|Joan Didion is a novelist, essayist, screenwriter and journalist who has written on subjects from the war in El Salvador to her life as a writer. She lives in California. Jonjon47065 is a spambot.
From: Joan Didion
Subject: Notes from the West
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 16, 2000, at 8:52 a.m. PT
Good morning. I am pleased to have been chosen to participate in the Breakfast Table with you. I am, as it happens, sitting at my own breakfast table drinking a cup of coffee, and this is less curious that one might imagine if one knew that it is not, in fact, particularly novel for me to be drinking coffee at 8:30 on this morning or, tellingly, any particular morning, nor do I mean to suggest that it would be essentially surprising or remarkable or in any way startling to find me drinking coffee at 9 AM or even, in certain curious and unnatural and attenuated circumstances, at 9:30. That is, simply, the heart of the matter: I like a cup of coffee in the morning.
It has been several years since I last encountered this particular brand of Columbia Supremo, by which I mean the singularly pungent blend of coffee beans which can be found in the ominous and unsettlingly glossy Stop-N-Shops in the dry harsh country an hour east on the San Bernardino Highway. But the coffee does not, in the greater scheme of things, matter. What mattersand I think you will agreeis that the current mythos of American culture is, once again, a story without a narrative. What matters is that things that once did matter, deeply and profoundly, do not matter anymore. What matters is that we do not know what matters. Does this, in the end, matter? I do not know.
I look forward to your reply.
To: Joan Didion
Subject: Heres the information you requested
Posted: Friday, Nov. 17, 2000, at 3:00 a.m. PT
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From: Joan Didion
Subject: The psychology of wealth
Posted: Friday, Nov. 17, 2000, at 9:14 a.m. PT
Do I ever wonder how the rich keep getting richer? Where do they keep their money? How do they invest? I do not know, nor do I know anyone who knows, and this fills me with an amorphous unease made more forceful by a profound sense of disconnectedness and despair. I tell you this not as aimless revelation but because I want you to know who I am and where I am and what is on my mind as I consider the question of whether I can honestly say that I have "A Burning Desire for a Personal and Financial Change."( I can, I believe, with some minor equivocation, lay claim to "Moderate People Skills.")
What you left unsaid, but implied, was something I have often surmised: the role of the wealthy is to play the part of stalking-horse for the febrile and hallucinatory and intransigent desires of an invidious and resentful middle class. "Do the rich pay taxes?" you ask. It is my suspicion that they pay a price considerably larger than that.
And, in a different time and a different place, "The Secrets of the Ultra Wealthy," as you call them, would not excite our fascination and dread, would not lure us like doomed mariners with their lethal siren song, and would not be capitalized for no particular reason. But that is not our time, and that is not our America.
Thank you for your kind wish for great prosperity for me. I wish you the same.
To: Joan Didion
Subject: I want to change your life
Posted: Saturday, Nov. 18, 2000, at 3:00 a.m. PT
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From: Joan Didion
Subject: The serious mind
Posted: Saturday, Nov. 18, 2000, at 9:47 a.m. PT
I was at first obscurely unsettled by the thin whine of hysteria in your litany of baneful and despairing and importunate questions until I realized that you have approached the inchoate heart of the matter in a way that no other of my correspondents has.
Am I frustrated of working so hard for so little? I am. You will perceive that such a view of the world presents certain difficulties. I am, you will see, a woman chimerical and intrinsic, unwavering in my succinctness, febrile, atavistic, implacable, and perilously inexplicable, possessed of several thesauri.
Your next question, however, presents a problem. Am I tired of working to make someone else (my boss) successful? I do not think you are entirely familiar with the facts surrounding that particular subject. The truth is, I do not have a boss in the way that most people do. I cannot say that there is anyone whom I am making successful aside from myself. And yet, your question taps into an atavistic emotional truth. Who, after all, does not desire change, prosperity and personal freedom?
I hope we can discuss this subject further.
To: Joan Didion
Subject: FLORIDA-BAHAMAS-CANCUN GETAWAY!!!
Posted: Sunday, Nov. 19, 2000, at 3:00 a.m. PT
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From: Joan Didion
Subject: Florida-Bahamas-Cancun getaway
Posted: Sunday, Nov. 19, 2000, at 10:03 a.m. PT
When we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want or need four days and three nights in magical Orlando, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen.
Having said this, I hope that I qualify for this vacation offer. As it happens I have never been to Watermania Water Park, but I have heard of it, and I recall thinking it an uneasy affair at best some years ago, when, during a conversation about Celine, an old friend suddenly said But Watermania Water Park in Orlandonow, theres a cure for anyones formless anomie. At the time I did not believe him, because I had the rashness and self-importance of the young. I marvel now that, so many years later, I can remember his exact words and inflection, although I cannot remember what he said about Celine or what his name is or what I was wearing at the time.
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And, in the end, I know that I will visit Watermania and it will not make me feel any safer, but that, as they say, is another story.