Disturbances in the visual status quo literally catch our eye, drawing us into a staring relationship with a startling sight. Staring is a more forceful form of looking than glancing, glimpsing, scanning, and other forms of casual looking. Staring is profligate interest, stunned wonder, obsessive ocularity…We may gaze at what we desire, but we stare at what astonishes us.” (Garland-Thompson, 2009)

Why do we look? Why can’t we look away? Why does the spectacular human body create such strong emotional reactions in other human beings? Why is novelty so visually arousing?

In this section, I look at examples from the ancient and modern world which describe the following emotional reactions:

1) Pity/Sadness

2) Excitement/Laughter

3) Horror/Nausea

4) Wonder/Curiosity

Through these powerful emotions, I attempt to provide a common link between the reactions of the ancient Romans and those of people living in the modern world.


Back to: The Monster-Market                                                                                                                     Next up: Pity/Sadness


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