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.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An appreciation of Illich

A site called Design-Altruism-Project has run a piece entitled "Four Tools for Ivan Illich." In it, site-founder/editor David Stairs discusses his interest in Illich, his difficulties in getting his students interested in Illich and most importantly, Illich's "attack on the paternalistic assumption that the industrialized West, having made such a success of imposing its technology on the labor and resources of the rest of the world, actually knows what is best for people everywhere."

The piece takes its title from a series of intriguing, nonsensical tools created as works of art, photographs of which illustrate Stairs' essay.

He writes of a friend who

worries that Illich has fallen out of favor with the young because they are constitutionally blind to the extent that their privacy and freedoms have been usurped by a coalition of industrial (Facebook/Apple/Google) and governmental (Homeland Security) institutions. I’m a little more optimistic. The institution Illich, the rebel priest, wrestled most with was the Church of Rome. Throughout history many Catholic saints have been culled from the ranks of religious orders. While there’s absolutely no risk that the Vatican will promote Illich to its elect anytime soon, I’m willing to bet that his ability to scrutinize and pillory large social institutions will make him a saint-in-waiting to Occupy Movements for generations to come.

The Design-Altruism-Project site is affiliated with a group called Designers Without Borders, "a consortium of designers and design educators working to assist institutions of the developing world [mainly in Africa] with their communication needs. Our volunteers provide instruction, consultation, and varieties of development advice and assistance in both community and educational environments." Stairs, a member of the group's board, "coordinates the graphic design program at Central Michigan University."

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