We all came to the Occupation damaged…


During the time of physical Occupation, when incorporated reporters would daily swarm through Zuccotti Park, a common question that the unleashed bees would ask in their search for honey was “Why?” Why would you leave your life to come here and live outside in a park with a bunch of people you don’t know?

I’m still somewhat at a loss as to how not one of these journalists decided to join up with the Occupation, entrench themselves beneath the golden leaves and report directly from the front lines of this new fissure in the American unexperience. Had these new Edward R. Murrows and Walter Cronkites bothered to make Zuccotti Park more than just an occasional Sunday outing in the shadow of the Freedom Tower, they’d have quickly learned that everyone who came to the physical Occupation had no life whatsoever to leave. The Occupiers at Zuccotti were refugees from the American nowhere: street veterans of urban vagrancy, homeless queer youth, a whole generation born too late but educated too wise even to attempt to scrape the crumbs off the ground of the long-ago devoured American pie; those of us who attempted despite ourselves quickly found that even the crumbs were gone. Yes – there were people who left previous lives to live outside in a park, but these lives were nothing but a prelude, a purgatory, windowless waiting rooms to being alive: housewives suffocating within the glade of their upper middle class Panhandle, fiancées wedded to repeat variations on the themes of their parents’ marriages, office workers whose skin color prevented them from ever escaping Sector A.

We all came to this Occupation damaged, some of us more than others. Interspersed at different points along the shoreline of our lives, we found ourselves staring out into the ocean, the coastline slipping away from our toes, the horizon up against our back, and then – a ship to save us; there – a ship to take us all away! I climbed aboard sometime in the early days of October 2011, escaping a book called TRAIN TO POKIPSE, a young identity called Rami Shamir, and a world that very openly stated that neither book nor author were welcome. Those types of experiences, those types of people are simply better suited at their stations of origin. Partly in spite of myself, I managed to keep some of my original station, continuing to work my part-time job at a small restaurant in Brooklyn; with the help of mentors, friends and supporters I eventually proceeded to successfully publish the book that had ravaged nearly a third of my life.

I’ve always instinctively understood the foundational mechanics of politics. Politics occurs in two zones and two zones only: it occurs in the relationship we have with ourselves and in the relationships we have with those closest to us in society. A world composed of abused, abusing and self-abusive people will be a world that is abused, abusing and self-abusive. Capitalism is the global manifestation of such a localized disease of abuse. It’s the flowering of passive-aggressive rage into apathetic inaction; it’s the violent seeding of rejection, suspicion and separation. Amalgamated with the worst of human flaws, passed down and magnified throughout countless unseen repetitions of those private moments that have made up some several generations, the abusive virus of capitalism has logically arrived at its final stages and now invades the planet as institutional Corporatism.

I’ve learned that the most potent cure for capitalism is to somehow wander off into what Kurt Vonnegut called a country of two. It’s no surprise that the most virulent of all social restrictions concerns the rigidity – eventually rigor mortis – of emotional, spiritual and sexual intimacy between two human beings. Here, in this country of two, is where the real escape is to be found. Here is where the real healing happens: in our relationships with ourselves and in our relationships with those closest to us in society. Here is where the greatest, the only real political revolution can occur; two by two, each to each, and finally to all that is now and all that is to come …

My friend says that when the end of the world arrives and all the zombies come out, he’s going to head upstate. He loves the land. He believes there to be stores of ammunition hidden among the Catskill Mountains. He loves the land. I ask him to sleep beside me when it’s night because it helps me to deal with all the shadows. As of yet, he skirts the issue. After all, he has shadows too …

I’m not going to tell you my friend’s name; don’t go looking for any of the usual romantic odes describing his physical attributes, either. Similar to me, he is highly intelligent, highly fucked up by his passage through his time before the Park, and was highly neglected by the clockmakers who wound and controlled that time. We were, and still remain, an unfolding experiment of sorts within this beautiful and sometimes troubled country of ours, where we’re testing the very limits and definitions of our selflessness and our capacity to love. The weather is turbulent, raging, windy and wild – sunny days can quickly drown under midnight storms – but whenever I find myself looking back over the stretch of this country, I see the fields advancing into their natural blossom and bloom: the early bushes of overgrown rose, the starting stalks of tall and similar grass, the paled and yellow corn along the receding distance have been husbanded back to more natural fields. Violets neighbor gladiola, dandelions run free; modified and manipulated canola passes from our view and now peaceful confederations of Blue Hopi and Hickory King, purple corn beside white corn maize their way along the reddish hills.

It’s been seven months since my fellow refugees and I have attempted our escape from the American nowhere. Many of the people I had started out with have since left; some have left, returned, only to leave again (and then return); new passengers, shipwrecked far from the mainland on decaying planks have climbed onto the deck. The group that first boarded and remains aboard is small. Forty, maybe fifty …

In the seven months since our Occupation, we have watched our society and our home in Zuccotti be brutally destroyed; we’ve been forced to wander out into the winter exiles; we have sheltered in churches, vacant homes and hostels until we found ourselves facing their closed doors; we have slept outside along the walls of banks and then at the seeping sore of the great historical ulcer on the corner of Wall Street and Nassau until one morning bullhorns announced that the law has come and that the law says that the Law can go Fuck itself: what’s a judge’s robe and some books got on a gun and bullhorn, anyway? We’ve been beaten, arrested for dancing, for petting dogs, for holding signs, for crossing streets, for using bathrooms, for handing out flyers. We’ve been let out of jail, beaten and arrested again. We’ve lost weight; we’ve lost friends; we’ve lost, it seems, our sanity, because after seven months of bone-breaking, skin-cutting struggle the laws have become more austere, more severe, more harsh, more strict, each time more open in their disregard for the American Constitution. So besides the particulars of our weight, our friends, our sanity, isn’t the real issue that after seven months of Occupation we have lost?

We all came to this Occupation damaged, some more than others. As my friend and I have faced, shied from and then battled the shadows and the zombies that roam about our fields, we’ve many times wondered if it was the creation of our country that brought these creatures into their existence. If our country were dissolved, the zombies would shrink behind their shadows, and the shadows would retreat back deep into the ground – leaving us to wonder within the monsoon floods at the dry and cracking earth; no – my friend and I are learning that the shadows and their zombies have always been there, scratching at us from the subterranean hideouts and forming in our understanding as hazy faces and unremembered nightmares; yes – my friend and I are learning that we have brought these monsters with us and that in the space of our land and by the toil of our country we have brought our monsters out into the open, and now out they can be diminished and eventually destroyed, so that when our final dawn sets upon this land, we can leave to freer travel toward wherever our future places lie.

And so with this our Occupation …

Seven months of struggle have torn through the tissue, cartilage, and bone and now the disease is out there, facing us directly. The subterfuge troubles, which for so long have bubbled up to land as something other than themselves – racism instead of classism, boredom instead of waste, recession instead of never-ending greed – lie plainly before us at last.

Seven months of Occupation successfully robbed us of our ability to plead ignorance and so the most violent element is gone. We have reached a point of no return: stop and face the problems now or keep moving forward as you were – but now without your sunglasses, now without your shade, the scorch of the burning earth always in your eyes and up against your skin …

As of this dispatch, my friend and I continue to farm our country, having better understood, it seems, the meaning of the nighttime rain; and though my hands are calloused, I’m thankful to him for daily making a better farmer out of me. I can only hope he feels the same.

I’d ask him, but I can’t seem to find him at the moment.

Actually, I haven’t seen him now for days…

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“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – JFK


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