From the Editor
by Shlomit Gorin, MA
This past month, amid the seemingly daily news about another horrid act of violence, Louis CK provided comic relief to thousands of Bay Areans. Along with talking, thinking, feeling, and processing, laughing plays a righteous role in digesting and surviving the messy darkness that comprises huge chunks of human experience.
But Louis CK doesn't just provide laughs. He also tends to discuss his work in ways that invoke easy parallels with our work. In addition to pithy remarks that immediately resonate, such as "Family is something you can't escape. It's a relationship you can't get out of," the things he has to say about his creative process are remarkably relevant to the therapeutic process.
In an interview with Charlie Rose earlier this year, Rose asked Louis about the meaning of the term "cringeworthy," a term that has spread over the past few years like digital wildfire. Louis responded, "A cringe is repelling away from something, an area you don't want to think about." This--the areas we don't want to think about--is our territory. He goes on, "To me, it's fun to take a deep breath, which is the opposite of a cringe, and walk in there and see what's in there. There's all kinds of stuff in there. If you can make people take a whole zone of their thinking that they're scared of, and you can make them take a breath and go in there, and then have a good time, I think that's a positive thing...If it's awful, get in there." Now, we know it's not our job to facilitate a good time, but we are in the business of accompanying people into those scary areas they'd rather not think about, believing that doing so will result in positive things. It's not exactly "fun," but it also doesn't necessarily exclude fun.
Rose starts the interview by asking Louis to tell him about his new show, "Horace and Pete," a ten-episode, genre-defying series Louis distributed weekly, one episode at a time, while continuing to film the next episode. Louis sprung his show on his fans at the same time that he made the first episode available, with no prior hint that he was even working on something new. In discussing his motives, he described a way of thinking about the relationship between creator and audience that happens to apply beautifully to the relationship between therapist and patient, especially in the beginning: "I want them [viewers] to know nothing and have no thoughts and no idea. They just know there's something new. Just start watching. You should be a little disturbed when you start watching, like 'I don't know what this is,' you should have this tension, like 'I don't know what's going to happen'...After the first episode, you shouldn't think, 'That was great,' you should think, 'I wanna keep watching. I don't know what I'm watching yet'...After two episodes, I want them to feel like, 'I still don't understand what I'm watching, but I'm curious.' You should start with nothing and get to 'wow.'" Wow, we can relate to that!
On another note, we often tout our work as offering something rare: a space in an increasingly hyper-stimulating world to pause, slow down, and see what emerges in the silences. A few weeks before one of Louis's mentors and friends, the great Garry Shandling, unexpectedly died, he wrote in an email to Louis: "The world is just too noisy and distracted to probably ultimately survive. Everyone needs to shut the f*** up. The answers are in the silence. Monks set themselves on fire to make this point. Just consider it." We can learn a lot from psychoanalytic theory, but, thankfully, comedians can also be our teachers.