Mirene Arsanios


How to Be Together

Learning to cope is hard, like extreme physical training. It demands a great deal of agility,

an apprenticeship in the art of compromise, a constant lowering of the threshold of


To cope is to make life possible without real possibility, to find ways of dealing,

whereas surviving, which is a state of bare living, is too consumed with its own task to feel

anything other than the determination to live. You can be good or bad at coping, but you can’t

be good or bad at surviving.

To survive is to mobilize every particle of the self towards getting through the morning, then

the day, to muster the totality of being into bear subsistence.

To survive is to not die every day against all odds, to wrestle a system designed to “thrive” on

your own demise. Fighting the money lords when surviving is super hard because you’re too

busy not dying to muster any revolutionary energy, and “thriving” isn’t worse than

surviving, but it isn’t great either.

As in a “thriving economy,” as in a state of infectious proliferation which the planet can no

longer sustain.

How to be alive isn’t a question of ascending or descending order, increments

or surplus, subtractions or additions of being. Being together and not alone is a practice of non-

separation between hardship and ecstasy; no one is thriving if someone is surviving. As long as

some of us are surviving or coping or thriving, “we” are not possible.

“We” isn’t possible if it isn’t inclusive of all the women (in the refugee camps, at the border, the

women imprisoned with and without children, the women scrubbing your office floors and

fighting in occupied lands). “We” will not be possible as long as you have something

(an inheritance, uninterrupted power, time to read) someone

else is denied or as long as what “we” desire is defined by humanistic imaginings of

togetherness, liberal philanthropy, and other terribly good intentions.

“We” will only be possible once everyone has nothing ((to cope (with) or survive (against) or

thrive (for)), which is everything we ever needed to be (together).