BootsnAll Travel Network

Making The Inward Turn

When one stops moving…constantly having one’s awareness being drawn outward when traveling…integration begins… and reflection.

I have been home since the middle of June after six months in Asia…losing myself in the mundane and thoughtless but pleasurable duties of house and home.  Pruning, raking, repairing, having things repaired and replaced, banking, filing, web surfing, visiting old friends…my son, home from Thailand for a month…for company.  But I have rented the house again and will be on my way again in November for Oaxaca, Guatemala and onward through Central and South America.  Then back to the wonderful northwest I call home…the best of all worlds I have seen so far. And in the fall onward to the Balkans and then Asia again where two of my sons live. But my feelings are conflicted…giving up this comfort.  It has taken three months this time for return culture shock to abate…and my nervous system…indeed my brain…to start operating again.

In talking about the current political climate a friend  got my wheels turning.  She mentioned transmutation.  And the masses.  For some reason I am thinking strongly of Marshall McLuhan (The Medium is the Message.)

this from wiki:
The slogan, “the medium is the message”, may be better understood in light of Bernard Lonergan’s further articulation of related ideas: at the empirical level of consciousness, the medium is the message, whereas at the intelligent and rational levels of consciousness, the content is the message. This sentence uses Lonergan’s terminology from Insight: A Study of Human Understanding to clarify the meaning of McLuhan’s statement that “the medium is the message”; McLuhan read this when it was first published in 1957 and found “much sense” in it — in his letter of September 21, 1957, to his former student and friend, Walter J. Ong, S.J., McLuhan says, “Find much sense in Bern. Lonergan’s Insight” (Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987: 251). Lonergan’s Insight is an extended guide to “making the inward turn”: attending ever more carefully to one’s own consciousness, reflecting on it ever more carefully, and monitoring one’s articulations ever more carefully. When McLuhan declares that he is more interested in percepts than concepts, he is declaring in effect that he is more interested in what Lonergan refers to as the empirical level of consciousness than in what Lonergan refers to as the intelligent level of consciousness in which concepts are formed, which Lonergan distinguishes from the rational level of consciousness in which the adequacy of concepts and of predications is adjudicated. This inward turn to attending to percepts and to the cultural conditioning of the empirical level of consciousness through the effect of communication media sets him apart from more outward-oriented studies of sociological influences and the outward presentation of self

As I read this, I realize how deeply affected I was by my Jesuit education. Unfortunately, I am afraid that this time it has not worked to our advantage. In an interview a few years ago of Paul Newman, RIP,  Larry King asked how many good scripts came across his desk every year.  Paul sighed and replied: whereas there used to be 3-5 a year, now maybe there is one.  Larry asked why.  I think because they are all shooting for the lowest common denominator, he said.

There is a wonderful story on wiki about the title of McLuhan’s book:

According to McLuhan biographer W. Terrence Gordon, “by the time it appeared in 1967, McLuhan no doubt recognized that his original saying had become a cliché and welcomed the opportunity to throw it back on the compost heap of language to recycle and revitalize it. But the new title is more than McLuhan indulging his insatiable taste for puns, more than a clever fusion of self-mockery and self-rescue — the subtitle is ‘An Inventory of Effects,’ underscoring the lesson compressed into the original saying.” (Gordon, p. 175.) However, the FAQ section [1] on the website maintained by McLuhan’s estate says that this interpretation is incomplete and makes its own leap of logic as to why McLuhan left it as is. “Why is the title of the book The Medium is the Massage and not The Medium is the Message? Actually, the title was a mistake. When the book came back from the typesetter’s, it had on the cover ‘Massage’ as it still does. The title was supposed to have read The Medium is the Message but the typesetter had made an error. When McLuhan saw the typo he exclaimed, ‘Leave it alone! It’s great, and right on target!’ Now there are possible four readings for the last word of the title, all of them accurate: Message and Mess Age, Massage and Mass Age.”

Speaking of.

Finally…a non-threatening younger woman in high places. (sarcasm) Has anyone ever commented on Madeleine Albright’s clothes?

In contrast, I was particularly struck when Obama got out of that black limousine  in dark glasses and expensive dark suit, and walked with that confident Harvard stride to get on the plane for Biloxi Mississippi. There was something subliminally appealing (to me) with his clothes bag casually slung over his shoulder…hanging onto it with two fingers. Cosmopolitan.  But not Everyman. That shot will forever stick in my mind.

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