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.

Monday, March 04, 2013

"Ivan Illich’s Politics of Carnival"

An article about Ivan Illich, his time in Manhattan, and the Puerto Rican Day parade held each year in New York City (for which Illich deserves much credit), has appeared at a site called Solidarity Hall. The author of "Ivan Illich’s Politics of Carnival" is Christopher Shannon, associate professor of history at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. Mr. Shannon is well-versed in Illich's intellectual biography and explains well how Illich's work with Puerto Rican parishioners, in NYC and in Puerto Rico itself, helped to shape his later thinking.

Writes Mr. Shannon: "Illich saw his countercultural star fade in the late 1970s when the traditionalist basis of his critique of modernity became more apparent. But for those who refuse to accept the nostalgia police’s equation of tradition with fascism, Illich’s early career offers a genuine model for a politics of carnival, one in which symbol, myth, and ritual serve less as tools of resistance than as the vocabulary of an alternative way of life."

Illich's "study of the history of liturgy," Mr. Shannon continues, "led him to develop his own particular view of Catholic anti-modernism. Anticipating the work of the anthropologist Mary Douglas, Illich came to see the decline of ritual -- not the moral (i.e., sexual) laxity routinely cited by the clergy in the pre-conciliar American Church -- as the greatest threat to the survival of the faith in the modern world."

We've mentioned Mr. Shannon in an earlier post, concerning Illich's time in New York. Evidently, the present article about Illich appeared earlier at The New Pantagruel, a now-defunct site that has been described as a “localist, decentralist, anarcho-Christian and authentically conservative” journal.

Solidarity Hall, new to us, "sees itself as a hospitable old hostelry, a mental oasis in the deserted landscapes that surround us. … While public discourse is in many places becoming less civil and sane, we hope to be a beacon of civility; where the cult of technocracy reigns, we hope to be the advocates of an humble personalism; where small-scale solutions to neighborhood problems are ignored, we hope to be their champions. … we see our project, to begin with, as that of rethinking several of the big words we use: community, work, neighbor, history, imagination. We coined the term 'thinkerspace' (on the model of hackerspace or makerspace) to suggest the kind of place where such rethinking occurs."

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