What’s Octupy?

Who wants to explore octopus imagery?

Fat cats and greedy pigs make great symbols of corporate greed, but multi-armed octopi speak to the ways in which corporations operate. And more than that, as super graceful creatures with a (possibly) distributed brain, they may offer an image by which to think about evolving forms of leaderless self-organization. ***

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries writers and cartoonists used the octopus to great effect to detail corporate maneuverings and bring them to public attention. Some of our favorites represent Southern Pacific Railroad: “The leviathan, with tentacles of steel clutching into the soil” described by Frank Norris, which laid the foundation for contemporary “corporate personhood” in 1886 via a successful tax avoidance strategy. Others – well, Vulgar Army, which is devoted to the “octopus in propaganda and political cartoons”, has an excellent selection for your delectation.

There are certainly references to the corporate octopus happening now, like this one by Molly Crabapple, but we’d like to see more detail, and more of them – and bigger. So, partly to have the image happen in the world, partly to be able to talk about it with people, we’ve been making a giant octopus puppet at Occupy LA. The plan is to do the first performance on Sunday November 20, 2011.

We, by the way, are Janet, Matthew, Beth, Sara, Meredith, Jules, Ed, Daniel, Sam, AAAAAA, Lou, Guy, Chris, Pete, Autumn, Terence, Fabian, Francine, Dennis, Carol, Starla, Bill, Glen, Krista, Stephanie,  more names to come…..

*** Does this graphic, The Declaration of the Occupation of NYC, represent the self-organizing octopus mind in operation?