For Mac the manuscript would be cool because it involves
the reader through illumination (literally and figuratively).
The print medium in itself is hot, as I remember.
You can't fudge around with the letters. They have
to be integrally perceivable to communicate their
message. But when the text is manipulated into thin
columns and then turned into a mosaic on a newspaper
page, that mosaic is left to the reader to compose,
depending on which parts attract, and what they
mean for the reader. So it's a bit more complicated.
Not so easily reducible. EG: As soon as the print is made
very large so it becomes a graphic that dominates
and its meaning is overshadowed (and virtually interpreted
without effort by the brain), then it can be made to be
Another way to look at it, is the left and right brain
theory which Mac bought into completely. If it appeals to
the right hemisphere it tends to be cool, if left then hot.
Again that's reductive, but the theory was never worked
out. It was more of a cultural probing tool than an attempt
to explain everything.
From: Carrol Cox [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2003 6:51 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Is TWM a 'cool' poem in the sense of Mcluhan?
Peter Montgomery wrote:
> Hot and Cool have to do with perception.
> A consistent thread in McLuhan's work since his thesis
> on Thomas Nash and the breakdown of medieval education
> is the effect of media on perception.
> Some media present a complete perceptual package.
> Others present key pointers and leave the reader
Thanks, I'd been wracking my brains to remember something of the books
I'd read about 40 years ago. You don't mention (and I can't remember)
whether he classified print as hot or cool -- I would assume cool.
(Print leaves much to the reader's imaging powers.) But in any case, one
can't speak of a given text as either cool or hot, because that depends
_not_ on the content of the text but on the fact that it is a text
rather than a speech or a gesture or a movie.
But that isn't right either -- because now I remember that manuscript
and print are different media, but I can't remember which is hot and
which is coool.