[Photos to come—posting in the interest of timeliness.]
Teresa and I just got back from today’s Occupy Wall Street event, a march from Foley Square down to the “occupation” at Liberty Square. We were accompanied by our current house guests, the Two Steves, Brust and Gould. (On Friday we will all pile into a rented car and drive to Martha’s Vineyard, where we’ll be teaching our annual writing workshop along with fellow instructors Jim Macdonald, Debra Doyle, Elizabeth Bear, and Sherwood Smith.)
It was an impressive event. Signs and sentiments ranged from mild-mannered demands like “Tax Wall Street” to hardcore observations like “No War But Class War.” (As I observed to BrustSteve, who was raised by Trotskyist union organizers, “I’ve been a moderate liberal for much of my life, but you know something, there really is a class war going on, and the other son-of-a-bitches shot first.”) The NYPD did a fine job of making sure everyone who persisted in marching all the way to Liberty Square was made as miserable as possible, because you know, if demonstrating one’s dissatisfaction with this screwed-up world were easy, who knows what might happen? Best to discipline and punish everyone involved. We escaped the semi-kettling when Teresa shamed a cop into letting her past the fence behind which they’d channelled the demonstraters. Then we walked down to Liberty Square itself, paralleling the main demo but not fenced in along with it. My guess is that “Liberty Square”—actually a privately owned open space called “Zuccotti Park”—is named in nostalgia for a time when Americans didn’t automatically accept that police get to define when and where “free speech” may be exercised.
Escaping on the R train from Rector Street, we got home to discover that Steve Jobs died. And that my Twitter feed is full of people wanting to wag their finger in my face for caring too much, in the wrong way.
He was complicit in many of the sins I just got home from marching against. He gamed the inequities between labor in the First World and labor in the Third. He was probably a lot of people’s boss-from-hell.
He also made a world in which people like me and Teresa—computer users since 1988, when we got our first Mac SE—are technologists rather than passive victims of someone else’s vision of technology. Selfish though it may be, I have to acknowledge that this means a very great deal to us.
The world is complicated. Late capitalism sucks. Our systems don’t work. Our futures are controlled by people who don’t give a crap for anything we care about.
Steven Jobs cared about something. Without him, our lives would have been different, and probably worse. We’ll miss him. Anyone who wants to take this as the occasion to wag a reproving finger is invited—not entirely cordially—to comprehensively plobz the frap off. You may quote me, in this life or the next.