Wonder – thrilling, potentially dangerous, momentarily immobilizing, charged at once with desire, ignorance, and fear – is the quintessential human response to what Descartes calls a “first encounter.”
Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions
I watched an episode of CSI: NY with A. the other night, entitled A Daze of Wine and Roaches. The storyline was so absurd that I seem to have erased it from my memory immediately afterwards. But what I vividly remember is that the corpus delicti, effectfully crawling out of the victim’s mouth (who was murdered with a corkscrew, but I spare you the details), was a cockroach encrusted with tiny jewels. It turned out that the precious bug was a restaurant critic’s brooch that had escaped after a row with the restaurant owner, who was, quite understandably if you ask me, alienated by seeing the creature in his establishment (but again, never mind the details).
Upon googling the thing, I learned that it really exists (buy it here for $ 80), that it is an invention by New York designer Jared Gold and that it generated quite a bit of controversy in both the fashion world and the blogosphere (there’s a whole blog dedicated to it).
A. thinks I should try to incorporate it in my thesis. It’s true, I have an inkling that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century collectors of curiosities would have loved the jewel-encrusted cockroach. It crosses the boundaries between art and nature and provokes this ambiguous feeling of attraction and repulsion, of awe and uneasiness, of amazement and fear by which wonder is characterised.
Who knew that watching a crappy murder mystery series could turn into doing research. Well, sort of.