21 April 2007

All Didion, All The Time

Last year it was Matthew Barney...

...this year, if I manage to follow through, there will be sustained looking at Joan Didion.

I'll start by admitting my ignorance. I hadn't read anything by Didion until March of this year. I bought Slouching Towards Bethlehem because I was mystified by the success of The Year of Magical Thinking, which I will probably never read because I am just too afraid of death and even more afraid of being the last one standing. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to read that book, or even talk about it publicly. And yet last year folks did, and I figured that The Year of Magical Thinking must be some steely, girdered thing indeed if Didion can manage to sit and talk to Terry Gross about this total fucking horror of everyone dying because that horror is now a work of prose.

It seems obvious that turning reality into a story is an organizational task. That it's about creating structure. And speaking of structure, it turns out Slouching Towards Bethlehem was, to quote the horse's mouth, "...the first time (Didion) had dealt directly and flatly with the evidence of atomization, the proof that things fall apart."

I want to know how to structure that, because "things fall apart" is a theme around here. And I am interested in what exactly Didion does in the face of that falling apart. When things fall apart, it is easiest to be abject, aloof, ironic. A smartass or a know-it-all. Part of the peanut gallery. Didion doesn't seem, so far, to collapse in any of those directions, and in so doing she seems to create structure out of a specific kind of structurelessness that seems really relevant right now.


Blogger Professor Howdy said...

Very good posting.
Thank you - Have a good day!!!

21 April, 2007 21:35  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I know everything. For example, try googling Jerry Saltz+Slouch

or Jerry Saltz+things fall apart

or jerry Saltz +Babylon

whats the dealio?

22 April, 2007 03:44  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Hello Zipthwung... what's your dealio?


22 April, 2007 09:05  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Saltz is just a side project.

I'm a failed critic. Thats one of my dealio.

That and barfing.

Theres an artist at Storm King Sculpture Park that screwed tires to wood. I believe its called a "surface treatment". The sculpture was in the shape of a uestion mark. We (the tour) wondered if it was a question mark.

It wasn't, I guess.

24 April, 2007 00:22  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

That's Chakaia Booker.

She's cool.

24 April, 2007 06:33  

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