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"In one of several genial interviews, Dunne asks Didion about an indelible scene toward the end of her Haight-Ashbury essay—which, as any student who has ever taken a course in literary nonfiction knows, culminates with the writer’s encounter with a five-year-old girl, Susan, whose mother has given her LSD. Didion finds Susan sitting on a living-room floor, reading a comic book and dressed in a peacoat. 'She keeps licking her lips in concentration and the only off thing about her is that she’s wearing white lipstick,' Didion writes. Dunne asks Didion what it was like, as a journalist, to be faced with a small child who was tripping. Didion, who is sitting on the couch in her living room, dressed in a gray cashmere sweater with a fine gold chain around her neck and fine gold hair framing her face, begins. 'Well, it was . . .' She pauses, casts her eyes down, thinking, blinking, and a viewer mentally answers the question on her behalf: Well, it was appalling. I wanted to call an ambulance. I wanted to call the police. I wanted to help. I wanted to weep. I wanted to get the hell out of there and get home to my own two-year-old daughter, and protect her from the present and the future. After seven long seconds, Didion raises her chin and meets Dunne’s eye. 'Let me tell you, it was gold,' she says. The ghost of a smile creeps across her face, and her eyes gleam. 'You live for moments like that, if you’re doing a piece. Good or bad.'"

-- "The Most Revealing Moment in the New Joan Didion Documentary"

For the Sad

I spent a long time reading this very sad piece, "Five Hostages."

"According to several freed hostages, Kayla was not tortured or sexually abused. Didier François, the French journalist, sometimes heard Kayla asking her jailers for fruit or sanitary napkins. The male hostages wondered who she was. At one point, they heard a guard say that she was Muslim, and Kayla corrected him. The guard was impressed. 'She’s stronger than you,' the guard told another prisoner. 'She doesn’t pretend.'"

Buy THE TUMOR! "This is one of the weirdest, smartest, most disturbing things you will read this year."

The Pornography of Violence

Imaginary Enemy  , The Used

Imaginary Enemy, The Used

"Today, films that promise spectacle, intensity, and, above all, whore-bashing are not the totality of the pornographic universe. But they are the primary thing that millions of heterosexual men flock to when they are alone at their computers (check out the popular titles at http://business.avn.com/charts/.) Author David Foster Wallace (2006) spent some time with Max Hardcore at the AVN Awards in 1998 and left convinced that the snuff film was the apotheosis of porn -- the 'horizon' towards which the industry was traveling (28). More recently, journalist Susannah Breslin (2009) left a movie set of director Jim Powers with a similar impression: 'The products that Jim produces are videotaped vivisections, studies in which homo sapiens lie upon the operating table, the director is the doctor, the camera is the scalpel, and the only question worth asking is, How far will we go if we are pushed to our limits?" Breslin suggests an answer in the ambiguous title of her essay: 'They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?'
There is good reason why critics entertain visions of lethal violence when they consider pornographers' commitment to the intense and extreme, to the hostile and aggressive. But there is less reason to believe we stand on the precipice of something else altogether new and more threatening than what came before. The apocalyptic visions of Breslin and Wallace are not unique in the twenty-first-century. For instance, pornography and pop culture in the 1980s left David Cronenberg with a vision as ominous as Breslin's and Wallace's: The sleazy pornographers of the fictional Videodrome (1983) promised to bring snuff to the hungry masses on their home televisions. And decades earlier -- well before the dawn of pornography's Golden Age -- George Bataille (1962) believed that murder was the essence and the end of pornography, that sex and death were ever fused in human minds and bodies. Bataille's work, like that of the Marquis de Sade before him, shows that sexual violence has long been a staple in the pornographic -- and the popular -- imaginary (Moore 1990).
What changes with time is the form our most violent desires take, how extensively they dominate our sexual imaginations, how we choose to express them, and, perhaps, how far we are willing to go in exploring and satisfying them. The power of violence to captivate a wide audience is far from new, but the warnings of pop culture's soothsayers should not go unheeded. We must consider what is born when we so readily fuse arousal with contempt, sex with fury." -- Violence and the Pornographic Imaginary: The Politics of Sex, Gender, and Aggression in Hardcore Pornography, Natalie Purcell

The War

"On these occasions, he experienced an ache of longing for its shattering finalities, its deafening cacophonies, the way it changed you into something that you had no idea you could become, that you had no other way to become, something that you could never let go, and it wasn’t you that was holding onto the war, it was the war that was holding onto you, and that it would never let you go." -- work-in-progress

Famous

"Regular people thought you did it for the producers, the directors, the test screenings, the Q score, the paparazzi, the vanity. It wasn’t that at all. It was for the fans, not for their love of her but for their terrible intolerance of her getting older, for they could see no difference between themselves and her, and, for them, she had to be a god. It was the only way they could stand themselves; her immortality was their dream, the thing in which they believed." -- from "Famous Not Famous," a short story-in-progress

Bloomsday

"The milkwhite dolphin tossed his mane and, rising in the golden poop the helmsman spread the bellying sail upon the wind and stood off forward with all sail set, the spinnaker to larboard. A many comely nymphs drew nigh to starboard and to larboard and, clinging to the sides of the noble bark, they linked their shining forms as doth the cunning wheelwright when he fashions about the heart of his wheel the equidistant rays whereof each one is sister to another and he binds them all with an outer ring and giveth speed to the feet of men whenas they ride to a hosting or contend for the smile of ladies fair. Even so did they come and set them, those willing nymphs, the undying sisters. And they laughed, sporting in a circle of their foam: and the bark clave the waves." -- Ulysses