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Davis, W.A. (2005). Author's Response. Psychoanal. Rev., 92(2):311-312.
   

(2005). Psychoanalytic Review, 92(2):311-312

Author's Response

Review by:
Walter A. Davis

I want to offer two brief but essential replies to this thoughtful and often perceptive review. When I first saw a video of Jon-Benet Ramsey performing, a pain went to the center of me. How could anyone do that to a child? What would it be like to be her, to internalize what she suffered and write from that place? The attempt of the play “Cowboy's Sweetheart” is to realize that possibility by giving voice to the person she might have become had she lived. Jolie, the 35-year-old protagonist of the play, is that voice in its continued, lifelong struggle to reverse the lasting psychological and sexual consequences of sexual violation. That voice is not, contrary to Gavriel Reisner, the voice of a despairing or self-destructive person, a loveless adult, or a passive victim. It is, I hope, the voice of a tragic protagonist whose struggle could be formulated in the following way: “That which is most precious to a human being, their sexuality, was taken from me when I was a child and I will reclaim it or perish in the process.” Everything Jolie thinks and does in the play is a function of this effort. Two things define her: the search for love and the effort to overcome the traumatic wounds at the center of her psyche. It is in this sense that she is a tragic figure and that her tragedy (like Hamlet's) realizes something that cannot be fit into the paradigm that Aristotle has for far too long imposed on our understanding of tragedy. One of the most valuable—and radical—implications of Freud's work is the overturning of that paradigm through the discovery of tragic ways of being that cannot be comprehended as long as we confine our thoughts and feelings to the rationalistic principles laid out in Aristotle's Metaphysics and his Ethics (the two works that underlie his thoughts on tragedy.)

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