1. The last class I’ll ever take as a student is a class I’m taking this semester called Tangible Computing in the Media Arts + Practice program at USC. After this class, I’ll be finished with coursework forever, I’ll have a graduate certificate in Media Arts + Practice, and I’ll be one major step closer to finishing my PhD. But that’s not what’s important. This is what’s important:
The idea that you could hold a message is so compelling to me. I am someone who needs to hold things to feel their reality. When my former significant other and I spent excessive time apart, which was always, I would fall asleep hugging the stuffed owl he bought me for just this purpose. When I was having a hard time last summer, dealing with grief and unwanted change, my friend gave me her 24 hour AA chip and I held that in my hand constantly. I held it in my hand as I walked around the various cities I visited. I held it in my hand while I slept. During a particularly inspiring road trip through the desert one summer, at the bottom of a ditch in the Michael Heizer’s landart work “Double Negative,” I found a black stone. I held that stone in my hand throughout the rest of my drive, through thousands of miles across the American Southwest. When I turned 23, my babysitter who had recently been diagnosed with kidney cancer called me and left me a birthday message that included information about the fact that all her scans came back negative for cancer on that day, a day she chose for her scans because she loved me and I was her good luck charm. She died a few months later, but I saved that message on my phone. When I got a new iPhone in April of last year, all my messages were erased. There were messages from multiple now dead people I’d loved on that phone. Fortunately I’d had the forethought to play her message from my phone on speaker into my computer while it was recording, so I do have a copy of that message, but my heart would somehow feel lighter if I were able to carry around a little marble that I knew contained her voice. Even if I couldn’t listen to it without the machine it was designed to play on, just knowing that I was holding a thing that held her memory inside it would put me at ease. I’d save the message from my mom where she quickly and quietly sings me happy birthday from her work phone, the low volume so she wouldn’t disturb the office. I’d save the message from KT telling me I’d been accepted to USC’s PhD program. I’d save messages from my far away friends telling me they love me. I would carry around a sack of physical evidence of the people who are important to me. I would buy Bishop’s answering machine in a heartbeat. But it was never actually put into production.
This book is all the stuff I’m always trying to say to the people who won’t listen, but said better, stronger, smarter, more beautifully. This book is everything that matters to me in life, as a woman, as someone fighting constantly for a world without the structural impediments that keep the majority of people in a completely unacceptable position. If I could make all my students read this book, I would. In fact, I told them on day one of class this semester that I can’t assign this book due to course requirements/restrictions, but that they should all buy and read this book if they actually want to participate in the intellectual community they’re now entering, if they want to be good, or at least better, or at least less shitty members of the society that raised them up to reinforce all the bullshit this book tries to take down, at least addresses. If I had the money right now, I would send this book to my mom. To my grandma. To my brother. To all my friends who don’t already own it, which is hardly anyone. I would buy this book for my students myself if I could. So just do it. Just buy this book. And read it. For god’s sake. Actually for your sake. And for my sake. For woman’s sake. For people’s sake. For goodness’ sakes. Bad Feminist. Roxane Gay. Do it.