Giedion does not know why this should be

Ballynahatty Ireland

 Marshall McLuhan to Jaqueline Tyrwhitt | Dear Jackie: The old plate is piled very high indeed. I must forego any thought of a visit to Harvard this this Spring. Work here at the Centre has become more and more demanding. | Last night I was reading Finnegans Wake pages 492 to 505. I thought at once of writing to Giedion about it. In these pages Joyce runs through the letters of the alphabet from A to Z as a social cycle. When he gets to Z, the cycle begins again. He explicitly indicates the return to primal undiscriminated auditory space, then begins again the discovery of the vertical plane and enclosed space and numbers and measurement. Joyce is quite explicit that (page 501) as the alphabet ends its cycle we move out of visual space into discontinuous auditory space again. This he mentions as the return to “Lewd’s Carol,” that is, through the looking glass into the world of non-Euclidean space once more, lewd, ignorant, tribal, involved totally as in group singing. In his “Beginnings of Architecture” Giedion cites the evidence several times that there is no architectural enclosing of space before script. Giedion does not know why this should be. Visual space alone of all the space discriminated by our various senses is continuous, uniform and connected. Any technology that extends the visual power imposes these visual properties upon all other spaces. Our own return in the electric age to a non-visual world has confronted us suddenly with this tyrannical and usurping power of the visual over the other senses. Kevin Lynch doesn’t understand this matter at all. My own phrase for city planning is that the city has become a teaching machine. The planner’s job is to program the entire environment by an artistic modulation of sensory usage. Art is a CARE package dispatched to undernourished areas or the human sensorium. What the artist has formerly done on a private entrepreneurial basis the planner now must do on a corporate or group basis. This is equally true of education and government. Instead of worrying about program content, the job is now to program the total sensorium. | Understanding Media will be published May 26th by McGraw-Hill. You should be receiving a copy soon. | Had lunch with a Greek chap who is in the research division of McCann-Erickson. He is greatly interested in my proposal about a pre-TV study of the Greek population. We have our sensory typology experiments ready to go. I enclose a description of one of them for you. Our friend, Philip Deane, has left the UN to become Secretary-General to the King of Greece. He will be a great help in any matter that we undertake. | Please tell me your dates of departure and where I can reach you.
from: ‘Letters of Marshall McLuhan’ by Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan, William Toye.