I identify very closely with the Didion article. At the start, I was mostly just intrigued by her identification of the purpose of writing and how it’s a way for an author to shove their own views and observations into a reader’s face. I particularly identify with the passage where she discusses how she focuses on the periphery. Similarly to Didion, I couldn’t tell you most of the information I’ve learned in most of the classes I’ve taken throughout the course of my academic career. I remember the large concepts, but when it comes down to small details I’m a blank slate. However, when it comes to experiences and sensory, “peripheral” details, my mind soaks them up like a dry sponge. Although I won’t ever be able to explain to someone how stoichiometry works (even though we slaved over learning it in sophomore year chemistry), I’ll forever remember the smell of mildew coming off of soggy towels my brother and I decided to store in garbage bags for the duration of summer camp when I was 11. Although I need to be reminded of the plot line of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I’ll never forget the path I had to take to avoid the squeaky patches in the floor of my childhood home.
Reading Didion’s article gave me somewhat of a comfort. It was very reassuring to learn that the way she discovered her passion and talent for writing was through identifying her weakness of learning but not remembering. Knowing that I share something in common with a scholar as revered as Joan Didion makes me feel just a bit better about not caring that all basic algebra facts have escaped me. The fact that I can use my talent for observation as a strength rather than a fault is quite comforting indeed.