Thursday, 21 September 2006

Didion on Cheney: No, It Ain't Pretty [I should note what Rich and CR both picked up on; namely, that this post resembled a series of leading questions in a classroom discussion. I may waddle through the middle there, but the condemnation's fist-to-table, fist-to-table, fist-to-table. Structuring posts like lesson-plans has the occasional drawback. That said, before anyone cries liberal bias, read the post again, closely-like, for the core of Didion's criticism.] Were I a hypocrite, I'd do my damnedest to fly below Joan Didion's radar. Blue State, Red State, doesn't matter. If your flight plan demands you show your Janus-face above 30,000 ft., she'll radiolocate it, scramble fighters and laugh as you fall burning from the clear, blue sky. In Slouching Towards Bethlehem's titular essay, the hippies earned her ire: We were seeing the desperate attempt of a handful of pathetically unequipped children to create a community in a social vaccum. Once we had seen these children, we could no longer overlook the vacuum, no longer pretend that society's atomization could be reveresed .... As it happens I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one's self depends upon one's mastery of language, and I am not optimistic about children who will settle for saying, to indicate that their mother and father do not live together, that they come from 'a broken home.' They are sixteen, fifteen, fourteen years old, younger all the time, an army of children waiting to be given the words. (123) In "Comrade Laski, C.P.U.S.A. (M.-L.)"—also from Slouching Towards Bethlehem—she denatured communist talking points: He was born twenty-six years ago in Brooklyn, moved as a child to Los Angeles, dropped out of U.C.L.A. his sophomore year to organize for the Retail Clerks, and now, as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist), a splinter group of Stalinist-Maoists who divide their energies between Watts and Harlem, he is rigidly committed to an immutable complex of doctrine, including the notion thats that the traditional American Communist Party is a "revisionist bourgeois clique," that the Progressive Labor Party, the Trotskyites, and the "revisionist clique headed by Gus Hall" prove themselves opportunistic bourgeois lackeys by making their peace appeal not to the "workers" but to the liberal imperialists; and that H. Rap Brown is the tool, if not the conscious agent, of the ruling imperialist class. (61-62) The world Michael Laski had constructed for himself was one of labyrinthine intricacy and immaculate clarity, a world made meaningful not only by high purpose but by external and internal threats, intrigues and apparatus, an immutably ordered world in which things mattered. (65) In Political Fictions, she assaulted establishment politics and the mainstream media's coverage of it: Few, in 1992, spoke of the United States as so infantilized as to require a president above the possibility of personal reproach. That so few did this then, and so many havve done this since, has been construed by some as evidence that the interests and priorities of the press have changed. In...

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