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Anna Dulin Milholland

Wrapping Up

As we wrap up this month’s discussion, I want to invite all of you to the ZSR Library Lecture Series on Monday, October 1, 2012, to hear Dr. Eric G. Wilson’s remarks on the dark fantasies and morbid curiosities that are at the heart of Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck. The lecture will occur from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. in the ZSR Library Auditorium.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing. Please join us!

Finally, I want to pose a final question: if you could ask one question of Dr. Wilson, what would it be? (If you’re unable to attend the lecture, we’d be happy to take your questions to the lecture on Monday.)

Oh, the Horror!

Dr. Wilson speculates that our attraction to violence and morbidity stems from our need to “express pity and fear in an artificial setting” which enables us to “drain these emotions from out systems and subsequently feel purified, relieved, [and] refreshed” (49).  This idea of achieving catharsis through purgation is not recent speculation; it is an Aristotelian concept.  Dr. Wilson writes:

An aesthetic experience of the macabre – in pictures, books, films, maybe even video games – is useful, therapeutic. The child loves violent fantasies as she would a wizened mentor, a skilled guide. We, as adults, can learn from this: the morbid builds morale.

Do you find watching or reading horror to be cathartic?  If so, what’s your favorite book or film?  Do you remember the first horror/slasher film you saw, either at the theater or at home? If you have children, do you let them watch scary movies or read scary stories?

Reactions to Tragedies

Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck begins with a description of a sunny September day, a day which we remember as one of the most tragic in American history. Dr. Eric Wilson recalls what he was reading, planning to eat for lunch, and where he was when he learned of the events of 9/11. Fast forward four years to another American tragedy: Hurricane Katrina batters New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, killing thousands and causing billions of dollars in damages. Do you remember where you were during those, or similar events? Did you, like Dr. Wilson, find yourself glued to the media coverage? Instead of monitoring the coverage, did you wait for a summary of events? Or, did you abstain from watching, reading, or listening to the coverage? As we approach the 11th anniversary of 9/11, and as Hurricane Isaac followed a similar path to Katrina through the Gulf, are you following the coverage? Or are you refraining?