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Top 380 Joan Didion Quotes (2024 Update)
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Joan Didion Quote: “No one should ever be forced upon those in grief, and all over-emotional people, no matter how near or dear, should be barred absolutely.”
Joan Didion Quote: “More than anyone else in the society, these men had apparently dreamed the dream and made it work. And what they did then was to build a place which seems to illustrate, as in a child’s primer, that the production ethic led step by step to unhappiness, to restrictiveness, to entrapment in the mechanics of living.”
Joan Didion Quote: “At a point during the summer it occurred to me that I had no letters from John, not one. We had only rarely been far or long apart.”
Joan Didion Quote: “My own fantasies of what life would be like at 24 tended to the more spectacular.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I don’t lead a writer’s life. And I think that can be a source of suspicion and irritation to some people.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention. Until now there had been every urgent reason to obliterate any attention that might otherwise have been paid, banish the thought, bring fresh adrenaline to bear on the crisis of the day.”
Joan Didion Quote: “That Episcopal day school Marin attended from the age of four until she entered Berkeley had as its aim “the development of a realistic but optimistic attitude,” and it was characteristic of Charlotte that whenever the phrase “realistic but optimistic” appeared in a school communique she read it as “realistic and optimistic.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I had only some dim and unformed sense, a sense which struck me now and then, and which I could not explain coherently, that for some years the South and particularly the Gulf Coast had been for America what people were still saying California was, and what California seemed to me not to be: the future, the secret source of malevolent and benevolent energy, the psychic center.”
Joan Didion Quote: “The devastation along the Gulf had an inevitability about it: the coast was reverting to its natural state.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I myself have always found that if I examine something, it’s less scary. I grew up in the West, and we always had this theory that if you saw – if you kept the snake in you eye line, the snake wasn’t going to bite you. And that’s kind of way I feel about confronting pain. I want to know where it is.”
Joan Didion Quote: “In fact I had no idea how to be a wife.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Part of it is simply what looks right to the eye, sounds right to the ear. I am at home in the West. The hills of the coastal ranges look “right” to me, the particular flat expanse of the Central Valley comforts my eye. The place names have the ring of real places to me. I can pronounce the names of the rivers, and recognize the common trees and snakes. I am easy here in a way that I am not easy in other places.”
Joan Didion Quote: “There must be times when everybody writes when they feel they’re evading writing.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Webley Edwards was on the radio, they remember that, and what he said that morning again and again was “This is an air raid, take cover, this is the real McCoy.” That is not a remarkable thing to say, but it is a remarkable thing to have in one’s memory.”
Joan Didion Quote: “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.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I am easy here in a way that I am not easy in other places.”
Joan Didion Quote: “The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people,” she said. “The hardest is with one.”
Joan Didion Quote: “You have to make sure you have the characters you want. That’s really the most complicated part.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Given that grief remained the most general of afflictions its literature seemed remarkably spare.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned.”
Joan Didion Quote: “We increasingly justify such heightened involvement with our children as essential to their survival. We keep them on speed dial. We watch them on Skype. We track their movements. We expect every call to be answered, every changed plan reported. We fantasize unprecedented new dangers in their every unsupervised encounter. We mention terrorism, we share anxious admonitions: “It’s different now.” “It’s not the way it was.” “You can’t let them do what we did.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Above all, she is the girl who “feels” things, who has hung on to the freshness and pain of adolescence, the girl ever wounded, ever young.”
Joan Didion Quote: “What these men represented was not ‘The West’ but what was for this century a relatively new kind of monied class in America, a group devoid of social responsibilities because their ties to any one place had been so attenuated.”
Joan Didion Quote: “If you aren’t aware of the reader, you’re working in a vacuum.”
Joan Didion Quote: “After a while there were no more tule fogs at dawn and all Charlotte wanted was one night that did not end badly.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I think I have never known anyone who led quite unexamined a life.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Something I’ve always known about the screen is that if it’s anything in the world, it’s literal. It’s so literal that there’s a whole lot you can’t do because you’re stuck with the literalness of the screen. The stage is not literal.”
Joan Didion Quote: “All I know about grammar is its infinite power.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Out under the pepper trees the boys from the Mexican crew sat around sucking caramels, and down the road some of the technical men sat around a place which served a stuffed lobster and a glass of tequila for one dollar American, but it was inside the cavernous empty commissary where the talent sat around, the reasons for the exercise, all sitting around the big table picking at huevos con queso and Carta Blanca beer.”
Joan Didion Quote: “The heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is: the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”
Joan Didion Quote: “In retrospect this had been my omen, my message, the early snowfall, the birthday present no one else could give me.”
Joan Didion Quote: “January 11, 1965, was a bright warm day in Southern California, the kind of day when Catalina floats on the Pacific horizon and the air smells of orange blossoms and it is a long way from the bleak and difficult East, a long way from the cold, a long way from the past.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I can no longer tell you whether Milton put the sun or the earth at the center of his universe in Paradise Lost, the central question of at least one century and a topic about which I wrote ten thousand words that summer, but I can still recall the exact rancidity of the butter in the City of San Francisco’s dining car, and the way the tinted windows on the Greyhound bus cast the oil refineries around Carquinez Strait into a grayed and obscurely sinister light.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I did not believe in the resurrection of the body but I still believed that given the right circumstances he would come back.”
Joan Didion Quote: “But perhaps it is presumptuous of me to assume that they will be missing something. Perhaps in retrospect this has been a story not about Sacramento at all, but about the things we lose and the promises we break as we grow older;.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Havana vanities come to dust in Miami.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Until now I had been able only to grieve, not mourn. Grief was passive. Grief happened. Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.”
Joan Didion Quote: “Yet the Beverly Wilshire seemed when Quintana was at UCLA the only safe place for me to be, the place where everything would be the same, the place where no one would know about or refer to the events of my recent life; the place where I would still be the person I had been before any of this happened.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I’m not optimistic, darling, but I’m hopeful. There’s a difference. I’m hopeful.”
Joan Didion Quote: “People who have recently lost someone have a certain look, recognizable maybe only to those who have seen that look on their own faces. I have noticed it on my face and I notice it now on others. The look is one of extreme vulnerability, nakedness, openness.”
Joan Didion Quote: “When my mother was near death at age ninety she told me that she was ready to die but could not. “You and Jim need me,” she said. My brother and I were by then in our sixties.”
Joan Didion Quote: “What would I give to be able to discuss anything at all with John? What would I give to be able to say one small thing that made him happy? What would that small thing be? If I had said it in time would it have worked?”
Joan Didion Quote: “I never felt poor; I had the feeling that if I needed money I could always get it. I could write a syndicated column for teenagers under the name “Debbi Lynn” or I could smuggle gold into India or I could become a $100 call girl, and none of it would matter.”
Joan Didion Quote: “I would like to give her more. I would like to promise her that she will grow up with a sense of her cousins and of rivers and of her great-grandmother’s teacups, would like to pledge her a picnic on a river with fried chicken and her hair uncombed, would like to give her home for her birthday, but we live differently now and I can promise her nothing like that.”
Joan Didion Quote: “The weak fear happiness itself. They can harm themselves on cotton wool. Sometimes they are wounded by happiness.”
Joan Didion Quote: “This served as a profession of faith in the future. I take the opportunity for such professions where and when I can invent them, since I do not yet actually feel this faith in the future.”
Joan Didion Quote: “As it happens I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language, and I am not optimistic about children who will settle for saying, to indicate that their mother and father do not live together, that they come from “a broken home.” They are sixteen, fifteen, fourteen years old, younger all the time, an army of children waiting to be given the words.”
Joan Didion Quote: “One day we are looking at the Magnum photograph of Sophia Loren at the Christian Dior show in Paris in 1968 and thinking yes, it could be me, I could wear that dress, I was in Paris that year; a blink of the eye later we are in one or another doctor’s office being told what has already gone wrong, why we will never again wear the red suede sandals with the four-inch heels, never again wear the gold hoop earrings, the enameled beads, never now wear the dress Sophia Loren is wearing.”
Joan Didion Quote: “They lost concentration. “After a year I could read headlines,” I was told by a friend whose husband had died three years before.”
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