Consider the Lobster

Posted: October 3, 2012 in MiB Hates Us All

Consider the Lobster. A relatively large marine crustacean, most often depicted as red in cartoons and the like, a creature with five pairs of legs which include two large pincers, mostly bilaterally symmetrical and often considered rather stupid. An unassuming, unremarkable creature for the most part. Except for the fact that it tastes so damn good.

O, the lobster, a delectable delicacy, highly prized as seafood, economically important and also prepared for the gullets of humans by being boiled alive. Yes, we humans in our wanderlust to simultaneously fulfil our hedonism and cause as much harm whilst doing it are not simply content with eating the unborn living of fish and fowl. Nay, we have decided that the best way to eat this creature is to boil it alive until its flesh is tender and up to cookbook standards for our consumption. Not only are we not satisfied that we are killing the damn thing and eating its innards, we must ensure that the lobster knows that we are its Overlords and that it has displeased us and that it will therefore be boiled alive and consumed mercilessly. Either that or we did so because it had a really nice tail.

But hey, I don’t blame you. I love lobster. It’s like prawns on steroids, only better. And who’s to say that lobsters and crustaceans and other living creatures feel pain, anyway? Well… lobster lovers love their lobster so much that they have actively commissioned scientists to determine whether the lobster and its brethren actually feel pain (when being harmed). In what must be conclusive proof that marine biologists have completely run out of things to do ever since Stephen Hillenburg created SpongeBob SquarePants, these scholars of the sea have conducted much research into actively injuring crustaceans by rubbing sodium hydroxide and acetic acid onto the antennae of prawns. And then, you know, straight up stabbing them. After which they administered the unfortunate impalees some painkillers and an order to call them in the morning. Yes, this is what the pursuit of knowledge has come to: harming living creatures to see if they can feel pain – just so we know before eating them anyway. The crustaceans did feel pain, by the way. In other news, the Sun is a star and Liverpool suck and 1 + 1 = 2.

The reason I decided to impart my wise and wonderful opinion on such an obscure but very socially relevant topic is that this notion of lobsters being boiled alive for optimum consumption seems… a little harsh, don’t you think? Even by Osama’s standards. Too soon? Fine, Hitler’s standards then. It speaks volumes about our current status as a social species, what with all the people crying and dying and all the people making them cry and die and all the people stopping the crying and dying and all the people saying “That’s a very bad thing that you are doing. You should stop that. Oh no, I won’t stop you, cause I’ve got… a thing. But still. Bad oppressors. Go sit in the corner”.

But wait, you say, those are the people in power. Those are the people with power. They are the ones that are doing… things, but I don’t oppress anyone. Sure, I might enjoy a little “choke and stroke” every once in a while, but I will never intentionally harm another animal, let alone a lobster.

Yeah, but you see, that’s where the plight of the lobster comes in. Lobster-eater or not, it’s a metaphor for our social programming. You don’t care about the lobster, because it’s a lobster. Let’s put this in the context of school. Think about the lady that cleans up the classroom every day after the students leave. If she dropped dead at this instance, would you care? Probably not – because in our minds, she is the Person That Makes The Classroom Clean. She exists outside of our social circle, our LobsterSphere (I call dibs on this term), so to us, she’s not really a person. She doesn’t really exist. And the same thing with her LobsterSphere: if you dropped dead right now whilst reading this (which is the best way to die), she wouldn’t give a damn. Neither would anyone in China or Burma or anyone else whose LobsterSphere you do not inhabit. But if someone within your LobsterSphere died, such as your mother or father or Thai pot-dealer, you sure as hell would care. You’d care a lot.

Those who exist outside of our LobsterSpheres are not people to us. They are humans, sure, but we don’t really know or care about them and they about us. We each have a certain amount of people, a core-group, whom we do care about. Ten people, maybe twenty. That’s all we can manage. Think about it this way – which would affect you more: 60’000 people dying in a tsunami in Indonesia, or your mother dying at home? Logic says that 60’000 deaths are worse than 1 death. 60’000 times worse, to be exact. But logic falls to pieces when you enter the LobsterSphere.

But enough philosophy; let’s get back to the lobster. In light of all of this, at the basest level, this shows that in order for us to enjoy quality marine meat, we have to torture the poor beast in the process of preparing it. Now that’s just sick…

Hey, I’m all for meat-eaters and meat-eating. I love meat. One of my favourite sayings is by Tom Snyder: “If we’re not supposed to eat animals, how come they’re made out of meat?” Classic stuff. Right up there with “Eating ain’t cheating” and “Sucking ain’t f…”, well, you get the idea. But I just thought that as human beings, who are known amongst man and beast for our humanity, we might just show a little more respect for lobsters and their lobsterity... I don’t know. Who cares? At the end of the day, it’s just a fucking lobster.

[The title for this post was gleaned from the David Foster Wallace essay of the same name. I thought it sounded unusual, so I “borrowed” it – and although I haven’t read his essay, I’m sure it’s very good. Almost as good as this one. The LobsterSphere concept was greatly inspired by David Wong and his work. Right. I think I’ve covered everything. Copyright infringement can go lobster-stab itself]

© 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved

  1. Ashin says:

    I’m proud to say that I don’t eat lobster.

  2. Shazia Patel says:

    This just made my day. Making philosophy humorous; thereby exposing truths (about which we are indifferent) in a way that the general public can make sense of. Well played.

  3. Steve says:


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