Space: oriental and auditory

I once sent an inquiry to the McLuhan discussion list. There was little uptake on my questions.

It is perhaps well-known that the McLuhans (Eric & father) in Laws of Media refer to F.M. Cornford’s “The Invention of Space” in Essays in Honour of Gilbert Murray (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1936) perhaps via their acquaitance with Rosalie Colie and reading of her book Paradoxia Epidemica: The Renaissance Tradition of Paradox (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966).

It is perhaps less well-known that Marshall McLuhan in a piece entitled “Cybernation and Culture” in The Social Impact of Cybernetics ed. by Charles Dechert (New York: Simon & Schuster (Clarion Books), 1967) [paperback reprint of the 1966 University of Notre Dame Press collection of papers from a 1964 conference] refers to the work of Georg Von Bekesy Experiments in Hearing.

I quote from McLuhan (p. 97)

Bekesy found it expedient to explain the nature of sound and of auditory space by appealing to the example of Persian wall painting. The world of the flat iconic image, he points out, is a much better guide to the world of sound than three-dimensional and pictorial art. The flat iconic forms of art have much in common with acoustic or resonating space.


Intellectual Network
1) Was McLuhan drawing directly upon the 1960 English text of Von Bekesy’s book? Was he capturing information from a review? from a correspondent? from a conversation with researchers in the Explorations group?

History of Ideas
2) Does anyone know if the occidental development of models of space has been subjected to an analysis along the lines of Edward Said’s Orientalism?

The questions still stand.

And so for day 856

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