What’s with all of these left pundits offering advice to the 99%? Repudiate the Democrats forthwith! (columnists for Black Agenda Report). Bear in mind that one can support Obama’s re-election, campaign for local Democratic candidates, and be a staunch OWS supporter at the same time! (Mark Rudd, in a piece in the n +1 Occupy! rag, the one with the hard-to-read scarlet type that’s been so readily available at Zuccotti Park over the past week or so, a copy of which I finally brought myself to take a gander at). Don’t antagonize the police, lest you scare off middle America and blow your opportunity to recruit more of the 99% to your cause (Jeremy Kessler, in an extraordinarily fatuous piece in the same rag). Sharpen your critical analysis of Empire, Economics, and Ecology (Robert Jensen in a column called “Occupy Demands: Let’s Radicalise Our Analysis” on Al-Jazeera-English). The intellectuals are restless. Somebody proposes that Zuccotti Park is really more like a human art installation than a political movement. There’s a strange mismatch between the potency of actions by groups of mostly “young” people who have, for the most part, deliberately refrained from invoking any elaborate conceptual apparatus in favor of brandishing brilliantly evocative but content-poor slogans like “We are the 99%” and the theoretical sophistication of many who, already past their first youth, woke up one day, years or decades ago, to realize they had been kicked to the curb of history and were likely to remain there. Now they (we!) want to get in on the act. Like Wise Men from the East, we come to lay our finest gifts at the feet of the babe lying in the manger. Will the babe have any use for them?
Today I took the opportunity to read a couple of poems from Lorine Niedecker’s The Granite Pail (North Point Press, 1985). They are the work of a woman who was truly committed to “the news that stays news” at the most radical level. In “Wintergreen Ridge,” she writes of evolution and human interventions: “Nobody,nothing/ever gave me/greater thing//than time/unless light/and silence//which if intense/makes sound/Unaffected//by man/thin to nothing lichens/grind with their acid//granite to sand/These may survive/the grand blow-up–//the bomb…” (p. 82). Eric Darton happened along in the middle of this poem and lent a kind ear.
I took special pleasure in reading Niedecker’s poem “Foreclosure” in the “banks got bailed out, we got sold out” ambience of the park; in its entirety, it goes like this:
Tell ’em to take my bare walls down
my cement abutments
their parties thereof
and clause of claws
Leave me the land
Scratch out: the land
May prose and property both die out
and leave me peace (p. 104)