JOAN DIDION | REFLECTIONS ON WATCHING "THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD"

On Tuesday, for a portion of the afternoon, before moving on to other responsibilities of the day, I took some time to sit in the common room. I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a post where someone made some reflections on the new Joan Didion documentary that had recently come to Netflix. I’d seen the name before. Joan Didion. It often popped up in my Vogue emails with pictures of her books, articles about her life, or direct quotes from her, but I never knew who she was. Yes, I knew she was an author, but apart from that, I didn’t know why she was an author that so many found significant. With the 30, 45 minutes that I had to spare, I started the documentary in an effort to learn more about Joan. After watching the doc for about 30 minutes, I found myself looking for an article about the documentary in an attempt to learn more of what the doc was to be about. Of course it was about her life, I realized that, but I like to read other’s words about things when I’m trying to finalize my own thoughts and feelings about subjects. I came across an article from a source called ‘verily mag’ and it pinpointed why I started to enjoy the documentary so much. It was because “You will not complete a viewing without seeing some part of yourself or hearing a feeling you’ve once felt described with unnerving accuracy.” I don’t think I could have written a truer statement. Joan said in the doc that she herself “found that if I examine something, its less scary.” and if I couldn’t relate to anything else about the doc, I could relate to that, and can now explain to myself why I continually like to get to the bottom of things, or why my internet search history would reflect me continuously looking up the definitions of words, looking to clarify what I believe the meaning of things to be. All of that to say, it was a good watch and I recommend anyone else to watch it if it interests them. now i want to read everything she has written because “startling honesty” is something I enjoy and this was one of the ways her writing was described in the doc.


While watching the doc I took notes. Here were some of my favorite quotes from watching:

"I don't know what 'fall in love' means. It's not part of my world. But I do remember having a very clear sense that I wanted this to continue."

"It's easy to see the beginnings of things but harder to see the ends."

"I want you to know when you read me exactly who I am and what I am and what is on my mind. I want you to understand what you're getting. You're getting a woman, who for some time now, felt radically separated from most of the ideas that seem to interest other people."

"novels are also about things you think you can't deal with."

ways Joan and her writing was described, by various individuals:

Knowledgable, Perceptive, Sharp Observer, Startling Honesty, Fierce Intellect

"I myself have always found that if I examine something, it's less scary"

"We could see no reason to think that ordinary blessings would not come their way. Do notice we still counted happiness and health and love and luck and beautiful children as ordinary blessings."

"Grief turns out to be a place that none of us know until we reach it... we don't expect it to be dislocating in body and mind."

"She wasn't writing through the haze of romanticism. She was writing through the deeply felt poignancy of someone who could report on grief."

"I don't want to forget it. I just want to clarify it in some way."

"The fear is what is still to be lost and you may see it that there is nothing else to be lost."


Iconic photo by Julian Wasser