Suzanne Shank Named Acting CEO of Muriel Siebert & Co.

Board taps Wall Street veteran to head major investment banking institution

Suzanne Shank, CEO of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. LLC (No. 2 in tax-exempt securities with $7.09 billion in lead issues on the BE Investment Banks list) was appointed acting CEO of Siebert Financial Corporation. Shank is perhaps the first African American woman to be appointed to head a publicly traded financial services institution.

Siebert Financial Corp., which trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol SIEB, is a publicly traded holding company for Muriel Siebert & Co. Inc., a discount broker/dealer and institutional investment bank.

“I think the board knows how I operate. They know I focus on profitability, run a lean shop, and they’d like me to come in and help build a solid strategy at Muriel Siebert & Co.,” says Shank.

The appointment follows the death last month of founder Muriel F. “Mickie” Siebert, an icon of Wall Street who was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and a champion for diversity on Wall Street, using her notoriety to fight for a larger presence of women and minorities in the financial industry. Siebert was also a partner in Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., investing some $392,000 in the firm back in 1996.

Taking on the added responsibilities (Shank will continue in her role as President and CEO of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co.) will be challenging, but Shank is confident that it will go smoothly. Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. was named Black Enterprise’s 2010 Financial Services Company of the Year.

“I have a wonderful team that I have built over the years that manages each major segment of the firm,” says Shank, who was named to BE’s Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street. “I feel very comfortable about the leadership team I’ve built at Siebert Brandford Shank, and I was very honored to be asked to take this role.”

Among the first tasks for the 25-year Wall Street veteran will be to evaluate business lines, costs and minimize expenses.

While this is a milestone for African American women in finance, Shank points out that the ranks of women on Wall Street have declined since the financial crisis.

“I don’t know any woman heading any department in the public space, for example,” she says. “It is distressing, so it makes it more significant, the loss of Mickie. So we just hope her legacy continues.”



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  4. micah muyhktahlif says:

    health director . . . reported this week that a small
    mouse, which presumably had been watching television,
    attacked a little girl and her full-grown cat. . . . Both
    mouse and cat survived, and the incident is recorded
    here as a reminder that things seem to be changing.
    After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary
    and mechanical technologies, the Western world is
    imploding. During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies
    in space. Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we
    have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace,
    abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.
    Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man– the
    technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative
    process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to
    the whole of human society, much
    as we have already extended our senses and our nerves by the
    various media Whether the extension of consciousness, so long
    sought by advertisers for specific products, will be “a good thing” is a
    question that admits of a wide solution. There is little possibility of
    answering such questions about the extensions of man without
    considering all of them together. Any extension, whether of skin,
    hand, or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex.
    Some of the principal extensions, together with some of their psychic
    and social consequences, are studied in this book. Just how little
    consideration has been given to such matters in the past can be
    gathered from the consternation of one of the editors of this book.
    He noted in dismay that “seventy-five per cent of your material is
    new. A successful book cannot venture to be more than ten per cent
    new.” Such a risk seems quite worth taking at the present time when
    the stakes are very high, and the need to understand the effects of
    the extensions of man becomes more urgent by the hour.
    In the mechanical age now receding, many actions could be taken
    without too much concern. Slow movement insured that the
    reactions were delayed for considerable periods of time. Today the
    action and the reaction occur almost at the same time. We actually
    live mythically and integrally, as it were, but we continue to think in
    the old, fragmented space and time patterns of the pre-electric age.
    Western man acquired from the technology of literacy the power to
    act without reacting. The advantages of fragmenting himself in this
    way are seen in the case of the surgeon who would be quite helpless
    if he were to become humanly involved us in the whole of mankind
    and to incorporate with in his operation. We acquired the art of
    carrying out the most dangerous social operations with complete
    detachment. But our
    detachment was a posture of noninvolvement. In the electric age,
    when our central nervous system is technologically extended to
    whole of mankind and to incorporate the
    whole of mankind in us, we necessarily participate, in depth, in the
    consequences of our every action. It is no longer possible to adopt
    the aloof and dissociated role of the literate Westerner.
    The Theater of the Absurd dramatizes this recent dilemma of
    Western man, the man of action who appears not to be involved in
    the action. Such is the origin and appeal of Samuel Beckett’s clowns.
    After three thousand years of specialist explosion and of increasing
    specialism and alienation in the technological extensions of our
    bodies, our world has become compressional by dramatic reversal.
    As electrically contracted, the globe is no more than a village.
    Electric speed in bringing all social and political functions together in
    a sudden implosion has heightened human awareness of
    responsibility to an intense degree. It is this implo-sive factor that
    alters the position of the Negro, the teen-ager, and some other
    groups. They can no longer be contained, in the political sense of
    limited association. They are now involved in our lives, as we in
    theirs, thanks to the electric media.
    This is the Age of Anxiety for the reason of the electric implosion that
    compels commitment and participation, quite regardless of any
    “point of view.” The partial and specialized character of the viewpoint,
    however noble, will not serve at all in the electric age. At the
    information level the same upset has occurred with the substitution
    of the inclusive image for the mere viewpoint. If the nineteenth
    century was the age of the editorial chair, ours is the century of the
    psychiatrist’s couch. As extension of man the chair is a specialist
    ablation of the posterior, a sort of ablative absolute of backside,
    whereas the couch extends the integral being. The psychiatrist
    employs the couch, since it removes the temptation to express
    private points of view and obviates the need to rationalize events.
    The aspiration of our time for wholeness, empathy and depth of
    awareness is a natural adjunct of electric technology. The age of
    mechanical industry that preceded us found vehement assertion of
    private outlook the natural mode of expression. Every
    culture and every age has its favorite model of perception and
    knowledge that it is inclined to prescribe for everybody and
    everything. The mark of our time is its revulsion against imposed
    patterns. We are suddenly eager to have things and people declare
    their beings totally. There is a deep faith to be found in this new
    attitude— a faith that concerns the ultimate harmony of all being.
    Such is the faith in which this book has been written. It explores the
    contours of our own extended beings in our technologies, seeking
    the principle of intelligibility in each of them. In the full confidence
    that it is possible to win an understanding of these forms that will
    bring them into orderly service, I have looked at time anew,
    accepting very little of the conventional wisdom concerning them.
    One can say of media as Robert Theobald has said of economic
    depressions: “There is one additional factor that has helped to
    control depressions, and that is a better understanding of their
    development.” Examination of the origin and development of the
    individual extensions of man should be preceded by a look at some
    general aspects of the media, or extensions of man, beginning with
    the never-explained numbness that each extension brings about in
    the individual and society.
    THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE
    In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all
    things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be
    reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the
    message. This is merely to say that the personal and social
    consequences of any medium– that is, of any extension of ourselves
    — result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each
    extension of ourselves, or by any new technology. Thus, with
    automation, for example, the new patterns of human association
    tend to eliminate jobs, it is true. That is the negative result. Positively,
    automation creates roles for people, which is to say depth of
    involvement in their work and human association that our preceding
    mechanical technology had destroyed. Many people would be
    disposed to say that it was not the machine, but what one did with
    the machine, that was its meaning or message. In terms of the ways
    in which the machine altered our relations to one another and to
    ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out
    cornflakes or Cadillacs. The restructuring of human work and
    association was
    shaped by the technique of fragmentation that is the essence of
    machine technology. The essence of automation technology is the
    opposite. It is integral and decentralist in depth, just as the machine
    was fragmentary, centralist, and superficial in its patterning of
    human relationships.
    The instance of the electric light may prove illuminating in this
    connection. The electric light is pure information. It is a medium
    without a message, as it were, unless it is used to spell out some
    verbal ad or name. This fact, characteristic of all media, means that
    the “content” of any medium is always another medium. The content
    of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print,
    and print is the content of the telegraph. If it is asked, “What is the
    content of speech?,” it is necessary to say, “It is an actual process of
    thought, which is in itself nonverbal.” An abstract painting represents
    direct manifestation of creative thought processes as they might
    appear in computer designs. What we are considering here,
    however, are the psychic and social consequences of the designs or
    patterns as they amplify or accelerate existing processes. For the
    “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or
    pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did
    not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into
    human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous
    human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds
    of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in
    a tropical or a northern environment and is quite independent of the
    freight or content of the railway medium. The airplane, on the other
    hand, by accelerating the rate of transportation, tends to dissolve the
    railway form of city, politics, and association, quite independently of
    what the airplane is used for.
    Let us return to the electric light. When the light is being used for
    brain surgery or night baseball is a matter of indifference. It could be
    argued that these activities are in some way the
    “content” of the electric light, since they could not exist without the
    electric light. This fact merely underlines the point that “the medium
    is the message” because it is the medium that shapes and controls
    the scale and form of human association and action. The content or
    uses of such media are as diverse as they are ineffectual in shaping
    the form of human association. Indeed, it is only too typical that the
    “content” of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium. It
    is only today that industries have become aware of the various kinds
    of business in which they are engaged. When IBM discovered that it
    was not in the business of making office equipment or business
    machines, but that it was in the business of processing information,
    then it began to navigate with dear vision. The General Electric
    Company makes a considerable portion of its profits from electric
    light bulbs and lighting systems. It has not yet discovered that, quite
    as much as A.T.& T., it is in the business of moving information.
    The electric light escapes attention as a communication medium just
    because it has no “content.” And this makes it an invaluable instance
    of how people fail to study media at all. For it is not till the electric
    light is used to spell out some brand name that it is noticed as a
    medium. Then it is not the light but the “content” (or what is really
    another medium) that is noticed. The message of the electric light is
    like the message of electric power in industry, totally radical,
    pervasive, and decentralized. For electric light and power are
    separate from their uses, yet they eliminate time and space factors
    in human association exactly as do radio, telegraph, telephone, and
    TV, creating involvement in depth.
    A fairly complete handbook for studying the extensions of man could
    be made up from selections from Shakespeare. Some might quibble
    about whether or not he was referring to TV in these familiar lines
    from Romeo and Juliet:
    But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
    It speaks, and yet says nothing.
    In Othello, which, as much as King Lear, is concerned with the
    torment of people transformed by illusions, there are these lines that
    bespeak Shakespeare’s intuition of the transforming powers of new
    media:
    Is there not charms
    By which the property of youth and maidhood
    May be abus’d? Have you not read Roderigo,
    Of some such thing?
    In Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, which is almost completely
    devoted to both a psychic and social study of communication,
    Shakespeare states his awareness that true social and political
    navigation depend upon anticipating the consequences of
    innovation:
    The providence that’s in a watchful state
    Knows almost every grain of Plutus’ gold,
    Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps,
    Keeps place with thought, and almost like the gods
    Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.
    The increasing awareness of the action of media, quite
    independently of their “content” or programming, was indicated in
    the annoyed and anonymous stanza:
    In modern thought, (if not in fact)
    Nothing is that doesn’t act,
    So that is reckoned wisdom which
    Describes the scratch but not the itch.
    The same kind of total, configuration awareness that reveals why theshaped by the technique of fragmentation that is the essence of
    machine technology. The essence of automation technology is the
    opposite. It is integral and decentralist in depth, just as the machine
    was fragmentary, centralist, and superficial in its patterning of
    human relationships.
    The instance of the electric light may prove illuminating in this
    connection. The electric light is pure information. It is a medium
    without a message, as it were, unless it is used to spell out some
    verbal ad or name. This fact, characteristic of all media, means that
    the “content” of any medium is always another medium. The content
    of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print,
    and print is the content of the telegraph. If it is asked, “What is the
    content of speech?,” it is necessary to say, “It is an actual process of
    thought, which is in itself nonverbal.” An abstract painting represents
    direct manifestation of creative thought processes as they might
    appear in computer designs. What we are considering here,
    however, are the psychic and social consequences of the designs or
    patterns as they amplify or accelerate existing processes. For the
    “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or
    pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did
    not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into
    human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous
    human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds
    of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in
    a tropical or a northern environment and is quite independent of the
    freight or content of the railway medium. The airplane, on the other
    hand, by accelerating the rate of transportation, tends to dissolve the
    railway form of city, politics, and association, quite independently of
    what the airplane is used for.
    Let us return to the electric light. When the light is being used for
    brain surgery or night baseball is a matter of indifference. It could be
    argued that these activities are in some way the
    “content” of the electric light, since they could not exist without the
    electric light. This fact merely underlines the point that “the medium
    is the message” because it is the medium that shapes and controls
    the scale and form of human association and action. The content or
    uses of such media are as diverse as they are ineffectual in shaping
    the form of human association. Indeed, it is only too typical that the
    “content” of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium. It
    is only today that industries have become aware of the various kinds
    of business in which they are engaged. When IBM discovered that it
    was not in the business of making office equipment or business
    machines, but that it was in the business of processing information,
    then it began to navigate with dear vision. The General Electric
    Company makes a considerable portion of its profits from electric
    light bulbs and lighting systems. It has not yet discovered that, quite
    as much as A.T.& T., it is in the business of moving information.
    The electric light escapes attention as a communication medium just
    because it has no “content.” And this makes it an invaluable instance
    of how people fail to study media at all. For it is not till the electric
    light is used to spell out some brand name that it is noticed as a
    medium. Then it is not the light but the “content” (or what is really
    another medium) that is noticed. The message of the electric light is
    like the message of electric power in industry, totally radical,
    pervasive, and decentralized. For electric light and power are
    separate from their uses, yet they eliminate time and space factors
    in human association exactly as do radio, telegraph, telephone, and
    TV, creating involvement in depth.
    A fairly complete handbook for studying the extensions of man could
    be made up from selections from Shakespeare. Some might quibble
    about whether or not he was referring to TV in these familiar lines
    from Romeo and Juliet:
    But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
    It speaks, and yet says nothing.
    In Othello, which, as much as King Lear, is concerned with the
    torment of people transformed by illusions, there are these lines that
    bespeak Shakespeare’s intuition of the transforming powers of new
    media:
    Is there not charms
    By which the property of youth and maidhood
    May be abus’d? Have you not read Roderigo,
    Of some such thing?
    In Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, which is almost completely
    devoted to both a psychic and social study of communication,
    Shakespeare states his awareness that true social and political
    navigation depend upon anticipating the consequences of
    innovation:
    The providence that’s in a watchful state
    Knows almost every grain of Plutus’ gold,
    Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps,
    Keeps place with thought, and almost like the gods
    Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.
    The increasing awareness of the action of media, quite
    independently of their “content” or programming, was indicated in
    the annoyed and anonymous stanza:
    In modern thought, (if not in fact)
    Nothing is that doesn’t act,
    So that is reckoned wisdom which
    Describes the scratch but not the itch.
    The same kind of total, configuration awareness that reveals why the
    medium is socially the message has occurred in the most recent and
    rad,cal medial theories. In his Stress of Life, Hans
    Selye tells of the dismay of a research colleague on hearing of
    Selye’s theory:
    When he saw me thus launched on yet another enraptured
    description of what I had observed in animals treated with
    this or that impure, toxic material, he looked at me with
    desperately sad eyes and said in obvious despair: “But
    Selye, try to realize what you are doing before it is too late!
    You have now decided to spend your entire life studying
    the pharmacology of dirt!”
    (Hans Selye, The Stress of Life)
    As Selye deals with the total environmental situation in his “stress”
    theory of disease, so the latest approach to media study considers
    not only the “content” but the medium and the cultural matrix within
    which the particular medium operates. The older unawareness of
    the psychic and social effects of media can be illustrated from
    almost any of the conventional pronouncements.
    In accepting an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame
    a few years ago, General David Sarnoff made this statement: “We
    are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for
    the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science
    are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that
    determines their value.” That is the voice of the current
    somnambulism. Suppose we were to say, “Apple pie is in itself
    neither good nor bad; it is the way it is used that determines its
    value.” Or, “The smallpox virus is in itself neither good nor bad; it is
    the way it is used that determines its value.” Again, “Firearms are in
    themselves neither good nor bad; it is the way they are used that
    determines their value.” That is, if the slugs reach the right people
    firearms are good. If the TV tube fires the right ammunition at the
    right people it is good. I am not being perverse. There is simply
    nothing in the Sarnoff statement that will bear scrutiny, for it ignores
    the nature of the medium.
    of any and all media, in the true Narcissus style of one hypnotized by
    the amputation and extension of his own being in a new technical
    form. General Sarnor Twent on to explain his attitude to the
    technology of print, saying that it was true that print caused much
    trash to circulate, but it had also disseminated the Bible and the
    thoughts of seers and philosophers. It has never occurred to
    General Sarnoffthat any technology could do anything but add itself
    on to what we already are.
    Such economists as Robert Theobald, W W. Rostow, and John
    Kenneth Galbraith have been explaining for years how it is that
    “classical economics” cannot explain change or growth. And the
    paradox of mechanization is that although it is itself the cause of
    maximal growth and change, the principle of mechanization
    excludes the very possibility of growth or the understanding of
    change. For mechanization is achieved by fragmentation of any
    process and by putting the fragmented parts in a series. Yet, as
    David Hume showed in the eighteenth century, there is no principle
    of causality in a mere sequence. That one thing follows another
    accounts for nothing. Nothing follows from following, except change.
    So the greatest of all reversals occurred with electricity, that ended
    sequence by making things instant. With instant speed the causes of
    things began to emerge to awareness again, as they had not done
    with things in sequence and in concatenation accordingly. Instead of
    asking which came first, the chicken or the egg, it suddenly seemed
    that a chicken was an egg’s idea for getting more eggs.
    Just before an airplane breaks the sound barrier, sound waves
    become visible on the wings of the plane. The sudden visibility of
    sound just as sound ends is an apt instance of that great pattern of
    being that reveals new and opposite forms just as the earlier forms
    reach their peak performance. Mechanization was never so vividly
    fragmented or sequential as in the birth of the movies the moment
    that translated us beyond mechanism into the world of growth and
    organic interrelation. The movie, by
    message. The message, it seemed, was the “content.” as people
    used to ask what a painting was about. Yet they never thought to
    ask what a melody was about, nor what a house or a dress was
    about. In such matters, people retained some sense of the whole
    pattern, of form and function as a unity. But in the electric age this
    integral idea of structure and configuration has become so prevalent
    that educational theory has taken up the matter. Instead of working
    with specialized “problems” in arithmetic, the structural approach
    now follows the linea of force in the field of number and has small
    children meditating about number theory and “sets.”
    Cardinal Newman said of Napoleon, “He understood the grammar of
    gunpowder.” Napoleon had paid some attention to other media as
    well, especially the semaphore telegraph that gave him a great
    advantage over his enemies. He is on record for saying that “Three
    hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand
    bayonets.”
    Alexis de Tocqueville was the first to master the grammar of print
    and typography. He was thus able to read off the message of
    coming change in France and America as if he were reading aloud
    from a text that had been handed to him. In fact, the nineteenth
    century in France and in America was just such an open book to de
    Tocqueville because he had learned the grammar of print. So he,
    also, knew when that grammar did not apply. He was asked why he
    did not write a book on England, since he knew and admired
    England. He replied:
    One would have to have an unusual degree of philosophical folly to
    believe oneself able to judge England in six months. A year always
    seemed to me too short a time in which to appreciate the United
    States properly, and it is much easier to acquire clear and precise
    notions about the American Union than about Great Britain. In
    America all laws derive in a sense from the same line of thought.
    The whole of society, so to speak is
    founded upon a single fact; everything springs from a simple
    principle. One could compare America to a forest pierced by a
    multitude of straight roads all converging on the same point. One
    has only to find the center and everything is revealed at a glance.
    But in England the paths run criss-cross, and it is only by travelling
    down each one of them that one can build up a picture of the whole.
    De Tocqueville, in earlier work on the French Revolution, had
    explained how it was the printed word that, achieving cultural
    saturation in the eighteenth century, had homogenized the French
    nation. Frenchmen were the same kind of people from north to south
    The typographic principles of uniformity, continuity, and lineality had
    overlaid the complexities of ancient feudal and oral society. The
    Revolution was carried out by the new literati and lawyers.
    In England, however, such was the power of the ancient oral
    traditions of common law, backed by the medieval institution of
    Parliament, that no uniformity or continuity of the new visual print
    culture could take complete hold. The result was that the most
    important event in English history has never taken place; namely,
    the English Revolution on the lines of die French Revolution. The
    American Revolution had no medieval legal institutions to discard or
    to root out, apart from monarchy. And many have held that the
    American Presidency has become very much more personal and
    monarchical than any European monarch ever could be.
    De Tocqueville’s contrast between England and America is clearly
    based on the fact of typography and of print culture creating
    uniformity and continuity. England, he says, has rejected this
    principle and dung to the dynamic or oral common-law tradition.
    Hence the discontinuity and unpredictable quality of English culture.
    The grammar of print cannot help to construe the message of oral
    and nonwritten culture and
    institutions. The English aristocracy was properly classified as
    barbarian by Matthew Arnold because its power and status had
    nothing to do with literacy or with the cultural forms of typography.
    Said the Duke of Gloucester to Edward Gibbon upon the publication
    of his Decline and Fall; “Another damned fat book, eh, Mr. Gibbon?
    Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh, Mr. Gibbon?” De Tocqueville was a
    highly literate aristocrat who was quite able to be detached from the
    values and assumptions of typography. That is why he alone
    understood the grammar of typography. And it is only on those terms,
    standing aside from any structure or medium, that its principles and
    lines of force can be discerned. For any medium has the power of
    imposing its own assumption on the unwary. Prediction and control
    consist in avoiding this subliminal state of Narcissus trance. But the
    greatest aid to this end is simply in knowing that the spell can occur
    immediately upon contact, as in the first bars of a melody.
    A Passage to India by E. M. Forster is a dramatic study of the
    inability of oral and intuitive oriental culture to meet with the rational,
    visual European patterns of experience. “Rational,” of course, has
    for the West long meant “uniform and continuous and sequential.” In
    other words, we have confused reason with literacy, and rationalism
    with a single technology. Thus in the electric age man seems to the
    conventional West to become irrational. In Forster’s novel the
    moment of truth and dislocation from the typographic trance of the
    West comes in the Marabar Caves. Adela Quested’s reasoning
    powers cannot cope with the total inclusive field of resonance that is
    India. After the Caves:
    Lite went on as usual, but had no consequences, that is
    to say, sounds did not echo nor thought develop.
    Everything seemed cut off at its root and therefore
    infected with illusion.”
    A Passage to India (the phrase is from Whitman, who saw America
    headed Eastward) is a parable of Western man in the electric age,
    and is only incidentally related to Europe or the Orient. The ultimate
    conflict between sigh and sound, between written and
    The killer is regarded as we do a cancer victim. “How terrible it must
    be to feel like that,” they say. J. M. Synge took up this idea very
    effectively in his Playboy of the Western World.
    If the criminal appears as a nonconformist who is unable to meet the
    demand of technology that we behave in uniform and continuous
    patterns, literate man is quite inclined to see others who cannot
    conform as somewhat pathetic. Especially the child, the cripple, the
    woman, and the colored person appear in a world of visual and
    typographic technology as victims of injustice. On the other hand, in
    a culture that assigns roles instead of jobs to people — the dwarf, the
    skew, the child create their own spaces. They are not expected to fit
    into some uniform and repeatable niche that is not their size anyway.
    Consider the phrase “It’s a man’s world.” As a quantitative
    observation endlessly repeated from within a homogenized culture,
    this phrase refers to the men in such a culture who have to be
    homogenized Dagwoods in order to belong at all. It is in our I.Q.
    testing that we have produced the greatest flood of misbegotten
    standards. Unaware of our typographic cultural bias, our testers
    assume that uniform and continuous habits are a sign of intelligence,
    thus eliminating the ear man and the tactile man.
    C. P. Snow, reviewing a book of A. L Rowse (The New York Times
    Book Review, December 24, 1961) on Appeasement and the road to
    Munich, describes the top level of British brains and experience in
    the 1930s. “Their I.Q.’s were much higher than usual among political
    bosses. Why were they such a disaster?” The view of Rowse, Snow
    approves: “They would not listen to warnings because they did not
    wish to hear.” Being anti-Red made it impossible for them to read the
    message of Hitler. But their failure was as nothing compared to our
    present one The American stake in literacy as a technology or
    uniformity applied to every level of education, government, industry,
    and social life is totally threatened by the electric technology. The
    threat of Stalin Hitler was external. The electric technology is within
    the
    gates, and we are numb, deaf, blind, and mute about its encounter
    with the Gutenberg technology, on and through which the American
    way of life was formed. It is, however, no time to suggest strategies
    when the threat has not even been acknowledged to exist. I am in
    the position of Louis Pasteur telling doctors that their greatest enemy
    was quite invisible, and quite unrecognized by them. Our
    conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are
    used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot. For
    the “content” of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by
    the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. The effect of the
    medium is made strong and intense just because it is given another
    medium as “content.” The content of a movie is a novel or a play or
    an opera. The effect of the movie form is not related to its program
    content. The “content” of writing or print is speech, but the reader is
    almost entirely unaware either of print or of speech.
    Arnold Toynbee is innocent of any understanding of media as they
    have shaped history, but he is full of examples that the student of
    media can use. At one moment he can seriously suggest that adult
    education, such as the Workers Educational Association in Britain, is
    a useful counterforce to the popular press. Toynbee considers that
    although all of the oriental societies have in our time accepted the
    industrial technology and its political consequences: “On the cultural
    plane, however, there is no uniform corresponding tendency.”
    (Somervell, I. 267) This is like the voice of the literate man,
    floundering in a milieu of ads, who boasts, “Personally, I pay no
    attention to ads.” The spiritual and cultural reservations that the
    oriental peoples may have toward our technology will avail them not
    at all. The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions
    or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily
    and without any resistance. The serious artist is the only person able
    to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert
    aware of the changes in sense perception.
    The operation of the money medium in seventeenth-century Japan
    had effects not unlike the operation of typography in the West The
    penetration of the money economy, wrote G. B. San-som (in Japan.
    Cresset Press, London, 193 1) “caused a slow but irresistible
    revolution, culminating in the breakdown of feudal government and
    the resumption of intercourse with foreign countries after more than
    two hundred years of seclusion.” Money has reorganized the sense
    life of peoples just because it is an extension of our sense lives. This
    change does not depend upon approval or disapproval of those
    living in the society.
    Arnold Toynbee made one approach to the transforming power of
    media in his concept of “etherialization,” which he holds to be the
    principle of progressive simplification and efficiency in any
    organization or technology. Typically, he is ignoring the effect of the
    challenge of these forms upon the response of our senses. He
    imagines that it is the response of our opinions that is relevant to the
    effect of media and technology in society, a “point of view” that is
    plainly the result of the typographic spell. For the man in a literate
    and homogenized society ceases to be sensitive to the diverse and
    discontinuous life of forms. He acquires the illusion of the third
    dimension and the “private point of view” as part of his Narcissus
    fixation, and is quite shut off from Blake’s awareness or that of the
    Psalmist, that we become what we behold.
    Today when we want to get our bearings in our own culture, and
    have needstand aside from the bias and pressure exerted by any
    technical form of human expression, we have only to visit a society
    where that particular form has not been felt, or a historical period in
    which it was unknown. Professor Wilbur Schramm made such a
    tactical move in studying Television in the Lives of Our Children. He
    found areas where TV had not penetrated at all and ran some tests.
    Since he had made no study of the peculiar nature of the TV image,
    his tests were of “content” preferences, viewing time, and
    vocabulary counts. In a word, his
    approach to the problem was a literary one, albeit unconsciously so.
    Consequently, he had nothing to report. Had his methods been
    employed in 1500 a.d. to discover the effects of the printed book in
    the lives of children or adults, he could have found out nothing of the
    changes in human and social psychology resulting from typography.
    Print created individualism and nationalism in the sixteenth century.
    Program and “content” analysis offer no dues to the magic of these
    media or to their subliminal charge.
    Leonard Doob, in his report Communication in Africa, tells of one
    African who took great pains to listen each evening to the BBC news,
    even though he could understand nothing of it. Just to be in the
    presence of those sounds at 7 p.m. each day was important for him.
    His attitude to speech was like ours to melody–the resonant
    intonation was meaning enough. In the seventeenth century our
    ancestors still shared this native’s attitude to the forms of media, as
    is plain in the following sentiment of the Frenchman Bernard Lam
    expressed in The Art of Speaking (London, 1696):
    Tis an effect of the Wisdom of God, who created Man to be
    happy, that whatever is useful to his conversation (way of life) is
    agreeable to him … because all victual that conduces to nourishment
    is relishable, whereas other things that cannot be
    assimulated and be turned into our substance are insipid. A
    Discourse cannot be pleasant to the Hearer that is not easily to
    the Speaker; nor can it be easily pronounced unless it be heard
    with delight.
    Here is an equilibrium theory of human diet and expression such as
    even now we are only striving to work out again for media after
    centuries of fragmentation and specialism.
    Pope Pius XII was deeply concerned that there be serious study of
    the media today. On February 1 7, 1 950, he said:
    oral kinds of perception and organization of existence is upon us.
    Since understanding stops action, as Nietzsche observed, we can
    moderate the fierceness of this conflict by understanding the media
    that extend us and raise these wars within and without us.
    Detribalization by literacy and its traumatic effects on tribal man is
    the theme of a book by the psychiatrist J. C. Carothers, The African
    Mind in Health and Disease (World Health Organization, Geneva,
    1953). Much of his material appeared in an article in Psychiatry
    magazine, November, 1959: “The Culture, Psychiatry, and the
    Written Word.” Again, it is electric speed that has revealed the lines
    of force operating from Western technology in the remotest areas of
    bush, savannah, and desert. One example is the Bedouin with his
    battery radio on board the camel. Submerging natives with floods of
    concepts for which nothing has prepared them is the normal action
    of all of our technology. But with electric media Western man himself
    experiences exactly the same inundation as the remote native. We
    are no more prepared to encounter radio and TV in our literate milieu
    than the native of Ghana is able to cope with the literacy that takes
    him out of his collective tribal world and beaches him in individual
    isolation. We are as numb in our new electric world as the native
    involved in our literate and mechanical culture.
    Electric speed mingles the cultures of prehistory with the dregs of
    industrial marketeers, the nonliterate with the semiliterate and the
    postliterate. Mental breakdown of varying degrees is the very
    common result of uprooting and inundation with new information and
    endless new patterns of information. Wyndham Lewis made this a
    theme of his group of novels called The Human Age. The first of
    these. The Childerraass, is concerned precisely with accelerated
    media change as a kind of massacre of the innocents. In our own
    world as we become more aware of the effects of technology on
    psychic formation and manifestation, we are losing all confidence in
    our right to assign guilt. Ancient prehistoric societies regard violent
    crime as pathetic.
    sheer speeding up the mechanical, carried us from the world of
    sequence and connections into the world of creative configuration
    and structure. The message of the movie medium is that of transition
    from lineal connections to configurations. It is the transition that
    produced the now quite correct observation: “If it works, it’s
    obsolete.” When electric speed further takes over from mechanical
    movie sequences, then the lines of force in structures and in media
    become loud and clear. We return to the inclusive form of the icon.
    To a highly literate and mechanized culture the movie appeared as a
    world of triumphant illusions and dreams diat money could buy. It
    was at this moment of the movie that cubism occurred, and it has
    been described by E. H. Gombrich (Art and Illusion) as “the most
    radical attempt to stamp out ambiguity and to enforce one reading of
    the picture-that of a man-made construction, a colored canvas.” For
    cubism substitutes all facets of an object simultaneously for the
    “point of view” or facet of perspective illusion. Instead of the
    specialized illusion of the third dimension on canvas, cubism sets up
    an interplay of planes and contradiction or dramatic conflict of
    patterns, lights, textures that “drives home the message” by
    involvement. This is held by many to be an exercise in painting, not
    in illusion.
    In other words, cubism, by giving the inside and outside, the top,
    bottom, back, and front and die rest, in two dimensions, drops the
    illusion of perspective in favor of instant sensory awareness of the
    whole. Cubism, by seizing on instant total awareness, suddenly
    announced that the medium is the message. Is it not evident that the
    moment that sequence yields to the simultaneous, one is in the
    world of the structure and of configuration? Is that not what has
    happened in physics as in painting, poetry, and in communication?
    Specialized segments of attention have shifted to total field, and we
    can now say, “The medium is the message” quite naturally. Before
    the electric speed and total field, it was not obvious that the medium
    is the
    The killer is regarded as we do a cancer victim. “How terrible it must
    be to feel like that,” they say. J. M. Synge took up this idea very
    effectively in his Playboy of the Western World.
    If the criminal appears as a nonconformist who is unable to meet the
    demand of technology that we behave in uniform and continuous
    patterns, literate man is quite inclined to see others who cannot
    conform as somewhat pathetic. Especially the child, the cripple, the
    woman, and the colored person appear in a world of visual and
    typographic technology as victims of injustice. On the other hand, in
    a culture that assigns roles instead of jobs to people he dwarf, the
    skew, the child create their own spaces. They are not expected to fit
    into some uniform and repeatable niche that is not their size anyway.
    Consider the phrase “It’s a man’s world.” As a quantitative
    observation endlessly repeated from within a homogenized culture,
    this phrase refers to the men in such a culture who have to be
    homogenized Dagwoods in order to belong at all. It is in our I.Q.
    testing that we have produced the greatest flood of misbegotten
    standards. Unaware of our typographic cultural bias, our testers
    assume that uniform and continuous habits are a sign of intelligence,
    thus eliminating the ear man and the tactile man.
    C. P. Snow, reviewing a book of A. L Rowse (The New York Times
    Book Review, December 24, 1961) on Appeasement and the road to
    Munich, describes the top level of British brains and experience in
    the 1930s. “Their I.Q.’s were much higher than usual among political
    bosses. Why were they such a disaster?” The view of Rowse, Snow
    approves: “They would not listen to warnings because they did not
    wish to hear.” Being anti-Red made it impossible for them to read the
    message of Hitler. But their failure was as nothing compared to our
    present one The American stake in literacy as a technology or
    uniformity applied to every level of education, government, industry,
    and social life is totally threatened by the electric technology. The
    threat of Stalin Hitler was external. The electric technology is within
    the

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