Clive Thompson has written a clever little web app that shows you only the questions in a piece of writing, and tries it out on a range of writers, from Churchill and Orwell to Martin Luther King and Joan Didion.
Maria Popova’s found a chapter from Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem from 1968 that resonates today, with our blogs and twitters and instagrams.
Joan Didion on Keeping a Notebook
Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
An anxious malcontent. Hmm.
We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.