Sixteen Scores for Resistance by Samantha Cohen


1. Resist Sense of Scale

Go on a hike somewhere unpopular.  Avoid looking at the horizon. You can see green green green rolling and rolling, deep green fur swallowing tiny homes, okay. Maybe you can see your home, even, your building’s swimming pool, the LA River, the ocean. The city will look tiny and mappable like always. But avoid looking at everything on this giant scale. Fuck views. Look at the soil right where you are standing near the top of the mountain. Look at the way things have rooted: weeds, trees. Look at how things twist around each other and consider their relationships—how they’ve made space for one another, used each other pleasurably. Try to see the tiny organisms that make up the soil and, for thirty minutes, just look and look and consider this patch of soil to be the whole world.

2. Resist Love Narratives 

Rub the head of someone you’re in love with who might not be in love with you back. Do not question what it means that they’ve consented to let you rub their head. Do not try to communicate your love tactilely or wonder if you’ll get to rub their head ever again. Do not speculate whether their slight, accidental-sounding mm-ing means they’re in love with you back. Just concentrate on listening to the person’s head with your fingertips, on trying to give the head it the pressure and motion it wants. Consider this headrub, by itself, the end goal.

3. Resist Needing Permission

Start taking cigarette breaks without cigarettes. Do this at social gatherings and at work (especially if you work in the service industry) and when you’re home sending emails or whatever. Just go outside and stand there for seven to eight minutes. Then, go back inside.          

4. Resist Social Constructs Like “Wednesday” or “Friday Night”

Skew your calendar forward by one or three or even one-and-a-half days like people who are always late do with clocks. At least if you still have to believe in the idea of Friday night, yours will happen at a different time than other people’s.

5. Resist Not Sweating the Small Stuff

Write an essay about the maybe-duplicitous comment your coworker made or the exhausted way the customer service agent dealt with you on the phone.

6. Resist Productivity     

Instead of working on your project or trying to find someone to make babies with, stay home and sing a Kate Bush album start-to-finish and a cappella while drinking absinthe and eating pasta or grapefruit in your living room. Another option is to do this with a musical soundtrack.

7. Resist Maps

Go to a foreign city, either in this country or another country, either alone or with someone you love or could love. Do not get a Lonely Planet guide or any map at all. Stay in weird motel-type places where you’re unlikely to be given sightseeing advice. Walk or drive or bike around. Make your own map of that city. Include trees that make you feel things, spots where the air feels like a portal, places with exciting food, etcetera. Or stay home and make a map of your room, or your thigh. 

8. Resist Thinking of Bodies in Parts 

Get naked in a locked room with someone you think is beautiful who thinks you are beautiful, too. Touch this person without thinking names for body parts, without thinking of names for acts. Rub them over tiny areas of skin and large ones. Maybe you’ll find your way into a tiny or a large crevice somewhere and you’ll rub there, too. Pretend you are manatees or anemones or aliens and see how that goes. Climb on them and let things enter where they enter and slide where they slide.

9.Resist Ideas of Tasteful Decor

Drape your ceiling in fuchsia tulle. Have a room full of gold candelabra and turquoise paint. Collect stuffed animals from carnival trash bins and baby store Dumpsters and adhere them to a wall until there is no wall anymore, only a menagerie of plush cats and bears.

10. Resist Ideas About Healthy Sleep

Go to bed at midnight and set an alarm for four a.m. Wake up at four and work on an art project until six a.m. Go back to sleep until 10 a.m. or whenever you want, and look at your project in the morning.

11.Resist Using Products as Cures for Things

Next time you have a minor physical ailment such as a low-grade fever or a yeast infection or a wart, cure yourself using only items from your kitchen and from Super King or your local equivalent. Talk to a witch for help picking out the items or for casting a spell to help the items work.

12. Resist Ideas of “Home” and “Public”

Leave your dishes unwashed. Go to a city river or a park. Plant snap peas, rainbow chard, strawberries, and clover. Visit sometimes to make sure your plants are doing okay. Make a little sign that labels your plants and invites people to eat them. People sometimes need an invitation.

13. Resist Ideas of Fashion Seasons and Formality (and ideas of what is for the rich and what is for you)

Put away $50 or $100 each month. Or like, whatever you can, but probably you can do at least $50 if you’re obsessive about it. Wait a year and then buy an outfit, or garment, that is exactly what you want to wear all the time. It could maybe even be from like Vivienne Westwood or Rodarte or Chanel. Be seen in public exclusively in this outfit, every time you leave your home, until next year, when you’ll get a new one. 

14. Resist Infantilizing Animals 

Spend one hour closely observing your cat. Put yourself on approximately the same height-level as the cat, meaning you will likely be sitting, laying, or crouching. You may interact with the animal if the animal initiates interaction. You may talk with the animal, but talk in the tone of voice and cadence you would use for another adult human—no more high-pitched or musical. Set a timer for an hour. Do not take your eyes off the cat.

15. Resist the Idea of Adult Gatherings

Organize a slumber party. Have everyone bring sleeping bags. Move your furniture and lay the sleeping bags out on the living room floor. Have a crafting activity ready—something that involves gluing and glitter and pom-poms and sewing or clay. Have cupcakes and Kombucha and bowls of pretzels and peanut M&Ms. Give each other haircuts and make masks out of avocados and other stuff from your fridge and put them on your faces. Play Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board and Bloody Mary and stay up until at least 6 a.m. watching psychological thrillers and horror movies. Give each other palm readings and massages.  Read each other poems and braid each other’s hair and talk about resistance.

16. Resist Civility           

Climb a tree that is not a park tree but a city tree. Go up and up until you’re somewhere comfortable, probably straddling a spot where branch meets trunk. Finger the sap and run the pads of your hands along the bark. Look down at the people walking in their sundresses or coats. Feel how the bark is rough and alive. Lick the sap you’ve fingered, and remember you are animal.