Louis Menand’s piece at the New Yorker: ‘Out Of Bethlehem:‘
The radicalization of Joan Didion:
‘After the Old Sacramento moment, Didion came to see the whole pioneer mystique as bogus from the start. The cultivation of California was not the act of rugged pioneers, she decided. It was the act of the federal government, which built the dams and the weirs and the railroads that made the state economically exploitable, public money spent on behalf of private business. Didion called it “the subsidized monopolization” of the state.’
Perhaps too many people have been watching ‘Chinatown‘ and ‘There Will Be Blood,‘ but Menand’s piece highlights one potential writer’s turn from certain Western ideas to other Western ideas: Multiculturalism, cultural relativism, a nod to ‘cultural hegemony,’ and the buy-in to European colonial oppression.
California, if you’ll pardon the crudeness, was always full of dreamers, nuts, fruits and more than a few flakes, but this has also allowed it to dream big. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m reminded of a fundamental change I think happened during the Boomer generation, here represented by Tom Wolfe, referring to Californians in this piece by Michael Anton:
‘Noyce was like a great many bright young men and women from Dissenting Protestant families in the Middle West after the Second World War. They had been raised as Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, United Brethren, whatever. They had been led through the Church door and prodded toward religion, but it had never come alive for them. Sundays made their skulls feel like dried-out husks. So they slowly walked away from the church and silently, without so much as a growl of rebellion, congratulated themselves on their independence of mind and headed into another way of life. Only decades later, in most cases, would they discover how, absentmindedly, inexplicably, they had brought the old ways along for the journey nonetheless. It was as if . . . through some extraordinary mistake . . . they had been sewn into the linings of their coats!
I suppose we’ll see.
‘Soon, even the Stanford professor and the La Jolla administrator may learn that illegal immigration, cumbersome regulations, and the terrible elementary schools affect them as well.
The four-part solution for California is clear: don’t raise the state’s crushing taxes any higher; reform public-employee compensation: make use of ample natural resources: and stop the flow of illegal aliens. Just focus on those four areas-as California did so well in the past-and in time, the state will return to its bounty of a few decades ago. Many of us intend to stay and see that it does.
How do I know what will happen?
A good post on Robinson Jeffers, which highlights how the rugged and vast beauty of California makes it easier to imagine what culture is, and what it ought to be on this outpost of Western Civilization.
Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey
-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.
Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’
The people who promise solutions to poverty and homelessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’…
Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’…