“The electronic age...angelizes man, disembodies him. Turns him into software.” ~ M.M.One key for unlocking Understanding Media's central thesis is to grasp Marshall McLuhan’s idea of utopia. As he notes, “The computer, in short, promises by technology a Pentecostal condition of universal understanding and unity." For McLuhan, utopia is the unified consciousness of the awakened individual. This sense of wholeness, Donald Theall suggests, “is justified and reconciled with his Catholic orientation as a sacramentalizing of the material world, not an etherealizing of it through some movement into a transcendent spirituality.”
Vorticist paintings or Sheila Watson’s concept of “figures in a ground,” consciousness is at one with its environment, not above or below, but within and perpetually engaged in an intersubjective relationship. For McLuhan, this has the potential to be translated into a unified consciousness that is at one with its field – the medium and the message. The way to this condition is through a proper awareness of what the environment is doing and saying. How, not only what, is the question.