The Book of Probes

By Zhang, Peter | et Cetera, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Book of Probes


Zhang, Peter, et Cetera


Marshall McLuhan and David Carson. The Book of Probes, editors, Eric McLuhan and William Kuhns. Corte Madera, CA: Ginko Press, 2003.

The Book of Probes is to McLuhanism as The Analects is to Confucianism. It embodies McLuhanism. If thinking takes space, the book offers that space prodigiously. If ideas emerge from the resonating interval between other ideas, the book maximizes such intervals. The fairly limited number of words on each page gives them a sense of iconicity - to be savored over and again for their lingering flavor, the way the connoisseur savors the gems of words on an Oriental painting. The typographic stunts call attention to form in the same way oriental calligraphy calls attention to form. There is inexhaustible space for thought but little space for Helvetica - the supposedly transparent typeface that carries information without calling attention to itself, as the 2007 film Helvetica suggests. The book goes beyond the single-minded visual bias prevalent in most books. Take the use of color, which "is not so much a visual as a tactile medium."

The book not so much informs us with "logical or connected statements" as awakens our perception with invented tools (probes) and stirs our affect with graphic design. …

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