Occupy on Fiber Optics

It’s been difficult to keep up with events in recent days. Enter haggard movie voice: “It’s all happened so faaast!” Of course, it’s still happening. It’s also been hard to keep up with all the great analysis, writing, and ideas flooding the fiber optics. A few have caught my attention in recent days.

Occupy is implicitly a movement in which spatiality figures centrally. Appropriately, then, the journal Society and Space has opened an interesting forum on the movement, with many stellar contributions. But Ananya Roy makes the argument that the movement’s temporal dimensions—particularly its staking a claim on the future—is perhaps more instructive than its spatiality. With a hat-tip to yours truly, Stuart Elden explores the politics of the Guy Fawkes mask rebranding it “V for Visibility.” Eduardo Mendieta, meanwhile, reveals the praxis embedded in “occupy” itself as a word, a concept, and an action. Check out the many other provocative contributions and a few links to other related writings.

The Rag Blog chimed in with “Ten Immodest Commandments” for Occupy courtesy of Mike Davis—self-proclaimed “old fart” (his words, not mine)—who offers invaluable advice. I particularly liked his call for reinvigorating the additional move from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Main Street—e.g. Dayton, Cheyenne, Omaha, and El Paso. He also makes the related argument that union participation in Occupy is “mutually transformative,” suggesting that “anti-capitalist protesters thus need to more effectively hook up with rank-and-file opposition groups and progressive caucuses within the unions.” And as far as demands, he notes that eventually we’ll have to formulate “demands [that] have the broadest appeal while remaining radical in an anti-systemic sense.”

Upcoming post: Occupy Verticality, Occupy as Volume

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4 Responses to Occupy on Fiber Optics

  1. Thanks for your always inspiring posts. While Roy’s piece makes some good points about the dangers of fetishizing space, her point about temporality seems to recreate the old (and unproductive) “time vs. space” dichotomy. The struggle for “the future” is still grounded on, and depends on, struggles over the contemporary spatial terrain. The spatiality of the movement has a clear temporality, and its temporality is inseparable from shifting spatial forms, which I’ve tried to explore in this piece (occupy wall street as a node of resonance)

    http://spaceandpolitics.blogspot.com/2011/11/occupy-wall-street-as-node-of-resonance_14.html

    Look forward to your piece on the verticality and volume of the occupy movement (concepts that resonate with some of the points I make about space as physical form).

    • Teo Ballvé Jester says:

      Gaston,
      Thanks for your comment. Agreed! I had a similar reaction to Roy’s piece.

      I definitely see the slow-as-molasses GA and the staccatoed social reverb of the human microphone as inseparable from the ongoing production of the spaces themselves and, as you note in your post, their rhizomatic inter-connectivity. It seems that our “geographies of resistance,” which she closes on, are precisely and unavoidably about that spatio-temporal connection that she implicitly divorces.

      P.s. I had read your post and had planned to use it for the forthcoming note, if I ever get around to it–announcing it was one way (hopefully) of forcing me to do it.

  2. Gaston Gordillo says:

    Jester,

    Glad we’re starting this dialogue (long overdue).

    I should add that Roy’s emphasis that it is “obvious” that space is central to the occupy movement says nothing at all and is, in fact, self-defeating. We should push this obviousness further: the spatiality of the movement is so powerfully clear but also so fluid, open-ended, and complex that it profoundly challenges and disrupts all our previous understandings of space. Hence the need to rethink, deeply and politically, what we learned from our intellectual ancestors.

  3. Teo Ballvé Jester says:

    Interesting. I guess we should also remember that this was meant as a short thought-provoking blog post for a forum. Judging from our little mini discussion, this has been achieved.

    I know Roy has been thinking about or planning to work on temporality in a postcolonial urban context, but in any case introducing time as space’s “other” is an interesting polemical way to stoke discussion around #Occupy in a journal that’s all about space.

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