Form Into A Body

On his weekly radio broadcast, Le Show, Harry Shearer sometimes refers to what he calls “the grand experiment.” Sure, manufacturers say their research shows their product to be perfectly safe for the individual human (when used as directed) but, according to Shearer, it’s anyone’s guess when combined with other products. Someone taking that Aleve to get through the day, inhaling petroleum fumes while fueling up, getting industrial strength cleanser on their hands from the store counter, ingesting some glyphosate overspray on their salad (with preservatives), etc. what then? This happens daily. The cumulative effect of continuous exposure/ingestion of multiple synthetic manufactured chemical compounds…. What? As Reich pointed out, public private partnership makes for less and less ability to study this.

Analysis finds this experiment to pale in comparison with the truly grand experiment currently playing out in California (“as we speak”). After years of drought, the water is running out. The experiment is not whether folks can live without water or how they will manage/solve the problem. The experiment is whether contemporary American culture can actually refocus and organize around the common good. Analysis (as well as others) has repeatedly shown that capitalism (from its inception) has been about the elimination of “the commons.” Privatization as a priority within the strategy of conservative governance is no accident or coincidence. Likewise, with only 7% of working Americans within the private sector organized as unions (15% if you include public employees), organizing, the ability to bring an equitable like minded affiliation of people together over a common concern, is actively disparaged and demeaned today. Right out of the box the grand experiment in California faces severe fundamental challenges. The state has always been like the torch on the statue of liberty. California has been the beacon of fulfilling personal pursuits and desires, the highlight of liberty. It is curious as to whether these can be set aside, deferred for the common good. Water is pretty much fundamental to life (prior to the pursuit of happiness). By nature, it slips through the grasping fingers of capitalist appropriation by being oh, so very common.

What does all that have to do with Newark? Newark itself is undergoing a grand experiment. Like Los Angeles, Newark has a large footprint. East to west the city spans 8 miles, north to south 6. All that for a city of nominally 50,000. This weekend witnessed an ostensible community event. Whose community? The community was ostensibly Newark. The existence of such a huge footprint (and growing “as we speak”) for such a small populace complicates any notion of community amidst the pursuit of happiness and individual desire. What event? Notably lacking in the city’s only daily paper (the Newark Advocate) was any mention or coverage of the Newark FAMFEST that had taken place over the weekend. Billed as a “community festival” in the many carefully orchestrated press releases prior to the event, its actual occurrence was never reported. For what purpose? Ostensibly the event was a celebration of the plethora of various cultural phenomena, talent, skill, and art capacity within the “Newark community” (“Shortly after Chris Ramsey arrived in Newark, someone told him there wasn’t really an art scene in the area. It didn’t take him long to realize that person was wrong. Ramsey said he meets local artists every day, whether he’s working at Sparta Restaurant and Coffee Shop or spending time with students at Newark High School. He’s hoping local artists of all ages, and community members who support them, will spend the weekend in downtown Newark participating in FAMFEST, a new festival focused on local film, art and music. “ FAMFEST to celebrate local art scene, Anna Jeffries 4-28-15, The Newark Advocate). The amazing abilities certainly were on display, but there was no, zip, nada post event coverage or critique by a paper that was only all too eager to promote the event (the actual event itself was not news?). Another ostensible purpose of the event was to “get people downtown.” Analysis finds this to be complicated at the least, disingenuous at the most given the displacement of the previously thriving Newark farmers market from the downtown way out to the fringes of Marne (“The market grew every year” Farmers Market Moving, Anna Jeffries 5-5-15, The Newark Advocate). Analogous to California, Newark is immediately challenged by the two fundamentals of organizing and commons. These mutually implicate each other. Corporate structure is not identical with community. It excludes commonality within a hierarchical structuring. According to SCOTUS, a corporation is an entity existing solely in contemplation of the law. Corporation stems from the Latin root word “corporatus” (“form into a body”). The words “Community,” “Commons” stem from a different root, the Latin “communis” (and retain the original meaning). Exemplary of Newark’s grand experiment, this year’s unreported Newark FAMFEST turned out to be a corporate event with community aspirations.


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