Winter 1988 • Vol. X No. 1 Nonfiction |

Planes of Language and Time: The Surfaces of the Miranda Stories

In 1939 the embryologist Ernest Everett Just published The Biology of the Cell Surface, a pioneer study of the relationship between the cellular membrane and the cellular surface. Had Just not been a black scientist working independently in Charleston, South Carolina, during the early decades of the twentieth century, his extraordinary accomplishments might have earned him appropriate renown. He explained, before the invention of an electron micro-scope that would validate his deduction, that the cellular substance is an active participant in cell activities: The surface cytoplasm cannot be thought of as inert or apart from the living cell substance. The ectoplasm [Just's name for the surface material] is more than a barrier to stem the rising tide within the active cell substance; it is more than a dam against the outside world. It is a living mobile part of the cell. . . . It stands guard over the peculiar form of the living substance, is buffer against the attacks of the su

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