So many tiny memories, myself largely a bystander looking admiringly at the camp on the way to the train or while on an evening walk, touch the single moment, like the other side of a coin, when I first saw what had been the camp empty and fenced. Two men were cleaning the walls where residents had written their hopes, their desires, their dreams, where they had harnessed a wall of that ugly, garish, phallic monument to male power and made it a medium of the beauty in and around them. All that remains now is an empty cage, a caged emptiness that (I want to say "who") had allowed itself to be and basked itself in a moment of total, true freedom, now surrounded by the jealous family hoping to close a wound (thankfully, thankfully) that will never again really heal.
I like the thought, sitting in Rittenhouse Square and watching the police van parked at the entrance on 19th St., that possibly we have been witness, over the past few days, to a kind of ancient or (truly) barbaric ritual, that the cops eating their lunch in the van are a fingernail of the paternal hand come to correct the "ills" of a "wayward" child. For all of the violence and sadness that accompanied the eviction of the residents of Dilworth Plaza, on the day after, amidst the huddles of agitated police, there seemed to float between the cops a subtle rage, a rage that belonged only to them, a private, collective agony shroudded in the sorrow of betrayal. It was a "healing" process, though it was not meant for "us" (the public); it was a private, familial affair. You could almost hear: "You ungrateful, wayward child! We've had enough of your freedom! We'll clean you up. You better enjoy your cage!" For the city, it seemed to me in that moment, the space had become the people recently evicted from it: it was Dilworth Plaza that had to be beaten into submission.
The eviction of the camp is undoubtedly a sad and painful moment for all of those involved, and those who lost the home they built there should know that their pain is shared by those who seldom set foot in the camp, perhaps only once or twice. But I think - and I can imagine this will put a sour taste in the mouths of at least some readers, and understandably so - "we" ought to thank the police, the city and state governments, Homeland Security and the FBI (who knows how high it goes?) who conspired to dismantle such a performance of pure and creative beauty. For in response to the ridiculous, arrogant sense of betrayal that they feel, they show us their own, the betrayal of the social contract that some measure of distance and cooperation allows them to pretend ever existed in the first place (this is capitalism, after all). Who can't help but smile when Bloomberg tells a crowd at MIT that the NYPD is his own private army? Or when it comes to light that eighteen cities participated in a conference call, possibly with federal involvement, to discuss the crackdown that later took place? "Look at me! Look how ugly I really am!"
But most of all: thank you to all of the people who made, kept and lived in Dilworth Plaza. Thank you for all that you did, all that you gave to each other, all that you gave to those, perhaps, you never knew were watching (like me). Thank you for carrying the light being lit around the world.
Count me in.