Interrupting Auschwitz: Josh Cohen
Hitler, wrote Theodor Adorno, imposed a ‘new categorical imperative on humankind to arrange thoughts and actions so that Auschwitz will not repeat itself.’ Josh Cohen’s book Interrupting Auschwitz: Art, Religion, Philosophy is a sustained exploration of what this might mean. He argues that what gives the imperative its urgency is that it is paradoxical, impossible to fulfil; we can never be certain that it won’t happen again. In an intense and sometimes controversial session, Josh Cohen and Jacqueline Rose considered the implications of Cohen’s argument, and whether it is possible to write literature, make art or lead a political life today that can face up to the past and provide an ethics for the contemporary world.
Josh Cohen is a psychoanalyst in private practice, and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles on modern literature, psychoanalysis and cultural theory. His books include Not Working, How to Read Freud and The Private Life. He lives in London.
Jacqueline Rose joins the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in January 2015. She has written extensively on psychoanalysis, feminism, literature and politics. Her books include On Not Being Able to Sleep and Proust among the Nations.