Eric G. Wilson is the Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English at Wake Forest University and author of Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck: Why We Can't Look Away (forthcoming in February of 2012), which explores the strange virtues of morbid curiosity. In his earlier book, Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, he contemplated melancholy in a similarly positive light.
He has published other books on the psychological aspects of literature, philosophy, or film, including The Mercy of Eternity: A Memoir of Depresssion and Grace, My Business Is To Create: Blake's Infinite Writing, The Strange World of David Lynch, Secret Cinema: Gnostic Vision in Film, and The Melancholy Android: A Psychology of Sacred Machines.
Morbid curiosity, morose delectation, 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 "Morbid Curiosities," I set out to discover the source of our attraction to the macabre, and to wonder if there's something nourishing in the darkness.