Sunday Book-Thought 61

If men were able to be convinced that art is precise advance knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology, would they all become artists? Or would they begin a careful translation of new art forms into social navigation charts? I am curious to know what would happen if art were suddenly seen for what it is, namely, exact information of how to rearrange one’s psyche in order to anticipate the next blow from our own extended faculties. Would we, then, cease to look at works of art as an explorer might regard the gold and gems used as the ornaments of simple nonliterates?
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1994 [first published 1964), p. 66.

Sunday Book-Thought 40

Under all ruins is history, as any tourist knows. Indeed the dust that gathers above the ruin of cities may be said to be the cover of the most wonderful of the picture-books of Time, those secret books into which we sometimes peep. We turn no more perhaps than the corner of a single page in our prying, but we catch a glimpse there of things so gorgeous, in the book that we are not meant to see, that it is worth while to travel to far countries, whoever can, to see one of those books, and where the edges are turned up a little to catch sight of those strange winged bulls and mysterious kings and lion-headed gods that were not meant for us. And out of the glimpse one catches from odd corners of those volumes of Time, where old centuries hide, one builds up part by guesses, part by fancy, mixed with but little knowledge, a tale or theory of how men and women lived in unknown ages in the faith of forgotten gods.
Lord Dunsany