Although trauma is commonly thought to be a mental affliction, its psychological component is actually inextricable from its physiological embodiment: it “possesses,” to use Cathy Caruth’s term, the subject completely. This insight is the central conceit of Troika Ranch’s dance-theatre piece loopdiver, which began as an exploration of the programming loops endemic to computer software, but soon focused on behavioral “loops”—the repetition compulsions that mark traumatic symptomatology. Using recent theories gleaned from cognitive science, this essay argues that the performers’ bodies in loopdiver communicate the somatic experience of trauma to the bodies of the spectators directly and pre-cognitively. Moreover, as loopdiver suggests, if contemporary culture is beset by a form of collective trauma, such a condition is exacerbated by our thrall to virtuality and the screen. In the face of this, live performances like loopdiver offer the ameliorative potential for vicarious “re-embodiment,” an essential counterbalance to the physical constriction of trauma.


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pp. 77-93
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