Monday, September 26, 2005


David Cayley - The Rivers North of the Future: The Testament of Ivan Illich, p.223-224

Cayley: The most common way of naming the current sense of being at a watershed is as the inception of postmodernity. May I again ask how are you disposed to that way of speaking?

Illich: When I first heard it, and again and again when that word was thrown in my face, I of course thought of the struggle, the dispute, the minuet played between the antiqui et moderni in the Renaissance. It has something of deja vu about it. On the other hand, the word is usually used to reflect the widening awareness, and the deepening awareness, that the axioms, the rules taken for certain, for natural, for unquestionable during a rather long period, have, some twenty-thirty years ago, begun to give out. Therefore it reflects the awareness that something along those lines which I just exposed might be happening. But I want to be very careful not to be identified as somebody who is postmodernist, because the term has been pretty effectively appropriated by a certain type of literary criticism, extending them into anthropology and ethnology and then picked up by politicians, by movements, to indicate some kind of legitimacy which the language of the social sciences could preserve and maintain under entirely new conditions. So I don't see why I should say more than, Watch out, when you listen carefully to me, you will be angry if you are a postmodernist. Postmodernism is incredibly disembodying.


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