Hydrological Romance

Joan Didion – The White Album

Everyone that writes about Didion seems to pick her up because of her role as a cultural critic, and a bagful of other MFA student values. It’s true: her prose style is exquisite, and she is one of the few writers who can make reading about the sixties bearable. All well and good.

The moment I fell in love with her, however, was when when she confessed her obsession with Californian hydrological engineering. Her writing about the romance of infrastructure – traffic control, the Getty Museum, airports, shopping mall theory, and especially Hoover Dam – is unsurpassed. How I wish we had a twenty-first century Didion to anatomize our cities and sketch our broken unconscious geoengineering in sharp dark lines against a white background.

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