Harman points to Figure-Ground Communication’s interview with Eric McLuhan. It includes a question from Harman about Laws of Media, namely “why did they they [sic., restrict?] the tetrad to human artifacts?” Of course, this is also the question Levi and I will pose in our planned book on McLuhan.
McLuhan doesn’t really answer the question, from the very beginning seeming not to take it at face value (“Graham, you are putting the cart somewhat before the horse, in order to be provocative–as I know you are aware.”) But of course Graham’s question is completely earnest and straightforward.
I got the sense that Eric took Graham’s question as critical, striving to debunk the tetrad. In reality, Graham was doing precisely the opposite: he was trying to expand the tetrad beyond the realm of the human. This, of course, is precisely what Ian and I will argue for in The Pentad: McLuhan and Object-Oriented Ontology. What Eric and Marshall McLuhan propose under the title of media is not restricted to how artifacts extend humans, but is a general ontology that targets how any object extends another object. In this connection, I see no reason to restrict the Mcluhan’s concept of media to the linguistic, despite the fact that Eric appears to do so at the beginning of Laws of Media. If anything, they completely explode the boundaries of the linguistic, opening all objects to being treated as genuine actors and not mere vehicles of signifiers. This is not to suggest that we should reject the linguistic. Language is a medium as well. Yet it is one medium among an infinity of others.