Occupying The Invisible Man’s Apartment

In We hold these truths to be self-evident on January 29, 2012 at 1:35 am



(Cassandra, 20-30 CE)


The Invisible Man, from Ralph Ellison  (Nick-named Tim.  With the invisible “e” on the end, he becomes the hands of Time.)

Lennie Small, from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

Troy Davis

Scene: Invisible Man’s basement apartment, under the 1,369 lights of Monopolated Light & Power

Time: Now, but by the time we cut in they’ve been hanging out a long time


Troy:  Invisible Man, you were so lucky to realize you were invisible while you were alive.  Why couldn’t I figure out I, and all my supporters, were invisible till after I died?

Tim:  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  It is difficult even for the invisible to see all the ways they can’t be seen.  I remember how compelled I was, once, by the words of a blind preacher.  But that didn’t prevent me from running down roads of blindness.

Lennie:  I think both of you would be less blind if we could just turn off some of the lights in here.  They’re making me dang blind.

Troy: But my supporters are still saying, “I am Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis.”  It’s  hard to see who can see that they’re not seen–otherwise, why do they persist?

There was so much faith in the hours before my execution.  We’d been at that brink, and come through, before.  Did anyone really believe this time they’d go through with it?

Tim:  Your supporters vastly outnumbered your executioners and accusers.   Your supporters increased over the years, while the conviction of your accusers diminished and testimony was recanted.  This is part of the logic of being invisible:  sheer numbers and moral authority have to be obliterated by a powerful minority.   If truth weren’t a threat, it would be visible, not invisible.

Troy:  So the ones behind bars that don’t have names,  those invisible are even more of a threat to truth than I,  who, by being released from obscurity, became slightly more visible than they?

Tim:  True.  Though you felt desperate at times, you knew you had supporters holding signs for you–for years, all over the world.  You knew people were making connections over you.    They were harnessing their political power to combat the powerlessness you experienced in your cell.  But imagine the nameless ones behind bars, knowing no one is out there holding signs, embarrassing the judges and jury and executioners and press and citizenry.   The prevalent “truth” that they are guilty might be shattered if they, too, could tell their stories.  But like I said, truth has to be held at bay by making sure the invisible people stay invisible.    The name “Troy Davis” got out.  Can’t have their names getting out, or this “We are Troy Davis” nonsense might never die.

Lennie: Was I Troy Davis once?

Troy:  Lennie, in the moments before my execution, I believed we all were Troy Davis, even my executioners.  That’s why I pleaded for everyone to keep working for the truth to emerge, and to keep working for all the wrongfully imprisoned the world over.  But when I blessed my executioners, the papers the next day called me “defiant to the end.”

Tim:  They call Paul Krugman all sorts of mean things, too, for harping on things like the social savagery of massive unemployment.  If you can see clearly, you will be vilified, according to Darwinian laws of nature.

Troy:  We are all walking the executioner’s plank in life–one entrance, one exit, and no one knows how long his plank is.

Tim:  But history conspires while you live and long after you die to write and re-write every story you have told.  You don’t own your history.  Your fans and detractors are writing it for you.  At last you see, you are invisible in such process, even when you were alive.

Troy:  Weird how we can only experience eternity one moment at a time–no faster, no slower–we are eternally time-bound in our intuition and understanding of eternity.  Don’t know why I was trying to speed up eternity while I was alive, because I for sure am in it now.

Tim: Being invisible is best done through eternity.  There are finite times when you think you are visible, but as you saw in your life, those were the times that got you in the most trouble.

Lennie:  I was just looking for a place.  Dudes, I wasn’t looking for all this heavy talk.

Tim: Lennie, how is that butterfly doing in your pocket?

Lennie: You mean the wings of Democracy?

Tim: Yeah.

Lennie:  Dude!  I wasn’t Troy Davis!   I  had never heard of him.  I didn’t read the papers.   I was just paying my taxes.  I was just paying my taxes hoping to find a place.  I wasn’t meaning to fund his execution.  I didn’t have such a cool death either, so I can relate.  I didn’t mean to.  I didn’t know what I was doing….we just found each other afterwards….

Tim: But the wings….do they beat?  Can they flutter?

Lennie: Dude, I’m not Socrates.  I can’t do all this questioning and answer.  I don’t think it leads anywhere except to confusion.   But hey, I got this amazing canister of  Defense Technology 56895 MK-9 Stream, 1.3% Red Band/1.3% Blue Band Pepper Spray off of Amazon the other day…

Troy: I almost forgot what we were here for–I have them all right here….

Tim: Did I invite you two over for something I didn’t know about? What is that raft of papers?

Troy:  These papers are the charter incorporations of all the corporations in the world: the founding documents establishing corporations that people give allegiance to over the Constitutions of their own governments.  By giving precedence to corporations over self-governance, people willingly give the lion’s share of their labor over to shareholders and the corporate board, with beaucoup bucks for the CEO.

The corporate structure legally declares itself as more important that the mere workers, and so it should partake of the profits of their labor and call them “dividends,” which go directly into private shareholder and corporate office holder bank accounts to become the even more untouchable “private investments.”

The elevation of Corporations over Democracy hit a whole new height when the U.S. Supreme Court declared with the Citizens United v. FEC  ruling that corporations are people and money is speech.  The corporeal, unincorporated people who just had mere blood and hunger and breath felt a little slighted.  Who can blame them?  They’re alive, we’re not.

Tim: And the pepper spray?  Don’t tell me that you’re going to pepper spray the corporations?  Are you trying to make them cry? Do you think this will be any more effective than Texas executing a corporation?

Lennie:  No, we found a use not mentioned on the thousands of reader reviews extolling pepper spray as a vegetable: it is also wicked lighter fluid!

Tim: Are you saying pepper spray is more flammable than inflammatory speech?

Troy: Well, let’s throw out the lights, spray these babies up, throw the match, and see!

Tim: Why not–let’s see if burning the corporate charters brings more light to this place.   Maybe with a new type of light, we’ll be less blind….

[The lights flick out.  They start to cough and choke as  Lennie sprays the pepper spray on top of the heap of papers–but when Lennie throws the match–whooosh–it burns away the burning spray, and the three men see shadows and lines in each other’s faces they couldn’t see under electric light….]

Lennie: Something’s tickling me.

Tim: Check your pocket.

Lennie: It’s trying to fly…the butterfly is trying to fly….

Troy: Let it out of its cage.  Your pocket is its cage.

Lennie: I didn’t kill it…it’s free…it’s flying…

[the embers are smoldering….the pile is becoming ash…]

Tim: So how will the people know the corporations are dead?

Troy: We’ll have to get the word out somehow…

Tim: If it shows up on a multiple-choice question on a standardized test, don’t expect anyone to remember it–not even the students in the 98th percentile….

Lennie: We’ll just have to carry it as good news by mouth…

Troy:  This news might conflict with the Good News of the evangelicals…their Good News sure didn’t save my life, sincere though it was…but this could save some untimely deaths from poverty and homelessness…the news that we’re actually going to treat all people as equal under the law–give workers their full share of profits without siphoning most of the profits off to the board, CEO, and shareholders….

Tim: You’ve got a  lot of flying in the face of accepted truth to do there…

Lennie: That’s why my butterfly’s wings are beating… I didn’t kill him, we’ll send him among the people to tell the truth: the corporations are dead–corporations aren’t people–money is not speech–corporations cannot buy elections–Only people with bodies, brains, and hearts can keep ALL their profits of their labors, and re-invest 100% back into themselves and production of whatever endeavor it is, whether service, manufacturing, or intellectual pursuits…

Tim: You’re competing with 900 channels of cable t.v. propaganda to get this news out.  You’re competing with an education system that reduces education to a 4-answer quiz-show question:   impediments that Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and all the slaves who escaped via the underground railroad never had to contend with–the truth was self-evident, and they could clearly see when men were not equal, when wealth was falsely elevated.  And they had remedies: they migrated, they revolted against the King, they established new governments, they revolted against the plantation owners, they helped each other.

Troy: But I can at last see that I was invisible in my life, so surely my capacity to lose some of my blindness is helping others to see–If I can do it, anyone can do it.  The People can see they, not corporations, are people.  They can see what fairness is.   If a butterfly can beat its wings, and I can see, they can see…

Lennie:  I think the butterfly will lead me to the place I had always been trying to find…a place where everyone is safe…

Tim:  You two are certainly full of commendable idealism.  Whether this was street theater or something else, only time will tell.  But I am honored that you chose my apartment in which to light the sacrificial pyre.   We’ll watch the people, and keep seeing who figures out they’re invisible, and so does not waste energy believing they are seen by the ones who can’t see the invisible.  Then, maybe, the more just and equal world of governments for people might reign, and the reign of corporations and a few wealthy rulers at the expense of everyone else, might end….

  1. girl, this is wonderful. I wanted to check in on valentine’s day and send you wishes for all the love you need to get you through whatever’s coming. And all the courage. cause it’s gonna take strength and courage to turn this ship around. I’m not even sure it can be done. My answer isn’t the streets, where we will lose to the military, but via non participation in the whole thing. No cards, no cars, no loans, no nothin. grow it, eat it, farm it. Just like the 70s knew it was time to check out. i could be wrong, but that’s what it feels like to me.

    which isn’t to say i wouldn’t like to take all these hosers and hang em high. anyway, happy valentine’s day. love is, after all, all we really need when it comes down to it. so here ya go.

    xxx oo cat


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