After Sandy

 

The memories are very clear. I remember the transformer exploding. A flash of white. Purple, green and a neon pink. Then the lights go out.

nick1

Cut.

 

I am on Rockaway Beach, beloved title of The Ramones for the first time. Only I am 150 yards from the shore.

nick2

Cut.

 

I am at 520 Clinton, a church turned into Zuccotti Park indoors. The energy is palpable, the numbers substantial and only a few are old OWS types.

nick3

 

Cut. Staten Island, weeks after the storm. It’s still a mess. A Uniqlo truck turns up to dispense free stuff and there’s almost a riot. FEMA vests on a few people are the only sign of the state.

nick4

Cut.

 

I’m onstage at the Rolling Jubilee. Janeane Garofolo was last up. I’m talking about Sandy and climate change. I’ve been holding forth about climate change at Occupy-related events since October 2011. The difference is that people are listening. Hope.

nick5

Cut.

A panel with researchers on Sandy. I talk about this change. Those who have been doing interviews in storm-affected areas report that there’s repeated denial that climate had anything to do with it. Out of respect for their loss, I don’t want to say what I’m thinking—that of course anyone who lives in the new flood plain would have to say that. Social science doesn’t really have a module for denial. Freud was not always wrong, however.

Cut.

A year after Sandy, it’s denial and climate denial that continues to dominate the discussion. After Occupy, I came to think of its strategy as “leap and pivot.” That is to say, you make a leap to an unexpected position. From there, you attempt to pivot to political advantange. So with the leap to occupy Zuccotti Park, the pivot was made to put inequality on the agenda in a new and dynamic way. Occupy Sandy did remarkable mutual aid. It did not make a pivot to change climate politics.

nick6

Perhaps we have to stop cutting away from the climate except when there’s a disaster or an anniversary. Perhaps we just have to push this every day in an everyday way, as the right-wing do with the supposed deficit crisis.

 

Top image courtesy of Erica Lansner

Related Posts

a possible history of oblivion dead land Mewat, waste land, dead land, empty land. Codified in the Ottoman Land Law of 1858, modified in the early 1920s as Britain re-structures the colonial governance of Palestine, and surviving today in the Occupied Territories through a series of legal interpretations and strategic deployment...
REDD Teach-In Friday, December 2REDD stands for the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries. The idea is that forest-dwelling peoples around the world will be paid not to cut down their habitats. Where will this money come from...
Climate Justice Tribunal Friday, December 2The day's activities began with a Climate Justice Tribunal. The model here, of course, is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which became a model for conciliatory justice after hearings in the transition to democracy during the mid-1990s in South Africa. Panelists, who will l...
Introduction We live in a time when the confrontation of reality with reason requires us to dwell on apocalyptic questions. Unfortunately, as Fredric Jameson observed over a decade ago, "It seems to be easier for us today to imagine the thoroughgoing deterioration of the earth and of nature than the breakdown o...

Nicholas Mirzoeff

Nicholas Mirzoeff is a member of the Social Text Collective.