I’ve noticed that McLuhan frequently cites the work of Lewis Mumford. The photo above is not of Mumford. It’s a man named Ed, whom I met this morning on my ride on the Minuteman Bikeway. I asked if I could take his picture by Spy Pond, and he said sure. It turns out he grew up near the pond, back when the bike trail was an active railroad track carrying passenger trains from North Station in Boston out as far as Bedford. Ed has five grandchildren, including two sets of twins.
Mumford, like McLuhan, liked to ruminate on just about everything. This morning in Understanding Media at page 181, I came across this Mumfordism quoted by McLuhan from Technics and Civilization:
Doubtless the notion of the wheel came originally from observing that rolling a log was easier than shoving it.
I’m spared the temptation to drift off into reading Mumford’s books, because none are available on Kindle. And this morning I don’t have time to go very far with the wheel, either, because my grandson, James, will arrive in 20 minutes for a day of being babysat by his grandparents.
James is five, and he investigates everything all day long. If I use a word he doesn’t understand, he asks for a definition. When I tried to sneak in some radio news time in the car, he wanted to know about the debt-ceiling negotiations going on in Washington. I said it was complicated and important, and hard to explain. We were on the way to see Disney’s latest Winnie the Pooh movie, which was important, too, but not so complicated or hard to explain.
In any event, I will add Lewis Mumford to my list of intriguing guys to get to know, like Ed and James.