Hide and Seek

Joan Didion, photo courtesy of

On Saturday, December 18, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki offered as defense of her “mocking” the efficacy of ‘at home’ testing for COVID-19 when the COVID-19 Response Team was considering a national roll-out of ‘at home’ testing kits, an extended “Ooops.” Her defense apology was a case of not respecting ‘context:’ context

On an evening in November when the pallor of a January coup attempt to overthrow the 2020 election result was descending on the nation, Judy Woodruff of NPR interviewed a UV Poli Sci Professor seeking “some context” on ‘how America arrived at attacking her democracy.’


‘Context’ is the afterthought of uncritical thinking: when we don’t need it, when we need it most. For journalists chasing the delusion of finding truth, Didion’s third person reporting (1) explodes the notion that our observations are embedded in “context.”

Rather Didion pushed the notion that journalism is more than reporting ‘fact.’ In her memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” Didion pushed the notion that America doesn’t ‘do grief’ well, reflecting on her ‘magical thinking’ through a year of unspeakable tragedy, the loss of a daughter and husband.

By tugging at the rules of convention and objectivity, Didion does her readers a service: she brings the dots to the table of discovery. She gives the reader an opportunity to connect them.

My favorite Didion “opportunity” is “Miami.” It’s my favorite piece of ‘:’ I re-read “Miami” when I am confronted by the scourge of objectivity. When the ship of reason has left the harbor, “Miami” reminds me that imagination — not ‘context’ — is our ‘life raft.’

A simple choice, really.

Joan Didion, who proved that we couldn’t write others’ stories without boundaries — ours and. others — died today.



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Rodney Clough

Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.