The Banality of Evil
20, September 2015
Consider the Lobster.
In David Foster Wallace’s essay for Gourmet Magazine he details on how the Main Lobster festival is a very intriguing place. He also talks about how peoples conceptions of lobsters goes deeper than we wish to believe, in how many of the time we eat lobsters only to achieve gustatory pleasure. To many people even the history of how we as a culture view lobsters has changed than what it has in the past or even what biologically lobsters do.
To the mass of people in todays society lobsters are considered to be a delicacy that is a way to flaunt ones wealth. It is a food that attracts the rich and fancy. Every year there is even a large festival in Maine where hundreds of thousands of people show up to eat, and from the worlds largest lobster cooker just to add a little spice to it. But many people are unaware how lobsters used to be viewed in the past. Until sometime in the 1800’s lobsters were considered to be a “ low class food, eaten only by the poor and institutionalized.” (Wallace 237) Wallace states the in some cases it was even banned to feed lobster to prisoners because it was considered to be cruel and unusual, and “ like making people eat rats” (Wallace 238). After all they are pretty much just giant sea bugs, and therefore it is fair that the lowest of the low of society would be the ones who had to eat them. Biologically speaking they are strikingly similar to those “ creepy crawlies “ that are on land. They are members of the crustacean family, and members of the phylum Arthropod that covers insects, spiders, crustaceans, centipedes, and anything that does not have a spinal cord, and also an exoskeleton that is broken up into segments. So now a new question comes up and that is, why is it now lobster is considered a gourmet meal that is enjoyed by many and what does it mean from a philosophical standpoint to consider this sea bug.
One main reason why we consider lobsters to be so high class now is because we have found a way to make lobsters pretty. By boiling them alive we are able to make the lobsters that bright red color that is served to the consumer. Naturally lobsters are more of a greenish-brown color that does not look very appealing, but by putting them in the boiling water for less than a minute they go from the sea bug that is even too gross for prisoners to eat to a food that is right below caviar in the fine food chain. Lobsters give their eater gustatory pleasure, which...