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Globalization in Asia

The Global Village

McLuhan went one step further than Innis. While the mechanical world extended bodies in space, the electric and electronic technologies "extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned" (1964, p. 19). Hence we have the expression "the global village." But this village was not as harmonious as those ancient societies of time/space concordance. McLuhan maintains, "The global village is at once as wide as the planet and as small as the little town where everybody is maliciously engaged in poking his nose into everybody else's business" (quoted in Benedetti and DeHart, p. 40). Globalization is a two-edged sword that extends Western knowledge everywhere but threatens the wisdoms of the Eastern world. According to McLuhan, the world needs a combination of both Western and Eastern knowledge. The West operates by way of visual space as a linear, quantitative mode of perception, while the East operates by way of acoustic space as a holistic, qualitative mode of perception. Because both worlds are constantly colliding, we need a mutual understanding in order to foster peace (see McLuhan and Powers).

McLuhan encapsulates Western visual space as a "mind's eye" that connects abstract figures with definitive boundaries and is "homogenous (uniform everywhere), and static (qualitatively unchangeable)" (McLuhan and Powers, p. 45). Eastern acoustic space as a "mind's ear" encompasses both preliterate and postliterate cultures. It is nonhomogenous and discontinuous. As McLuhan relates: "Its resonant and interpenetrating processes are simultaneously related with centers everywhere and boundaries nowhere. Like music … acoustic space requires neither proof nor explanation but is made manifest through its cultural content" (p. 45). Hence visual and acoustic spaces are "bicultural." They are at the same time incompatible (like history and eternity) and compatible (like science and art). According to McLuhan, the East utilizes both visual and acoustic space. As he writes, "A Westerner, for example, arranges flowers in space; the Chinese and Japanese harmonize the space between the flowers" (pp. 62–63). Manipulating the discontinuous space, the Asians fill the void with imagination. In this sense, the overly logical Western world could learn from the East.

For McLuhan, Rudyard Kipling's famous expression "East is East, and West is West" was obsolete. It gave way to James Joyce: "The west shall shake the East awake … while ye have the night for morn" (quoted in McLuhan and Fiore, p. 143). Innis and McLuhan were two of the first thinkers in the West to recognize the importance of East Asia in the formation of concepts of globalization.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Gastrula to Glow dischargeGlobalization in Asia - Asian Views Of Globalization, The Global Village, Definitions Of Globalization: West And East, Globalization In Classical China