Losing My Wings

Gothic Moments

These hauntings are what I will call “gothic moments”. These are moments where the scales between molecules, cells, and organisms inform each other but leave enough traces of alternate futures that they can’t be simply reduced. Gothic moments remain haunted by futures that could have been.  The stories that I want to tell are scientifically robust ghost stories where culture, biology, literature, art and chemistry haunt each other. These hauntings are important as they suggest new ways that living things are related to each other at the same moment that they remind each other of the biology behind an important politics of difference.
More specifically, one of the reasons that I’ve been calling these moments “gothic” is because of the way that these moments are weighted with supernatural potentials. Not all moments are equal. Some moments are incredibly charged with affect, either with the joy of apprehension or a deep fear of what may come to pass. These moments are telling in that their potentials can’t be reduced to a well-known outcome. They resist determination.
Imagine walking into a house that is known to be haunted. A haunted house can be viewed as a space where two different series of events often intermingle. The first we can call the domestic series. These are the events of every day life, the mundane routines that we usually associate with domestic life, such as waking up, bathing, fixing breakfast, etc. The second is a series of supernatural events. These are the events that seem to come from an extra-domestic logic. They can be unexplained noises, visions, smells, or rapid changes in temperature. These other series of events reminds us that the series of explanations that we hold for domestic interactions don’t explain these occurrences. Our preconceptions are inadequate. As H. P. Lovecraft once acknowledged about writing horror fiction, “The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule.  . . . . There must be a particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the dæmons of unplumbed space.” These gothic moments, then, are times when unplumbed logics, or series of patterns, are deeply felt and often only dimly apprehended. They can operate as portals or passages to other types of series and, perhaps, even lead to startling new insights. Because of this, these are also moments when we come to realize that our previously held assumptions about life need some revisions.

Read more about the molecular mechanisms required to develop human limbs.

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