/ DeCentral / DeGate / DeSchool /
One: dating deschooling. Important movements don’t have a single point source, but a point can be a handy metaphor for several points. Illich invented deschooling before I ever heard of him. However it would be hard to have heard of his new subject of deschooling sooner than I did. His book Deschooling Society is dated 1970, 71. I read three of its chapters pre-pub. The first, Chapter One, Why We Must Abolish Schooling, was published in the NYR July 2, 1970. As a subscriber in Manhattan I would have received it on my doorstep several days before that date. But then several days passed before I got to that article (having saved it for last). So: the first week of July was when I first encountered Illich on the subjects of school and alternate learning institutions.
I wrote Illich immediately, he wrote me back immediately. More chapters came in subsequent NYRs. Meantime Illich’s CIDOC was mailing me pre-pub versions of the whole book. Then the book itself appeared in the stores.
People at CIDOC knew what was happening before July 1970, ditto people at NYR; but I doubt there were many in the public, in NY say, who got to it earlier than I. Illich wrote me naming only one other American who’d expressed interest in unseating schools before me: Denis Detzel, at Northwestern, in Evanston. Denis may have been talking about forming his Learning Exchange before I thought of my Free Learning Exchange, Inc. The parallel diction is at least partly coincidence, part inevitability: that’s what we were talking about: exchange.
Quick version of the title story: I began corresponding with Ivan Illich in July 1970. Other fans of his started showing up at my door: foremost, Noreen Connolly. I began to notice announcements around town that Illich was to speak here-or-there on such-a-date (the venue was regularly Fordam University) (makes sense: Fordam is Catholic, Illich was a priest) (albeit a defrocked priest). (As far as I’m concerned, the Roman Catholic Church, which already had no credit with me (and a lots of historical debits) went full-tilt hell-bent into the red when they defrocked Illich: The Roman Catholic Church defrocked itself with that more! (But of course it was never really “frocked” in the first place!)
On day I chanced to hear Illich’s name mentioned on a TV show: Today promised Illich’s presence. I watched, avidly. Hugh Downs was the host (Joe Garagiola was a side kick) (Johnny Carson’s Ed McMahon). Downs interviewed Illich. Illich’s comments related to his previous book, that is, to his first book, A Celebration of Awareness. Illich explained briefly what he meant when he said that US aid to Chile was more destructive when the US sent trucks than when the US sent tanks: tanks could blow a building up till it was rubble, but trucks would require highways, then more trucks, then more highways. The earth itself could hardly afford US trucks and highways: Chile certainly couldn’t.
Hugh Downs was fascinated, he glowed with interest, he developed an aura, a halo. Garagiolo was fidgeting, smouldering, barely stiffled. At the end of the show Down begged Illich to return, to say more. Illich promised compliance. Downs promised the audience that Ivan Illich would return to continue the discussion the next day.
I don’t watch much TV. I had certainly never seen the Today show before, though I’d seen Hugh Downs one way or another, and Joe Garagiola (baseball related, of course). But that following morning I was ready and alert for the Today Show. I hung on every word, waiting for Illich to be mentioned. Downs read that introduction to the show looking ashen, Garagiola was smirking: a mouse tail was all but haning out of the corner of his mouth. I watched the whole show. Illich was not mentioned.
Downs invited his return before America, clearly powers above Downs un-invited Illich, without any acknowledgement that an invitation had been made, accepted, and had then been violated.
But, I had already been interrupted by my university, a decade or work and expense flushed away by institutional fraud. Why should networks be more honorable than universities? than school systems? than state or federal governments?
I had a lifetime already of being sent from the class to shut me up, two decades already of publishers not publishing my work after a teacher had recommended that it be published. I didn’t yet know how many books in the Bible had been forged that churches remained silent about (or how many more may have been forged, certainly were not forthright, not honest), but I’d seen more than enough to not be surprised. A democracy in which forces sabotage open discussion … Hmm. Nothing new there.
2015 03 05 Notice, in blinking lights: We’re shown a power hierarchy, our attention is forced onto the apex, we think the top is controlling the authority. I’m saying that the relevant institutions were fraudulent, Joe Garagiola was a “brown shirt” about to don the shirt. America’s institutions were betraying America 24/7. … But that’s only part of it, the minor part. Notice: the public allowed it. !
Why wasn’t the Today phone ringing off the hook: “What happened to your promise to let Illich continue speaking?” The public can’t be fooled if it’s not demanding to be fooled.
Dozens of people had heard my Shakespeare thesis by 1965: why was NYU so easily able to still be squelching it in 1971? Why didn’t even my family speak up? demand an accounting?
Same reason everybody else wasn’t: the public is terrified of power: the only reason the state hasn’t nuked the people is that the people rabidly support lynching the radicals: support the priests interrupting god, crucifying Jesus: then say that the priests are doing the opposite.
Why should liars expect to survive? Morons.