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Peirce. The life of Charles Sanders Peirce will no doubt stand as an unrivalled example of how some individuals are scorned in their own age and rehabilitated much later.


PEIRCE , M CLUHAN AND COMPANY : T HE REVENGE OF THE NERDS Aquiles Esté Universidad Central de Venezuela Counterblast: The e-Journal of Culture and Communication, v.1, n.1 (November 2001) Copyright © 2000, Aquiles Esté, all rights reserved The following reflections—part of a larger research project—are intended to intertwine the ideas of the two thinkers who have had the greatest influence on my intellectual life—or, better yet, on my life, period. But this is an arbitrary and secondary issue. Charles Sanders Peirce and Marshall McLuhan are, it is my strong conviction, the two most important North American thinkers of all time. My objective is to point out the basic premises upon which I base the validity, utility, and rigor of such an assumption. Both of them, by the way, have their own relentlessly dark stories as New York newcomers. Peirce arrived in New York in 1895, running away from an order for his arrest issued by a courthouse in Pennsylvania. He was being prosecuted for unpaid debts and assault. His entire life reminds one of a tragicomic thriller. He lived like a pariah, without permanent residence, occasionally even stealing to eat, and plagued by the maladies of his second wife, who suffered at that time from severe gynecological ailments. From that moment until his death in 1914, Peirce daydreamed about commercializing miraculous inventions that would provide fortunes that never arrived. In despair, he imagined that there existed an international campaign designed to destroy and demoralize him. It is said that he intended to commit suicide, and, certainly, he wrote letters saying goodbye to his closest friends. Over all, however, the New York years ended up being extraordinarily productive and inspired a major turn in his philosophical system. McLuhan, on the other hand, arrived in New York in 1967 after an invitation from Fordham University and thanks to the award of a $100,000 fellowship. McLuhan reached the top of his popularity and influence in New York. In the countercultural

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