Limits to Ivan Illich

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ray miller
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Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by ray miller » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:04 pm

( The siren of one ambulance
can destroy Samaritan attitudes
in a whole Chilean town
.)

He was a passenger and knew next
to nothing of cars except to sit tight
and hold on around corners.
Saturday was his Sabbath
and the pool-hall his stage
until a swerve to miss a mangy dog
sent his algebra flying at angles;
he'd always possessed the eye for a pot,
and felt the thwack of white upon black
almost before it arrived.

Which Chilean town was that?
Or does the contention hold good for all?
Did Ivan Illich see them cross
the road like mangy dogs?
How many ambulance sirens
might rid a whole city of Samaritans?
Where will all these Samaritans live?
Ivan Illich was born in Vienna.
How would he solve the Samaritan question?
He'd most likely produce
a simple equation like this:

If you add the time spent working to earn
the money to buy the automobile
to the time spent in the automobile
( including the traffic jams, of course)
to the time spent in the hospital
that follows the automobile crash
to the time spent discovering oil
to fuel every automobile
and divide that into the number of miles
driven in a single year
then the speed of each automobile
is just 3.7 miles per hour
.

A siren rang,a light shone in his eyes
and someone wanted to know his name.

At this rate he'd never reach South America.
Last edited by ray miller on Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by BenJohnson » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:33 pm

Is this actually about Ivan Illich or just the quotation in S3? I was following quite well until kerbside cladding which was a bump and then was utterly confused by the thwack of black on white, no idea what that is or what it would feel like.

I've paused to Google the opening lines which appeared to be a quote and found this
http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0303 ... intro.html
not sure it moves me forward much, not even sure I understand the quote.

The whole is very abstract to me, maybe it would have more meaning to someone in the medical industry or possibly anyone other than me. Sorry Ray, as I was enjoying up to the collision with the Kerbside cladding, not unlike the poems character.

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by Oskar » Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:33 pm

The writing has a wonderful surreal quality to it. The opening lines (in brackets) read like a very strong political statement to me. S1 is great. I really like the picture of your man grimly hanging on, as the car he’s in hurtles towards the pool-hall. That’s done very well, although ‘cladding’ doesn’t look right to me either. The thwack of white upon black is a neat pot black description of a collision – also very nice to read.

S3 is very entertaining and definitely worth its place in the fabric of the whole, but I can’t see how the mad maze that has to be negotiated in S3 would make him feel any less 'dizzy and sick' which, I think, is what Until he remembered this one seems to imply. Hmmm. Not too sure about that.

... Actually (on reflection) that's very funny. Should get a BIG laugh. Wakey, wakey, Oskar!

Love those last three lines. Very strong. It doesn’t particularly bother me that I haven’t got the meaning by the scruff of the neck. I just enjoyed the high-speed chase. Overall, there’s plenty of quality writing to enjoy.

Nice one, Ray.
"This is going to be a damn masterpiece, when I finish dis..." - Poeterry

ray miller
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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by ray miller » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:23 pm

Thanks Ben and Oskar. Kerbside cladding will have to go then!Glad there are some good bits, I kind of stumbled into this, I was originally writing about a dung-beetle, believe it or not. It's not so abstract really, Ben, an extended joke perhaps. Illich wrote about the medicalisation of everyday life, amongst other things. I share some of his beliefs, but the opening quotation has always stuck in my head as being somewhat overblown. The equation is a genuine one too! I could make this a lot better than I have done. The idea is a good one, I think. Need to work on the 2nd verse. And the cladding.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by Nash » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:28 pm

I'll admit to not having heard of Ivan Illich before so there is probably a lot here that would make more sense if I was familiar with him. It doesn't mar the enjoyment of the piece though, I did enjoy it very much. I like, as Oskar pointed out, its surreal edge.

Like the others have suggested, 'cladding' seems an odd choice. I'm not so sure about using 'scurvy' as an adjective for dog, it just makes me think of pirates.

Other than that, a pleasure to read.

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by twoleftfeet » Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:40 pm

Great read, Ray.

That quote sounds rather Eric Cantona-esque to me.. :)

I like how N is a dazed, confused, almost helpless observer as the wheels fall off his life.

I don't have the meaning by the scruff of the neck either - in fact it's just nutmegged me again.

Geoff

Dung-beetle??!!!!
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by ray miller » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:43 pm

Thanks, Nash and Geoff. I've made some alterations though I don't know if they're for better or worse.Yes, a dung-beetle, Geoff, I'm having a bout of the Kafkas. Now I'm writing about the praying mantis.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by twoleftfeet » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:56 pm

I think I prefer the new version, but since you haven't saved the old one it's hard tot tell! :)
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by BenJohnson » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:47 pm

Just returned from a few days holiday with fresh eyes and I'm feeling rather stupid now, black on white being the balls on the table, hence the pot. Adds nothing to your poem, but reveals how returning to a poem can totally alter the experience.

I'm now trying to work out the average speed of a bike.

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by John G » Wed May 04, 2011 8:32 am

hello.

really enjoyed the read / ride. Never heard of the chap before and after wiking him I have a better idea of the man, however not 100% sure I can reconcile that with the content of the poem. However, that is of no concern as i enjoyed the read, the absurdist flight of fancy, the equation is excellent.
After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say 'I want to see the manager.

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Re: Limits to Ivan Illich

Post by ray miller » Wed May 04, 2011 9:52 pm

Thanks, John. I like the equation too. Maybe that's the poem!
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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