In a forerunner text to Understanding Media, McLuhan wrote: “Depending on the type of the vehicle-medium the nature of the road-medium alters greatly.” As often is the case with McLuhan, you feel at first that things are upside down: shouldn’t the road alter the vehicle? But understood phenomenologically, the vehicle alters the road. It is not the same road to a truck as it is to a car, a bicycle, a hiker, or a driver stranded in a broken-down car. The vehicle-medium alters the road-medium: the ship alters the sea, or rather makes the sea navigable at all. One medium reveals another, and without the ship there would be no sea. “All media are active metaphors in their power to translate experience into new forms.”

vehicle-medium and road-medium

John Durham Peters - The Marvelous Clouds: A Philosophy of Elemental Media

Leo Horton
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