Friday, April 20, 2001

I have been reading a book by Stanislaw Lem, a collection of short stories called The Star Diaries. In the story called "Twentieth Voyage", Ijon Tichy, the hero of the stories, has been called into the future to help fix history. Well, we all know history must have been meddled with the way parts of it is screwed up, but he gave out some really interesting information about the 20th century, which I thought some media scholars out there would like to know about...: "Fortunately General Angus Kahn, the new chief of MOIRA after Napoleon, employed the so-called Babel tactic. This is how it worked. Once, sixteen tempo engineers, summarily banished to Asia Minor, decided to build a time main to escape, under the guise of constructing some sort of tower or dome; the name given to it was the cryptonym-password of their plot (Banished Asian Builder's Escape League). MOIRA, having detected their operation in a fairly advanced stage, dispatched its own specialists to the spot as 'new exiles,' and these intentionally introduced such errors into the blueprint, that the mechanism flew apart at the very first trial run. Kahn repeated this maneuver of 'communication confusion,' sending diversionary units into the 20th century; they completely discredited those who were trying to set themselves up as prophets - by turning out all sorts of rubbish (called 'Science Fiction') and placing in the ranks of futurologists our secret agent, one McLuhan.
I must confess that when I read through the malarkey that MOIRA has prepared, and which McLuhan was to disseminate as his 'prognoses,' I threw up my hands in despair, for it didn't seem possible to me that anyone with half a brain would take seriously, even for a minute, all that crap of the global village towards which the world was supposed to be heading, not to mention the other inanities contained in that hash. And yet, as it turned out, McLuhan was a much greater success than all the people who were betraying the simple truth: he aquired such fame he actually ended up believing - so it seems - the drivel we had ordered him to advocate."

With this in mind I read Baudrillard's words on p 30 in Simulacra and Simulation: "The medium itself is no longer identifiable as such, and the confusion of the medium and the message (McLuhan) is the first great formula of this new era. There is no longer a medium in the literal sense: it is now intangible, diffused, and diffracted in the real, and one can no longer say that the medium is altered by it."

Just thought I'd let you know... it does light up my days of reading and taking these sometimes slightly far-fetched looking theories seriously, when I come over such wonderful explanations as to why I just can't seem to make sense of them..

No comments: