Austin Gross



The theme was chosen on September 25th, announced on the 26th, first proposed on the 20th as an angle on “Work,” “Working,” or “Labor,” which all seemed flat. The occupation of Zucotti Park seemed like an instance of occupation. We wondered whether the senses of the word had enough unity. Occupation = labor did not seem to comprehend occupation = an activist tactic or occupation = military fact. But because preoccupation = anxiety = souci de soi is what gets in the way of work, what is given time on the commute or put off in leisure, even what prescribes work as ergotherapy or forbids it in favor of a talking cure made into a way of life we thought we could run “Occupations” if we just stayed in these limits. I didn't realize until I started talking to the writers that these “limits” were exactly what I had in mind on October 2nd in a little note I scribbled in a cafeteria. There, I was thinking about some friends I'd made in Brussels, and the shock of, suddenly, around them, not feeling weird about my sexuality. It contradicted what I'd thought I'd learned about the futility of changes of context:

“In 'ordinary time' people are going around working on their problems or projects usually within static limits. If I think of it this way, will that help? If I change this thing, will that help? In the ones who are traveling constantly it's like the stasis of these limits has become tidal. But then all the limits change all at once and the scheduled projects and chores for feeling better or understanding what's going on with you are suddenly irrelevant, impossible, or incomprehensible. Even the problem is impossible or incomprehensible. And for everyone at the same time. All at once, everyone is off. Not to think of history as a work or a project without also remembering the suspension of work, the negation, the blankness. I hope this is what they're having right now in America.”

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