All from The Book of Probes (2003).
McLuhan Marshall & Carson David.
Edited by Eric McLuhan and William Kuhns.
Corte Madera, CA : Gingko Press.
Page numbers referenced after each Probe.

  1. The age of writing has passed. We must invent a new metaphor, restructure our thoughts and feelings. (16-17)
  2. The new media are not bridges between man and nature. They are nature. (18-19)
  3. Societies have always been shaped by the nature of the media by which humans communicate than by the content of the communication. (22-23)
  4. When new technologies impose themselves on societies long habituated to older technologies, anxieties of all kind result. (24-25)
  5. We have become like the most primitive Paleolithic man, once more global wanderers, but information gatherers rather than food gatherers. From now on the source of food, wealth and life itself will be information. (26-27)
  6. The role of the artist is to create an Anti-environment as a means of perception and adjustment. (30-31)
  7. Without an Anti-environment, all environments are invisible. [McLuhan Marshall & Carson David. (32-33)
  8. Literate man, civilized man, tends to restrict and to separate functions, whereas tribal man has freely extended the form of his body to include the universe. (62-63)
  9. Any new technology is an evolutionary and biological mutation opening doors of perception and new spheres of action to mankind. (66-67)
  10. The unique innovation of the phonetic alphabet released the Greeks from the universal acoustic spill of tribal societies. (70-71)
  11. Literacy, in translating man out of the closed world of tribal depth and resonance, gave man an eye for an ear and ushered him into a visual open world of specialized and divided consciousness. (72-73)
  12. Today man has no physical body. He is translated into information, on an image. [McLuhan Marshall & Carson David. (92-93)
  13. Unlike previous environmental changes, the electric media constitute a total and near-instantaneous transformation of culture, values and attitudes. (100-101)
  14. When the evolutionary process shifts from biology to software technology the body becomes the old hardware environment. The human body is now a probe, a laboratory for experiments. (110-111)
  15. Today computers hold out the promise of a means of instant translation of any code or language into any other code or language. (112-113)
  16. At the very high speed of living, everybody needs a new career and a new job and a totally new personality every ten years.(114-115)
  17. The metropolis today is a classroom, the ads are its teachers. The traditional classroom is an obsolete detention home, a feudal dungeon. (126-127)
  18. Ads represent the main channel of intellectual + artistic effort in the modern world. (130-131)
  19. When technology extends one of our senses, a new translation of culture occurs as swiftly as the new technology is interiorized. (156-157)
  20. Each new technology is a reprogramming of sensory life. (162-163)
  21. Language does for intelligence what the wheel does for the feet and the body. It enables them to move from thing to thing with greater ease and speed and less involvement. (164-165)
  22. All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perception and arbitrary values. (176-177)
  23. The media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the massage. (180-181)
  24. The bias of each medium of communication is far more distorting than the deliberate lie. (182-183)
  25. With TV, came the icon, the inclusive image, the inclusive political posture or stance. (190-191)
  26. New media are new archetypes, at first disguised as degradations of older media. (192-193)
  27. The TV generation is postliterate and retribalized. It seeks by violence to scrub the old private image and to merge in a new tribal identity, like any corporate executive. (200-201)
  28. The book is a private confessional form that provides a “point of view”.(212-213)
  29. In an age of multiple and massive innovations, obsolescence becomes the major obsession. (216-217)
  30. Every innovation scraps its immediate predecessor and retrieves still older figures. It causes floods of antiques or nostalgic art forms and stimulates the search for “museum pieces”. (218-219)
  31. Obsolescence is the moment of superabundance. (220-221)
  32. The meaning of experience is typically one generation behind the experience. The content of new situations, both private and corporate, is typically the preceding situation. (228-229)
  33. The audience, as ground, shapes and controls the work of art. (234-235)
  34. All words at every level of prose and poetry and all devices of language and speech derive their meaning from figure/ground relation. (236-237)
  35. All words, in every language, are metaphors. (238-239)
  36. Language alone includes all the senses in interplay at all times.(252-253)
  37. Color is not so much a visual as a tactile medium. (254-255)
  38. Our senses are not receptors so much as reactors and makers of different modalities of space. Perhaps touch is not just skin contact with things, but the very life of things in the mind. ( 256-257)
  39. All media of communications are clichés serving to enlarge man’s scope of action, his patterns of association and awareness. These media create environments that numb our powers of attention by sheer pervasiveness. (276-277)
  40. The reader is the content of any poem or of the language he employs, and in order to use any of these forms, he must put them on. (278-279)
  41. Typography extended its character to the regulation and fixation of languages. (280-281)
  42. At the speed of light, political policies and parties yield place to charismatic images. ( 292-293)
  43. By surpassing writing, we have regained our wholeness, not on a national or cultural but cosmic plane. (296-297)
  44. Dialectic functions by converting everything it touches into figure. But metaphor is a means of perceiving one thing in terms of another. (298-299)
  45. Effects are perceived, whereas causes are conceived. (302-303)
  46. Environments are not just containers, but are processes that change the content totally. (304-305)
  47. Great ages of innovation are the ages in which entire cultures are junked or scrapped. (308-309)
  48. In the electric age we wear all mankind as our skin. (316-317)
  49. Man works when he is partially involved. When he is involved totally, he is at play or at leisure. (322-323)
  50. Omnipresence has become an ordinary human dimension. (328-329)
  51. Paradox is the technique for seizing the conflicting aspects of any problem.  (330)
  52. Paradox coalesces or telescopes various facets of a complex process in a single instant. (331)
  53. Privacy invasion is now one of our biggest knowledge industries. (335)
  54. The images of mankind have become the most basic thing about them. And they’re all software, and disembodied. (346-347)
  55. The present is always invisible because it’s environmental. No environment is perceptible, simply because it saturates the whole field of attention. (364-365)
  56. The specialist is one who never makes small mistakes while moving toward the grand fallacy. (372-373)
  57. Visual space is the space of detachment. Audile-tactile space is the space of involvement. (378-379)
  58. War has become the environment of our time if only because it is an accelerated form of innovation and education. (380-381)
  59. We are swiftly moving at present from an era when business was our culture into an era when culture will be our business. Between these poles stand the huge and ambiguous entertainment industries. (384-385)
  60. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. (386-387)