EXTRAORDINARY CANADIANS MARSHALL MCLUHAN
The importance of Marshall McLuhan and his communication theories cannot be overstated, but his written works—dense, at times even daunting— are more often cited than read. Nonetheless, his predictions have been borne out: in the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that visual, individualistic print culture would be replaced by what he called "electronic interdependence," creating a new "global village" characterized by a collective identity with a tribal base. Novelist Douglas Coupland regards the celebrated academic as primarily an artist, a kind of performance artist offering profound but sometimes obscure insights into how technology was reshaping the world and its inhabitants. Coupland—prolific novelist, sculptor, visual artist, theatre performer—is a true child of McLuhan, whose body of work examines and often embodies McLuhan's famous aphorism that "the medium is the message." Written with his trademark humour and brilliance, Coupland's McLuhan is a revelation.
“While McLuhan would have been horrified at just how right he'd been about the strange new world communications technology has created, perhaps he would be comforted to know it could produce a cultural commentator as witty and wonderful as Coupland.”
—New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
"...I think it's the best of the Extraordinary Canadians series thus far, both for its readability and for its meditations on writing biography in the 21st century."
—Alex Good, Toronto Star
Coupland's considerable achievement is making one understand both the momentousness of McLuhan's intellectual achievement and the quirkiness of the Canadian crucible that nurtured and gave sustenance to it. Bravo.
Douglas Coupland's first novel, Generation X, was published in March 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and several non-fiction books in thirty-five languages and most countries on earth. He has presented as a visual artist, with exhibitions in spaces in North America, Europe, and Asia. 2006 marks the premiere of the feature film Everything's Gone Green, his first story written specifically for the screen and not adapted from any previous work. A TV series based on his novel jPod premiered on the CBC in January 2008. His most recent novel is The Gum Thief. He lives in Vancouver, B.C.