Read Fixed Ideas: America Since 9.11 by Joan Didion Frank Rich Online


In Fixed Ideas Joan Didion describes how, since September 11, 2001, there has been a determined effort by the administration to promote an imperial America--a "New Unilateralism"--and how, in many parts of America, there is now a "disconnect" between the government and citizens."[Americans] recognized even then [immediately after 9/11], with flames still visible in lower MIn Fixed Ideas Joan Didion describes how, since September 11, 2001, there has been a determined effort by the administration to promote an imperial America--a "New Unilateralism"--and how, in many parts of America, there is now a "disconnect" between the government and citizens."[Americans] recognized even then [immediately after 9/11], with flames still visible in lower Manhattan, that the words 'bipartisanship' and 'national unity' had come to mean acquiescence to the administration's preexisting agenda--for example the imperative for further tax cuts, the necessity for Arctic drilling, the systematic elimination of regulatory and union protections, even the funding for the missile shield."Frank Rich in his preface notes: "The reassuring point of the fixed ideas was to suppress other ideas that might prompt questions or fears about either the logic or hidden political agendas of those conducting what CNN branded as 'America's New War.'"He adds, "This White House is famously secretive and on-message, but its skills go beyond that. It knows the power of narrative, especially a single narrative with clear-cut heroes and evildoers, and it knows how to drown out any distracting subplots before they undermine the main story."Book and cover design by Milton Glaser, Inc....

Title : Fixed Ideas: America Since 9.11
Author :
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ISBN : 9781590170731
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 44 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Fixed Ideas: America Since 9.11 Reviews

  • Tim Rideout
    2019-03-21 21:28

    'We had seen, most importantly, the insistent use of September 11 to justify the reconception of America's correct role in the world as one of initiating and waging perpetual war.'Joan Didion's 2003 essay makes the compelling case that the 9/11 tragedy was and has been used by the US government to neutralise resistance to a pre-existing right-wing agenda of 'further tax cuts, the necessity for Artic drilling, the systematic elimination of regulatory and union protections, even the funding for the missile shield.' In support of this, the official narrative became one of 'moral clarity', rejecting any notion of post-modern relativism. Thus, at the same time as claiming that the attack on the US and her allies was provoked by a hatred of the West's freedoms (of speech, thought, democracy etc.), the official narrative also encouraged the curtailing of those freedoms in unequivocal support for a united, patriotic position, where any criticism of US culture and policy is derided as unpatriotic.This essay was written in 2003, two years or so after the 9/11 attacks. It's relevance today in September 2017 is stark. In the last day or so President Trump made his maiden speech to the annual UN General Assembly. “We meet at a time of immense promise and great peril,” Trump said in his address to the more than 150 international delegations. “It is up to us whether we will lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”Making direct reference to North Korea's nuclear ambitions Trump stated that “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said, before calling Kim Jong Un by a nickname he gave the dictator on Twitter over the weekend. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.” (Quotes taken from the Washington Post).Didion's essay reminds us that Trump's chilling rhetoric echoes that following 9/11 when 'the Department of Defense was talking as early as June about unloosing, for the first time since 1945, high-yield nuclear weapons.'In the final analysis Didion exposes the fundamental flaw in the 'moral clarity' argument. At times of greatest risk true morality is located in an open and inclusive exploration of the issues in a way that welcomes challenge and dissent. Fixed ideas are the problem, not the solution.

  • Em
    2019-03-23 01:21

    Subtitled ‘America Since 9.11’ this volume seems a continuation in the tradition of pamphlets going back to Thomas Paine. It did not take me two months to read this book – under 30 minutes, but I’ve been reading more magazine articles from the Progressive and other publications. This is not the first book by Didion I’ve read, I finished ‘Salvador’ years ago, but it was a struggle to finish as I recall. I’m reading as much contemporary political news as I can in preparation for the next election. As for this treatise penned by Didion, well I actually think the forward by Frank Rich was stronger and clearer in its message. I’m not saying that Didion did not make some very good points, but her piece was going all over the place. Her personal recollections of the days following 9.11 seemed distant, her points about where the country has been directed since 9.11 seemed aimless especially since there are so many issues where the current administration are so clearly defiling our constitution. Almost as disappointing as this administration.

  • James Payne
    2019-03-10 19:18

    A slight book - a magazine article, really - published in a money grab, or more charitably, because responsible America needed any voicing and any platform allowed it in the face of the ubiquitous hate and paranoiac fantasy of the post-9/11 era. Didion effectively paints the peculiarities of the administration's tactics for quelling dissent, or even thought, really, and the contradictions inherent in their "they hate us for our freedoms" rhetoric.Was this period as scarring for everyone else as it was for me? The absolute capitulation of the Democrats in congress and the nation's "respectable" press - NYT, et al - seems to be an episode few feel to have real bearing on our current political situation; like trauma, America's body politic has either blacked-it out, or wishes to ceaselessly relive it, without conscious knowledge of doing so.Even the literature of the left on 9/11 - Zizek's Desert of the Real, Chomsky's 9/11, Spiegelman's Shadow of No Towers - it's all sort of confused; haphazard, or just iterations of margins around an absent center. Didion's essay suffers from the same lack of mattering, of understanding, or of conviction in some way. Even the critics of the post-9/11 stultification of the political process seemed to have been in its capture.

  • John Mitchell
    2019-03-12 01:28

    An essay in book form- scathing and provocative. Didion examines our national reaction to 9/11 and her conclusions are not comforting. But then, in light of the history that has followed, how could they be?

  • Mark Fuller
    2019-02-23 21:30

    This book was a quick but powerful read. It contained a lot of details about the aftermath of the attack on New York City on September 11 that I vaguely remembered, and some that I had forgotten. Given the current politics, this book is more powerful now then when it was written.

  • Navin
    2019-03-13 01:43

    Chilling rhetoric in similarity to Trumps America

  • Rachel Dows
    2019-03-08 19:34

    Didion is on point, but occasionally overly expansive and opinionated. She reports, but also reveals her opinion on America since 9/11. Worth reading. Short and to the point.

  • Rah-zee-uh
    2019-02-28 01:32

    Very readable ‘book’ (all of 44 pages, but point made). A critical look at what happens when critical thinking disappears. Good, unexpected, essay

  • Sheila Dunbar
    2019-02-20 19:39

    Thought provoking, of course, and disturbing. Joan Didion was a national treasure.

  • Jessica
    2019-03-18 01:38

    This book (pamphlet, really) reads like an incomplete thought.

  • MikeS
    2019-02-27 20:19

    This is a great run of thoughts and criticisms formed following 9.11 and the reactionary years. While focusing mainly on the process of eliminating debate and discussion following the terrorist attacks, Didion outlines several contradictions in policy, practice, and PR that also help to explain how the US got (completely off-topic?) into the current mess in Iraq. She writes,"We have come in this country to tolerate many such fixed opinions, or national pieties, each with its own baffles of invective and counterinvective, of euphemism and downright misstatement, its own screen that slides into place whenever actual discussion threatens to surface. We have for example allowed American biological research to fall behind that in countries where stem cell programs are not confused with 'cloning' and 'abortion on demand,' countries in other words where rationality is not held hostage to the posturing of the political process."It is partly the spin of what Didion calls 'fixed ideas' that have effectively thrown the proverbial sand in the eyes of many Americans who would otherwise think and behave rationally and/or critically.Very thought-provoking and worth the few minutes it takes to read.

  • Tom Romig
    2019-03-18 19:24

    It looks like a book and it's sold as a book, but it's really a piece that first appeared in The New York Review of Books. But it's by Joan Didion, one of my top five favorite authors, so if she wants to call it a book, it's a book. Ms. Didion decries the cynical use of the attacks of 9/11 for justification of the invasion of Iraq. (In his Preface, Frank Rich notes that, "By mid-January 2003, according to a poll conducted for Knight Ridder by Princeton Survey Research Associates, half the country held the erroneous belief that one or more of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens.") The idea that we could transform an Arab country into a model democracy, one that would draw other Middle Eastern nations to democracy, was firmly held not only by the Bush administration but by many pundits. The president successfully forestalled any reasonable debate on this or other wild notions by a cowardly appeal to patriotism: "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists." After sacrificing thousands of American and Iraqi lives and squandering trillions of dollars in effect stolen from infrastructure and education needs, we find ourselves ten years later with an Iraq plagued by a weak government and a shattered economy, shuddering on the brink of civil war.

  • Doug
    2019-02-20 02:17

    The introduction by Frank Rich is better written than Didion's essay; she equates theory with 'fixed ideas' but aside from this, her recollections of going on a book tour in the wake of 9/11 are affecting and her criticisms of the suppression of speech in the era of Ari Fleischer's Goebbels-esque propaganda are well-noted. "We all saw that idea come home," she ends, referring to U.S. support of Islamic radicals battling the Soviets in Afghanistan. Yes, imperialism: how the tide comes in.Fixed ideas are growing ever more rigid, pointing to fangs against 'domestic extremists' who are so-called for challenging TSA security measures, for example. Sinclair Lewis, novelist of Main Street, you were right. It can't happen here..... Islamophobia aside, to wit:

  • Stephanie Bens
    2019-03-15 00:24

    I can't say this book was informative because it was too short to actually explain much in sufficient detail for me to say that I learned something. However, I think Didion does a great job of pointing out those political areas which most Americans, myself included, tend to gloss over. The effect of this glossing over seems apparent in hind sight. I think this book has prompted me to ask more questions of both the country's current and past political agendas and to do the research to find the answers to my questions.

  • Kelly
    2019-02-22 19:30

    I'm half way through this piece and am reading it in conjunction with David Foster Wallace's essay "The View from Mrs. Thompson's" (from Consider the Lobster . In these short works the authors monitor their reaction and that of their communities to 9/11. It's a good juxtaposition and goes a long way toward illustrating how good authors make the experience of their own lives accessible to readers and use their stories to say something significant about the broader human experience.Didion lives in New York and is a

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-05 18:32

    Though I assumed by price, this was a book, but it's more of a pamphlet. Still it's Didion's take on 9-11, and she doesn't exactly fall under the " wave the flag" patriotic group. It is far from a sentimental glimpse of the horrific day, more of what went wrong with our foreign policy, and what we did wrong in the aftermath of 9-11. Hey, it needed to be said and who is better to say it.

  • Joanna
    2019-02-23 00:37

    They make me so sad, all the idiocies implicit in the American political system. I couldn't bear to be further reminded of the tragic farce we all live, and thus I stopped reading. I know enough, and all that knowledge has paralyzed me as a political being. Work like this, rich in wit and poor in hope, make me the injurious and culpable political defeatist I am, and will more sadly remain.

  • Mark Valentine
    2019-02-20 19:21

    Didion's monograph is as prescient now as it was then. She stands as a beacon against the illegality of America's invasion of Iraq and this essay acts as a testament against the nation's fallacious thinking.

  • sunspot
    2019-02-24 02:16

    Typical Didion style. Complex ideas and relationships between ideas with perfect prose.

  • Kelley
    2019-03-17 02:34

    A very short book, but Didion's dry incisiveness seems especially appropriate for the topic under discussion.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-09 02:30

    Fantastic! Finish it in one sitting and you'll feel both enlightened and depressed to be an American.2017 update: oh, how the world has changed.

  • Hank Stuever
    2019-03-18 20:18

    The urgent and timely version of Joan Didion, as she weighs in on pressing issues after 9/11.

  • Jessica
    2019-03-05 18:33

    This should be required reading in American public schools. Anyone looking to begin to understand 9/11, as well as American domestic and foreign policy, would benefit from reading this short piece.