Disconnection: Clare Denis & Taryn Simon

I’m noticing a terrible disconnection between some of the things I am reading, visiting, watching and observing, and us, readers, viewers, watchers, and observers. What is it? Is this in me, as it must be, and only in me? Or is this in the world? I believe it is also in the world. I am thinking in particular of Clare Denis’ Let The Sunshine In and Taryn Simon’s An Occupation of Loss.

I watched Claire Denis’ new film, Let The Sunshine In, and found it as dark and as terrifying as her last film, Bastards. Bastards was a brilliant film, although I would have found it unwatchable if I hadn’t seen it on my own in the afternoon, in the middle of summer. There was enough written about it before I saw it for me to decide how I saw it. But Let The Sunshine In? I watched twenty five minutes before I had to end it. I wasn’t prepared for it. More about men and their capacity to trash, to ruin, to abuse life and how some people un-knowingly invite that darkness in. Perhaps there was sunshine to come, but I wasn’t going to wait while the atmosphere felt apocalyptic.

I went to see An Occupation of Loss by Taryn Simon and came away chilled, wondering how much the professional mourners were being paid, hopefully as much as any actor on a London stage. While I was there I was as much affected by the attendants and their cold professionalism, their lack of respect for anybody (mine, or of anybody I came with, or of anybody else, the body of this show) in a way that seemed as horribly professional as any other kind of hack entertainer, because they were (although it seemed to have been forgotten) part of the show. An Occupation of Loss was a show about money, and death is always also about money, isn’t it? I was told, in what I read beforehand, nothing about this.

Neither Denis nor Simon were served well by their critics. Writers, critics, seem to have lost the sense that what they are describing exists, for real, real texts in the world, as things, bodies of a particular kind, that carry the intentions of their creators and participants: all of them.

The ideas I read in reviews are like a drama in themselves. Who knows what kind of a reading will connect me to the thing they try to describe?

What’s Right?

It’s difficult to talk about what isn’t wrong, about what’s right. It sometimes makes no sense at all why something’s right. A bumblebee flies and most of our happiness comes against the odds.

Cocoon of Addiction: Addiction Treatment to Face the World

I was reminded today of what happens when someone finally seems free of their dependency: they need to confront the source of their anxiety.  An entrenched belief, perhaps; an overwhelming one. Addiction can be a cocoon protecting someone from something they cannot face – addiction treatment, a way of coming to think the unthinkable.

Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment requires an element of nerve.


What often confuses people is how long addiction treatment can take. Being free of dependency is not the same as stopping, or being abstinent. The desire to use needs to recede; the emotional-intellectual state someone is trying to recreate (the scene they are repeatedly brought back to) needs to diminish in intensity to a point where using is thinkable.

There are three broad phases of addiction treatment: stopping (which involves all that leads to stopping), becoming free of dependency, and then attending to self-esteem. Although the third phase is often also part of the work in the second phase, it can only ever really happen last.

The ideal way to engage with this cocoon, the best form of addiction treatment? Group work plus EMDR, followed by long term psychotherapy.  Too much addiction treatment stops too soon, over-investing in what has been seen as stopping, of a person not wanting to use or in apparent gains in self-esteem.  Shifts can happen quickly, leading to a sudden, powerful sense of gain. It’s often overlooked that this change brings with it all kinds of complications. A personality needs to adjust to the difference in life.

Occasionally treatment ends too soon, or relapse occurs because the depth of often painful feeling achieved when someone no longer needs to use feels like failure.

Addiction treatment takes time and if it doesn’t it will probably fail.