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Searching for stillness in the flux of the electric world: Vorticular media theory from Wyndham Lewis to Marshall McLuhan

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Exploring the philosophical influence exercised by the works of Wyndham Lewis over Marshall McLuhan, this article contends that these two figures both sought to capture a momentary stillness through the figure of the vortex, first established in Lewis’s early contributions to the Vorticist art movement, a stillness that necessarily endures within the tumult of a world of electric media. What Lewis hoped to achieve through painting, McLuhan sought likewise in the study of media, foregrounding the need to identify what remains fixed within the seemingly ever-accelerating tempo of modern life, viewing this task as crucial for resisting the determinative powers of media technologies.
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Keywords: Marshall McLuhan; Vorticism; Wyndham Lewis; acceleration; art; philosophy; speed; time

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Publication date: 01 March 2018

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  • EME explores the relationships between media, technology, symbolic form, communication, consciousness, and culture. Its scope is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Media ecology provides a rich philosophical, historical and practical context for studying our increasingly technological and mediated society and culture with an emphasis on historical context.
    Media ecology scholarship emphasizes a humanistic approach to understanding media, communication, and technology, with special emphasis on the ways in which we have been and continue to be shaped and influenced by our inventions and innovation. The Media ecology approach is predicated on understanding that media, symbols, and technologies play a leading role in human affairs, and function as largely invisible environments affecting the way we think, feel, act, and organize ourselves collectively.
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