Marshall McLuhan, W. Terrence Gordon – Counterblast: 1954 Facsimile


Gingko Press, Inc, English, ISBN-13: 978-1584234524, 32 pages
McLuhan “zine”?!? This must be the first reaction once exposed to Counterblast. In the early golden era of the mimeograph, which also lead to a wave of science fiction zines in the U.S., the visionary theorist was already experimenting in communicating his own sharp and enlightening ideas. In the year of the McLuhan centennial, Transmediale festival has cooperated with Gingko Press to reprint a facsimile of the original Counterblast publication. But to understand the eighteen mimeographed pages, here carefully reproduced, the first thing to consider is the reference to Blast, the radical large format magazine edited by Wyndham Lewis in 1914. If Blast used radical typography in the guise of its contemporary Futurists on the other side of the ocean, Counterblast, forty years later, embodies recognizably early McLuhan communication theories, well before the major books arrived. He plays with the Blast/Bless alternating lists of concepts, inspired by the original Blast, often referring to Canada, and brings compelling new intuitions about the media of the time. Talking about the work McLuhan suggested that “Counterblast 1954… offers a view of… the direction of the winds of the new media in these latitudes.” Here, concepts are fired at the readers’ eyes, evoking changes and multi-media juxtapositions. If it is true that he handed out copies on street corners and in the cigar shops of Toronto, this would have been a proto media performance with his typical dialectic spirit, serving the manual transmission of new media culture.