On Consolation

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2022, 7:00 PM

Michael Ignatieff

Historiker und Autor, Wien

On Consolation

Gesprächsleitung: Susan Neiman, Potsdam

Also streamed Live via Zoom (register here)

When we lose someone we love, when we suffer loss or defeat, when catastrophe strikes—war, famine, pandemic—we go in search of consolation. Once the province of priests and philosophers, the language of consolation has largely vanished from our modern vocabulary, and the places where it was offered, houses of religion, are often empty. Rejecting the solace of ancient religious texts, humanity since the sixteenth century has increasingly placed its faith in science, ideology, and the therapeutic.
How do we console each other and ourselves in an age of unbelief? In a series of portraits of writers, artists and musicians searching for consolation—from the books of Job and Psalms to Albert Camus, Anna Akhmatova, and Primo Levi—writer and historian Michael Ignatieff shows how men and women in extremity have looked to each other across time to recover hope and resilience. Recreating the moments when great figures found the courage to confront their fate and the determination to continue unafraid, On Consolation takes those stories into the present, contending that we can revive these traditions of consolation to meet the anguish and uncertainties of the twenty-first century.

Michael Ignatieff, writer and historian, has been publishing work since the mid-1970’s. He has written fiction and non-fiction, screenplays, reviews and essays – altogether translated into 20 languages. His 20 books keep returning to a few recurrent themes: human rights and the fate of moral universalism in a world of clashing and competing values; liberalism as a political theory, as a practice and as a way of life; and our struggle to maintain democratic freedoms.

The event will be held in English