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In terms of form, the fundamental difference between Occupy and a one-day protest (even if massive) has to do with the duration of Stay Power. Stay Power created forms of stay, which in turn created forms of go-forth Occupy somewhere, someplace else.
Another difference is that Occupy aimed at forms of self-governance that best suited its purposes (at the beginning it cast a spotlight on the root cause of the economic collapse—the American financial sector’s reckless, self-enriching, gambling schemes). Occupy’s form of self-governance grew and changed day by day. The relationship between the General Assembly and the breakout committees (education, art/poetry, food, shelter, sanitation) shifted as time went on. Each day brought on the expectation of a shift in relations between its co-governing bodies, and thus the possibility of short term agentic gratification for occupiers grew day by day.
The human-tech aspect of Occupy was another innovative form, a simple form of a repeating recitation. The annunciatory verse line, “mic check / mic check” will long be remembered for its minimalistic declaration of democratic intent. The tracheal/larynx-powered recitation made the human body front and center of the movement. It stood in stark contrast to an electricity-driven speaker system that renders “key movement players” speaking towards the ears & brains of mass protesters, “key.” In other words, in Occupy, the product was the message and the message was the product, and both collapsed into a leaderless assembled mass.
At the beginning of April 2012, inspired Occupy forms, Thom Donovan generously opened up the National Poetry Foundation Blog for dozens of non-officially invited poets to participate, asking, how has Occupy transformed your poetics?
I’ll say, first off, that I have been relieved of not having to talk about Occupy. When the climate of any society has shifted, virtually anything one says around issues of economic and cultural power gets charged in entirely new ways. Polarities get double-charged, polarities lose their charge; polarities can also emit forces that can’t be polarized. The entire field is altered. Virtually everything one writes takes on an aura of The Experimental ™
But now, still feeling the effects of this altered field, I am having to question whether what I am saying is a total absolute cop out, or the only first step forward available to me as a de-occupied occupant of Occupy.
I’ll venture that it’s a first step, then take a second one. These are the ways I’ve been transmogrified:
I can’t stop thinking about (yes I can! I can stop right now) Jesus Christ as being one of a triplet set of siblings. The other two were not carpenter rebels; one was a brewer of locally renowned beers made of wild oats, the other was a Roman distributor of trash literature from Carthage to Antioch. The reunion of the three happened just three weeks before the execution of the eldest, Jesus. The now lost (but not forgotten) mosaic depicts three happy fools on a little boat, rocking it till it tips over. We assume it tipped over, given the depiction of the angle of the boat. The depiction of the angle—counts. Occupy Galilee? Boat check! Boat check!
I can’t stop thinking about (yes I can! I can stop right now) Jesus? No, I can’t stop thinking about Chubby Checker—does the twist. Or, did the twist. Do the—or, rather, having done the do the twist (“having done the do the twist?”). The gist of the twist (“just the gist?”) Ok—the twist of the gist—that’s it. The twist of the gist, the essence of the essence of the—
I’ve completely stopped thinking about—something. That makes sense, right? Whatever you’ve stopped thinking about completely—you don’t know.
“Dude, I’ve completely remembered What The Occupy Movement Means To Poetics.”
“They want to transmogrify us while we do the twist on a little boat with people who kind of rock like us.”
“See you May 1st?”
“Yeah, it’s a pagan thang”