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.”

The Hypocrite Reader is free, but we publish some of the most fascinating writing on the internet. Our editors are volunteers and, until recently, so were our writers. During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, we decided we needed to find a way to pay contributors for their work.

Help us pay writers (and our server bills) so we can keep this stuff coming. At that link, you can become a recurring backer on Patreon, where we offer thrilling rewards to our supporters. If you can't swing a monthly donation, you can also make a 1-time donation through our Ko-fi; even a few dollars helps!

The Hypocrite Reader operates without any kind of institutional support, and for the foreseeable future we plan to keep it that way. Your contributions are the only way we are able to keep doing what we do!

And if you'd like to read more of our useful, unexpected content, you can join our mailing list so that you'll hear from us when we publish.