A deep--and darkly comic--dive into the nature of disasters, and the ways they shape how we think about ourselves in the world "In this brilliant book, David Thomson tells the story of how we came to make disaster and catastrophe our best friends--how we let terror cocoon and take over our imaginations to avoid seeing the things that really frighten us. Riveting and totally original."--Adam Curtis, BBC filmmaker and political journalist "Erudite. . . . Engaging. . . . A cri de coeur about art's struggle to keep up with reality."--Kirkus Reviews
Yale University Press
Audiences swell with the scale of disaster; humans have always been drawn to the rumors of our own demise. In this searching treatment, noted film historian David Thomson examines iconic disasters, both real and fictional, exposing the slippage between what occurs and what we observe. With reportage, film commentary, speculation, and a liberating sense of humor, Thomson shows how digital culture commodifies disaster and sates our desire to witness chaos while suffering none of its aftereffects.
Ranging from Laurel and Hardy and Battleship Potemkin
to Cormac McCarthy's The Road
, and from the epic San Andreas
to the intimate Don't Look Now
, Thomson pulls back the curtain to reveal why we love watching disaster unfold--but only if it happens to others.