"The girl and the woman, in their new, individual unfolding, will only in passing be imitators of male behavior and misbehavior and repeaters of male professions. After the uncertainty of such transitions, it will become obvious that women were going through the abundance and variation of those (often ridiculous) disguises just so that they could purify their own essential nature and wash out the deforming influences of the other sex. Women, in whom life lingers and dwells more immediately, more fruitfully, and more confidently, must surely have become riper and more human in their depths than light, easygoing man, who is not pulled down beneath the surface of life by the weight of any bodily fruit and who, arrogant and hasty, undervalues what he thinks he loves. This humanity of woman, carried in her womb through all her suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she has stripped off the conventions of mere femaleness in the transformations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching will be astonished by it. Someday (and even now, especially in the countries of northern Europe, trustworthy signs are already speaking and shining), someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only life and reality: the female human being." Rilke
By virtue of her age—just ahead of the baby-boomers, young enough to recognize them and old enough to see them clearly—Didion has made a career as a canary in the American coal mine. In the sixties, she observed, from the vital center, the dangers of the counterculture, and long before Woodstock. Beginning in the nineties, she anticipated the shallow polarization that now dominates American politics. In the aughts, just in advance of aging contemporaries like Joyce Carol Oates, she anatomized the pain of widowhood. And, in Blue Nights, she warns against the false comforts of helicopter parenting and industrial medicine.