Review Of David Foster Wallace's Essay “Consider The Lobster”

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How does one pick a favorite thing? What is the minimum degree of permanence to qualify any one thing as “favorite”? If it’s something I’ve liked my entire life, it still might not be a most favored one. Perhaps something I’ve discovered two months ago could still be, today, my favorite thing, but ask me again in a year, and I might tell you I’ve grown to hate it. It happened to boy bands, high top Reeboks, and watermelon bubble gum. Outgrowing something is not a privilege of the young; throughout all our years, we change, and so do our favorite things. Maybe when I’m seventy, my favorite thing will be soup — much easier on the teeth. On that note, I have no one favorite thing. One preference elicits the next, oftentimes entirely unrelated.

Today, my favorite thing is fiction writing, which will, in turn, inevitably remind me of other favorite things. I love not having to get up-close and personal with a piece. I love making stuff up. Inventing a life, a future, a situation. Pretending something is real, something I’m not a part of. Of course, not all nonfiction has to be personal.

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David Foster Wallace in his essay “Consider the Lobster” even added footnotes with scientific information, more common in a thesis paper than an essay, a device some of my peers copiously imitated once in a writing workshop with varying degrees of success, jumping into the pot of boiling water without knowing what the effervescent bubbles meant. That lobster was no friend of Wallace’s, but he considered it, and I did too. And that was personal. You don’t watch a lobster travel from carefree ocean life into your plate via a pot of scalding water and not think it’s personal, not feel it somewhere in your body, in places you choose to not acknowledge because to do so means facing the barbaric side of being human. It was a living thing, and it died for the sins of your palate. Morituri te salutant means “we who are about to die salute you,” a quote from Suetonius’ “The Life of the Caesars,” said to have been spoken in ancient Rome by the slaves and criminals thrown into the Colosseum to be hacked to pieces for the amusement of the crowd — a last ditch effort for a reprieve from the emperor. This is what goes through my head when the lobster hisses as it meets its end — it’s not the even the lobster that makes the sound; it’s just steam escaping the shell. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a carnivore, as my homo habilis ancestors intended me to be — to deny our propinquity for meat and fat is to spit in the face of evolution — but I’m not indifferent to the suffering of the lobsters that float in my butter dish. I also love butter. You can’t love lobster without loving butter as a matter of course. The power of butter is astounding; it has the capacity to quash the guilt of eating something cooked alive. It can even assuage Catholic guilt, and that’s the zenith of guilt. Growing up with a Catholic mother, I should know. I still maintain she should have just changed mine and my brother’s names to “You’re Killing Me!” one and two and be done with it.

My father-in-law gave me pearls of wisdom once when we went to an all-you-can-eat buffet. He filled a soup bowl with melted butter — not one of those puny little cups meant for the melted butter that can barely hold an espresso shot — and a plate with crab legs, the shape of the pile an uncanny model of Mount Kilimanjaro. He lumbered back to our table, his gray mustache cast downward — happy about the butter, but resigned to his miserable life — and explained the reasoning behind his choice — “Crab legs are just a vessel to convey butter into my body.” If you were to ever meet my mother-in-law, you would understand why butter is this man’s greatest and only pleasure in life. If I were him, I too, would replace the blood coursing through my veins with melted butter. A swift heart attack would be a blessing if I were to walk in his shoes. But David Foster Wallace urged me to consider the lobster, and so I do — with a bowl of melted butter, an eager stomach, and a ready fork. I say a silent prayer and commend it to the lobster lord above, if there is such a thing — a crustacean deity — and I eat it, reverently, respectfully, and moaning in perverse pleasure with every each bite.

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Review Of David Foster Wallace’s Essay “Consider The Lobster”. (2020, July 15). WritingBros. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/review-of-david-foster-wallaces-essay-consider-the-lobster/
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Review Of David Foster Wallace’s Essay “Consider The Lobster”. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/review-of-david-foster-wallaces-essay-consider-the-lobster/> [Accessed 19 Aug. 2022].
Review Of David Foster Wallace’s Essay “Consider The Lobster” [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Jul 15 [cited 2022 Aug 19]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/review-of-david-foster-wallaces-essay-consider-the-lobster/
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