This collection of essays was full of bare naked honesty, sadness, cringe-worthiness, vulgarity, and sarcastic-comedic tones. In all, I quite enjoyedThis collection of essays was full of bare naked honesty, sadness, cringe-worthiness, vulgarity, and sarcastic-comedic tones. In all, I quite enjoyed it, and felt a connection to some of the feelings the author expresses, mostly due to her ability to exactly describe what it is she has felt, what that feeling was like in physical makeup and emotional makeup, what impact it had on her and those around her, what those feelings made her thoughts like, and so on and so forth. She is so inside of her head, and so clear about her sense of non-clarity and fog about life in general, that it really makes me wish I could only know myself this well (and I'm inside my head A LOT). Great collection, and I've never seen the twitter account it all apparently grew from.
Some excerpts I liked:
"An external attribution exists to make you feel shitty. It's a handy tool, wherein you perceive anything positive that happens to you as a mistake, subjective and/or never a result of your own goodness. Negative things, alternately, are the object of truth. And they're always your own fault."
"The ocean gives me performance anxiety about being at peace."
"Why can't people just be kind to one another? But what I really think I meant was, Why can't I be kind to myself?"...more
This book began okay, and there were a couple of lines I liked, but ultimately the book felt a bit preachy/entitled/like the author just knew all thesThis book began okay, and there were a couple of lines I liked, but ultimately the book felt a bit preachy/entitled/like the author just knew all these things as a matter of fact better than anyone else and so she decided to write a book to "generously" let us all decide to be creative like her. Now don't get me wrong, I liked the message -- I AGREE with the message: Be creative, if you feel the pull, for no one for yourself, with no care for what anyone thinks or what the results may be. Be creative for YOU, regardless of "talent" or "expertise" because life isn't lived for others, it's yours to do with as you will. I like this message, I just didn't like the overall tone of the author, something rubbed me the wrong way. I haven't read anything else by her, including Eat Pray Love, so this was the first book of hers I've tried, and it was audio read by her, so that may have added to perceived tone.
Lines that resonated with me (all from early in the book): - "A creative life is an amplified life." - "I believe the planet is inhabited not only by animals, and plants, and bacteria, and viruses, but also ideas." - "Ideas are driven by a single impulse: To be made manifest."...more
Quiet, calming, astute, profound, discomfiting, bleak, real ... just some of the words I'd use to describe Didion's essay-writing subjects and feats iQuiet, calming, astute, profound, discomfiting, bleak, real ... just some of the words I'd use to describe Didion's essay-writing subjects and feats in general, and all found in this wonderful collection. Here are some excellent bits ...
p. 15 -- "The patient to whom this psychiatric report refers is me. The tests mentioned ... were administered privately ... in the summer of 1968, shortly after I suffered the 'attack of vertigo and nausea' mentioned in the first sentence and shortly before I was named a Los Angeles Times 'Woman of the Year.' By way of comment I offer only that an attack of vertigo and nausea does not now seem to me an inappropriate response to the summer of 1968."
-- "In the years I'm talking about I was living in a large house in a part of Hollywood that had once been expensive and was now described by one of my acquaintances as a 'senseless-killing neighborhood.'"
p. 42 -- "These early reports were garbled and contradictory. One caller would say hoods, the next would say chains. There were twenty dead, no, twelve, ten, eighteen. Black masses were imagined, and bad trips blamed. I remember all of the day's misinformation very clearly, and I also remember this, and wish I did not: I remember that no one was surprised."
p. 43 -- "Of these evenings I remember mainly my dread at entering the prison, at leaving for even an hour the infinite possibilities I suddenly perceived in the summer twilight. ... Each of the half-dozen doors that locked behind us as we entered Sybil Brand was a little death, and I would emerge after the interview like Persephone from the underworld, euphoric, elated. Once home I would have two drinks and make myself a hamburger and eat it ravenously. 'Dig it,' Gary Fleischman was always saying."
p. 43-44 -- "This particular juxtaposition of the spoken and the unspeakable was eerie and unsettling, and made my notebook a litany of little ironies so obvious as to be of interest only to dedicated absurdists. An example: Linda dreamed of opening a combination restaurant-boutique and pet shop."
p. 44 -- "During the years when I found it necessary to revise the circuitry of my mind I discovered that I was no longer interested in whether the woman on the ledge outside the window on the sixteenth floor jumped or did not jump, or in why. I was only interested in the picture of her in my mind: her hair incandescent in the floodlights, her bare toes curled inward on the stone ledge. In this light all narrative was sentimental. In this light all connections were equally meaningful, and equally senseless."
page 76 -- "In short the Getty is a monument to 'fine art,' in the old-fashioned didactic sense, which is part of the problem people have with it. The place resists contemporary notions about what art is or should be or ever was. A museum is now supposed to kindle the untrained imagination, but this museum does not. A museum is now supposed to set the natural child in each of us free, but this museum does not. This was art acquired to teach a lesson, and there is also a lesson in the building which houses it: the Getty tells us that the past was perhaps different from the way we like to perceive it. Ancient marbles were not always attractively faded and worn. Ancient marbles once appeared just as they appear here: as strident, opulent evidence of imperial power and acquisition. Ancient murals were not always bleached and mellowed and 'tasteful.' Ancient murals once looked as they do here: as if dreamed by a Mafia don. Ancient fountains once worked, and drowned out the very silence we have come to expect and want from the past. Ancient bronzes once gleamed ostentatiously. The old world was once discomfitingly new, or even nouveau, as people like to say about the Getty. (I have never been sure what the word 'nouveau' can possibly mean in America, implying as it does that the speaker is gazing down six hundred years of rolled lawns.) At a time when all our public conventions remain rooted in a kind of knocked-down romanticism, when the celebration of natural man's capacity for moving onward and upward has become a kind of official tic, the Getty presents us with an illustrated lesson in classical doubt. The Getty advises us that not much changes. The Getty tells us that we were never any better than we are and will never be any better than we were, and in so doing makes a profoundly unpopular political statement."
p. 83 -- "To understand what was going on it is perhaps necessary to have participated in the freeway experience, which is the only secular communion Los Angeles has. Mere driving on the freeway is in no way the same as participating in it. Anyone can 'drive' on the freeway, and many people with no vocation for it do, hesitating here and resisting there, losing the rhythm of the lane change, thinking about where they came from and where they are going. Actual participants think only about where they are. Actual participation requires a total surrender, a concentration so intense as to seem a kind of narcosis, a rapture-of-the-freeway. The mind goes clean. The rhythm takes over. A distortion of time occurs, the same distortion that characterizes the instant before an accident."
p. 95 -- "It 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 more. Of course they would not join the 'fashionable doubters.' Of course they would ignore the 'pessimistic pundits.' Late one afternoon I sat in the Miramar lobby, watching the rain fall and the steam rise off the heated pool outside and listening to a couple of Jaycees discussing student unrest and whether the 'solution' might not lie in on-campus Jaycee groups. I though about this astonishing notion for a long time. 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 personally betrayed by recent history. It was supposed to have been their time. It was not."
p. 119 -- "To read a great deal of Doris Lessing over a short span of time is to feel that the original hound of heaven has commandeered the attic."
p. 146 -- "Certain places seem to exist mainly because someone has written about them. Kilimanjaro belongs to Ernest Hemingway. Oxford, Mississippi, belongs to William Faulkner, and one hot July week in Oxford I was moved to spend an afternoon walking the graveyard looking for his stone, a kind of courtesy call on the owner of the property. A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image ..."...more
This is a truly terrifying look deep deep inside the world of Scientology -- how it evolved, biographical information about L. Ron Hubbard, and how itThis is a truly terrifying look deep deep inside the world of Scientology -- how it evolved, biographical information about L. Ron Hubbard, and how it persists today. I couldn't believe some of the things I read (which is to say, I could literally believe it, but some of the things were so crazy!). There hasn't been an exhaustive biography of L. Ron Hubbard, though the Church of Scientology has a biographer for him; every time a book comes out, it seems to be suppressed. I recommend this book to anyone curious about or interested in religious evolution, Scientology, etc.
p. 94 "'Our enemies on this planet are less than twelve men,' Hubbard discloses. 'They own and control newspaper chains and they are oddly enough directors in all the mental health groups in the world.' Their plan was to 'use mental health, which is to say psychiatric electric shock and prefrontal lobotomy, to remove from their path any political dissenters.' For the first time, he openly talkes about the Sea Organization, or Sea Org, an elite group who would form the committed inner core of the religion, Hubbard's disciples, a Scientology clergy."
p. 105 "... billions of thetans were transported to Teegeeack, the planet now called Earth, where they were dropped into volcanoes and then blown up with hydrogen bombs... Because Teegeeack was a dumping ground for thetans, it became known as the Prison Planet, 'the planet of ill repute.' The Galactic Confederacy abandoned the area, although various invaders have appeared throughout the millennia. But these free-floating thetans remained behind. They are the souls of people who have been dead for seventy-five million years. They attach themselves to living people because they no longer have free will. There can be millions of them clustered inside a single person's body. Auditing for Scientologists at OT III and above would now focus on eliminating the 'body thetans' -- or BTs -- that stand in the way of spiritual progress."
p. 111 "Hubbard increasingly turned his wrath on children, who were becoming a nuisance on the ship. He thought they were best raised away from their parents, who were 'counter-intention' to their children. As a result, he became their only -- stern as well as neglectful -- parent. Children who committed minor infractions, such as laughing inappropriately or failing to remember a Scientology term, would be made to climb the crow's nest, at the top of the mast, four stories high, and spend the night, or sent to the hold and made to chip rust."
p. 311 "The church discourages such examination [looking into the charges brought against the Church of Scientology over the years], telling its members that negative articles are 'entheta' and will only cause spiritual upset. In 1996, the church sent CDs to members to help them build their own websites, which would then link them to the Scientology site; included in the software was a filter that would block any sites containing material that vilified the church or revealed esoteric doctrines. Keywords that triggered the censorship were Xenu, OT III, and the names of prominent Scientology critics."