joan didion film : the center can not hold

joan didion
the center can not hold

the world as she understood it no longer existed

writing felt like an irrelevant act

john wayne said “he would build her a house
at the bend in the river
where the cottonwoods grow
deep in that part of my heart
where the artificial rain forever falls
that was the line joan was always waiting to hear

falling in love was not a part of her world
end of story end of time

”it is easier to see the beginning of things
harder to see the ends”

&, possible to stay too long at the fair”

in the jingle-jangle morning
joan came down silent in sunglasses
had a cold coke & lived hard, by the sea
& was formed by the landscape she lived in
but the centre wasn’t holding
jim morrison was singing “noone gets out alive”

she watched a five year old kid on the carpet on acid

the sixties ended in ’69 when sharon tate-polanski
& four people were murdered by charles manson

she remembers the horror of disorder with a clarity
that makes the nerves in her neck constrict
& she could not lay her finger upon the moment it ended
the weirdness of america in her bones
came out on the other side of the computer

in this light, all narrative sentimental
in this light, all connections equally meaningful
equally senseless

joan put her manuscript into the freezer
stripped the story of its rhetoric

the US were supporting a very, very brutal government in el salvador

new york was being raped by its underclass repeating their victimization
the powerless ruined
raped by the powerful

joan’s beloved husband john dies

“grief turns out to be a place that none of us knows until we reach it”
we know someone close to us could die but not
the obliterative dislocation of body and mind
we expect the person to return
confront meaninglessness

“keep a snake in your eyeline so it doesn’t bite you
it’s like confronting pain”

weeks later her daughter quintana dies
she was adopted. the guilt of “i didn’t take care of her
now i can’t reach her”

“there is no day in her life in which i do not see her”

“she will fade as the blue lights fade”

“i remember what it is to be me
that is always the point”

(much of this is paraphrased from the film )

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