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.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Searching for Lee Hoinacki

Lee Hoinacki is one of Illich's closest collaborators, meeting him in 1960 when, as a Dominican priest, he went to CIDOC to learn Spanish. Illich credits him in several of his books as having contributed much to their clarity and substance. Mr. Hoinacki has written three books of his own: El Camino: Walking to Santiago de Compostela, Stumbling Toward Justice, and Dying is Not Death. The last of these includes a lengthy chapter about Illich. He also has published a number of papers relating to Illich, including "Why Philia?", and helped to translate books by others in the Illich circle.

Mr. Hoinacki joined Carl Mitcham in editing The Challenges of Ivan Illich, a collection of essays published in 2002. His opening essay, "Reading Ivan Illich," is available from the publisher's website, here. He writes:

Illich was trained in ecclesiology and was especially intrigued by liturgy. He understood, I would argue, that the most ominous expression of secularization in the West was not the death of nature (although this was related), nor a misnamed materialism, nor sexual “freedom,” but the decline of liturgy, the routinization and emptying out of religious ritual in the churches. As he suggests, this process began with clerical actions to establish various assured institutional responses to God’s calling, later legitimated by a juridical or legal order; men hesitated to rest all hope on gratuitous gifts of grace. Illich captures the dénouement of this lack of faith with the ancient Latin adage corruptio optimi quae est pessima (the corruption of the best turns out to be the worst). He has attempted to show that this apothegm accurately reveals the origins of “normative notions of a cruelty, of a horrifying darkness, which no other culture has ever known.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov, portrays institutional mistrust as a demonic temptation in Ivan’s poem, “The Grand Inquisitor,” perhaps literature’s most terrifying image of the betrayal of the freedom graciously given to people by Jesus.

There is a Facebook page for Mr. Hoinacki, but it doesn't provide any information that's not available elsewhere - a short, widely-quoted bio is all. But here, there is a lengthy interview with him, recorded in 2000, in which he discusses his training as a priest, his encountering and working with Illich, his working a subsistence farm with his family in Illinois, and his exchange of letters with Theodore Kaczynski, known as the "Unabomber." And other topics.

Another interview, from 2010, appears at a site called Radio Free School. (This interview is also available as a podcast.) Mr. Hoinacki speaks about his long friendship with Illich, the futon bed he built for Illich, and the latter's thoughts on technology. For example:

Q: Illich's concerns around technology, what it’s doing to society - can we talk a little more about that?

Hoinacki: He was interested first of all in the effects of technology - the actual effects first of all and later the symbolic effects. He would use an example, say a photograph. The photograph was introduced in the 19th century and into history. But this technological artifact changed people’s perception so he thought it was a serious question which people should try to look at, figure out, whether anyone sees anything today. Period.

Recently, we found Mr. Hoinacki listed as part of a loosely-organized consulting organization calling itself New Paradigm Design, which includes architects, writers, artists, and others. Together, they focus on "sustainable solutions." Last we heard, Mr. Hoinacki was living in Philadelphia.


Bill Ward said...

Any luck? I'm currently reading his El Camino book.

Winslow said...

I have that book, too, and have been meaning to read it. I'd also like to walk that walk.

If you are asking where Hoinacki is, I don't know exactly. I heard he may have moved in with his daughter, and she lives on the West Coast somewhere.

Ethan Hoinacki said...

Hi there! My name is Ethan Hoinacki, I'm Leroy's (Lee) great-nephew.

You are correct, he has moved out to the west coast and is living with his daughter and her family.


Winslow said...

Thanks for dropping by, Ethan.

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