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.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Three thoughts

Three thoughts, not necessarily related, that happen to be careening around our skull, lately:

"I eventually concluded that the best way to understand Illich's work is as a detailed study of the myriad and varied barriers to friendship that exist in modern life."

- Eugene J. Burkart, in The Challenges of Ivan Illich (2002)

"The modern state could be interpreted as an employment agency with a gun to protect the fuel pump."

- Ivan Illich, "The Social Construction of Energy" (1983)

"The ability to die one's own death depends on the depth of one's embodiment. Medicalisation spelled dependence, not disembodiment. Disembodied people are those who now think of themselves as lives in managed states--like the RAM drive on their personal computer. Lives do not die; they break down. You can prepare to die--as a Stoic, Epicurean, or Christian. But the breakdown of life cannot be imagined as a forthcoming intransitive action. The end of life can only be postponed. And for many, this managed postponement has been lifelong; at death, it is an uninterrupted memory. They know that life began when their mother observed a fetus on the ultrasound screen. A life, they were then an object of environmental, educational, and biomedical health policies. Today, it is not sophisticated terminal treatment but lifelong training in misplaced concreteness that is the major obstacle to a bittersweet acceptance of our precarious existence and subsequent readiness to prepare for our own death."

- Ivan Illich, "Death Undefeated" (1995)

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