I recall talking at a party to a USIS man who spoke in a low mellifluous voice of fevers he had known, fevers in Sierra Leone, fevers in Monrovia, fevers on the Colombian coast. Our host interrupted this litany, demanded to know why the ambassador had not come to the party. “Little situation in Cali,” the USIS man said, and smiled professionally. He seemed very concerned that no breach of American manners be inferred, and so, absurdly, did I. We had nothing in common except the eagles on our passports, but those eagles made us, in some way I did not entirely understand, co-conspirators, two strangers heavy with responsibility for seeing that the eagle should not offend. We would prefer the sweet local Roman-Cola to the Coca-Cola the Colombians liked. We would think of Standard Oil as Esso Colombiano. We would not speak of fever except to one another.
– Joan Didion from the 1974 essay “In Bogotá”
I’ve taken to holding a pencil while I read The White Album. The passage above is the latest of so many that I’ve marked to find again and re-read later and maybe even type out just for the pleasure of sending the words through my own fingers, which seems to be what I’ve done here.