November 10, 2011
Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries, reads from "Bartleby."
Housing Works Bookstore cosponsored an OWS outdoor reading Thursday of Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby, the Scrivener." Some noted authors read passages, while many Occupiers were encouraged to read aloud as well.
Written in 1853, "Bartleby" tells the story of a "Scrivener (a professional scribe)" on Wall Street who eventually refuses to do his job but never officially "quits." He comes to "occupy" the office where he worked until he's forcibly carted away. Some scholars have said the book is in part about a man who becomes severely depressed from the monotony of office life but cannot find the strength to leave to pursue other dreams.
"The character of "Bartleby" starts out as a functioning part of the system he comes to oppose, said Justin Taylor, organizer of the event, and author of The Gospel of Anarchy. "His is not an outsider's but an insider's critique. This reading is as much for the Wall Streeters as for for the Occupiers. It's an invitation to the 1%ers to consider making Bartlebys of themselves."
AIDS activists from Housing Works, VOCAL-NY and other organizations have been mobilizing at OWS, ensuring that AIDS -- a disease of poverty -- is visible in this global movement for economic justice.