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The beauty of a troubled mind


I’ve spent the past weeks with people who are losing or losing their minds. Biography of Senad O’Connor ticketsThe 54-year-old singer looks back on a life marked by child abuse, abandonment and long spells in rehab. Her recent bouts of insanity—according to her own diagnosis, postmenopausal psychosis after a hysterectomy for which she was unprepared—found her in and out of institutions for six years. Large swaths of her life are forever blurred; She wrote the book in two sittings, on either side of her time at Knot House, as she calls it.

However, a woman was once sent into cultural exile to tear down a portrait of Pope John Paul II during her performance Saturday Night Live It’s still brilliantly clear. She deceives the industry that has portrayed her as the “mad lady” with devastating visions, and in her madness reveals a woman who appears impervious to cunning.

Likewise, in his latest Netflix special, Bo Burnham: insideWritten, performed, directed and edited by the comedian, the comedian explores the anxiety that arose after his light flash toward fame, and his suicidal feelings, which he often sings of. Burnham, a comedian who found international fame as a teenager streaming sketches on YouTube from his bedroom, recalls Millennial Tom Lehrer.

Seanad O’Connor tearing up a portrait of the Pope on “Saturday Night Live,” 1992 © Getty Images

inside It’s an inner saga in which he reconciles mental illness, culture wars, and the experience of the pandemic with super dark humor and quirky global themes: my favorite is the drawing in which he agonizes over his decision, in middle school, to dress up as Aladdin at a birthday party and whether he’ll be subjected to cultural appropriation By a social media mob.

Finally, in the fatherAnd the Florian ZellerThe French writer, in his directorial debut, steered Anthony Hopkins toward an Academy Award in an adaptation of his own play on Alzheimer’s disease, filling the screen with a Polanski-like premonition to create an atmosphere in which the audience, like the hero, would feel disoriented and disoriented.

Although some of these projects were designed and implemented before Covid, they constitute a group of creations that will certainly be judged within this type of “epidemic art”.

Anthony Hopkins as his Oscar-winning role in The Father © Alamy

Watch the fatherThe play, first produced in 2012, finds Zeller’s depiction of the trap eerily familiar — perfectly capturing the horror of mindless repetition and dwelling in a rapidly shrinking world. Sinéad O’Connor writes with astonishing clarity about the agoraphobia she feels now after spending so long in solitude, and how despite her best efforts to try to socialize she prefers to stay home. Bo Burnham ends his own show by filming his exit from the claustrophobic space he’s worked in for a year on his material, only to find him swaying in front of the spotlight as he tries to leave the door.

Paradoxically, perhaps, these studies of psychosis, misery, and brain dysfunction should have resonated much more powerfully than the hustle and bustle that now accompanies our return to normalcy. I shuddered when I read New York Magazine’s advice on “The Return of Fear,” a recent cover story dedicated to the return of pre-pandemic social anxiety that you may have “missed.”

Matthew Schneier wrote: “FOMO may have been hibernating for a while, but we may now be on our way to a new golden age as we try to make up for the year we lost by doing more than ever before…the city is working on FOMO, which is Experience of Opportunities and Possibilities Catechism “Have you been invited, are you on the list, can you have a table?”; Perform plans. Jorg. While Sinéad O’Connor left me feeling euphoric, the anticipated hype of being on the right slate left me suddenly depressed.

In the US, or perhaps the New York mindset in particular, the pandemic is now seen almost as old news. “Now that Covid is behind us… I’ve read many emails from colleagues in the US in recent weeks. Supposedly America has cleared the virus from the mind. For a more robust constitution, we can now expect an unparalleled #hotgirlsummer. If New underground billboards believable, we’ll now start a tumultuous summer in scenes reminiscent of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical. in the heights.

Right now, I feel more comfortable in the company of outcasts. “Gemini,” as O’Connor allowed herself to describe herself, has something more interesting to say. This long pause in production allowed for strong introspection. I hope this is the moment when some great new work is made.

Alfred Hitchcock is the subject of a new autobiography by Edward White © Alamy

After all, Alfred Hitchcock’s genius as a “visual poet of anxiety and serendipity” can be suggested in Edward White’s new autobiography. 12 The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, to the excessive fears he developed as a teenager in World War I. Paranoia and horror of just about everything fueled him to shoot about 50 movies. And as the meme of plague reminds us, Shakespeare produced King Lear In the year of the plague, perhaps during quarantine.

Is Bo Burnham Destined to Be a Covid Bard? Maybe not, but inside It is a fascinating study of the confused mind on social media. Likewise, with her own image of “madness,” O’Connor became the most likely clairvoyant of the year.

Email Jo at jo.ellison@ft.com

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