Having a lifelong passion for galls has led me on strange journey. The other name for galls – cecidia is derived from Greek kekidion – a diminutive of kekis- kekid, for everything that is gushing out, bulging, erupting on the outside. How should we approach cecidia becomings? Galls are outgrowths of abortive, monstrous becomings.
They are the contorted, abhorrent versions of organismic units that don’t follow any longer their pre- programmed morphological-functional telos. By any standards these are repulsive structures that seem to keep at bay and even ridicule the pre-ordered perfection and noble function of say – fruits.
Galls are the bitter, tannin rich forbidden fruits used for making inks permanent and colors abide.
They are generally speaking (but by no means restricted to) globular malformations, irregular cankerous shapes covering the stems, branches, bark, roots and leaves, like unwanted and variegated pimples blistering the smooth surface of plants whatever the inductor, be it gall-inducing wasps, gall midges, gall Agromyzidae aphids, scale insects, root gall inducing nematodes, fungi, bacteria or viruses.
If we single out just one inductor -even those well researched wasp galls, we are confronted with a teratogenesis of galls that is still a largely unknown process, the chemical pathways still not yet understood in detail.
Teratogenesis designates strictly speaking the study of the causes and underlying mechanisms leading to physiologic abnormalities, birth defects or malformations: the birthing of monsters.
I’ve started asking myself what happens if we extend teratogenesis to the whole universe and consider both its cosmological (the study of the evolution as the continuous becoming of the universe) and cosmogonic (the origins of the universe, its first stirring) implications.
What would such a incipient, multispecies teratogenesis of known and unknown worlds foreshadow? Here below I’ve been sketching a few ideas in terse form, incipient points of departure and reentry:
-worlds that appear and disappear in a divergent, deviated, misshapen, contorted, crawling manner, swarming with aberrant becomings, topple each other in a continuous Babel outgrowth
-this world and other worlds deviate continuously, divergent even from their own previous becoming, diverging from their own initial plans and from all the other worlds populated by resplendent monsters giving birth to other worlds where other monsters lie withdrawn, secretly teeming and pullulating on their own.
-the monstrosity of the cecidia – like worlds implies a welcome corpuscular anomaly, an anomaly that is impossible to track down and follow, a monstrosity that is relentless, irremediable, irreparable, glorious, all encompassing, as repulsive as it is hard to reject.
-we don’t want to know and maybe we shouldn’t know what goes on in the bursting belly of these tumescent worlds that keep on growing everywhere around us, whose genesis we prefer not to see, into whose concavity we never look and whose lair we keep away from us.
-starting with a world, a closed system, imperfectly isolated or impossible to isolate, we end up with the idea of world-island-spaceship or world as swelling, as inflammation, as irritation, as cecidia, a gall growth on a leaf, on the bark of the Tree of Life, on a clade or branch that doesn’t look at all like the mother plant, a branch that is no longer a branch, a leaf that is no longer a leaf, etc.
-exiting and tunneling outside of recognizable worlds, hatching from world to world, from pustule to pustule, dispersed and adrift amongst other crestfallen cecidia.
We’ve got to renounce using world building or conceive of worlds as being built, they should rather be more properly called world swollen or world outgrowths.
If I would consider any one species (or genus) as being starfaring other than humans I would always count on the gall wasps (mostly on oak trees). Gall wasps grow their larvae inside these swollen spaceships, that are both habitat, protection and food.
They are caused either by mechanical damage or just by a wasp injecting hormones or other chemical substances through the ovipositor at a precise moment when the plant tissue goes through a rapid growth phase.
Galls are species specific and the result is a mind boggling proliferation of spheroid bulges adorned with bright colors & various horn-like appendages, bristles, waxy scales, resinous shields, deformed protuberances of unusual panache and surprising extravagance.
At the same time they are fully packed with nutrients for their interplanetary travels. As an example, from rough bullet galls a female-only (asexual) generation exit the galls.
How utterly unsuspecting it must be to be able to eat your way out to the other side, to emerge unscathed on a different plane of existence. Although hidden and unseen, their incessant gnawing is made manifest by the sounds made inside their hermetic galls.
Stefan Tiron has published Cosmic Drift & Temporal Divergence, a book reuniting a collection of essays about speculative fiction and SF published by Tranzit Sibiu as part of the DADA 100 series, Sibiu. The book contains a series of essays written between 2013-2016 “about exiting inter-dimensional portals and sacred caves, falling through interstellar gates, or conversely catching up, syncing and mismatching after a long time.” (Goodreads description) – @TironStefan TW