Generation X author Douglas Coupland has a new book I guess I’m gonna have to read now…
Marshall McLuhan’s brain was fuelled by fresh blood from the heart through not one but two arteries at the base of his skull, a trait in the mammalian world found mostly in cats and rarely in human beings. (…)
Why mention this medical information? To establish that Marshall was not merely different but very different, and it wasn’t simply in the way he thought; rather, it was because of the biological mechanisms that made and allowed him to think what he thought.
Marshall exhibited throughout his life a certain sense of obliviousness about the physical world—he was the epitome of the absent-minded professor. He couldn’t drive a car. (…) Marshall had created a rich inner life. Why leave it if he didn’t have to?
Perhaps this disassociation, along with others of Marshall’s traits, should be placed on an autistic spectrum. For example, there was Marshall’s hypersensitivity to noise and sounds—loud and/or sudden and/or unwanted. The man disliked disruption of daily patterns. He disliked being touched or jostled. He loved ritual. He punned (punning is a form of disinhibition related to neural wiring in the brain’s limbic system). Marshall was also obsessed with words and memorization, and he was, it has been said, oblivious—not cripplingly so, but it did alter his ability to communicate in person in a way that, if nothing else, probably didn’t help him. Older people interpreted his obliviousness as arrogance; young people interpreted it as cool.