Where I Was From: An Exploration of Joan Didion’s Personal and Social Unrest

Where I Was From is a cultured collection of essays written in 2003. To be able to fully understand the intricate notions woven in the book, there is a need to comprehend the creator’s style and background, for the readers to visualize where all the viewpoints and misapprehensions come from. Joan Didion, the creator behind this politically, socially and emotionally linked memoir is a renowned American journalist, essayist, and novelist. Much of her works relates to her life in California, her hometown, mostly during the 1960’s. She is commended for her style in writing mixed personal reflections and social analyses. She writes about paranoia, clear-eyed analyses of the American culture, and personal and social discontent. She was known to be a conservative writer during her early years, but later adapted to the liberal tenets of democracy. She had written five novles, eight nonfiction including Where I come From, and also had collaborations with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, in writing a number of screenplays (Encyclopedia of World Biography on Joan Didion, n.d., p.1).

Where I Was From centers about the history of California, and Joan Didion’s relationship to it and to her mother. Noticeably, she loves the use of commas and lengthy sentences to highlight her narration. Her tune seems melancholic, expressing her confusions about the place, and the way in which she grew up. She feels that there is a sense of perplexity on which she has become. Thus, she contemplated on the American frontier myth, which refers to the unresolved land outside the region of existing settlements of Americans. The American Frontier is a ‘mythical place’ where unrestrained free land was available, resulting to unlimited opportunity (Eidenbach, 2008, p.99).

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She also pinpointed the ferocity of a group of popular white high school men, referred to as the Spur Posse incident of 1993. They used a ‘point-system’ record to account for their sexual conquests (Fineman, 1997, p.177). In addition, when the industry about aircrafts and defense weaponries during the World War II flourished, the people from Lakewood, Califfornia, did as well. Later on, it turned out that the industry was built with the Feds support. Dismally, when that support was withdrawn, the industry doomed. These facts are just some of the historical context implicated in the book (Godbersen, 2003, p.1).

Based on my understanding, Joan Didion uses this as a metaphor in comparison with her life, and generally the rustic myth of California’s origins. What is seen and observed literally does not depict the real circumstances being dealt upon. The veneer of life’s misapprehensions cannot be uncovered by the present analysis itself, for circumstances are intertwined and indeed perplexing to the mind. She compares it with her life, believing she had known herself and her history for so long, only to find out that her viewpoints are inadequate to portray the truth.

Joan Didion’s work is so complex in it entirety, it was rich with personal experiences and historical context throughout each essay. Some facts were even misleading to the querying mind. Nevertheless, they are still all intertwined with each other, somehow. It is difficult to summarize such an intricate work, but she retaliates to her readers with an overall realization, that is, the culture that we see today is a direct consequence of a population of survivalists.

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