In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

This leads to a further concern with Powe’s study, a criticism that readers of this journal may find especially important. While his writing makes evident a deep admiration for McLuhan’s ideas and an uneasy tolerance for McLuhan’s Catholic faith, Powe goes to great lengths to drive a wedge between the two. Hence, just where one might expect a connection to be made between McLuhan’s ‘‘sacramentalist’’ (Powe’s word choice) view of the world and McLuhan’s increasingly well-known identification with Roman Catholic Christianity (by definition, sacramentalist), Powe balks, implying that no serious consideration of Catholicism is necessary when attempting to comprehend McLuhan’s insights. Fair enough. But what else, if not his faith, could serve as the basis for McLuhan’s thought? Powe never says. If some other grounding does exist, readers are left to discover it on their own. Similarly, concerning the overlap of Frye’s faith and scholarship, Powe agrees with McLuhan that there is more than a tinge of Gnosticism and heresy there. In fact, Powe himself labels Frye a ‘‘Gnostic’’ and a ‘‘heretic’’ throughout his book, but these become terms of endearment in Powe’s mouth. The early Church certainly had its reasons for resisting Gnosticism, but one will not know those by reading Powe’s uncritical celebration of Frye’s embracing of the heresy and dismissal of McLuhan’s resisting it. The closest Powe comes to acknowledging the elephant in the room—that is, the influence of religion on the two scholars—is in his call for a more thorough study of the relationship between McLuhan’s faith and thought (195). (Attempts to explore this issue do, in fact, exist; several articles and at least one graduate thesis, Tina Edan’s St. Marshall, Mass, and the Media: Catholicism, Media Theory, and Marshall McLuhan [Concordia University, Montreal], completed in 2003, preceded the publication of Powe’s book.) No similar study exploring possible connections of Frye’s Protestantism to his Gnostic leanings is called for by Powe. This leads me to my final quibble with Powe’s illuminating work. In both his reluctance to take seriously McLuhan’s Catholicism and his desire to embrace Frye’s Gnosticism, Powe grants himself too much latitude, allowing his critical work to become a personal account. His evident respect for McLuhan and Frye is diluted by his failure to talk back to his teachers—to offer a counter to McLuhan’s sacramentalism and to point out the potential hubris of Frye’s criticism. In the final analysis, this book’s merits are unnecessarily put at risk by arguments, or their absences, that reveal more about Powe than about his two great teachers. Stephen Barnes University of Mary-Hardin Baylor Mario Vargas Llosa, La civilización del espectáculo, Madrid: Alfaguara, 2012; 225pp.: ISBN 978-84-204-1148-4, E-ISBN 9788420402673, E17.50 (pbk), E 6.99 (e-print). This essay by Nobel Prize Winner Mario Vargas Llosa, still to be translated into English, describes that state of current times in which high culture has become 494 Christianity & Literature 64(4) almost invisible and has been substituted by a culture which is basically mass consumer oriented. In a way, Vargas Llosa falls into one of the categories that Umberto Eco stated in his 1964 book Apocalittici e integrati. ‘‘Appocalittici’’ would be those thinkers who feel that real culture should always remain elitist, and serve as the main reference for defining a specific historical period, while ‘‘integrati’’ would be those who consider popular culture as the real reference point for modern times. If one accepts Eco’s division, Vargas Llosa is part of an apocalyptic - even post-apocalyptic, group, since his view is mostly pessimistic and does not offer many options to reverse the situation. Still, his essay is a solid and refreshing vindication of high culture, and especially of serious literature for being a resource of hope and freedom as well as a unique vehicle for all human longings. The book is organized into six chapters, all of them beginning with a meditation on a particular cultural issue and ending with one or two shorter pieces previously published in...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 494-498
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.