This is exactly what happened to all Holocaust survivors when they were finally released by the Allies: They started walking. They were more dead than alive. They themselves couldn’t quite tell whether death has spared them or simply overlooked them, or whether, after granting them a deceptive furlough, it planned to catch up with them—if not now, then soon enough, and if not soon, then later. Such oversights weren’t supposed to happen in the seamlessly regulated industry of death that was the Shoah. Death would never be far from them again. They themselves claim to smell its odor on their clothes. Some are too sick to move, and will most certainly die even as they clasp the hand of their liberators; and those who were famished for so long devour more food than they should and die from the very care that was meant to bring them back to life. Some, as we know, die on the road, some are killed as soon as they come back to reclaim their home and property, and some will linger in limbo until the brutal, earsplitting din of the Lager, or camp, suddenly erupts on them and yells out its sentence decades later. As Elie Wiesel said on Primo Levi’s death in 1987, “Primo Levi died at Auschwitz 40 years earlier.” Or, as one of the characters in Göran Rosenberg’s memoir A Brief Stop on the Road From Auschwitz implies, there is no after after Auschwitz. Life stops at Auschwitz; the rest is just stalling and deferral and borrowed time.

–Andre Aciman, After Auschwitz

It’s very difficult for me to do psychotherapy. I can’t stay in the tragic for an extended period of time. My mind keeps wandering off to farce. What would Freud do with a patient like me?

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