For this end-of-year column, I had planned to tell you about exciting programs, but I must make a confession: I suffer from an illness that could be described as “chronic cathodic narcolepsy”. Basically, after starting a streaming series or tuning into a channel in the stream, I usually fall asleep after just ten minutes. It’s true that the lying position and the pilou-pilou blanket do not help maintain sustained attention. As in the film Invasion Los Angeles (1988), by John Carpenter, where billboards distil subliminal messages to the oppressed masses ( “obey the authorities” , “consume” , “abandon all imagination” ), the screen seems to whisper to me in the ear a persuasive “sleep”.
I am therefore, in spite of myself, a consumer of the beginning of a plot, a cinephile of opening scenes, a subscriber to investigations that are never resolved. My mind is populated by a catalog of truncated works, but which nevertheless gave rise to embryonic ideas in my foggy brain. If we had to attempt an end-of-year assessment based on these vague bits of programs, I would say that what emerges from all this is above all a protean concern in the face of the coming catastrophe. The other day, for example, I started watching The World After Us (2023), a feature film by Sam Esmail (the director of the Mr Robot series), with Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke.
Before falling asleep, I was able to follow this couple and their children as they went on vacation to a luxurious rental house by the sea. Then, while they were sitting on a beach, the family suddenly witnessed the shipwreck of a huge cargo ship just inches from their parasol. In the evening, another couple, the one who had rented the house to them, suddenly made a worrying irruption into the building. Half dozing, I thought I heard something like “there’s no more Wi-Fi” . In short, I perceived there the echoes of an ongoing catastrophe, the contours of which I did not fully understand, except that it was linked to the failure of our means of communication, a feeling of worry reinforced by the stridency of the violins.
Psychological habituation to catastrophe
A few months earlier, I had started watching White Noise, by Noah Baumbach, starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, the story of a family who tries to escape a chemical cloud by getting into their station wagon. “I want to know how scared I should be,” says the youngest, as the population is thrown onto the roads. Twilight atmosphere, purplish stormy sky, then sleep again.
You have 45% of this article left to read. The rest is reserved for subscribers.