RETOUCHING McLUHAN – THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE Conference Lecture Abstract
Topic: McLuhan as Mouse: The Tactile and the Index
The paper re-examines McLuhans founding concept of tactility and develops it further: with the evolution of technology from the tv screen to the remote control to the computer mouse, the tactile has moved away from its all-wrapping, all-including, all-surfacing function, which is basically iconic, to one specific point: the finger tip. This condensing of tactility into one point has already been described by Michel Serres in his “The five senses”. It produces a shift from total participation to deixis, and hence selection, and indexicality. Moving from Serres back to McLuhan, what can we learn from him about tactile worldmaking not by iconic inclusion, as visioned in McLuhan’s “Global Village” and “Massage” metaphors, but by indexical selection?