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Tip: Books are sorted alphabetically…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

The list of books available on PEP Web is sorted alphabetically, with the exception of Freud’s Collected Works, Glossaries, and Dictionaries. You can find this list in the Books Section.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Brown, A. (2017). The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark by Josh Cohen Granta Books, London, 2013; 223 pp; £9.99The Private Life: Our Everyday Self in an Age of Intrusion by Josh Cohen Counterpoint, Berkeley, CA, 2015; 256 pp; £26.00. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(2):559-563.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(2):559-563

The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark by Josh Cohen Granta Books, London, 2013; 223 pp; £9.99The Private Life: Our Everyday Self in an Age of Intrusion by Josh Cohen Counterpoint, Berkeley, CA, 2015; 256 pp; £26.00

Review by:
Alison Brown

You are two people: yourself and someone else. This central split in the human mind and its consequences for current culture are the focus of Josh Cohen's most recent book. As Cohen describes it, one version of you is a public self, knowable and conscious but ‘false’. The other is a private self, elusive and unconscious but ‘true’. Your private, essential self enriches but troubles you because you can never completely know it. In response, you condemn its darkness and omnipotently demand that this darkness be brought to light. This inner struggle between the obscure and the obvious spills out into collective experience and is observable, among many examples, in politics, literature, religion, and even celebrity. For Cohen, contemporary culture's hatred of private domains of experience and its insistence that “nothing remain unknown” (p. xi) is the defining feature of what he calls the “culture of intrusion”.

Cohen's book is also double. The 2013 UK version is entitled The private life: Why we remain in the dark. Its cover shows a solitary black-clad figure, shrouded by a paper bag, who recedes into a dark background. The US edition, published in 2015 as The private life: Our everyday self in an age of intrusion, is illustrated with a crowded field of flashbulb-wielding paparazzi. To me, these elements reflect complementary positions in the battle between public and private - the hidden and the exposed - and evoke, correspondingly, intrusive curiosity and the wish to hide.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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