Monday, April 28, 2008

America #37

Today Europeans have begun to dress for the eye, American-style, just at the moment when Americans have begun to abandon their traditional visual style. The media analyst knows why these opposite styles suddenly transfer their locations. The European, since the Second War, has begun to stress visual values; his economy, not coincidentally, now supports a large amount of uniform consumer goods. Americans, on the other hand, have begun to rebel against uniform consumer values for the first time. In cars, in clothes, in paperback books; in beards, babies, and beehive hairdos, the American has declared for stress on touch, on participation, involvement, and sculptural values. America, once the land of an abstractly visual order, is profoundly "in touch" again with European traditions of food and life and art. What was an avant-garde program for the 1924 expatriates is now the teenagers' norm.

Marshall McLuhan, "Clothing," Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964)