Art, Occupy and the Illusions of the One Percent

Achievers. The one percent. Winners. Those who are so adamant about not raising taxes on corporations the wealthiest in the nation would have us believe that there is some inherent quality, something unique and sacrosanct in this supposed talent. Set aside the responsibility to the nation fostering a nurturing environment for business(political and social stability, laws, courts, infrastructure, an educated and healthy populace) argument. Talents are for the arts, or sports, for positive intellect and in healthy and uplifting relationships. 

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe;” wrote John Donne in meditations XVII, in 1624, “every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

Achiever is in itself an insult hurled at the rest of us by the selfish and greedy. It implies that the jobs we go to daily, the place we’ve arrived at in life is not an achievement. It screams that raising children, running a home, going to school, struggling with poverty, prevailing through an illness is somehow a lesser achievement. It presumes one person’s experience is greater than another’s. It pits one person’s struggle against another’s, which is a fool’s game.

Reverend Billy at the Occupy Chicago General Assembly Wednesday evening spoke about community and the responsibility of the 1%. One is indeed the loneliest number

The way it is used becomes an assertion of power and right and privilege. Their achievement is presumed to have value above all others. It is an assumption of rule and of a ruling class, which is antithetical to the declaration of Independence and of the Constitution.

It also betrays a lie the so-called achievers pretend to themselves. It is the ultimate lie because it ignores the very thing Donne wrote about. Life is impossible alone. A soul alone writing a novel relies upon the history making the computer usable, upon the society nurturing freedom of thought, of the luxury of not having to forage through the day for food, shelter and sustenance, and even of the craftsman who constructed the desk and chair upon which that novelist writes.

A month ago I wrote a play. I am proud of that play, but as such it is little more than a semi-interesting collection of two dimension words upon a page. In the coming weeks a passionate and talented cast will bring those words to life, moving them around in three-dimensional space, adding inflection and history and textures I would never have imagined. We will perform on a radio station, the play expanded and re-envisioned  by a producer who will add sound effects to create a new and as yet unrealized world. We will perform upon a stage built by dreamers who wished for a space that actors might create as yet unimagined works and as yet unwritten words. Those stages are maintained by electricians, lighting experts and others who make each performance possible.

Sadly, what has happened in America is that the one percent has all but convinced us that only the writer matters, and that all the rest should bow before them. The Occupy movement asserts a different reality, one consistent with the constitution, in which all citizens are imbued with a god-given dignity and that all of us have a responsibility to maintaining the greatest measure of human dignity that can be maintained. The limit placed on that dignity is a measure of the cynicism inherent in a heart.

No man is indeed an island, except in his own heart, and upon that island is loneliness and nothing more. There is an old pop song that says one is the loneliest number. If there is salvation from that loneliness, it must be among the 99%.

About 900poundgorilla

W.C. Turck is a Chicago playwright and the author of four widely acclaimed books.His latest is "The Last Man," a prophetic novel of a world ruled by a single corporation. His first novel, "Broken: One Soldier's Unexpected Journey Home," was reccommended by the National Association of Mental Health Institutes. His 2009 Memoir, "Everything for Love" chronicled the genocide in Bosnia and the siege of Sarajevo. His third book "Burn Down the Sky" is published exclusively on Amazon Kindle. It was in Sarajevo at the height of the siege where he met and married his wife, writer and Artist Ana Turck. FOX NEWS, ABC, CBS News, the Chicago Tribune and The Joliet Herald covered their reunion after the war. He helped organized relief into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Turck has been a guest on WMAQ-TV, WLS in Chicago, WCPT, WBBM radio, National Public Radio, Best Of the Left and the Thom Hartmann show. He has spoken frequently on Human Rights, Genocide and Nationalism. In 2011, his play in support of the Occupy Movement, "Occupy My Heart-a revolutionary Christmas Carol" recieved national media attention and filled theaters to capacity across Chicago. He remains an activist to the cause of human rights and international peace. View all posts by 900poundgorilla

2 responses to “Art, Occupy and the Illusions of the One Percent

  • D

    Unfortunatley the one claim made in this article that is in error, is the most critical error of all. The claim that the Occupy movement asserts a “different reality” is, in my opinion, somewhat presumptious. In reality, the movement actually asserts a different ‘ideology’ NOT a different ‘reality’, which is consistent with the fatal error that all occupiers make. You see, IDEAS are ALWAYS different from REALITIES. The IDEA of marriage is far different than th REALITY

    • 900poundgorilla

      D., thanks for the comment, but in fact an ideology realized or strived for becomes reality. It is, you must admit, a bit of a semantic argument. The truth is, the movement does not assert a different ideology, but very certainly is working to create a new paradigm, which would then be a new reality. The idea of civil rights for African Americans is of course different from perfect civil rights, but the rights realized have brought us to the reality of where we are today with regards to assumptions and understandings of civil and human rights. That certainly was not the reality, but it is now, though it remains a work in progress, which is what most in the Occupy movement I know understand to be the reality in any social change, correction or revolution.As for marriage, after 17 years of marriage the ideas I had before and at the start of that relationship were absolutely different from the reality. compromise and self-sacrifice on both our parts have made the difference, but there is a duality here, as tempered and compromised ideas about marriage are what we both work towards in an ever changing, ever-progressing, ever-evolving reality. To expand that definition, Gay marriage was once a very distant idea, but is now a reality. In short, our ideas are the seedlings for future realities, depending upon our passion for nurturing them to fruition.

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