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Bugs Sexy, Bugs Beautiful: The Montreal Insectarium

Posted by Trixie / November 1, 2006

So, if you find you’re getting older and progressively disenchanted, and HALLOWE'EN no longer provides you with the skin-crawling heebie-jeebies that you once counted on, I know where you can go to recapture the feeling. It’s a perfect daytrip now that the weather has turned to unremitting crap: the Montreal Insectarium. According to their website, our city boasts “the largest insectarium in North America and among the largest in the world.” I’m too late to alert you to their Hallowe’en special activity—“get trapped in a spider web!”—but even on a normal tour of the myriad buggy delights on display, you can get an ample taste of the creepy-crawlies.

Not long ago I awoke still shuddering from a vivid dream in which a pigeon-sized flying beetle-thing with a long articulated carapace got stuck flapping madly against my throat for several moments as it tried to make its escape. Well, I can thank the Insectarium for the inspiration behind the particular shape given to whatever of my repressed neuroses were at play that night.

I’ve been to the site a few times playing host to a very young tourist friend of mine, but even if you don’t have the excuse of a kid to entertain, the place is good for bringing out a keen sense of wonderment. Certainly watching video footage of charismatic founder Georges Brossard’s hands-on specimen-gathering adventures in far-flung locales might inspire you to take on a life of fantastical manias. This is a man who could be tilting at windmills, but he’s making an impressive go of applying his passion, while also serving worthy pedagogical and conservationist agendas.

Or you might find that you get bitten by the collector’s bug. Personally, I find that the walls and walls of exotic insect displays give me an overpowering aesthetic kick. Which for me is inextricable from a profound desire for acquisition. Gazing at the countless gorgeous jewel-worthy creatures—huge moths with the glorious whiplash lines of Art Nouveau, butterfly wings glimmering with the hues and phosphorescence of Northern Lights, beetles with variously glinting metallic backs—I like to pretend I am a Woman of Means, in another more romantic time, lounging in my boudoir/opium den, festooned as it would be with my precious personal collection of these organic objets d’arts.

I am less comfortable with entomologically-inspired visions based on the live kind (as demonstrated by my nightmare), but those bugs sure are fascinating to behold safely tucked behind their glass cases. There are scorpions that glow in the dark; plate-sized, spreading furry spiders; all sorts of intricately-operating colonies; and, the last time I was there, a little foliage-camouflage-type guy who spent about half an hour diligently munching a crescent-shaped swath out of a leaf. The whole time he used his long delicate front legs to lovingly but firmly hold the leaf against his face as his jaws rhythmically nibbled, and he somehow seemed both studiously applied and ardent.

This spectacle quite incongruously—even perversely, you might say—made me think of a Harold Brodkey story, “Innocence,” which describes in matter-of-fact but not clinical detail how a love-struck college boy lengthily goes down on his girlfriend, earnestly determined as he is to bring on her first orgasm.

Okay, so the Insectarium was probably not designed to provoke erotic scenarios in the fervid imaginations of its visitors, but I think the fact that it can is a testament to the multifarious, unexpected delights it has in store, no?



J Mac / November 1, 2006 at 09:25 am
Au contraire! I'll bet the true afficionados of any discipline or study or art would want to find a way to share with others their passion for whatever it is. Obituaries and tributes to scholars and scientists, etc., often use expressions like "she had a love affair with sculpture" or "he cared deeply for his family but his first love was Spanish-style fencepost-carving." So, surely it's not too far-fetched to suspect that Brossard's motives weren't entirely devoid of plans to encourage some sense of eroticism. Maybe?
Trixie / November 1, 2006 at 06:08 pm
Good point J Mac.
Like, a tribute to Brossard might read: "He hoped to give the public a more positive outlook on what are usually denounced as 'bugs', but his true abiding wish was for green masticating insects to affectionately remind tourists of cunnilingus."
May the erotics of entomology flourish!
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