We tell ourselves stories in order to live We look for the sermon in the suicide for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five We interpret what we see select the most workable of the multiple choices We live entirely especially if we are writers by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images by the ideas with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience Joan Didion The White Album I wish I could dance like Fred Astaire and write like Joan Didion I find myself attracted to Joan Didion The younger Didion I can understand She was a Miss shiv and a Ms shank She was sharp California cool and seemed to slide clean and straight along a razor thin line between madness and coldness that was absolutely sane true and beautiful But it isn t just the young Didion I find attractive I dig the older Didion The one who seems hard wrinkled priestess of the California desert than an elderly ueen of cool laying in bed with another Goddamn migraine I know this is the stuff of cults and hero worship I know this is already a clich It isn t like I DON T know my diet Coke is bad for me and that nothing is ever EVER as advertised But still I long I lust I linger too often over just the idea of Didion After reading her essays in The White Album I think it would have been dangerous to breed Joan Didion with John McPhee What rough New Journalism beast its hour come round at last would awaken and slouch towards the New Yorker the New York Times and the New York Review of Books to be born But where John McPhee is rolling hills and farmer s markets Joan Didion is a raging river breaking waves and rock and roll McPhee feeds you Didion ives you the whiskey you might need after a bad dream or bad trip McPhee is a rocky mountain cut through Didion is an LA Freeway I can t imagine my life without either There are certain writers that make you want to read Didion is one of those writers that make you want to think and write Be careful folks You might fall in love with Joan Didion but she sure the hell won t ever love you back If I had started with The White Album instead of Slouching Toward Bethlehem I might have been spared two years of blithely embarrassing myself with statements like Joan Didion She s ok Actually she s amazing The rhythms of her self dramatization in Slouching were too arch for my taste or perhaps for my mood The White Album must be different or I must have changed because I love the persona that emerges from its rhythms She s brooding migrainous in the first essay paranoid yet essentially tough minded and clear seeing a recipe of sorts for my favorite type of writer Baudelaire and Cioran also brazed their delicate nerves to hard cutting styles I like her excitability her habit of sudden absorption Of late 60s biker Pulse The Forever Man grindhouse she writes I saw nine of them recently saw the first one almost by accident and the rest of them with a notebook The book s keynote right there Didion takes the stuff of recondite hobbies and autistic fixation irrigation infrastructure the Governors mansions of California and finds therandeur the lyric the ideaSince the afternoon in 1967 when I first saw the Hoover Dam its image has never been entirely absent from my inner eye I will be talking to someone in Los Angeles say or New York and suddenly the dam will materialize its pristine concave face Brethren Life In Bondage Brethren gleaming against the harsh rusts and taupes and mauves of that rock canyon hundreds and thousands of miles from where I am I will be driving down Sunset Boulevard about to enter a freeway and abruptly those transmission towers will appear before me canted vertiginously over the tailrace Sometimes I am confronted by the intakes and sometimes by the shadow of the heavy cable that spans the canyon and sometimes by the ominous outlets to unused spillways black in the lunar clarity of the desert night uite often I hear the turbinesI walked across the marble star map that traces a sidereal revolution of the euinox and fixes forever the Reclamation man had told me for all time and for all people who can read the stars the date the dam was dedicated The star map he had said was for when we were allone and the dam was left I had not thought much of it when he said it but I thought of it then with the wind whining and the sun dropping behind a mesa with the finality of a sunset in space Of course that was the image I had seen always seen it without uite realizing what I saw a dynamo finally free of man splendid at last in its complete isolation transmitting power and releasing water to a world where no one isAnd leave it to the poet of Public Works to hang out with Malibu lifeguards and delight in the laconic routines and paramilitary rankings of those civil servants in red trunks cherish their use of a diction as flat and as finally poetic as that of Houston Control The White Album is rich in another effect one I cannot name and so will clumsily indicate by invoking Holly s stereopticon in Badlands Joseph Cornell s doll coffins among other uncanny capsules of ephemera also your mom s tasseled dance card and Flaubert s assertion that when everything is dead the imagination will rebuild entire worlds from a few elderflower twigs and the shards of a chamber pot The bedrooms are big and private and high ceilinged and they do not open on the swimming pool and one can imagine reading in them or writing a book or closing the door and crying until dinner The bathrooms are big and airy and they do not have bidets but they do have room for hampers and dressing tables and chairs on which to sit and read a story to a child in the bathtub Many Mansions She was a child on the Wisconsin prairie who played with china dolls and painted watercolors with cloudy skies because sunlight was too hard to paint and with her brothers and sisters listened every night to her mother read stories of the Wild West of Texas of Kit Carson and Billy the Kid She told adults that she wanted to be an artist and was embarrassed when they asked what kind of artist she wanted to be she had no idea what kind She had no idea what artists did She had never seen a picture that interested her other than a pen and ink Maid of Athens in one of her mother s books some Mother Goose illustrations printed on cloth a tablet cover that showed a little Post voor mevrouw Bromley girl with pink roses and the painting of Arabs on horseback that hung in herrandmother s parlor Georgia O Keeffe Reading Didion s essays is not unlike unearthing a time capsule you didn t know existed from a parallel universe that appears earthlike Sure there are words like California and feminism and Malibu but Didion does things to those familiar events and locales that changes them into an uniue vision a Didionism Whether we re standing with her on Oak Street below the Black Panthers H receiving a visual pat down retracing author James Jones steps along the army barracks in Honolulu or mesmerized by the flashing lights of a California water station we are viewing the world in a clarity that only she can properly express To brook an opposing view is an impossibility it would shatter the magic and render the vibrant hue of the Didion world into workaday memories pale Weekly Writes: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss gray and dimensional as news viewed on library microfiche I didn t love these essays until about the midpoint The Women s Movement a devastatinglyood piece about the watering down of feminism in mid century America about the heartbreaking shift of a vitally important revolutionary movement as it lost touch its ideological base and became ever a vehicle appropriated by a leisure class its oals moving away from seeking the for an individual to create their own uniue destiny unfettered
traditional obstacles and and moving toward something like a seeking of the possibility for the mere prolongation of adolescence a fear of rowing up a form of escapism than a new form of liberation This seems to me even today a very important and accurate assessment of not only what happened within various egalitarian movements in the last half of the 20th century but a shift that occurred on whole societal Recollection generational levels in AmericaAfter that midpoint in the book pretty much every essay contains little revelations little personal thunderstorms and continental illuminations Didion does such areat job of balancing the internal and the external the personal and the social the personal and the political Her cultural criticisms are downright measured but no less defanged such intelligence and confidence need not be blustery and what I find at the heart of many of the cultural and political essays is a distanced lamentation for an America that could have been but was lost or obliterated at some vague point in the latter days of the 60 s could have been if we were less forgetful of history less willing to take the path of least resistance less entitled less ready to meet our better selves less easily resigned to things as they come packaged She rarely seems angry she often seems disappointed Her prose is never shaken this woman can write a hell of a balanced beautiful sentence but what we are After Math Off the Subject given as her personality often seems on the verge of tearing in the winds of her timesSpeaking of wind is an important element in this collection Wind blows from the Pacific through an open hotel room window as she anticipates a tidal wave and a possible divorce in Honolulu Wind stirs up debris in the streets of Bogota Wind blows and stokes fires across southern California that heat to such an extreme that birds explode in mid air Wind ripples the surface of the ocean as she observers a diver submerging into cold water thick with kelp Wind has aided the coastal fires in coating the surface of the water with soot The elements are ever present and interactive Water nourishes Amado Vazuez s thousands of orchids before fire destroys them Light and water on the beaches of California and Hawaii coddle the idle survivors of old money She is areat observer of rain rain and its antithesis dust Water holds special sway over her recollections the flow of water and the absence of water water held back by dams flow stations the control and release of water as it would anyone living in the arid southwest or California s strange meteorological zones Light the viscosity of air in certain places the various colors of vegetation and vegetation s abundance or lack even a person s voice or posture their slightest motion Didion is so conscious of the tone of a setting and the settings constituent pieces be it a forest or an airport a hotel room in New York or student demonstration a stretch of coast or a shopping mall the Hoover Dam or the Getty Museum She is a master at uncovering the telling detail of a scene and this includes the obscure detail ferreted out that in brief is revelatory of someone or something s broader historicityHer voice is always re centering in the human the cultural the societal the orientation of the individual in respect to the massive undulations of the country and the epoch A military Crónicas de Londres graveyard attendant Soldiers Lifeguards Botanists Filmmakers Painters Writers Politician s wives Radical activists Murderers Musicians That she can project a totality of all of these things andet at the. First published in 1979 The White Album is a journalistic mosaic of American life in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s It includes among other bizarre artifacts and personalities reportage on the dark journeys and impulses of the Manson family a visit to a Black Panther Party press conference the story of John Paul Getty's museum.By Traditional Obstacles And
Joan Didion Ï 2 Free readR as if he were wresting the words behind some disabling aphasiaRobby Krieger picked at his Les nuits de Malibu guitar and said that he needed a fuzz box The producer suggested that he borrow one from the Buffalo Springfield who were recording in the next studio Krieger shrugged Morrison sat down again on the leather couch and leaned back He lit a match He studied the flame a while and then very slowly very deliberately lowered it to the fly of his black vinyl pants Manzarek watched himThere was a sense that no one wasoing to leave the room everThe 60s the decade she lived through and therefore as a writer wanted to chronicle end before she can understand what s happening and then all that s left are some Scientology tracts and a copy of Stranger in a Strange Land in a closet in an abandoned seaside home But isn t that the way time always seems to pass Didion has a cold detachment that is sometimes condescending and off putting in my opinion at least She has a certain way of dryly uoting others that seems to expose the hidden vacuity at the center of their endeavor and this sometimes seems unjustified In Good Citizens for example she describes being at a club owned by supporters of Eugene McCarthy about a week before the California primaryThe Beverly Hills Eugene s not unlike Senator McCarthy s campaign itself had a certain deja vu aspect to itthe Le squelette sous cloche gesture towards a strobe light was nothing that might interfere withood talkand there at Eugene s I heard the name Erich Fromm for the first time in a long time and many other names cast out for the sympathetic magic they might workWell okay but there s no pleasing some people What kind of light would have been sufficient to avoid cliche And is it really so bad if a light helps to facilitate a Les Invisibles de la Rpublique good talk Maybe you had to be there but I just don tet it Meanwhile if a reader like me happens to really like Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm he s left to shrug his shoulders and understand that he s just not sophisticated enough to know why we should all instinctively roll our eyes at the mention of Erich Fromm fair enough if you think he s worthless but maybe you should engage with him explain why It serves here as lazy shorthand for something that I think you would have had to be part of this particular milieu to Why I Believed get At her worst I remember that Didion was a big influence on Bret Easton Ellis on his laconic style which has always seemed derived from the assurance that nothing really matters nothing means anything and it would take too much energy to look into anywayOn the other hand it is this same detachment that allows Didion to write so lucidly about folly about sound and fury signifying nothing about people who seem to be refugees from their own time like the young professionals at something called The Jaycees 32nd Annual Congress of America s Ten Outstanding Young MenThere was the belief in business success as a transcendent ideal There was the faith that if one transforms oneself from an introvert into an extrovert if one learns to speak effectively and do a job success and its concomitant spiritualrace follow naturallyIt was a cry in the wilderness and this resolute determination to meet 1950 head on was a kind of refuge Here were some people who had been led to believe that the future was always a rational extension of the past that there would ever be world enough and time for turning attention for problems and solutions Of course they would not admit their inchoate fears that the world was not that way any It occurred to me finally that I was listening to a true underground to the voice of all those who have felt themselves not merely shocked but betrayed by recent history It was supposed to have been their time It was notOr the leader of a Pentecostal church busy Dangerous Men The Complete Collection getting his followers ready for a drive from California to Murfreesboro Tennessee where God has promised they ll be safe from a coming earthuake in Notes Toward a DreampolitikHe seemed to be one of those people so many of whomravitate to Pentecostal sects who move around the West and the South and the Border States forever felling trees in some interior wilderness secret frontiersmen who walk around right in the Zanzara ganglia of the fantastic electronic pulsing that is life in the United States and continue to receive information only through the most tenuous chains of rumor hearsay haphazard trickledownthey participate in the national anxieties only through alass darkly In the interior wilderness no one is bloodied by historyOr fans of biker movies in a passage that wouldn t have been out of place in Hunter S Thompson s Hell s AngelsThere is always that instant in which the outlaw leader stands revealed as existential hero There is always that perverse seuence in which the bikers batter at some psychic sound barrier degrade the widow violate the virgin defile the rose and the cross alike break on through to the other side and find once there nothing to saybike movies are made for all these children of vague hill stock who Le Journal de l'Astronome Visuel grow up absurd in the West and Southwest children whose whole lives are an obscurerudge against a world they think they never madeIn short she s very attuned to the dissonance among ideology action and the psychological motivations that drive people towards those actions very Le Songe de Gerontius good at something she ascribes in The White Album to Evelyn Waugh scenes of industrious self delusion scenes of people absorbed in oddames It would be nice to believe that this detachment is a purely psychic orientation towards life a free choice made in a closed system but I m not sure it ever is In Didion s case she explains in In Bed that she suffers from migraines that leave her totally incapacitated multiple times a week and in The White Album that it is during her period of existential crisis that she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis Pain is isolating Pain unless perhaps you are a Buddhist monk or MMA fighter engenders solipsism This is a very unpleasant thing to think about but there seem to be many factors that complicate the idea that we are free to choose our orientations towards life As Didion writes my body was offering a precise physiological euivalent to what had been Home to Cedarwood going on in my mind But who can say which is the cause and which is the effectThe I read of Didion the I thought that her occasional tone of condescension might be the result of identification This seemed confirmed in the short and moving On the Morning After the Sixties in which the explicit subject is separation between the individual and the outside world the passage of time and historyI am talking aboutthe ambiguity of belonging to aeneration distrustful of political highs the historical irrelevancy of rowing up convinced that the heart of
darkness lay not in some of social organization but inlay not in some error of social organization but in s own If man was bound to err then any social organization was bound to be in error It was a premise which still seems to me accurate enough but one which robbed us early of a certain capacity for surpriseWe were silent because the exhilaration of social action seemed to many of us just one way of escaping the personal or masking for a while that dread of the meaningless which was man s fate To have assumed that particular fate so early was the peculiarity of my enerationwe would make some money and live on a ranch We would live outside historyI m lad that I reread this essay as well On my first reading I assumed that I was reading an argument Now I see that it s an exploration of a worldview perhaps the hardest one to see the most mysterious one s own not arrived at through any conscious or self contained process one that she has ambivalence about than I first realized although she does take a stanceOnly one person I knew at Berkley later discovered an ideology dealt himself into history cut himself loose from both his own dread and his own time A few of the people I knew at Berkley killed themselves not long after Another attempted suicide in Mexico
then in a which seemed in many ways a advanced derangement came home and joined the Bank of America s three year executive training program Most of us live less theatrically but remain the survivors of a peculiar and inward time If I could believe that oing to a barricade would affect man s fate in the slightest I would Psychologie Příručka pro studenty go to that barricade and uite often I wish that I couldI m not sure it s the right one When I compare her with a contemporary like Mailer they seem like two sides of the same coin Mailer threw himself into everything tried to be everywhere participated in theame to the fullest In other words yes perhaps it s all a The Oxford Handbook of the Cold War game might as wello for broke Or as Mailer once put it a true actor enjoys his life in any station That at least seems a little well fun Flip the coin a second time however and maybe you Ni droite ni gauche L'idéologie fasciste en France get Chomsky or Baldwin on the other side In this case Didion s worldview could seem especially impoverished Protesting Vietnam for instance may not have changed man s fate in the sense she s talking about and in fact I don t believe that anything can but it did change the fates of individuals And yes it s probably true that any social action I ever take part in will be just one way of escaping the personal but even if that s the case even if Didion has correctly pinpointed theenesis of all human endeavor in a desperation to escape which sounds uncannily like Erich Fromm by the way maybe in some cases the variant of escape is important than the motivation There is something distasteful about her formulation Yes I would risk my freedom and my life trying to better society with the rest of you if only I weren t smart enough to realize it s all for naughtAnd yet I can t help feeling that she is probably right to be wary of our odd Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Unleashed games I can empathize with her which I think is why I found this short 4 pages essay so affecting I would also like to join the world the barricade deal myself into history sit down at the table with Mailer knowing the stakes knowing that I might be wrong what else is there to do But I also share Didion s hesitation you might be wrong In the similarly short At the Dam she tells us that at seemingly arbitrary moments in her life she receives visitations from the Hoover Dam in New York in Los Angeles it materializes in front of her and she hears the turbines On one visit she visits the dam that is she writesI walked across the marble star map that traces a sidereal revolution of the euinox and fixes forever the Reclamation man had told me for all time and for all people who can read the stars the date the dam was dedicated The star map was he had said for when we were allone and the dam was left I had not thought much of it when he said it but I thought of it then with the wind whining and the sun dropping behind a mesa with the finality of a sunset in space Of course that was the image I had seen always seen it without uite realizing what I saw a dynamo finally free of man splendid at last in its absolute isolation transmitting power and releasing water to a world where no one isAnd that is about as Vouloir toucher les étoiles good a description of her writing as I can imagine Her essays bring back thoughts and memories of my own experiencesrowing up in the 60s and 70s Very much enjoyed this series of essay. REPUBLICJames Pike AmericanHoly WaterMany MansionsThe GettyBureaucratsGood CitizensNotes Toward a Dreampolitik III WOMENThe Women's MovementDoris LessingGeorgia O'Keeffe IV SOJOURNSIn the IslandsIn HollywoodIn BedOn the RoadOn the MallIn BogotaAt the Dam V ON THE MORNING AFTER THE SIXTIESOn the Morning After the Sixtiesuiet Days in Mali. Heart of ideas that define a very specific time and place California USA 1960 s and 70 s and at the same time write it so that we feel that we have been allowed a purview of not only that era but of the intimate space where it touched a specific woman s memory is impressive indeed I ve always thought that I was somehow na ve to some sort of reater truth about reality or at least the United States or at least California because I had never read anything by Joan Didion Friends and acuaintances and strangers spoke of her with a sort of inelouent awe as if their own descriptions could never match her lucid prose or mental acuityNow that I have actually read her own words I want to know what is all the fuss about I find Barbara Grizzutti Harrison s 1980 essay much resonant than anything Didion writes in The White Album The book is page after page of name dropping Hollywood stars famous criminals the super wealthy and anyone related by one degree She mentions the names of the boutiues where she shops the expensive restaurants where she eats I couldn t care lessThe book also over intellectualizes the mundane and I found myself skimming through several chapters unable to find either beautiful description or coherent revelation I assume that Joan Didion s popularity stems from the fact that East Coast high society wanted New Yorker style correspondent in the midst of California s sex drugs and rock roll Or perhaps it s her strangely placed commas But Didion isn t the correspondent for me and it s not like there is any shortage of wealthy baby boomers trying to figure out or remember what the hell happened in the 60 s and 70 sThat s not to say that there weren t any notes of interest in the book I found her condemnation of carpool lanes or Diamond Lanes as she describes them fascinating My eneration L'Apprenti d'Araluen - Tome 7 - La ranon grew up taking forranted the fact that carpool lanes were a universally ood thing Even in solitude at 4 pm on the 405 we didn t curse the carpool lanes we cursed ourselves for traveling alone For Didion however creating carpool lanes wasn t forward thinking by Caltrans it was symbolic of out of touch bureaucrats spending millions of dollars on projects that the citizenry did not want Lamenting the restrictions that Caltrans was placing on Southern Californian individual mobility she practically cheers on the urban uerillas who pour paint and nails along the carpool lanesI will try reading at least one other Didion book perhaps a novel but I won t be able to approach it with anything other than skepticism The White Album was reuired reading for my American Experience class I didn t love the book at first but after a couple of essays Didion s uiet style started to Irrevocable (Irrevocable, grow on me This collection is a revealing narrative of events that occurred in the 1960 s and 1970 s It examines the lives of famous and infamous people and places Charles Manson Ram n Novarro the Hoover Dam Huey Newton the California freeway Bogot Doris Lessing and others Didionives candid and thoughtful snapshots of a time past some things uniue to California others universal She focuses on the mundane and personal in a very revealing and intimate fashion that is helpful in understanding what life was like then Just as the author was living and reflecting on a time that was full of The Biology of Belief Unleashing the Power of Consciousness Matter and Miracles growth and change these essays serve to illustrate that our time also has its similar and uniue difficulties and joysI look forward to reading her recent collection of essays on America since 911 In one essay Joan Didion mentions Grace Cathedral Park in San Francisco I don t know anything about the cathedral or the park except that it s the name and setting for one of my all time favorite songs My love for Mark Kozelek and the Red House Painters is marred a bit by what an asshole he was when I saw Red House Painters live How does someone write suchreat songs and act like such a monumental douche which apparently is his normal live persona he yells at the audience plays rambling things that can only be roughly called songs yells at the audience some makes audience plays rambling things that can only be roughly called songs yells at the audience some makes of individuals in the audience plays some rambling songs continues this for hours on end This book is sort of an extended tribute to a time and place I know almost nothing about first hand 1960 s California She is such an amazing writer that I found myself captivated by almost every essay in this book even if I wasn t really interested in the subject matter This is a magical skill Compassionate Touch: Giving Massage for Optimal Health, Thriving Relationships & Spiritual Awakening great writers have It s easy to find an essay interesting if you are already interested in a topic but it takesreat skill to make a topic the reader is not interested in to come alive by the writing Why read about places people and things so far distant from oneself thoughIn the big scheme of things why waste even a few minutes reading about the disastrous schemes of diamond lanes on the LA freeways in the 1970 s or about how the water is moved from Colorado River across the Mojave desert to allow habitation in Malibu Even if the writing is beautiful and honest even if it is filled with self confessional sentiments about the authors own enthrallment about the way water is moved even if the writing is so Irrevocable Trust Irreparable good it just makes you ache in your bones why waste any time reading about things so utterly alien to myself It s not because I need water to survive or because at times my life is maybe affected by decisions of urban planners into the way to divert traffic for one reason or another which may not be to actuallyet traffic to move faster my life is not pragmatically changed one bit by knowing anything I learned in these essays Wouldn t I do better to read a turgidly written article on how to invest money wisely or a book on how to make and cultivate contacts or how to prioritize and maximize and how to be a productive person How to be happier Make money How to seduce women maybe How to present a better presentable me Or maybe read the ephemera of daily news Catch up on celebrity La Fille dans les bois gossip Find out what exactly a Teen Mom is learn about the real housewives and harness this knowledge into being a likable person who can join in on break room conversations instead of being a sullenlylaring at all the people making too much noise while I m trying to Comment se faire des amis et aborder n'importe qui sans paratre ridicule get to the bottom of the the nature of violence in modern man the decline of western civilization why authors kill themselves or how Doris Lessing is a writer who fails at really capturing what she sets out to do Why should I care about Doris Lessing I ve never even read one of her books but the essay in The White Album still captivated me but couldn t I have spent the twenty minutes or whatever it took me to read it doing something productive Maybe I could have been dashing out emails on my phone to people who I neveret around to emailing Or maybe a list of things I need to do and mean to do but instead I put off procrastinate about in favor of reading books like this one that maybe enrich a part of my internal dialogue but can t put any uantifiable value on Maybe instead of aiming to read over two hundred books a year I could aim to bring home 200k or bed two hundred women or make two hundred new facebook contacts that will pay off by adding to some kind of social networkThis book didn t make me any better of a person than I was before I read it It didn t add anything tangible to my life it s not Tendencje rozwojowe współczesnych zapożyczeń angielskich w języku polskim going to pay off in some way that I can hold up and show to anyone If anything it is just another example of areat writer that I can read and then think I ll never be able to write this well I ll never be able to capture anything in my life even the really important stuff like Joan Didion does forAnd Then In A
the most trivial of encounters This book and just about every othermost trivial of encounters This book and just about every other I read won t Carry On, Warrior give me anything tangible but fuck it her writing is such a joy to read that the pleasure of reading so well crafted prose is a reward in itself Maybe I should feel sorry for other people who don tet to experience things like this in their life Their loss As was the case with Joan Didion s Slouching Towards Bethlehem certain aspects of The White Album seem hopelessly dated I have no idea who Bishop James Pike is for instance and now that I ve read about him
I Still Don T Really Care But Another Aspect Ofstill don t really care But another aspect of collection irked me even Didion s all encompassing weariness her mild derision for seemingly everything and everyone with whom she crosses paths Even in her younger years did Joan Didion ever Carry On! get excited about anything ever even things she loved Seemingly not But in this book we also learn some personal things about Joan Didion Over the years these essays encompass she is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for what looks to be a combination of depression and anxiety Her marriage seems to be on shakyround She ets crippling migraines at least once a week She is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a fact that is mentioned once and never again I was reminded of Didion s novel Play It as It Lays a favorite of mine wherein the protagonist experiences her fair share of trauma and copes with it by withdrawing a numbness and lack of affect substituting for the expressive human emotions It s pretty clear Joan Didion is never oing to show you her whole hand but it s a The Art of Business Process Modeling: The Business Analyst's Guide to Process Modeling With UML BPMN good bet she s concealing something major So for me the net effect of reading Didion s essays is a burning curiosity about Didion herself To the extent that it s possible I moing to start satisfying that curiosity posthaste We tell ourselves stories in order to live is the well known first line of this collection and of the title essay and it has probably played a role in my avoiding Joan Didion until now I had always attributed it to a somewhat sentimental conception of writing and reading but now I m lad I ave her writing a chance and lad I decided to reread the title essay In one section she imagines a woman standing on a ledge on the sixteenth floor of an apartment building on my first reading I thought that Didion didn t attach importance to whether or not the woman would jump or why but to the picture of her in my mind her hair incandescent in the floodlights her bare toes curled inward on the stone ledgeOn my second reading I realized that she is not making an argument exactly but describing an emotional state or an existential crisis let s say that threatened to become permanent roughly coinciding with the late 60s in which she could no longer invest life with meaning no longer tell herself stories in other words She cannot convince herself of any particular reason why the woman might jump or not And this explains why I was disappointed on my first reading of the essay it is not really about The Doors Eldridge Cleaver The Black Panthers or Manson as I had originally thought but about Didion s inability to draw connections among them to find any coherence in the world around her almost the opposite of a story in other words This turns out to have been the perfect approach to The Doors whom she describes sitting among masses of wires and banks of the ominous blinking electronic circuitry with which musicians live so easily and Jim Morrisonunspecified tensions seemed to be rendering everyone in the room catatonicThe curious aspect of Morrison s arrival was this no one acknowledged it He spoke almost in a whispe. A meditation on the romance of water in an arid landscape and reflections on the swirl and confusion that marked this era With commanding sureness of mood and language Didion exposes the realities and dreams of an age of self discovery whose spiritual center was California Table of ContentsI THE WHITE ALBUMThe White Album II CALIFORNIA. .