Diary of a Plague Year

His charisma, brilliance and spirituality were clear to anyone who encountered him; these qualities sustained him in a heroic level of activity over the last 10 years in the context of terrible suffering caused by a disfiguring cancer. Following the thesis of [his book] Medical Nemesis, he administered his own medication against the advice of doctors, who proposed a largely sedative treatment which would have rendered his work impossible.— From the 2002 obituary of the great historian Ivan Illich

There’s something dystopian about our commitment to the present, our habitual unwillingness to…