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Wall Street: Ο Dow Jones έκλεισε, για πρώτη φορά, πάνω από τις 30.000 μονάδες

Για πρώτη φορά, ο βιομηχανικός δείκτης Dow Jones έκλεισε την Τρίτη πάνω από τις 30.000 μονάδες, με τους επενδυτές να εμφανίζονται καθησυχασμένοι από τις θετικές εξελίξεις...
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Beyond Meat and PepsiCo partner to create plant-based foods
News of the collaboration sent Beyond Meat's shares to their largest single-day gain since its IPO in 2019.
Puerto Rico declares state of emergency over violence against women: 'An evil that has caused too much damage'
Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency this week over violence against women -- a move activists are hoping will help stem the tide of gender-based killings on the island, which average to at least one a week, reports say. 
Biden should look beyond leverage to rejoin the Iran deal
President Joe Biden took office at a moment of global crisis, and tensions with Iran are among his most pressing foreign-policy challenges. After four years of nonstop hostility between Washington and Tehran, the first weeks of his presidency could determine the level of danger moving forward.
Biden's DHS pick Mayorkas advances out of committee, heads to Senate floor for confirmation vote
Alejandro Mayorkas, President Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was one step closer to taking the position on Tuesday after the Senate Homeland Security Committee advanced his nomination.
Cuomo, de Blasio agree: NYC indoor dining not returning anytime soon
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio agree that indoor dining will not return to the city anytime soon, citing a continuous surge in COVID-19 cases.
Mossimo Giannulli denied request to serve prison sentence at home by judge
Mossimo Giannulli's request to serve the remainder of his prison sentence at home was denied by a judge.
Calling all dill lovers: This old-school ham salad sandwich is for you
Old-school ham salad gets a big boost of flavor from a generous helping of herbaceous dill.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is banned from Twitter
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House before entering on January 15, 2021. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images Mike Lindell’s continued false claims of election fraud lost him his account. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has remained loyal to former President Donald Trump even as other corporate allies have jumped ship. He followed him in promoting false election conspiracies. He insisted Trump was not to blame for the Capitol riot. And now, the MyPillow guy has followed him into another ignominy — getting himself, like Trump, permanently banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation. In a statement to the Associated Press, a spokesperson for Twitter said Lindell was banned for “repeated violations” of the company’s civic integrity policy, though they did not point to a specific tweet that triggered the action. Lindell has used his account to promote false claims of election fraud since November. His tweets have asked the president to “impose martial law,” called Biden’s victory the “biggest election fraud in history,” and used the days after the insurrection to continue to promote conspiracy theories. MyPillow guy Mike Lindell has been banished to Twitter hell with Trump pic.twitter.com/ZqyzIcsuor— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 26, 2021 Trump’s and Lindell’s claims of voter fraud have been thoroughly — and repeatedly — debunked. More than 90 judges ruled against Trump and his allies in their court filings over the election, and, after a thorough review, the US Justice Department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. For Lindell, a pillow manufacturing executive, self-professed crack addict-to-Christian success story, and devoted Trump acolyte, the Twitter ban is the latest blow in a series of consequences over his election denial. As Vox’s Emily Stewart explained, the businessman, whose commercials you’ve probably seen, has become “a fixture in Trumpland”: Lindell is the founder and CEO of MyPillow, a company that, as the name suggests, makes and sells pillows. His shtick is that he guarantees it will be “The Most Comfortable Pillow You’ll Ever Own.” The company also makes other products — sheets, blankets, towels, dog beds, etc. But Lindell is into more than pillows. He is also very into Donald Trump. In getting banned, Lindell joins other Trump allies, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and campaign consultant Roger Stone. Twitter has suspended more than 70,000 accounts, mostly associated with the QAnon conspiracy, in accordance with its new civic integrity policy, which states users may not use their accounts for the purpose of “manipulating or interfering in elections.” The MyPillow guy will not abandon the sinking ship Lindell has a long history of supporting the president, and since November, he has funded Trump’s election challenges in court, appeared at Trump rallies insisting Georgia voters would go to prison, and maintained the incorrect claim that the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol were actually affiliated with antifa. When Trump was losing allies after the insurrection, Lindell showed up at the White House on January 15 with six pages of notes on election conspiracies ranging from Chinese interference to Russian cybersecurity figures changing the result. An image from Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford showed Lindell’s notes calling for the then-president to invoke the Insurrection Act and impose martial law “if necessary.” Apparently, this may have even been too far for Trump. He met with Lindell for a few minutes and then gave him the cold shoulder by having him wait to speak to advisers that Lindell had suggested Trump fire, according to the New York Times. Lindell’s affiliation with Trump is unsurprising given his penchant for self-aggrandizement. As The Goods’ Meredith Hagerty lays out in an explainer, Lindell considers his relationship with Trump to have been a “divine appointment,” which may explain his unflinching commitment to supporting the president up to the point of his own deplatforming: The actual political conversion he describes took place shortly after Lindell had — yup — a dream where he met Donald Trump and the two posed for a picture together. At this point in 2015, Trump was weeks away from announcing his candidacy for president, and the men had never met, but by August of 2016, they were coming together in Trump Tower, in fulfillment of Lindell’s “premonition.” Lindell had become active in Republican circles, honored with the Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundation’s 2015 Patriot Award (nominated by buddy Stephen Baldwin), popping up at the National Prayer Breakfast to feel disappointed in President Obama, attending the RNC and becoming friendly with the Trump kids. His relationship with Trump makes sense for Lindell — if ever a man was going to increase his platform it would be by aligning himself with a kindred spirit pitchman, a man with whom he shares a checkered past and evangelical overtures. In this way, it makes sense for Trump as well; Lindell has the religious bona fides. Losing his account for this loyaltymay not be Lindell’s only consequence. Dominion Voting Systems threatened to sue Lindell for defamation, after he has promoted misinformation regarding the security of the company’s machines, saying they were rigged by foreign countries. No evidence of changed vote tallies was found in any state, and Dominion has already launched a lawsuit against Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Additionally, retailers including Bed, Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s have dropped MyPillow products from their stores. Still, Lindell has remained committed to going down with the election fraud ship — even without the use of his Twitter account, which he previously told Trump was where he was finding supposed evidence of voter fraud that the former president was missing because he had been banned from the site. In an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Tuesday (the MyPillow company is headquartered in Minnesota), Lindell said he would not be silenced by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, by lawsuits, or by retailers. “I want to get sued by Dominion because then both sides have to show in court ... Dominion’s lawyers are not going to bother me because they know I have all this [evidence],” Lindell said. “My support of Donald Trump has never wavered since the time I met him and it never will. Never ever, ever.”
IMF chief: We must do more
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva discusses when the global economy will bounce back from the Covid crisis and how vaccine nationalism could cost the world $9 trillion.
Nadal: 'I've never been obsessed about being the best'
Ahead of the Australian Open, Rafa Nadal speaks to Christiane Amanpour from quarantine, as he reflects on these extraordinary times, his incredible achievements and his future.
White House says 'all violence' will be reviewed when pressed on Portland, Seattle riots
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday said “all violence” will be reviewed as part of the Biden Administration’s effort to combat domestic violent extremism.
Big Buyers Hit Pause Button as Bitcoin Surges
Institutional interest in Bitcoin is flagging. "At the moment, the institutional flow impulse behind the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is not strong enough for Bitcoin to break out above $40,000," London-based JP Morgan analyst Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou said.
Blinken becomes Biden's top diplomat after a friendship forged over decades
It was February 2008 when a snowstorm suddenly overwhelmed the flight path of two American helicopters, forcing them to make an unexpected landing on a mountaintop in Afghanistan.
The Atlantic Hires Three Senior Editors
The Atlantic is adding three senior editors to its staff, expanding its leadership across the newsroom as it continues its relentless reporting on and analysis of the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s biggest challenges. Daniel Engber is joining the Science desk, and comes to The Atlantic from Wired; Chris Ip joins the Culture section after most recently editing features at Engadget; and Honor Jones joins the magazine staff from The New York Times. These hires were announced by editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, and all three editors begin with The Atlantic next week.Engber joins the staff from Wired, where he was the Ideas editor. Prior to Wired, Engber was a senior editor at Slate and a regular contributor to Radiolab, The New York Times Magazine, and Popular Science. At The Atlantic, Engber will take on a mix of editing and writing responsibilities.Ip was most recently a features editor at Engadget, where he helped build the site’s long-form coverage, with a particular focus on culture. Ip’s writing on food and the arts for the site won excellence-in-features awards from the Society for Features Journalism. Earlier in his career, Ip wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review, worked on a special-projects team at Reuters, and covered news at Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. At The Atlantic he will focus on the intersection of culture, technology, and human relationships.Jones joins The Atlantic after 12 years with The New York Times Opinion section, where she was most recently the cover-stories editor, and also led the section's coronavirus coverage. During her years with the Times, Jones served as the Opinion section’s health, science, and lifestyle editor, and as the Sunday Review editor. At The Atlantic she’ll focus on features.Other recent staff to join The Atlantic’s editorial team includes Katherine Wu as a staff writer covering the coronavirus; Caitlin Dickerson as a staff writer covering immigration and the American experience; Jenisha Watts as a senior editor for The Atlantic’s special-projects team; and Yuri Victor and Aithne Feay, who joined The Atlantic’s experimental-storytelling team.
Biden commerce pick promises jobless Keystone workers 'we will make sure that you have jobs'
Gina Raimondo, President Biden's nominee for secretary of commerce, promised that the Biden administration will ensure that union workers who lost jobs due to the blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline will get new jobs.
Coronavirus Corruption Hub South Africa Scolds World for 'Hoarding' Vaccines
Leftist South African President Cyril Ramaphosa used his remarks at the World Economic Forum at Davos on Tuesday to accuse wealthier countries of "vaccine nationalism" and telling them not to "hoard" doses of vaccine candidates against the Chinese coronavirus.
Behar Says GOP Senators Who Don't Vote to Convict Trump Have Blood on Their Hands
Joy Behar told her co-hosts Tuesday on ABC's "The View" that Senators who do not vote to convict former President Donald Trump will have blood on their hands.
‘Modern Family’ Will Finally Stream In Its Entirety on Hulu and Peacock
All 250 episodes of the beloved sitcom will hit Hulu and Peacock on February 3.
Biden speaks with Putin for first time as president
President Joe Biden held his first call Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, according to the White House.
What McConnell got — and didn’t — on the filibuster
It’s unlikely that all of this changed too much.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs to square off in Super Bowl LV
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs are set to square off in the 2021 Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Tuesday marks one year since the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others. CBS News special correspondent James Brown joined CBSN to discuss the latest in the sports world.
Santa Anita cancels Friday race program in anticipation of rain
Santa Anita has been proactive in its weather-related track surface management since the spike in horse fatalities in 2019.
Woman, 37, found dead in bathtub of Bronx apartment
A 37-year-old woman was found dead, with a head injury, inside the bathtub of a Bronx NYCHA apartment this week, according to cops and police sources.  The woman was discovered unconscious and unresponsive at the building on East 137th Street near St. Ann’s Avenue, part of NYCHA’s Mitchel Houses, around 5 p.m. Monday, police said. ...
‘Head-splitting’ 17-year cicadas to descend on East Coast
They're back from their decade-plus-long dirt nap.
Grindr faces $11.7 million fine from Norway regulators for alleged data sharing
Norwegian regulators announced intentions to hit the popular LGBTQ dating app Grindr with a fine of nearly $12 million over data sharing practices.
In Less Than a Minute, Biden Changes US-Russian Dynamics
This article is part of the The DC Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to get stories like this sent to your inbox every weekday. It’s been a busy week in Washington. President Joe Biden yesterday reversed his predecessor’s ban on transgender individuals from serving in uniform, boosted a Buy American program for manufacturing…
Airbnb was ensnared in the Capitol Riot fallout. It somehow still came out on top
Brian Chesky had some air mattresses, but not much more, in 2008 when the presidential election triggered an idea for his then-fledgling startup, Airbnb.
EDD's lack of planning deprived jobless Californians of needed benefits amid pandemic, audit finds
The state auditor's report was ordered by lawmakers who criticized the EDD for a large backlog of claims and the failure to prevent widespread fraud.
Verizon Internet Outage Leaves at Least 22K People Without Access in D.C., New York, Boston
The telecommunications company said that a fiber cut reported in Brooklyn might be responsible.
Josh Hawley's Efforts to Block Biden DHS Pick Alejandro Mayorkas Fails in Committee
Biden's nomination of Mayorkas to lead the Department of Homeland Security moved forward on Tuesday.
'Same problems' will resurface if Biden rolls back border wall construction, former NM governor warns
Former New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez warned Tuesday that it is 'very wrong' for the Biden administration to halt the construction of the southern border wall, calling the fence a 'piece of the security of our nation.'
What McConnell got -- and didn’t -- on the filibuster
Facebook users’ phone numbers reportedly being sold on Telegram
A cybercriminal has created a bot that’s selling access to millions of Facebook users’ cellphone numbers through the Telegram messaging app, a new report says. The bot pulls the info from a massive database of phone numbers taken from Facebook before the social network patched a security hole in 2019, according to Motherboard. Anyone who...
British newlyweds 90, 86 get COVID-19 vaccine
Newlyweds Geoff and Jenny Holland, 90 and 86 received their COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday, January 25 in the English town of Mansfield after testing positive for the virus in November. The couple met about 18 months ago at a community centre, and got married during the pandemic, in August. “I was married 65 years, nearly....
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel says Trump’s ‘not going to start a third party’
Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Ronna McDaniel says she’s confident that former President Trump won’t start a splinter party.
Major snowfall brings some relief, joy to Midwest
A major winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the middle of the country, disrupting travel and shuttering many schools. But it also brought relief and joy to some residents. (Jan. 26)       
Tony Blinken confirmed as Joe Biden’s secretary of state
The Senate on Tuesday easily confirmed Tony Blinken to be President Joe Biden’s secretary of state. Blinken won broad bipartisan support in the 78-22 vote. He previously was deputy secretary of state under former President Barack Obama. At his confirmation hearing this month, Blinken praised former President Donald Trump for taking a tougher approach to...
Homeland Security secretary nomination advances as top Democrat rejects GOP request delay
Alejandro Mayorkas' nomination to be Homeland Security secretary moved forward Tuesday after a Senate panel vote as a top Democrat rejected Republican calls for another hearing that would delay his confirmation.
'It was a horrible scene': Capitol Police have a $500M budget. Why were they unprepared at the Jan. 6 riot?
The force's former chief obtained budget increases to fund the structure and manpower to defend lawmakers, their family and staff. Where was it?       
Mexico horror: Many of 19 bodies found shot, burned may have been Guatemalan migrants, relatives say
Most of the 19 bodies found shot and burned in a northern Mexico border state may have been Guatemalan migrants from a small group that began heading toward the U.S. earlier this month, relatives said.
A Writer Lost His Singing Voice, Then Discovered The 'Gymnastics' Of Speech
New Yorker writer John Colapinto developed a vocal polyps when he began "wailing" with a rock group without proper warm-up. His new book explores the human voice's physicality, frailty and feats .
Packers insist they are ‘not idiots’ when it comes to Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers may believe his future with the Packers is up in the air, but Green Bay CEO Mark Murphy has a differing opinion. Appearing on WNFL’s ‘The 5th Quarter Show’ on Monday, Murphy addressed Rodgers’ cryptic comments following the Packers’ 31-26 NFC Championship defeat to the Buccaneers, in which the longtime Green Bay quarterback...
Janet Yellen, the first female Treasury Secretary
Janet Yellen became the first woman to head the Treasury Department on Jan. 25, 2021.        
Due to COVID, 2021 is not the year to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, group warns
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which cares for the trail, is discouraging thru-hikers from attempting all 2,190 miles in 2021 due to COVID-19.       
What Joan Didion means to us
Joan Didion in Vogue in 1972. | Henry Clarke/Conde Nast via Getty Images Her new book, Let Me Tell You What I Mean, taps into what makes Didion an icon. In the spring of 1975, 41-year-old Joan Didion was both the “Regents’ Lecturer” at Berkeley, her alma mater, and kind of a nervous wreck. By then, she was successful, having published two novels (Run River and Play It As It Lays) and a very highly regarded book of essays (Slouching Towards Bethlehem), along with scores of articles, reviews, and columns. In 1973, Tom Wolfe included Didion in his anthology The New Journalism, which solidified her place alongside Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Gay Talese, George Plimpton, and other practitioners of an experience-driven, subjective brand of reporting (even if she always insisted the best journalists knew to stand outside the story). She had also been a guest lecturer before, most notably at Yale a year prior. She was not yet recognizable as Joan Didion, icon. But everything was about to change. At Berkeley, she was set to spend a month on campus as a visiting teacher, then conclude her stint with a public lecture. The classroom reviews were not stellar. Didion’s biographer Tracy Daugherty writes that “one student said the class was terribly awkward and tense. Didion would read to them in a barely audible voice or stare at them in silence, drumming her fingers on the desk.” That version of Didion — quiet, ill at ease, seemingly wanting to be anywhere but where she was — is not a wholly unfamiliar figure to today’s reader. In interviews — especially very recent ones — she often comes across terse and evasive, like she’d rather be doing literally anything else. But if you’ve read her essays from that era, it’s still a little startling. How could this timid, perplexing lecturer be the source of the wry, detailed, sometimes even chatty voice that pops up in much of her writing? John Bryson/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images Joan Didion at home in Malibu with her husband John Gregory Dunne and her daughter Quintana Roo Dunne in 1976. During her time at Berkeley, Didion was simply buried in writing a new book, and her natural shyness, coupled with a kind of anxiety, likely contributed to her in-class manner. In an autobiographical passage in her 1984 novel Democracy, Didion writes of that period, “In 1975 time was no longer just quickening but collapsing, falling in on itself, the way a disintegrating star contracts into a black hole,” noting that “I seemed able to concentrate only on reading newspapers.” Whatever the reason, the English faculty at Berkeley had more or less stopped taking her seriously by the time her brief tenure was over, and booked only a small room for her culminating public lecture. Didion, apprehensive and on edge, later told a friend that she had to work up the nerve to ask for a larger room, and so the departmental secretary switched the event to a lecture hall. She was terrified. What if it didn’t fill? What if it did? Before the lecture, Didion hid in the ladies’ room, certain she was about to throw up. She shouldn’t have been worried. Caitlin Flanagan, then a teenager and the daughter of a Berkeley professor, recounted years later the “Didion-mania” that broke out, startling the university’s faculty. The youthful Flanagan wasn’t at the lecture, but she heard about it. “It was a madhouse,” Flanagan wrote. Whatever resistance Didion experienced at Berkeley stood in marked contrast to the passionate horde of fans who appeared to hear her speak. “There were tearful women who were turned away at the door, others grateful to stand in the back or to sit on the floor, a huge, rapt crowd of the type that doesn’t feature in even the wildest dreams of most writers.” For women who had read her essays and novels, Didion’s Everywoman persona — a measured voice that processed a world as it fell to pieces — was a conduit for their own emotions. She was their Superwoman. Joan Didion, the writer, already had her fans, but Daugherty points to the Berkeley lecture as the moment that Joan Didion, the icon, was born. For the next several decades, Didion would be viewed through not just a literary lens but an aesthetic one. She would come to symbolize cool. In 2015, at 80 years old, she would model for the French luxury brand Celine. A famous photograph with a cigarette and a Corvette Stingray would be taped up above the desks of aspiring young women writers for decades to come. Her 1968 essay “Goodbye to All That,” in which she recounts going to pieces and moving away from New York City, would practically generate its own subgenre of imitation. She meant something to people. She means something to people. Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Didion at New York’s Booth Theater in 2007, during the Broadway production of her play “The Year of Magical Thinking,” adapted from her memoir of the same name. That night at Berkeley in 1975, Didion gave a lecture titled “Why I Write.” It became one of her most well-known works. “Why I Write” was published in the New York Times in 1976 and makes frequent use of one of Didion’s signature rhetorical devices: She makes a statement, then tells the audience what she means by what she just said. “It took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer,” she explains. Then she quickly clarifies: “By which I mean not a ‘good’ writer or a ‘bad’ writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.” “Why I Write” is really an explanation for how Didion views meaning as inextricable from syntax itself: “To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed,” she writes. To her, a writer is not primarily a prophet or a polemicist; a writer is someone who uses hammers and saws to shape the raw building blocks of words. Writers coax meaning from the words themselves, from turns of phrase, from the construction of sentences. A writer knows how to conceal and reveal significance by placing the building blocks well. And, most importantly, a writer looks past the obvious, past surface-level appearances, past the fictions people construct to turn the disorder of the world into order,starting with their own inner life. “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means,” reads one of the most famous lines in “Why I Write.” Writing brings order from chaotic thought, even if the world itself is chaos. Until now, despite its vaunted status, “Why I Write” has never appeared in one of Didion’s essay collections. But it’s in her newest book, Let Me Tell You What I Mean. For an author as obsessed with meaning as Didion, that title is a revealing double entendre, and one that seems to hang on that moment at Berkeley in 1975. She is telling us what she means, as she told that standing-room-only audience. And she is also telling us what she means, here in 2021, after decades of being one of America’s most admired, most argued-over writers. Twelve previously uncollected essays, spanning 1968 to 2000, cover all kinds of different subjects: alt-weeklies, failing to get into Stanford, Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographic subjects, the pitch-perfect personal branding of Martha Stewart. She writes on Ernest Hemingway and on William Randolph Hearst’s palatial Xanadu estate. Her infamously surgical evisceration of Nancy Reagan is also included here, in the form of a 1968magazine profile entitled “Pretty Nancy,” which was found so objectionable by its subject that she wrote of Didion in her memoirs, “She had obviously written the story in her mind before she ever met me.” Some essays in the collection feel very personal, like Didion’s remembrance of friend, director, and producer Tony Richardson. (Richardson’s daughter, with Vanessa Redgrave, was the late actress Natasha Richardson, who died in a skiing accident in 2009; Redgrave in turn played Didion in the Broadway production of Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking, about grief.) Pete Marovich/Getty Images Didion receives the National Humanities Medal from president Barack Obama in 2013. Let Me Tell You What I Mean is a small book — literally, you can practically slip it into your back pocket — and it feels more like an appendix or an album of B-sides to Didion’s oeuvre than a fully fleshed-out new entry. Scholars and avid readers of Didion will not find new information here. But it’s a worthy collection nonetheless, because it works like a skeleton key to unlock Didion’s continued significance in American culture. What has made her so lasting and important to so many? Why are we still talking about her and reading her and teaching her writing in classrooms? The book unpacks this legacy subtly, in a way as twofold as its title: Because she means things, and because she means something. In each essay, Didion is explaining what she means when she says things, often things that shock or intrigue. “The only American newspapers that do not leave me in the grip of a profound physical conviction that the oxygen has been cut off from my brain tissue, very probably by an Associated Press wire, are The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Free Press, the Los Angeles Open City, and the East Village Other,” begins her 1968 essay “Alicia and the Underground Press.” Didion rushes to assure us that she’s not trying to “make myself out an amusing eccentric, perverse and eclectic and, well, groovy in all her tastes”; instead, she is lamenting the “inability of all of us to speak to one another in any direct way, the failure of American newspapers to ‘get through,’” and the way the fiction of objectivity strangles journalism. And then she goes on to tell us what she means by that. Saying things, then clarifying them, is evidence of Didion’s precision, her need to make sure she reveals only what she wants to and not a bit more, that the words she chooses do exactly what she means for them to do. For Didion, sloppy writing is sloppy thinking, on the border of being immoral. When she made the pivot to writing about politics in the 1980s, she frequently focused not only on what people, especially politicians and pundits, were saying to the public, but on the way they said it, and the meaning they tried to repress in their rhetoric. And she holds herself to the same standard. “The whole meaning of anything for me is in the grammar,” she told an interviewer in 2002. “It doesn’t mean anything until I’ve written it. I don’t have a lot of thoughts. They don’t form until I’ve written it down. So the process of writing is the process of thinking.” The effort Didion devotes to making herself clear is somewhat ironic, since her most-quoted line ever — the first sentence in her 1979 essay “The White Album,” which is “We tell ourselves stories in order to live” — is also her most misquoted. Often it’s brought up as an inspirational bon mot for aspiring writers, an exhortation to keep telling stories so that we can keep living. In fact, it’s the opening salvo in a devastating passage arguing that this storytelling impulse fools us into believing that life makes sense, when, if we looked at it with scrutiny, we’d know the appropriate response to life is “an attack of vertigo and nausea.” By the end of the essay, Didion has told many stories, but she says that “writing has not yet helped me to see what it means.” But the essays in Let Me Tell You What I Mean aren’t just about Didion clarifying her thoughts while look on. Taken together, they reveal how she is trying to interpret — by writing about others, mostly — what she herself actually means to us. In “Everywoman.com,” a 2000 essay about Martha Stewart’s personal brand and the fandom it spawned, she writes a telling passage: The “cultural meaning” of Martha Stewart’s success, in other words, lies deep in the success itself, which is why even her troubles are strivings are part of the message, not detrimental but integral to the brand. She has branded herself not as Superwoman but as Everywoman, a distinction that seems to remain unclear to her critics. The tell is in the essay’s last paragraph, where she observes that Stewart’s story is a “‘woman’s pluck story, the dust-bowl story, the burying-your-child-on-the-trail story.” For nearly her whole career, Didion has drawn on those same pioneer narratives to explain her entire self-conception, as a descendant of pioneer women who came to California. She is writing, at least a little, about herself. And that makes the kicker even more significant: “The dreams and the fears into which Martha Stewart taps are not of ‘feminine’ domesticity but of female power, of the woman who sits down at the table with the men and, still in her apron, walks away with the chips,” she writes. Henry Clarke/Condé Nast via Getty Images Didion at home in her Malibu kitchen in 1972. That seems faintly self-aware.Famously reticent to describe herself as “a feminist,” Didion seems to have tapped into this same version of female power that she ascribes to Stewart. She is, on the one hand, the writer who seems fragile and reserved, even the woman trembling in the Berkeley bathroom — the Everywoman. In her later years, she is the woman left alone by the untimely deaths of her husband and daughter, losses she tries to process in The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights with extraordinary vulnerability. She wants to make sure we know she doesn’t think she is special. On the other hand, she is the writer who can practically disembowel a politician or pundit’s bad reasoning, take apart a brainless movie or book, or reduce a pompous public figure to a hollow shell, and that’s why writers love her or fear her. Words are her scalpels. In an essay in Let Me Tell You What I mean titled “On Stories,” she writes that at her first job at Vogue writing merchandising and promotion copy, “I learned a kind of ease with words, a way of regarding words not as mirrors of my own inadequacy but as tools, toys, weapons to be deployed strategically on a page.” Not everyone learns to write like that. It’s a sort of Superwoman ability. Couple it with the surprisingly controlled iconography she’s let out into the world — the photo of herself with a cigarette, one arm crossed over her waistline; the photo of herself with a cigarette and her Corvette; the modeling work for Celine — and it’s no wonder that some of her fans worship her for what they think she means, even if they don’t always cop to what she means. Why does Joan Didion matter? Because she has chronicled, for well over half a century, how the powerful use words to obscure meaning. How lies get dressed up as truth. How we all submit to magical thinking when confronted with the inexplicable or the frightening. How we make up stories to convince ourselves that we have everything under control, how we spin webs of meaning from words and sentences and turns of phrase. How we write to find out what we mean. How we need, wisely or not, figures who can make meaning for us out of chaos.
Joe Biden Will Sign Four Executive Orders on Racial Equity—Here's What They Do
"Building a more equitable economy is essential if Americans are going to compete and thrive," Biden's Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice said Tuesday.
San Diego Zoo gorillas to get COVID-19 vaccine after outbreak
Some of the gorillas at a San Diego Zoo will get a COVID-19 vaccine after a group of them became infected with the virus, officials said. San Diego Safari Park executive director Lisa Peterson said that a supply of the vaccine not permitted for use in people will be given to a few of the apes,...