Quote This: Ivan Illich on secrets

Ivan Illich artwork 1

Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends upon knowing that secret; that secrets can only be known in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets. An individual with a schooled mind conceives of the world as a pyramid of classified packages accessible only to those who carry the proper tags.

Ivan Illich

I think Illich is a philosopher-writer one outgrows: a wonderful shake up when first encountered but one who, for me at least, did not age very well as I aged and learned and grew. Still. I am very very glad to have read him, experienced him, been challenged by him. In this out-of-context excerpt, he says “Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life”–don’t you think that it’s not just schools, but all of First World society at this moment? There is a secret to — love, happiness, relationships, professional fulfillment, dieting, earning more money — whatever it is you want, seek, ache for, there is a secret. If only you could find it.

There is no secret to everything in life.

There is no secret, no silver bullet to living.

Except… living. Right?


P.S. If you’re a regular, you may have noticed I took last week off. I’ve had a hit of the post-flood blues. You can read about it at Nothing By The Book: After the flood: Running on empty and why “are things back to normal” isn’t the right question. If you’d rather laugh, I did manage to find something to laugh about by Friday: Why I love them.