Frank Kogan (koganbot) wrote,
Frank Kogan

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We Need Brains

Image from yesterday: Occupy Denver marchers are walking along the 16th Street Mall, chanting whatever we're chanting (e.g., "They got bailed out, we got sold out"), and in the center strip are two chess tables, the chess players absolutely absorbed in their games, attention unwavering, as several thousand of us stream around them.

The march coincided with the annual Zombie Crawl, inspiring some citizens to combine two events in one. Excellent moment was walking by a woman in ghoul costume, drool marks on lips, and made-up bleeding face, her sign raised high, "We Need Brains."

Not to mention self-discipline, focus, and direction. I have only a couple of hours a day to give at most, so I'm never going to be a particularly engaged/involved participant, just an extra body so the gathering won't look so small. But I ended up staying an extra two hours on Friday night as a general assembly went on and on and fell into a total tangle and I was thoroughly absorbed by this and couldn't break away. Like a fascinating TV show.

Votes were by two-thirds majority but not only were people confused as to whether or not abstentions counted towards the total vote (and would have the same practical effect as "no" votes), but many people weren't even aware they were confused and would treat one vote one way and the next vote another. Also while one proposal was being discussed speakers would bring up unrelated topics, others would answer back, wouldn't know how to disengage, and so forth. These are normal human tendencies, and the group has procedures for containing them, but that doesn't stop the endless recurrence. As with most assemblages, there are people who understand the needs of a particular discussion and others who don't. The thing was as lovable as ever but frustrating to observe; yet of course I was fascinated.

More seriously, self-involvement and a lack of direction could well make it impossible for these movements to reach out to even 1 percent of the 99 percent that they want to speak for. Which is to say if Occupy Denver ends up reflecting the typical constellation of typical leftist lifestyles and attitudes (with some Colorado libertarianism sprinkled in), it'll drive away potential allies for whom legalizing pot, ending fluoridation (yes, this came up), promoting organic farming, bringing troops home from Afghanistan, and the like aren't the issue. Also, there isn't a vast potential constituency for the right to pitch tents in city parks. There just isn't. If the message is "come be like us, come care about everything we care about, in our way," few people will come. They'd rather be themselves, thank you, even if it's their home that's being foreclosed and their career that'll get obliterated next time the financial system explodes.

In my writing, I'm often deliberately riding the boundary between the relevant and the irrelevant, questioning what matters and what relates to what else, refusing the idea that we can know in advance that doing A precludes doing B or that not doing B is a way to ensure doing A; this being one of my ways of probing, thinking. But I know when I'm playing with boundaries, and how to stop.
Tags: bodily fluids, economics, occupy denver
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