Tuesday, January 06, 2009

In evolutionary biology they have this wonderful term, "hopeful monster," for a creature that has a severe mutation that gets passed down and turns out to be the key in the lock of whole new evolutionary groups. It doesn't really work for science--more often than not, the real excuse is just something that we've overlooked--but science isn't the place where monsters belong.

Monsters are all click-clacking across my kitchen with their toenails and sleeping just outside my cupboard and pacing on the other side of this tiger pit I've built outside the front door in an effort to trap them. Waiting for doors to open and faucets to turn on, to be dropped and shattered, to go for throats and heels and hamstrings. If I had a microscope they'd probably knock it over, or steal it and sell it to a car full of clowns.

But hopeful monsters, monsters that end up as the starting point to something entirely new, well, that's a whole other car full of clowns. Those monsters might evade tiger pits and jimmy open locks, and maybe that's what they're supposed to do. Maybe those are the ones that will take us somewhere new.

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