NEW SCARE CITY

It's a fictional streetscape we wander, here, a metropolis whose buildings, boulevards, and back alleys are in a constant state of flux. This is every place, and yet, no place at all - a city of dreams and a dream of a city.

Here, we explore the life and work of Ivan Illich and his circle of collaborators. There's no comprehensive index to the articles published, but we invite you to use the Search box, to the left, and to explore the Archive links that appear at the bottom of each page. Comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jean Robert and Illich on "energy"

In a previous post here, we wrote about and attempted to summarize a paper of Ivan Illich's called "The Social Construction of Energy." Originally presented in 1983 at a seminar in Mexico City, the paper was published only in 2009, in a Harvard journal called New Geographies. (It's not available online.)

In the same issue of that journal appeared a closely related piece by Illich's collaborator Jean Robert - a Swiss who lives in Cuernavaca. His paper is titled "Alternatives and the Technogenic Production of Scarcity." (Mr. Robert, we've read, invented a composting toilet that requires no water - a boon, it would seem, in the extremely dry climate of Mexico.)

It has just come to our attention that another energy-related paper by Mr. Robert is available at the website of a Dutch anti-nuclear research and communications outfit called WISE. The paper is called "Genesis and development of a scientific fact: the case of energy," and discusses some of the same topics as those addressed by Illich and Mr. Robert himself in New Geographies, namely how the modern and quite fuzzy and contradictory modern concepts of energy - ie. everything is made of energy yet the stuff is so scarce that we perpetually face an "energy crisis" - have come to be. We look forward to reading it.

Meanwhile, we've noticed another paper that refers extensively to Illich's social construction argument (and to much of his other work, as well): It's called "Environmental History During the Anthropocene" and it's available here, at the website of an organization called Niche, or Network in Canadian History & Environment.



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Moi

Santa Rosa, California, United States
Writer, photographer, music fan; father and husband living in northern Calif.