Conviviality

“I have no expectations from technology, but I believe in the beauty,
in the creativity, in the surprising inventiveness of people,
and I continue to hope in them.”
Ivan Illich (Cayley 1992:111)

“Con-vivial” has two parts. The prefix “con,” derived from the Latin cum, means “together with,” and “vivial” is easy to recognize as coming from the Latin verb “vivere” = “to live.”


Conviva is a fellow diner; convivium is a party of invited guests, a feast, a circle gathered around a table; convivere means “living together, dining together,” and in English, the adjective means “sociable, joyful,” certainly also in the sense of “slightly tipsy.” The kind of gathering called conviviality apparently requires a table around which people can gather, a pitcher of wine to be emptied and bread to be broken together in order to have a good conversation. Of course, the table can also be an empty circle around which people are seated on the floor. Ivan Illich mentions another utensil: a burning candle. After all: “In other words, our conversation should always go on with the certainty that there is someone else who will knock at the door, and the candle stands for him or her. It is a constant reminder that the community is never closed.” (Illich 2005:105-151)