The use of irony in the titles of her essays and novels signals the split-level understanding of authenticity as it functions in this relationship.
The White Album by Joan Didion
Here, irony draws attention to the difference between the assertion of authenticity and actual truth: the first, non-ironic level of these titles might aestheticize totally the concepts behind them. About this baseball on the tarmac. The event is supposed to appear spontaneous, but it is pre-arranged, with the press briefed on its occurrence and nature. It is clear that Didion expects the reader to interpret this as ridiculous and false.
CNN had shot it. The image of the baseball throwing is a direct example of a surface aesthetic of authenticity being deployed in the service of manipulation and falsehood. It is interesting that Didion chooses the press as the subject of two of her most effective pieces in exposing the deployment of hollow aesthetic conceptions of authenticity.
It suggests that, although literature can play a role in promoting false narratives by endowing them with the aesthetic sense of authenticity, it is also possible to put this right, or at least provide a viable counterpoint through literature. But while she abandons the technique of conjuring the wholly dominant image and emblemizing in order to claim authenticity, she does use similar techniques towards a different end. The No. Pages are money; editorial space is finite. Conditions demand a willingness to compress and a talent for concision. While in her later work Didion might not rely on the single image, symbol or emblem to the extent of her previous essays, and in fact attempts to undermine the use of such by others, she does use similar devices to a different end.
Much of this has to do with the practical fact, as Menand notes, that many of these pieces of non-fiction were originally printed in magazines; primarily, in later years, in the New York Review of Books.
But even when her work is longer, this economy of style remains. What is the reader supposed to take from this quote? Didion provides no supplementary commentary, and the dialogue is left to stand on its own: the following section does not pick up where this section left off, instead pivoting to consider a different issue entirely. It forces readers to think for themselves.
Is this quote an example of a vacuous political class sloganeering to no end? Is it, as Didion has been arguing, an instance of the Democratic party distancing itself from issues in favor of personality?
Does it represent the narrowing of the political field, the exponential growth of the middle section of a Venn diagram enveloping Right and Left? There is the impression that although it could be any or all of these things, it is important that Didion does not do the thinking on behalf of the reader, following this quote with a break in the text.
In this silence, the reader is forced to draw their own meaning. This approach serves to democratize her perspective. The spaces that she so frequently leaves grant the reader the opportunity to reach their own conclusion, a rhetorical style which enables reader participation. She invites the reader to help her elucidate, and grants them the space in which to do so.
It would have been possible, and perhaps effective, for her to have maintained her earlier style to support her own argument. Instead, in her later work, Didion leaves space for the readers themselves to enter the text, ensuring that they join her in the project of elucidation rather than submit to her control. First Edition 6-St. In: Critical Studies in Mass Communication , Reprint edition 6-Scribner. Creative Commons Attribution 4. This article has been peer reviewed.
Abstract Many contemporary readings of Joan Didion, not to mention her public profile, present her early journalism as her crowning achievement. Competing Interests The author has no competing interests to declare.
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Infogram Charts Infographics. Creating downloadable prezi, be patient. Delete comment or cancel. Cancel Reply 0 characters used from the allowed. Send link to edit together this prezi using Prezi Meeting learn more : Copy Email. Through all of these essays Didion also presents herself up for the examination of the reader in a uniquely post-modern style of her times. She is at one and the same time a vulnerable figure and a cynic, who talks about her own afflictions, emotional troubles and reconciliation's as a microcosm of her own times.
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Slouching towards Biloxi: Joan Didion on life in America's south
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