By before the fall
Of the General Assembly on October 7, I witnessed little: a few scattered eruptions of applause, audible on the deck north of Doe; photographs in the days that followed. What I saw instead on Thursday evening while I was stationed outside the library, were hundreds of people, in clumps of five or ten, leaving Doe in search of food. Most didn’t return that night, and the once massive sit-in gave up the ghost at dusk with a slight wheeze.
What is there to say about these groups passing out of Doe?
We could, I suppose, judge them in the name of the event, claiming that, by departing, they deprived the sit-in of the
numbers it needed to sustain itself. But what if, instead, we focused our attention on these mobile groupings of friends?
It would certainly be easy enough to hold the General Assembly responsible for the boredom and exhaustion so palpable on the faces of those who left Doe. And it’s worth asking why a few hundred sandwiches and some lentil stew was all the food prepared and carried into the library that day. Hunger is, perhaps, a force of dislocation more powerful than dispersal orders.
But what of the simple activity of grouping? Can we see in the recomposition of friend circles, outside the General Assembly, something other than the decomposition of the political event? Might this movement – away from a scene structured like a cinema and toward molecular groupings – point the way toward more effective, and engaging, forms of political activity?
On October 7, we temporarily claimed, and filled, one of the largest rooms on campus. So large that sound produced in one corner of the room petered out, or was fatally distorted, by the time it reached the opposite corner. The succe
ss of the mass assembly was also its undoing. And yet, this need not have been the case.