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March 24, 1969

Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1969;207(12):2287. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03150250117034

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It is impossible to assess Marshall McLuhan "correctly." No one, including the swami himself (by his own admission) is sure what he means. Some of his opinions suggest medical implications. If overexposure to TV does numb some of the senses, does this effect have a clinical component? If automobiles are extensions of our limbs, does this sensory reaction relate to the epidemic of highway deaths?

In Through the Vanishing Point McLuhan and Parker attempt to describe and illustrate how space is viewed in poetry and painting. Unfortunately the authors choose not to define space, and accept no standard definition. They pair the word with at least a dozen adjectives; we read of "festive space," "single-line space," "Oriental space," and "legally constituted space."

The structure of Vanishing Point is simple enough. The authors divide the book into more than 40 sections, each containing a poem, a painting or drawing, and comments