

Now the point of this myth is the fact that men at once become fascinated by any extension of themselves in any material other than themselves….

 The Gadget Lover, Narcissus as Narcosis, Chapter 4, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), p.41, MIT Press ed.

 

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Again, McLuhan saw beyond the news of his day, the cultural trends and even philosophy to that point in time.

He saw where the narcotic of technology had taken us, and projected where it would go.

One aspect of today's media that is missed is the equivalent intellect and spiritual narcissism.  Ignorance of the ideas, and spirit of other people is at least as prevalent as ignorance of others' physical beauty.

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I don't know McLuhan, or Narcissus, for that matter, other than as names and vague associations, but I do know some gadget lovers.  They are not ignorant of ideas, so much as fickle slaves to them.  I agree that the trend, in both men and women, is nauseating, and this McLuhan fellow would probably take ill if he could see what technology was doing to people and their brains today.  Did he have a hand in writing Wall-E?

Still, all that said, I did figure out how to stream the Ashes this week. 

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