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Title: Vivisecting Society: Joycean Heuristic in Marshall McLuhan's "The Mechanical Bride"
Authors: Lamberti, Elena
Keywords: Vivisecting societyTechnique of juxtapositionTechniques of communication and new mass media
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Elena Lamberti, "Vivisecting Society: Joycean Heuristic in Marshall McLuhan's "The Mechanical Bride" ", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, VI (1999), pp. 87-104
Series/Report no.: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali
VI (1999)
McLuhan’s great novelty in the "Mechanical Bride" is the application of the method of art analysis in order to give a critical evaluation of society. The novel eschews both the ‘essay format’ and the ‘true’ literary genre, and the author starts from the idea that environment is an effect derived from overlapping experiences. These can be better understood through an artistic perception which facilitates a special estrangement, an aloofness that McLuhan often uses for comical purposes.
The idea of ‘vivisecting’ society has an illustrious antecedent: James Joyce. McLuhan takes Joyce’s "Ulysses" and "Finnegans Wake" as models of the shift that is taking place in the contemporary concept of sensibility due to the development of new techniques of communication and therefore of a new shaping of society. The scholar studies carefully Joyce’s puns and aphorisms and comments on how Joyce has created a new aesthetic by combining ancient rhetorical strategies with the possibilities offered by the new forms of mass communication. McLuhan’s technique of the juxtaposition, a device practised also by many Modernist artists, is aimed at revealing the process of manipulation of the human mind which seems to transform individuals into well-oiled cogs of a collective machinery.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1123-2684
Appears in Collections:1999 / 6 Prospero. Rivista di culture anglo-germaniche

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