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[chox] Nachruf auf Ivan Illich aus The Guardian

------- Weitergeleitete Nachricht / Forwarded message -------

The Guardian (UK National Daily Newspaper) Monday December 9, 2002 
Obituary - Ivan Illich, 1926 - 2002 Andrew Todd and Franco La Cecla 
Ivan Illich A polymath and polemicist, his greatest contribution was as an 
archaeologist of ideas, rather than an ideologue. Ivan Illich, who has died of 
cancer aged 76, was one of the world's great thinkers, a polymath whose 
output covered vast terrains. He worked in 10 languages; he was a jet-age 
ascetic with few possessions; he explored Asia and South America on foot; 
and his obligations to his many collaborators led to a constant criss-crossing 
of the globe in the last two decades. Best known for his polemical writings 
against western institutions from the 1970s, which were easily caricatured by 
the right and were, equally, disdained by the left for their attacks on the 
welfare state, in the last 20 years of his life he became an officially forgotten, 
troublesome figure (like Noam Chomsky today in mainstream America). 
This position obscures the true importance of his contribution. His critique of 
modernity was founded on a deep understanding of the birth of institutions in 
the 13th century, a critical period in church history which enlightened all of 
his work, whether about gender, reading or materiality. He was far more 
significant as an archaeologist of ideas, someone who helped us to see the 
present in a truer and richer perspective, than as an ideologue. Illich was 
born in Vienna into a family with Jewish, Dalmatian and Catholic roots. His 
was an errant life, and he never found a home again after his family had to 
leave Vienna in 1941. He was educated in that city and then in Florence 
before reading histology and crystallography at Florence University. He 
decided to enter the priesthood and studied theology and philosophy at the 
Vatican's Gregorian University from 1943 to 1946. He started work as a 
priest in an Irish and Puerto Rican parish in New York, popularising the 
church through close contact with the Latino community and respect for their 
traditions. He applied these same methods on a larger scale when, in 1956, 
he was appointed vice-rector of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, and 
later, in 1961, as founder of the Centro Intercultural de Documentacisn 
(CIDOC) at Cuernavaca in Mexico, a broad-based research centre which 
offered courses and briefings for missionaries arriving from North America. 
The radicalism of CIDOC attracted many young North American priests, 
but it became a victim of its own success in a rightwing climate, and was 
wound up 10 years later by the consent of its members. (Illich said of its 
director, Valentina Borremans, that "she realised that the soul of this free, 
independent and powerless thinkery would have been squashed by its rising 
influence... [a positive] atmosphere invites the institutionalisation which will 
corrupt it".) By this time Illich had also resigned active duty as a priest, 
thereby sidestepping a potentially bitter conflict with the conservative 
Vatican authorities, who now opposed CIDOC. Illich retained a lifelong 
base in Cuernavaca, but travelled constantly from this point on. His 
intellectual activity in the 1970s and 1980s focused on major institutions of 
the industrialised world. In seven concise, non-academic books he 
addressed education (Deschooling Society, 1971), technological 
development (Tools For Conviviality, 1973), energy, transport and 
economic development (Energy And Equity, 1974), medicine (Medical 
Nemesis, 1976) and work (The Right To Useful Unemployment And Its 
Professional Enemies, 1978, and Shadow Work, 1981). He analysed the 
corruption of institutions which, he said, ended up by performing the 
opposite of their original purpose. He observed the roots of this process in 
the institutionalisation of charity in the 13th-century church (he frequently 
cited the Latin maxim "corruptio optimi pessima", the corruption of the best 
is the worst). His 1982 book, Gender, argued that the difference between 
feminine and masculine domains had been sacrificed to the idea of neutral 
work, capitalism creating and depending on the simplistic coupling of the 
male wage labourer and the woman as mother to produce new workers. 
The late 1980s and 1990s saw the flowering of his interests. There was the 
historicity of materials (H2O And The Waters of Forgetfulness, 1985), 
literacy (ABC, The Alphabetisation Of The Popular Mind, 1988, co-written 
with Barry Sanders) and the origins of book-learning (In The Vineyard Of 
The Text, 1993). The latter volume was, he said, an attempt to understand 
the transition from the book to the computer screen through the prism of the 
changes in 13th-century reading practice. In essays, papers and through the 
work of his collaborators, he addressed themes as diverse as the history of 
the gaze, friendship, hospitality, bioethics, body history (particularly with his 
close collaborator, the sociologist Barbara Duden) and space. Illich lived 
frugally, but opened his doors to collaborators and drop-ins with great 
generosity, running a practically non-stop educational process which was 
always celebratory, open-ended and egalitarian at his final bases in Bremen, 
Cuernavaca and Pennsylvania. His charisma, brilliance and spirituality were 
clear to anyone who encountered him; these qualities sustained him in a 
heroic level of activity over the last 10 years in the context of terrible 
suffering caused by a disfiguring cancer. Following the thesis of Medical 
Nemesis, he administered his own medication against the advice of doctors, 
who proposed a largely sedative treatment which would have rendered his 
work impossible. He was able to finish a history of pain which will be 
published in French next year, as will his complete works. His last wish, 
which was to die surrounded by close collaborators amid the beginnings of a 
new learning centre he had planned in Bologna, was not realised. - Ivan 
Illich, thinker, born September 4 1926; died December 2 2002 


dz-brief - Information und Termine

------- Ende der weitergeleiteten Nachricht / End of forwarded message -------

dz-brief ist ebenso wie chox frei im netz zu lesen...

[English translation]
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