The Refusal

from »The Refusal«

Even heroic refusals often aren’t that heroic though some are more heroic than others.– Anne Boyer

In memoriam, Tony Conrad


Or by hugging the cops

Or by posing with them in photos

Or by cooking them a hot meal

Or by standing beside them and farting

Or by pining away for G. W. Bush publicly

Or by kissing a bust of him and serenading him with a guitar

Or by blocking the way of traffic

Or by standing in front of the cops hurling insults, maybe bottles, maybe rocks, maybe Molotov cocktails

Or by wearing a handkerchief for the tear gas and throwing the canisters back at the cops

Or by writing a song and playing it for the others

Or by writing a poem and reading it for the others

Or by dancing with or for others

Or by linking arms and marching (as though this were a dance you had choreographed)

Or by holding meetings, studying together, discussing strategy

Or by starting to plan

Or by stockpiling arms

Or by forming an alliance

Or by splintering into sects

Or by branching into affinity groups

Or by exposing your own body to harm in hopes that this will produce an image of unjustified cruelty, of the law not acting as it should

Or by inspiring pathos and empathy in whoever may see the photograph or the video of your body being harmed

Or by touching another’s body, a body the larger society would not like you to touch in that way

Or by refusing to work

Or in the body itself refusing to work

Or by going to work but destroying the tools

Or by going to work but not doing the things you’re supposed to, instead maybe writing a poem

Or by going to work and writing email and chatting on Gchat and reposting links on Facebook

Or by disseminating internal memos among your friends

Or by leaking sensitive information

Or by finding out everyone’s email passwords and reading their email

Or by napping

Or by taking drugs while on the clock

Or by changing the structure form «within» laying claim to power so as to alter its expression

Or by trying to gain a position in government

Or by having a town hall meeting

Or by starting a petition

Or by writing a letter

Or by starting a blog

Or by placing an ad

Or by calling a referendum

Or by assembling a team of lawyers

Or by finding a loophole in the law

Or by making art that tries to dramatize a legal anomaly or capitalizes upon a legal anomaly

Or by manufacturing passports

Or by founding a charity

Or by chanting a slogan

Or by marching

Or by beating a drum

Or by giving a free concert

Or by fundraising

Or by performing charitable acts

Or by working on behalf of the disenfranchised or an oppressed minority

Or by working pro bono for a legal cause

Or by occupying buildings

Or by taking over the entire city, erecting barricades around the perimeter

Or by raising a militia

Or by publicly shaming one’s leaders when they have committed crimes against humanity

Or by hacking an organization’s or a private individual’s source of funding

Or by stealing from the rich or well-off

Or by robbing a bank

Or by taking from what is commonly shared

Or by squatting

Or by refusing to use one’s legal name

Or by avoiding all use of credit cards or other means by which the state and corporations might track one

Or by replacing the name given to your ancestors, when they were slaves, with another

Or by boycotting the businesses that would not serve your people, the people with your same identifying features

Or by refusing to leave when they tell you to leave

Or by not resisting when they attempt to move your body

Or by packing a weapon

Or through assassination

Or through bombing

Or through car bombing

Or through suicide bombing

Or by organizing a union

Or by forming a network among global laborers and labor organizations

Or by refusing to sign a contract

Or through contractual ownership asserting the rights to how your music is distributed

Or by owning the masters

Or through conspicuous consumption

Or by rearranging those works of art on display

Or through reformatting

Or by removing a work outside the museum or other sanctioned cultural location

Or by defacing or erasing a work of art representing a cultural regime currently in power

Or by toppling a statue

Or through looting

Or by refusing to show

Or by refusing to play

Or by refusing to read

Or by only making your art with others and never giving your name to it

Or by refusing to take credit

Or through plagiarism

Or through reappropriation

Or through sampling
Or through detournement

Or through the derive

Or through intertextuality

Or through preservation

Or through creating an archive

Or by regulating access

Or by interacting with an audience differently

Or by reading your poem or playing your song in the street

Or through street theater

Or by organizing an event

Or by creating a carnivalesque atmosphere

Or by making people feel they can speak or move more freely

Or by reminding everyone of those who are not free to speak or move

Or by caricaturing a political leader or someone else in a position of power

Or by «roasting» the president

Or by speaking «truth to power»

Or by laying claim to the popular media

Or by making information more widely available

Or through education

Or by making sure there is wider access

Or by being willing to go to jail

Or by providing prisoners with educational resources and other basic human rights

Or by breaking out of prison

Or by breaking others out of prison

Or by enacting legislation

Or by making sure a neighborhood is protected from gentrification

Or by holding out

Or by creating strong community networks

Or by appropriating agency for one’s community or for communities in need of resources

Or by opposing developers legally and extra-legally

Or by boycotting strike breakers

Or by not eating meat produced by the industrial-agricultural complex

Or by not eating meat that is produced inhumanely

Or by not eating meat

Or by not using certain gender pronouns

Or replacing certain gender pronouns with others

Or by giving a stranger a swipe

Or by refusing to specialize

Or by giving up art

Or by refusing to show one’s work in certain institutions

Or by constructing the built environment differently

Or by founding the institutions you would want to be a part of, the businesses you would want to participate in

Or by dropping out

Or by committing suicide

Or by committing Facebook suicide

Or by holding hands in public

Or by kissing in public

Or by baring one’s breasts in public

Or by loving too intensely

Or by stealing

Or by being lazy

Or by refusing to produce any art this year

Or by refusing to consume

Or by volunteering to distribute food and medicine and rebuild homes

Or by refusing to vote

Or by voting

Or by not paying your taxes

Or by dumping one’s trash in public

Or by appearing naked in public

Or by performing bodily functions in public

Or by just showing up

Or by pitching a tent

Or by refusing to act violently no matter what

Or by refusing to attend the popular media

Or by recycling or composting

Or through avoiding nouns

Or through using heteronyms and collective names

Or by refusing to participate in certain representation practices

Or by organizing a revolt

Or by storming the palaces

Or by breaking through the phalanx of cops

Or by saying what you shouldn’t

Or by throwing a party

Or by taking drugs

Or by presenting your work publicly

Or by making public statements

Or by filling your purse with ketchup

Or by chaining one’s self to a bank vault, or an old growth tree, or a building slated for demolitions

Or through infiltration

Or through spying

Or by refusing to invest in oil and coal

Or through divestment

Or by sharing a meal

Or through a hunger-strike

Or by embracing another culture, taking on their customs and habits

Or by posing questions

Or by talking back

Or by paying attention

Or through devotion

Or by considering everything in relation

Or by not paying attention

Or by shifting the balance of power

Or by parenting differently

Or by forming alternative affiliations

Or through the withdrawal of tradition

Or through the embrace of traditions

Or in allowing others to make decisions

Or by giving up power

Or by stepping down

Or by building consensus

Or through the establishment of solidarity

Or through eliminating ego

Or through de-emphasizing or displacing «the self»

Or through depersonalization

Or through collectivization

Or through participation

Or by refusing to participate

Or through skepticism

Or through dissensus

Or through reprinting

Or through diplomacy

Or by staying alive

Or by reproducing

Or through transmitting cultural memory

Or through comedy

Or by becoming vulnerable

Or through providing care

Or through forgiving debt

Or through donation

Or by setting up a trust

Or by preventing further exploitation

Or through fucking

Or through reparation

Or through forgiveness

Or through forgetting

Or through reciprocation

Or through symbolization

Or through patience

Or through anger

Or through sorrow

Or through joy