This is a fat book - often with only two or three McLuhanism on each page. There is some section of regular prose. I loved this book - it gives a concise account of what a 'probe' was for McLuhan and how he used these as powerful was to shake people out of complacent mental models. But more than this - it remains a simple, pleasureable read - that provide page after page of stunning McLuhan at his best - probes that do the same work today as they did when McLuhan first thought of them. I recommend this book - take your time - read a couple of pages every day - let the probes work through your mental landscape. 5 Stars.
Reading the advance hype for this book got me very excited. At last! I can understand Marshall McLuhan! Don't get me wrong. It's not that I haven't encountered MM before, but understanding him eluded me. I had hoped for more deluxe versions of the Quentin Fiore collaborations: War and Peace in the Global Village and The Medium is the Massage. But instead of timely, interesting photos, David Carson resorts to typography to frame pithy little McLuhan epigrams. Like those other two books, you at least get your shots of MM one line at a time, and some of the lines are very memorable indeed. Yes, I'm convinced Marshall McLuhan was a prophet (small "P" or maybe big "p"), and that everything he said has already happened. We live in a global village full of hot and cool media; the medium is the message. How obvious it all seems. Reading this book is ancient history. It's already happened. I just wish I could understand it better. Don't bother with the DaVinci code. Crack the McLuhan code and we will all know what's going on. This book reinvents "coffee table books"--it's an 8 inch square two inches thick--so it goes well on little coffee tables from Ikea. I see why they didn't use photos--Corbis owns them all, unlike the public domain galleries in the two earlier books cited (which dazzlingly show more than they tell). Someone new to McLuhan, finding Probes on the tiny coffee table, would probably drink it in, like someone quaffing a particularly good drink. But having finished the tumbler, they'd likely wander off to find the hostess and a refill, asking where she learned her mixology. Those reading, or rather encountering, Probes will also be left inquiring about McLuhan, and probing for more understanding.
High praise to Gingko Press for such a beautiful book in both construction and graphics, a retrieval and development on the original Quentin Fiore collaborations of the sixties. And this is no ordinary book of quotations, organized by topic or chronology. Each quote indeed acts as a probe for the reader, and of the reader; and collectively each of the hundreds of isolated insights echo and haunt the others. The effect is similar to the famous Monday night seminars; close the book and you are not quite sure what you've learned, but walk around and the way you see the culture has been changed. For the literati, there is an introduction and an important essay by W. T. Gordon describing McLuhan's debt to de Saussure's linquistics. But this is not a book for the scholars and their after-the-crime-has-been-committed analysis. This is a book for the streets, not the ivory tower, for the poets and novelists, the misfits and malcontents of the digital consensus. It's a good review for those familar with McLuhan, and should be a fine introduction to a new generation of independent media scholars.