Watching The Father, the stage play of which was first produced in 2012, I found Zeller’s depiction of entrapment frighteningly familiar — he captures perfectly the horror of mindless repetition and inhabiting a quickly shrinking world. Sinéad O’Connor writes with striking clarity about the agoraphobia she now feels having spent a long period in solitude, and how despite her best efforts to try to socialise she would rather be at home. Bo Burnham ends his special by dramatising his exit from the claustrophobic space in which he has laboured for a year on his material, only to be found cringing before a spotlight when he tries to leave the door.
Ironic, maybe, that these studies of psychosis, misery and brain malfunction should have resonated far more powerfully than the clanging hoopla that is now accompanying our return to normal life. I shuddered as I read New York magazine’s exhortation on “The Return of FOMO”, a recent cover story dedicated to the return of the pre-pandemic social anxiety that you might be “missing out”.
“FOMO might have gone into hibernation for a while,” writes Matthew Schneier, “but we may now be on the way to a new golden age as we try to make up for the year we lost by doing more than ever . . . The city runs on FOMO, a connoisseurship of opportunities and possibilities; the catechism of “Did you get invited, are you on the list, can you get a table?”; the performance of plans.” Eurgh. While Sinéad O’Connor left me feeling quite euphoric, the anticipated buzz of being on the right list made me suddenly depressed.
In the US, or maybe it’s a particularly New York mindset, the pandemic is now regarded almost as old news. “Now that Covid is behind us . . . ” have read numerous emails from my US colleagues in recent weeks. America, it is assumed, has vaxxed the virus out of mind. For the more robust of constitution, we can now anticipate a #hotgirlsummer like no other. If the new underground advertising hoardings are to be believed, we will now commence a roaring summer in scenes reminiscent of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new film musical In the Heights.
For now, I’m far more comfortable in the company of outcasts.
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