Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck
Morbid curiosity, morose delectation, and schadenfreude: As conventional wisdom has it, these are the symptoms of our dark side; we succumb to them at our own peril. And yet we are compelled to look whenever we pass a grisly accident on the highway, and there's no slaking our thirst for gory entertainments like horror movies and police procedurals. What makes these spectacles so irresistible? In "Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck", Eric G. Wilson sets out to discover the source of our attraction to the caustic, drawing on the findings of biologists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers, theologians, and artists. A professor of English literature and a lifelong student of the macabre, Wilson believes there's something nourishing in darkness. "To repress death is to lose the feeling of life", he writes. "A closeness to death discloses our most fertile energies". His examples are legion and startling in their diversity. Citing everything from elephant graveyards and Susan Sontag's "On Photography" to the Tiger Wood's sex scandal and Steel Magnolias, Wilson finds heartening truths wherever he confronts death. In "Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck", the perverse is never far from the sublime. The result is a powerful and delightfully provocative defence of what it means to be human - for better and for worse.
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