At Home on the Web, H.M.S. Pinafore and Grandpa McLuhan
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Dear Friend and Listener:
In tonight’s edition of Planet Waves FM, we have the Gemini special for you. First I go over the manifold ingress into the mutable air sign: since last we spoke, the Sun, Venus and Vesta ingressed Gemini.
Once again I elaborate on Vesta, my personal asteroid goddess and apparently a popular item among my readers, who get how beautiful this energy is.
In the second segment, I read the chart of opening night for H.M.S. Pinafore, from May 25, 1878. This spectacular operetta / light opera was the first smashing success for Gilbert and Sullivan, and contributed to the invention of modern musical theater.
I play four numbers from this play, describe its Bob Dylan-esque chart and tell some family stories (my mom played Josephine, the lead, at age 13 in a college production).
In the third and fourth segments, I return to the work of the spiritual grandfather of Planet Waves, Marshall McLuhan. In the spirit of Vesta in Gemini — making a home of our communications media — I refer to two quotes from grandpa, one about the development of literacy and its impact (which to me explains the Internet) and then one about politics going from the ballot box to the box office.
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Re MM quote at top of show:
in this talk, he was referencing the development of visual literacy.
basically the wider theme is: when old media (reading and writing for ex) evolved into radio, TV, film, photography, etc. it left behind basically everyone in terms of how those new things are made. and it did so for decades. those who took part in reading and writing could also make those things; they could work deftly in the media of the day. a printing press is easy to understand. most people have seen one.
but those who as passive audience took in photography, TV, radio, film, etc. generally had no clue whatsoever even about the actual processes involved. it was all a mystery — the glam of ’technology’ as mystique.
now, all of these media have manifested in one huge upheaval and orgy of participation called the internet. this development is forcing a new level of literacy on some people, some have made the transition gracefully and others are eagerly leaping to it — and everyone else is getting sucked along by the undertow.
either way there is an upsurge of new literacy, in particular of visual expressive modes, the kind that has been lacking through much of the electronic revolution principally TV. (Imagine how exotic a TV studio would have seemed even 30 or 40 years ago.)
suddenly everyone is a photographer or videographer now and enticed or compelled to work in a visual medium that they in some way author no matter how rudimentary – such as email, Facebook, selfie, iPhone, etc. this is a radical reversal from prior generations of those exposed to electronic media in potato mode: now we have direct participation. and anyone can hit the ‘viral lottery’ at any time.
my impression hearing Marshall offer that idea is that one way or another, the involvement theme of the internet is going to provoke huge mass involvement in society of an unusual number of people as the whole training of the net environment is involvement per se.
we might critique it also as a place that consumes involvement and siphons it off of other perhaps “better” directed targets…yet even if that is true the impact of radically expanding knowledge in total (via net access) must express itself somehow as progress.
PS that recording is taken from a much larger compilation that I happened to click on because the date was my year of birth (the child of the future!). later in the same series of recordings he says basically that people need to learn new literacy with live feedback – to write poetry publishing as you go – basically the kind of instantaneous publishing made possible by the internet.