Today In Fact, 4 September 2013

Today marks the fall of Rome and the beginning of the so-called “dark ages” in 476 across western Europe. The youthful puppet Roman Emperor Romulus Augustulus abdicated his empire to the barbarian Odoacer and was sent into exile.

The roots of our civilization though are not vested in empire as much as in the realm of critical and divergent thinking. This is perhaps why it is a lovely irony that Ivan Illich should be born on the very day that Rome fell.

Ivan Illich was born in 1926 from the coupling of a Catholic Croat and a Sephardic Jew. Taking holy orders, Illich moved to New York and served as a Parish Priest amongst Puerto Rican Immigrant communities until his iconoclastic and radical views met with resistance from the Vatican and Opus Dei.

His books; “De-Schooling Society”, “Tools for Conviviality” and “Medical Nemesis” are inspirational and prophetic.

Among the many interesting ideas developed in his books, Illich proposed that we develop convivial tools rather than serve machines. A tool may have many applications, some very different from its original intended use. A tool may be thought of as an expression of its user. The opposite of this is the machine, where humans become its servants, their role consisting only of running the machine for a single purpose.

Sadly this radical iconoclastic Priest died of cancer in 2002. His ideas and critiques still remain as fresh as ever.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer ( )

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