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Silverman, M.A. (2013). Created in Our Own Images.com. Pygmalion and Galatea (1876), BY W. S. Gilbert. Introduction to the Art, Ethics, and Science of Cloning. Edited by Fred M. Sander. New York: International Psychoanalytic Books, 2010. 189 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 82(4):1037-1042.
(2013). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 82(4):1037-1042
Created in Our Own Images.com. Pygmalion and Galatea (1876), BY W. S. Gilbert. Introduction to the Art, Ethics, and Science of Cloning. Edited by Fred M. Sander. New York: International Psychoanalytic Books, 2010. 189 pp.
Review by: Martin A. Silverman
This is an unusual but intriguing little book on a topic that is both timeless and also of current interest. It deals with one of the most basic preoccupations of humankind, namely, our mortality and our limitations as human beings. A major source of consternation and of searing, narcissistic injury for members of our species is the knowledge that, although we are capable of ruling and of transforming the physical world around us to a remarkable degree, we are nevertheless pawns in a grand, biological chess game that began long before we came into existence, either individually or collectively, and that will continue to play out long after we are gone. We are blessed and cursed with an intelligence that allows us to know just how much we are powerful but also powerless.
The book, interdisciplinary in scope, deals with our awareness that nature grants each of us but a few short years of life, allowing us to aspire to a tantalizingly small taste of immortality by engaging in creative acts that will leave something of us behind after we have ended our all-too-brief sojourn on earth. The most fundamental of these is our capacity to bear children so that they can repeat our likeness, to a greater or lesser extent, and so that they can perpetuate some of our biological makeup beyond our lifetime. We are painfully aware, however, that we have but limited control over the form and substance of our progeny, just as we have little or no control over the aging process or over the death sentence that inexorably strips us of youthful appearance, vigor, physical and mental capacities, and the very existence that are the source of our pride and of the influence we are able to exert upon the world.
As its full title indicates, a major focus of Created in Our Own Images. com is W. S. Gilbert's 1876 play, Pygmalion and Galatea. The play draws upon the ancient Greek myth of the sculptor whose hubris enables him to assume the godlike power of creating life with his chisel—only to find that his artistic wizardry creates all sorts of trouble for him and for those around him. It is as insightful into human nature and into societal vagaries as it is a delightful literary achievement.
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