Technology and touch between Derrida and McLuhan

  • Raoul Frauenfelder University of Palermo


The paper aims at investigating the relationship established by McLuhan between the concept of touch and that of technology. In particular, I would point out the central role that the sense of touch plays in characterizing electronic technology, in fact in Understanding Media (1964) he says that “electricity is only incidentally visual and auditory; it is primarily tactile”. Moreover, in particular in The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), he opposes the electric age, which produces organic interdependence of man, dilatation of senses and their mutual interplay in tactile synesthesia, to Gutenberg age that is characterized by the mechanical principle of abstraction and repetition, the mechanical technology of writing.I would follow Derrida, who claims, in Signature événement context (1972), that McLuhan condemns the latter technology, because he “would restore a transparency or immediacy of social relations”; my hypothesis is that McLuhan’s desire of restoring pure communication implies a tactile metaphor.

Author Biography

Raoul Frauenfelder, University of Palermo
PhD Candidate


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