Jeff Locker, Eros, and Thanatos: What Motivated the Stabbed Motivational Speaker?

An old, old story? Forbidden eros once again translates into thanatos (death)? According to the AP, stabbed to death motivational speaker, Jeff Locker, may have been deceiving his wife about his own, er, motivations for being out so late:

[Locker] told his wife that two people helped him with the flat on his midsize station wagon and that he was going to drop them off before returning home, possibly from New Jersey, police said. But it didn’t appear the car, a 2007 Dodge Magnum, had a flat tire when it was discovered in East Harlem near the Wagner Houses, a 22-building complex with about 5,000 residents. Investigators also were looking to talk to witnesses who told reporters that they saw Locker at a nearby deli buying condoms and bottled water around 3 a.m. Thursday and that they had seen the car there before. Locker, 52, was found with his hands bound behind his back with an electrical cord.

I couldn’t help but think of Euripides’s play, the Bakkhai, in which the Apollonian King, Pentheus, is seduced away from the safety of his palace, and to his doom, by the wild temptresses of Dionysus. Always lurking just behind these types of news stories, it would seem, is a morality play, a cultural lesson in sexual regulation—and the dangers of not controlling yourself. It is an ironic twist, for a motivational speaker, that his own death would be written by a reporter in such a way that it functions as an implied object lesson in how not to arrange your life and direct your motivations.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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