Where This Flower Blooms
Almost as if by fate, while living in Los Angeles this summer I discovered Joan Didion's writing and particularly fell in love with her collection of essays Slouching Towards Bethlehem from 1968. The portrait she offers of Los Angeles was one I sought to locate myself within over the course of my three months in the city, and coming back to Kenyon for my senior year, I decided to write my English thesis on Didion and her relationship to California. The manifestation of Didion’s California and her struggle to maintain a sense of belonging to that place is often overlooked in Slouching Towards Bethlehem--- perhaps overshadowed by her eloquent, cinematic constructions of space and types of people. In creating this mental landscape, Didion imagines multiple Californias, multiple homes. She ties her analysis of place closely to her childhood memories of Sacramento and images of the “old California,” a place imbued with an ethic of expansion and manifest destiny. While reading the collection I found myself comparing the California I grew up with against the representations she gives, and so I was happy to have gotten the chance to
These photos were taken by my dear friend Sarah in Los Angeles earlier this year, and although they have no real connection to Joan Didion, the place in which they were taken reminds me a great deal of that woman.