that's the title of my bouchercon panel.
i've always been fascinated by the psychology of the attraction to fear and horror, so i think this could be a good topic for me.
in doing a bit of research, i came upon something called sanskrit aesthetics. this is completely new to me, so i'm not going to even try to define or explain it, but it has to do with the emotions a piece of art evokes. these feelings are called rasas and sanskrit dictates that a fully-achieved piece of art should flow with all nine (some say eight) of them.
(i just found this interesting. maybe it's one of those things everybody in the world already knew about. that happens to me sometimes. too many times. )
"Indian drama offers a different aesthetic approach from much of Western theatre. With Indian plays, storytelling is the focus as opposed to the action of the story and often the action is described to the audience rather than depicted in the realist mode of most Western performance. At the heart of Sanskrit aesthetics is rasa, a flavor or essence that acts as the aesthetic guide for the performance. There are eight types of rasas that include both emotions, such as rage and terror, and dramatic types, such as comic and erotic, among others. Rasa transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary, which is achieved through the performance that brings the performer and the informed audience together. The closest Western comparison to rasa is Aristotle's notion of catharsis, but rasa goes beyond this dramatic outcome by incorporating and producing more than just fear and pity. Because the basis of Sanskrit drama is rasa, Indian plays are not imitations of life but rather representations of an abstraction. The actor is not to represent a realistic imitation of a figure but rather to manifest an interpretation of the character. Also, the actor is better termed a performer because dancing, singing, and music are always part of the performance."