We adjust our eyes at the limit of translucence, in order to bring something into focus. An account would attempt to recollect the sequence--the question being: 'at which point did this occur?'; the inquiry being the procedure of causalities. Instead we hope this renders a perspectivation -- a constellation of moods and orientations, in other words, a topographical aggregation of intensitiesin Oakland on January 28th and the days that followed. We propose to study the de-synchronization of the city's cycles of desire, weaving together material practices of freedom. To consider the question of volition is to elaborate the subterranean rifts that will found the elements of a new sentimental education.

 

 

 

 

 

"Where there is no commune, the individual volition has no ground. Where there is no individual freedom, the commune is falsified…there being no common good, no commune, no communion, outside the freedom of individual volition."  

(Robert Duncan, Multiversity)

 

 

I.

 

We adjust our eyes at the limit of translucence, in order to bring something into focus. An account would attempt to recollect the sequence--the question being: 'at which point did this occur?'; the inquiry being the procedure of causalities. Instead we hope this renders a perspectivation -- a constellation of moods and orientations, in other words, a topographical aggregation of intensities in Oakland on January 28th and the days that followed. We propose to study the de-synchronization of the city's cycles of desire, weaving together material practices of freedom. To consider the question of volition is to elaborate the subterranean rifts that will found the elements of a new sentimental education.

 

 

 

 

                                        II.

 

What we could describe in isolation:

 

A dense march towards the Kaiser Convention Center and the scarcity of police. The diffusion of bodies over Laney College, the wandering of bodies in abandon, people walking across the lake. The skirmish on Oak St. and the arsenal used against us in broad daylight, a precedent.

 

A march back towards downtown, rest and re-gathering of forces. The second attempt to take a building followed by an aimless march throughout the cityscape. Empty buildings loom over the march's movement, swarming buildings-streets, disjunction of march attempts, diffusion of bodies and reversal. We are kettled first at 19th and Telegraph. Comrades shot with beanbags within the kettle. The moving through walls to our escape.

 

Continual diffusion of crowd, turning towards Broadway. Oscillation between aimlessness (a mass of bodies wandering in abandon) and intentionality (building). We are kettled for a second time at YMCA; people climbing up, climbing through, climbing down.

 

Defeat; a series of police beatings, kettling and mass arrest, the concentration camp, songs of imprisonment. 

 

III.

 

We recognized how often our recollection of previous ruptures splits the event of attempted expropriation into two movements: day march / night fight. The same actions take on a different meaning depending on the temporal, and as such, we could anticipate the degree of police repression through a correspondence to the amount of light (the motor of the formal economy) left in the day’s hours. Through tactical imperatives, we sought a collapse of these terms, that is, to dilapidate the correspondence that produces the obvious danger of nocturnal expropriation, pursuant of a diurnal safety. This in turn unfolded a variety of reversals. We found ourselves dressed for disappearance, blacked-out in the afternoon, ironically exposed when we wished to be concealed—Thus this bisecting of movement becomes immanent, as our subjectivities split.

 

 

IV.

 

We recognize the discourse underlying the nature of the movement at this point is based upon retribution. Yes, we do harbor some sweet ressentiment. Ressentiment--because the city is that from which we desire to expropriate our freedom (our joie), while we compose its classes, its workers, and its affective social fabric. This contradiction destabilizes the homogeneity of citizenry, the same citizenry "defended" by the administration's protocols of counter-insurrection. We see this contradiction in the "negotiations" officer's stale voice reiterating a dispersal order to the thousands of bodies covering 12th street, foregrounding the Kaiser Convention Center's arches. This order for the dispersal of bodies was allegedly made by police on behalf of "The City of Oakland." De-subjectivation ensues: one that is at once desirable--as we wish to subvert the metropolis, and in effect citizenry--and unfitting--as we wish to index reclamation, and thereby produce within our collective situation a differentiated site.

 

Being immaterial, the Commune persists entirely as body of gestures-- its immateriality being that which those gestures wish to change. It obtains existence through its reification vis-à-vis continual reference, the measured inflection of morphemes. Despite critiques of its authenticity, evocations of the Oakland Commune have not ceased. In this way, it remains a banner under which we devise movement; it is in the now and the not-yet.

 

 

V.

 

The status of the communard lies in the same obscurity: perpetual de-subjectivation without a re-subjectivation. The building was in their hands; we lost our claim on this wager for a new space of co-sentimentality. Police flanked the building, the march flanked the cops, the police formed a wall, and we reciprocated, then the first signal shot, a warning call of tear gas at one of the entrances, agitation stirred from the collection of bodies, the circulation of dysphoria.  A phalanx of differentiated desires congeal, engaging a mutual limit of police—unable to reach the point of its destination, this ensemble turned itself toward the state’s expression of the walls of property that already exclude us, the police line. 

 

We faced our own delirium, drift, as a shotgun scatter shot. Upon impact a leg torn from walking, arms unable to grasp, eyes no longer able to see, torn from functionality. Riot cops charge, flares are thrown. Again, the smoke, lights, and screams. To pursue head-on conflict, or to attack at the margins? Any analysis of the street fight in broad daylight is left with the intractable problem of symmetrical warfare with heavily armed apparatuses. And there is panic, a metonymic echo of the metropolitan body suddenly made dysfunctional. The socius disarticulates. The enemy is the shape our most pressing question takes: the unveiling of the structures of consciousness, or "In plain proletarian language, it takes two to tango. As soon as these motherfuckers go, we go.”

 

 

VI.

 

“The Police Department has been successful in obtaining restraining orders against individuals who repeatedly commit crimes, and are working with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and Oakland City Attorney’s Office to explore felony and enhanced charges for people who criminally plan and/or work in concert to break the law.”

 

Press Release from the Oakland City Administrator

 

When living beings come together, dispossessed of the means of real living and left only with their frenetic disposition, a conspiracy is born.  Once again, the question poses itself, how to expropriate the conditions of existence?  Its present impossibility as the unanswerable question folds in upon itself, and liquidates its content – leaving the call of violence.  We are left with a purely symbolic form of low-intensity war. The moment’s only possibility of expropriation is the expropriation of violence from the enemy.  The limit of the relation, as we repeatedly reach for the outside (are we there yet?) tends towards the immediate negation of ourselves, as suicidal struggle (all or nothing?  So, the man who sets himself alight in Tunisia, the French workers who threaten to blow up their factories, the Chinese factory workers who threaten to collectively take their own lives). Such a call for the self-abolition of identity comes in the face of an absent positivity (the paradigm of politics).  At the relation’s limit, in which we strive for the outside, the police iterate the same refrain -- you are nothing, you are nothing, you are nothing…and so we reciprocate this call, recognizing that this exposes us to the limit of trauma (via dolorosa). As one comrade noted to us through our respirators: "Nothing like a little suicide in the afternoon".

 

 

VII.

 

We have annotated this suicidal tendency as the negation through which we come into existence; the point at which our desire to exist becomes most legible. Those of us for whom this ambiguity craves out a space of intervention from which to fight must recognize the mutual legibility of other images, images that would otherwise not affect our sensibilities. Take the image of the family: the father with a rolling travel bag, two girl children, the mother strapping a hot pink bandana over her face---they come into relief against the hills of concrete and debris on which riot police stand, some with rifles for rubber bullets, others with tear gas canisters--. This image of the family, strikingly visible in the struggle, aids us in the rejection of the city's alleged interests: those made in the name of its people, which we know do not exist as such. The multiplicity of such images reminds us that dominion's counter-insurrectionary force is incompatible with the authentication of life in the simplest terms--"Because we fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers" (Saint Paul, Ephesians 6:12).

 

VIII.

 

Photographic evidence will corroborate our transfiguration: once in zip-ties, our mass took on the likeness of a tranquilized herd. Surrendering our individual volition, becoming domesticated, we could only be moved by our arresting officers into a series of long lines for processing, classification, (branding). The sheriff's buses, with their thin spaces for light and air between sheet metal panels, resemble a livestock trailer. Over the course of the day, police condensed, from point to line to plane – a symptom of their Euclidean apprehension. Their bodies replicate the structures of the walls, a radius of the city blacks out, falls away from the map into ambiguity. Living beings become inert bodies, a zone of containment; this is the other meaning of the camp, disjunctions of space evacuate time. This block in Oakland no longer exists as faces fade away and we become number.

 

 

IX.

 

To combat speculation of our endlessly deferred departure from the walls of jail, some chatter, while others mimic sleep. The body plugs up, unable to shit, piss, breathe.  In this environment, it is not that we are constantly surveilled, but that we are consistently forgotten.  Fears of being lost within the labyrinthine halls of the jail. Our bodies perpetually herded from holding cell to holding cell. The possibility of erasure from the outside, our existence as “free citizen” suspended. Methods of individuation effect experiential differentiation – complex immigration issues, vital medical requirements, the scissions of gender and color lines. While the site of jail generates equivalence between bodies (identification/PFN/sex/race/weight/age), the procedure of individuation always resounds quite intimately. Laughter darkens, as brows furrow and silent enunciations of retribution are for now withdrawn. For now, the Commune is voiceless.

 

X.

Because this writing is offered as an attunement –as an investigation of the shape our volition took—we suspect a simple critique of affirmation or condemnation bars the broader phenomenological utility of the event (despite the potential value in those critiques). We experience such phenomena unfolding as a tessellation of moments, a multitude of bodies striving to militate the current decrepit order as a unitary force, despite the singular entanglement of our forms of mutual exploitation and domination. It is at that degree and against that limit that our collaboration cannot be sublimated to what we apparently share. To correspond with one another (not as a self-identified Subject) ignorant of social inheritances would be haphazard. Yet, we are the only means of struggle. The Commune’s future will be decided by the extent to which our common can contain those disparities while negating the ossified anthropologies on which they rest. The Commune would be such a sanctuary, a force, defined by its capacity to pursue the rifts, while at the same time not letting our comrades fall through.

The City says there is a conspiracy.  There is a conspiracy.  It is not reducible to a few hundred or a thousand.  This conspiracy circulates through unwritten pacts, words exchanged on street corners – the fact that we unveil the epochal principles of our situation. 

 

 

From Oakland,

 

Kataleipo (The Remaindered)

 



* * These impressions of Occupy Oakland's move-in day, 1/28/2012, do not strive toward a systemic analysis, or a recapitulation of the event in memory, but should remain, for our purposes, a series of etudes. 

 

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