& so could not be silenced, sequestered or denied

November 8, 2011 § 2 Comments

Sleeping on that pavement was not only a way to lay claim to the public, to contest the legitimacy of the state, but also quite clearly, a way to put the body on the line in its insistence, obduracy and precarity, overcoming the distinction between public & private for the time of revolution. In other words, it was only when those needs that are supposed to remain private came out into the day & night of the square, formed into image & discourse for the media, did it finally become possible to extend the space & time of the event with such tenacity to bring the regime down. After all, the cameras never stopped, bodies were there and here, they never stopped speaking, not even in sleep, & so could not be silenced, sequestered or denied — revolution happened because everyone refused to go home, cleaving to the pavement, acting in concert.

— Judith Butler, “Bodies in Alliance & the Politics of the Street”

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§ 2 Responses to & so could not be silenced, sequestered or denied

  • tom clark says:

    Brad,

    This an interesting extension or continuation of last night’s thoughts from Sproul Plaza, where all those bodies, by two o’clock in the morning, needed nothing more urgently than something other than cold hard concrete upon which to lay themselves down… in single or in concert, more likely the former, as appeared generally the case.

    (Though of course out there on the “real” streets, that’s the way of it every night, quite apart from, or beneath the ice of, history.)

  • Brad Johnson says:

    Yes. I thought something very similar. I left Sproul Plaza around midnight last night, I think it was, & recall thinking that even more ideal than tents might be just rows and rows of sleeping bags. It sounds crass, but force the visual image of police dragging your body, rather than pushing it aside.

    I thought about writing something about my experience there. But I’m hesitant. I prefer your route of fading into the background, while still being there, amidst the crowd as it were. My perspective on such things isn’t so novel, after all.

    I told someone in an email, naturally, that I think I prefer myself in print more than in flesh — which might be one of the reasons for wanting so much simply to be a body, rather than a voice, or even a recognizable participant, at (a) protest. & that alone.

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