There is danger in a prolonged gaze, for it projects you into what you see. Julio Cortázar‘s story ‘Axolotl’ describes the narrators fascination with a species of salamander notable particularly for their eyes, that he discovers in the aquarium of the Jardin des Plantes. Near the story‘s end the narrator loses himself in those eyes and suddenly sees his own face pressed against the aquarium glass: he has become an axolotl. The exchange depicted here is akin to the trajectories of the gaze as depicted in Lacans Seminar XI. Together these two works suggest a gothic optics of uncanny power.
For Maurice Blanchot, writing is associated with the ‘other’ night, of which literal darkness is only the shadow. Writers, like insomniacs, seek a resting place that cannot be attained, a control leading only to passivity. Stephen King‘s The Dark Half (1989) – a novel about writing – is a Gothic exemplar of Blanchot‘s theories.