by Adam Rothstein
There’s a familiar feeling of doom as one leaves the Northwest behind when departing on a road trip. As you strap yourself in to an eighty mile-per-hour meteor of alloyed aluminum and high-impact plastic, securing tanks of liquid fuel both hydrocarbon derived and caffeinated, there is a feeling not unlike that of an intercontinental cosmonaut to the endeavor. You feel, perhaps, that you are the front runner in a low-budget space race that no one seeks to win. You are the cutting edge of a misbegotten mission. After all, why would a person choose to drive 3500 miles from a bike-powered, tree-lined, vegetarian paradise like Portland, to travel across a continent of asphalt, auto-malls, and high fructose corn syrup to the symbol of the wrongheadedness of our so-called country that is the Capitol?
Why? Because it is there. Or maybe… it is because we do these things because they are hard? I can’t remember who it is I ought to be trying to remember to quote.
Or perhaps, the reason for making such an idiotic journey is simply because I’m constantly finding myself in such vehicles, venturing out across the dismal land under such disparaging circumstances. It is a habit. I sit cramped in a car for two days, depressed by the view of my society passing by me, and therefore I’m used to it. I’m not so much of a pioneer — head and history book swelled with the moral pride of manifest destiny — as I am the latter day result of its crimes. I am this culture’s feral child, and as such, totally ingrained the the habits of its mode of transport. Full of historical guilt and the inability to fix it simply by calling it out, I journey forever backward and inward, to the heart and soul of America, across Indian reservations, strip malls, billboards selling sex and pseudo-science, finding solace only at rest areas named after the men whose great idea this all was. The past always dooms us in some way with gloomy repetition, and yet, this is the present I keep finding myself in. A present we have made, and therefore are forced to live.
This was the reason I had always ended up on the wrong side of a clean modern interior, wishing I could instead have my body wrapped up in the axles. Until this trip, which is suddenly different. Now, the prospect of driving across the repressed unconscious of the country doesn’t seem so bad. Finally, we’re working through. We’re trying to get to the other side.
The other side, in this case, is literally Occupy Congress. An event purportedly begun by one unknown person who uploaded a photo to the internet, that has now spawned an international convergence. The image was simple, as any defining image should be. In it, the legislature of the United States: it’s marble visage scarcely able to contain the overwhelming flaccidity of its single-digit approval rating amongst its so-called constituents. Above it: the date, January 17th. And below it, a simple suggestion: “bring 1,000,000 tents”. And in case anyone was unclear about the when, how, or why, a simple hashtag — an acryonym that has now become a watchword for those who know that there is nothing left to fight for, except for everything.
And so, a small cadre of individuals, myself included, were off, heading East, to reverse the negative precedent of domination and oppression for which this country is responsible. We are going not merely as observers or attendees, but as media. As workers for The Occupier, we go to record, document, and analyze the first-ever all-in convergence of the various movements started in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. We go to report to everyone, but especially to Portland, to let the folks who could not make the event know what this next facet of the movement is like.
Even as we are so many different cities — and within these cities, so many different collectives of individuals in affinity with different ideas and goals — together we are still a movement. It is hard to describe why. Unlike other movements in history we don’t share an ideology, a common enemy, a nationality, a race, or a culture. We don’t have a single solution, but multiple concurrent solutions, which overlap and contradict. Up to this point, these odd aspects have been our strength, in that they make us resilient to challenges, and help us resist the attempts of those who control the media and the history books to tuck us away into a single number in a dusty card catalog. But describing the thing that unites us remains elusive.
Tomorrow, on January 17th, we will get a chance to see this thing first hand. No one is quite sure what to expect, or even if it will be immediately visible at all. If the standard for Occupy movements holds, no doubt those who identify something that can be identified will disagree as to what it is. It might be anti-capitalism, it might be distrust of government. It might be true grassroots organizing by way of consensus, or it might be a dogged determination to not give up trying new things, because the time for acquiescence is past. Or it could be all of these things, but in uncertain measure and unverified priority.
Regardless of what transpires, The Occupier will be there to keep you informed, and to take part in this convergence in what we do, as media. Look for several stories and photos, as well as possibly a liveblog. Tune in with Livestream as well, as many of them will be there working with us to write our media history as we make it.