Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Artforum Informs that Media and Formal Cause is 1 of the 10 Best of 2011

The December issue of Artforum magazine includes a feature on the 10 best books of 2011, and one of the 10 picks is Media and Formal Cause by Marshall and Eric McLuhan (with a little foreword by yours truly), published by NeoPoiesis Press.  In a post I put up back in February, Media and Formal Cause in Effect!, I went into more detail about the book, so please feel free to return there to refresh your memory, if you feel the need.

In case you're not already famiar with it, Artforum is, not surprisingly, a very attractive periodical, gorgeous in its images and design, thick (approximately 300 pages) and oversized, and the issue costs ten bucks.  Each of the listings for the ten best books is accompanied by a book review, and for Media and Formal Cause the review is by Graham Harman, Professor of Philosophy and Associate Provost for Research Administration at the American University in Cairo.

The beginning of The Best Books of 2011 feature can be found online (hence the link), but unfortunately it only includes the first 3 books reviewed as a teaser, ending by saying that if you want to see the rest of the reviews, you gotta buy the issue.  And hey, for any McLuhan collector, I'd say that it's well worth the ten dollars.  But just to give you an idea of what that page looks like, here's an image taken from a scan of the page the page was too big to fit entirely in the scanner, so headers and footers are missing)

I would particularly note that Harmon writes, in regard to the tetrad or laws of media developed by McLuhan towards the end of his career, that Media and Formal Cause "gives us the crucial prehistory of this tetrad while linking it ever more closely with Aristotle's doctrine of 'formal cause', which the authors try to rejuvenate."  And then, later he states that "the formal cause of a thing is not what is most visible to us, but what hides in the background while we are distracted by the content it generates: 'The medium is the message.'"  Also quite significantly, Harmon notes that, "in the present book we learn that every medium has effects heralding its own downfall."  And he concludes with reference to the discussion in this book of the need for anti-environments to provide us with critical distance from the invisible environment of media, technology, and symbol systems that we are immersed in, and the essential role that artists play in constructing such anti-environments.

So now, if you don't have a copy yet, don't you think you oughta get one?  Here, let me help you out with that:

And do keep in mind that this makes the perfect stocking stuffer, secret Santa present, or Chanukkah gift.

So, thank you Artforum, on behalf of everyone involved, including NeoPoiesis Press, for this wonderful bit of holiday cheer!

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