Francine Prose:

As far as I can understand it myself, here’s why I burst into tears at the Occupy Wall Street camp. I was moved, first of all, by what everyone notices first: the variety of people involved, the range of ages, races, classes, colors, cultures. In other words, the 99 per cent. I saw conversations taking place between people and groups of people whom I’ve never seen talking with such openness and sympathy in all the years (which is to say, my entire life) I’ve spent in New York: grannies talking to goths, a biker with piercings and tattoos talking to a woman in a Hermes scarf. I was struck by how well-organized everything was, and, despite the charge of “vagueness” one keeps reading in the mainstream media, by the clarity—clarity of purpose, clarity of intention, clarity of method, clarity of understanding of the most basic social and economic realities.

I kept thinking about how, since this movement started, I’ve been waking up in the morning without the dread (or at least without the total dread) with which I’ve woken every morning for so long, the vertiginous sense that we’re all falling off a cliff and no one (or almost no one) is saying anything about it. In Zuccotti Park I felt a kind of lightening of a weight, a lessening of the awful isolation and powerlessness of knowing we’re being lied to and robbed on a daily basis and that everyone knows it and keeps quiet and endures it; the terror of thinking that my own grandchildren will suffer for whatever has been paralyzing us until just now. I kept feeling these intense surges of emotion—until I saw a placard with a quote from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” And that was when I just lost it and stood there and wept.

5 thoughts on “Occupy

  1. i just “hope” they can provide real “change” and get things moving in the right direction before climate change terminally interrupts the entire human experience. It isn’t going to be easy, with the entrenched powers that be OWNING the entire mechanism of politics from the local to the national level; states, cities and towns going bankrupt NOW; the corporate sector continuing to lock people out of well-paying jobs; businesses failing left and right from lack of demand (because nobody has any excess money to spend, duh); infrastructure continues to erode; teachers, fire-fighters and cops are being let go due to budget concerns; we haven’t even started to transition to local, sustainable energy and food production on any kind of organized level; co-option of the movement continues to be successfully rebuffed, but “they” (1%) are still planning and trying to discredit, isolate, or bring it down any way they can to keep the status quo going FOR THEM; and on and on (“we” waited FAR too long for this movement to happen – but it’s up and runnin’ now, so let’s go with it as far and as fast as we can (but get it right – we won’t have a second shot).

  2. Down here in Jawja, some scoff and compare numbers of arrested between T-baggers and #OWS participants. It doesn’t matter, when it comes to folks who cannot find a job (like me, 50+) or kids saddled with debt, sold to them like sub prime mortgages, our retirement money sucked out like a vacuum, our house value upside down to the point where Mitt wants it (I feel like a terminal renter), the fact the #OWS is 35 miles from my home is a great feeling…… The #OWS folks in Atlanta refer to Woodruff Park (after the Coca-cola king) to Troy Davis Park. Just the ongoing turn-out is telling. I am just sad that I had to see a country go awry as my parents did when they were kids.

  3. Well, RD, I have to disagree. The common factor with successful occupations, going all the way back to Tahrir Square, is joy. Which is this women is expressing.

    That said, I agree, the emotions are not everything if the occupations are to be built for the long haul and not betrayed. As the history and fate of OFA should remind all of us.

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