What a weird lie that out-of-office auto-responses must always speak of one “having very limited access to email,” as if everyone spends their vacations in Patagonia or something. Is “I will be checking my email rarely, if ever, and certainly not responding” just too much Truth?
Most dispiriting aspect of the Amanda Knox case: Apparently her false confession/accusation was a matter of not having a proper police translator, which she needed despite her enrollment in the local (and global) Italian immersion program, and being a “languages major” at the University of Washington. Four years of Umbrian Lady’s Prison later, and she was able to deliver her clinching closing plea in fluent Italian. So that’s all it takes to become civilized. : (
today, in between discussing the Yankees with a deplorably unknowledgeable/unmanly interlocutor and heading down for a lunch meeting at the NYSE, expressed great sympathy and interest in Occupy Wall Street, making explicit claims of its world-historical coherence with the Year of Revolutions, etc. As my boss is generally a good bellwether for when things I’ve tried desperately not to think about are about to become to-do list items I can no longer avoid, here are some thoughts:
- Whether intentional or not, I think it is a clever comment on the post-Robert Moses death of built-environment ambition, and the remarkable abnegation of the American state in general, (or perhaps just the moral blackmail of the Grid) that the Occupyards chose dinky little Zucchini Park, in depressing contrast to the Arab kids, for whom successive regimes tribal, imperial, semi-colonial, western-puppetized, military-socialist, pan–quasi-nationalist and klepto-paternalist had at least left singular civic spaces—that is, traffic circles—to be occupied, appropriated, symbolically apprehended by protestor and loyalist as the center of a physically existent collective sphere worth taking over, independent of its spot value as real estate. The lumbering monumentality of Tahrir or Tiananmen metonymized the old-fashioned power being raged against there; the public–private inconsequence of Zamboni Plaza nicely summarizes the inchoate uneases here.
- Still! Circles—easily barricaded, world-media panoptic—make things serious, and if you’re serious, it is time to go to one. Much has been written over the centuries, of course, on Columbus Circle’s puzzling lack of significance or credibility as a place (the only round thing in 100,000 rectangles, and who even notices?), so much that it’s become, possibly, a self-fulfilling stigma. Did the hemisphere’s first great genocidier really sail the ocean blue to lend his name to the loserdom crossroads of Trump, AOL, and the lollipop building?
- Happily, our own Hosni(onor) rectified New York City’s revolutionary circlelessness himself, with the very ghastly, but even more geisty, building that opened in 2004 at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, bearing his name. Its offices, condos, newsrooms, and Container Store are oriented inwardly, around a plaza that, during business hours (and it’s always business hours somewhere) becomes a perfectly circular merry-go-round of idling Town Cars. Hugging the arc of this cul-de-sac, the Bloomberg Tower’s sheer glass curtain wall practically begs for snipers, martyrdom, and worse, and is in any case much more the Bastille of deterritorialized hypercapital than any limestone FiDi holdover for the last of the burly, sweaty cavemen to daily playact buying and selling for the cameras like they did in olden times. There are strategic and logistical considerations, too, for this as site of siege, though you didn’t hear them from me: My boss’s favorite building, and perhaps topic of conversation, is the Bloomberg Tower for one reason: the famously well-stocked pantry off its green room. (To give you an idea, Charlie Rose is taped there.) Seize the complimentary casava chips, and the ancien regime is sure to follow.
- I’m beginning to soften on the easy criticism that these people have no idea what they want. What people do? Just hold down the fort; Lenin could be in a sealed train car chugging across Iowa as we speak. Then again, trusting the Revolution to Amtrak is not entirely comforting.
- With the capitalist meteorologists promising this weekend as the blessed return, at last, of cardigan weather, it’s worth remembering the one iron-clad, non-negotiable rule of modern history: Liberal revolutions break out in spring, the touchy-feely utopianism tracking the (literal) sunniness; radical revolutions explode in autumn, the utopian reigns-of-terror arriving by first snowfall.
- The Right’s going to keep on eating our children the more you come up with ineffectual, facticity-kowtowing names like “Occupy Wall Street.” May I propose The Stamp Act Congress (held in Federal Hall!)?
Yeah, i’ll believe it when I see al-Awlaki’s long-form birth certificate, thanks.
Had, desperately, to buy socks and a brown (that is to say, not-black) belt. Went to H&M. Is there anything more depressing about late capitalism than the shoppers and jostlers at the column of jeans cut in “boyfriend” style?