[-empyre-] say what: what language should OCCUPY speak?

simon swht at clear.net.nz
Sun Nov 13 09:21:49 EST 2011

Dear <<empyreans>>,

What struck me first about Occupy Wall St. were its theatrical 
possibilities. Then I heard about the chorus effect. Because authorities 
prohibited the use of PAs and megaphones, machinic amplification of the 
voice, principals mounting addresses to the crowd had their voices 
crowd-machined, vocal migrancy: the front rows, whatever percentage they 
are - a forum? or form of chorus? -, repeated each phrase so that the 
people at the back could hear. What was being said was more clearly that 
all will be heard despite the efforts of city authorities and rather 
than that any particular message that all manner of things will be heard.

Might one see, I am still following Guattari here, OCCUPY as a refrain? 
The definition of a functional space?

In tribal societies this definition occurs through dance, rhythm, chant, 
tattoo. Enacted. And bodied forth in time.

In New York as in Auckland the refrain becomes the theatre of property, 
of appropriation. Props to the occupation for taking up property.

What detaches in the refrain is the world, but a world taken-with, a 
mobile property - evading the grid of proprietary exploitative relations 
or homogenizing network of practices -, a partial subject caught up in a 
nomadisation of space: an aesthetic emergence, the demands of which are 
none other than those of durational performance. For as long as 
possible. (Or topic of time a trope of space from last month's soft_skin 
as slow as <http://www.john-cage.halberstadt.de/>.) (OCCUPY might also 
be called ectopian and perhaps sidestep the charge of colonialism, a 
charge seeming inevitable given as the land is not ours.)

Interesting to read Adam Curtis in regard to OCCUPY (here 
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/10/dream_on.html>), where he 
looks for a political vision - Tournier's, actually, after telling his 
story of repeated betrayals of visions because they are just ideas - to 
the point even the history of betrayal is exhausted -, where he looks 
for a political alternative, OCCUPY is a functional imperative. Actually 
performs this imperative. Durationally. With the potential for 
exhaustion - or consubstantial with the void - such as described by 
Deleuze in Beckett's plays for TV.

These descriptions may serve, it's not impossible, as indexes to the 
languages of OCCUPY:

   1. form exhaustive series of things
   2. dry up the flow of voices
   3. extenuate the potentialities of space
   4. dissipate the power of the image

Because we are tired of things, what things? Let me tell you. Because we 
are tired of not being seen, say what? ... Because we are tired of where 
we are placed, where? Place may migrate. Because we are tired of 
spectacle, see? And the voice migrates.

A friend visiting OWS notes a change. The number of homeless in the park 
has increased in proportion to protesters. The tone of the refrain has 
also altered, from a come hither to a more familiarly urban fuck off. 
The spectacular aspect has changed with the spatial: the homeless more 
jealously guard not so much their territories as the byways and paths 
circulating amongst them, between tents; the footpaths too around the 
park are now no place for performance. My friend has been visiting 
regularly to engage people who happen to be around in Urban Play, a form 
that has emerged from his Creative-Therapeutic practice (Urban Play 
He was accused of performance art.

I am waiting for myself to add that the tone may alter, even sour, but 
the refrain continues. And I want to drag this peroration back to the 
prop in hand. It insists - with the void. So I will ask:

The financial crisis allegedly has affected different national economies 
in different ways. What then are the differences? And do these 
differences relate to others closer to the month's discussion, to the 
art problem? Are there refrains here? Resonances?

I wonder if I ought to have been rebuked for talking about 1984 in New 
Zealand. Or is what we are witnessing, victimised if not quite 
traumatised by, now a dark precursor to a new dispensation, a new 
thought, or neoliberalism's after-image dying in the light?

Was it just ideas? or were we simply playing?


Simon Taylor

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