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Homage to Marshall McLuhan

He was a man of idioms and idiosyncrasies, deeply intelligent and a soothsayer. He had prescient knowledge of the Internet. Although educated in literature, Marshall McLuhan was known as a pop philosopher because his theories applied to mini-skirts and the twist. For his ability to keep up with the cutting edge, one colleague called him "The Runner." Critics said he destroyed literary values. Today, McLuhan's ideas are new again, applied to the electronic media that he predicted.

 "The Runner's" race ends on Dec. 31, 1980. Marshall McLuhan has died of a stroke in his sleep. His colleague Sam Solecki names him The Runner, the only one "on the move" while other professors published their "usually dull papers." The long-limbed McLuhan used to stride about the University of Toronto's St. Michael's College, flanked by students and faculty attempting to keep up with his constant flow of ideas.

Solecki points out McLuhan was born in the early 1900s with the generation of giants -- Donald Creighton, Robertson Davies, Northrop Frye -- and says, "without him, our intellectual life will not only be duller but radically impoverished."

• McLuhan had already suffered a stroke in the fall of 1979 that left him without most of his motor functions.
• On the evening of his death, McLuhan had dinner guests and was in "great spirits," afterward smoking cigars and watching television.

• When Marshall was eight years old, his paternal grandfather, James McLuhan, also died of a stroke. Marshall was often compared to his grandfather who was described as a person of remarkable intelligence with an insatiable curiosity, enjoying everything from philosophy to the polka.

Medium: Radio
Program: Stereo Morning
Broadcast Date: Jan. 6, 1981
Reporter: Sam Solecki
Duration: 4:09

Last updated: April 18, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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