Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's definitely a misstep to post twice about Joan Didion in my sensitivewhitegirl blog, but since I never post, nobody's counting. I've been rereading After Henry, which she published sometime in the nineties. The essays are preoccupied by the question of how we allow narratives--or their lack--to govern our lives. The essay about Patty Hearst turns on the question of Hearst's ability to "cut her losses" and abandon her former identity in favor of something that makes more sense at the moment. Didion believes this to be a Californian trait; the West rejects narrative and embraces chaos, whereas New York floats in its own history. Kind of like Bill's mom's outlook on baths, for those of you who like "Freaks and Geeks."

Needless to say, this is something I've thought about. There are days that I can't get through without making some arguably useless effort to order my own Filth. On "Madmen," Don Draper tells Peggy to cut her losses; he says that it will shock her how little responsibility she'll feel to her past. Bobby Barrett tells her, "you have to start living the life of the person you want to be." Maybe I am a New Yorker--I think I like the drain better when it's clogged.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Yes. And interestingly, that whole larger debate on Madmen re: the past/burdon/identity is framed in those episodes by some sort of culture war between New York and Los Angeles.

Reading this, I was thinking about how a lot of Big Thinkers are always talking about how the west = American mythology, etc. etc., but isn't New York actually the most American city of all?

And hi!