K. P. Mayer writes: I offer the following letter as a constructive criticism. You may unfortunately find it a bit violent in tone. I have no desire to be destructive, but because I am trying to be constructive I can see no point in mincing my words.
In nlr 41 you reprinted El Lissitsky’s The future of the book with a covering introduction which in several places denigrates McLuhan in a most unconstructive way.
At this point you will no doubt run the risk of branding me as one of ‘McLuhan’s acolytes’. You would be wrong.
The reason for reprinting a 1926 article is given as follows: ‘If we are to discuss Marxist aesthetics we must go back to the twenties in Russia . . .’ All I can say is ‘Why?’ Your introduction goes on to echo Lissitsky’s condemnation of posters for their legibility and ephemeral nature. This seems the sort of reaction one might expect from an old-fashioned aesthete, but not from a progressive.
You describe McLuhan as an ‘uncritical observer of capitalism’ yet could an ‘uncritical observer’ make remarks about what he calls in Understanding Media ‘US cultural imperialism’?