Secondary Sources for “Consider The Lobster” by David Foster Wallace

Sentimental Posthumanism: David Foster Wallace


Giles, Paul. 2007. “Sentimental Posthumanism: David Foster Wallace”. Twentieth Century Literature 53 (3). Duke University Press: 327–44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20479816.

Sentimental Posthumanism is talked about in this chapter. Paul Giles says, “Wallace questions the received wisdom that lobsters cannot feel anything and he wonders whether the lobsters’ apparently desperate attempts to avoid being submerged alive in boiling water should not raise uncomfortable questions about the traditional ideas of human authority: “is it possible,” he asks, “that future generations will regard our own present agribusiness and eating practices in much the same way we now view Nero’s entertainments or Aztec sacrifices?”” (Paul Giles 328). This captures what sentimental posthumanism is because these scientific findings that lobsters cannot feel any pain is a product of the technological revolution we are currently involved in. According to science we see that they cannot feel pain as we do. We take that known computation and we think much less of the material object (in this case a lobster) because scientifically we are far superior and there for we focus our decision to boil them alive on the science that tells us they are very simple creatures who feel no pain (less important) , rather than a biological organism just as we are but a different type.


Getting Away From It All: The literary Journalism of David Foster Wallace and Nietzsche’s Concept of Oblivion by Joshua Roiland

Nietzsche’s idea of ‘oblivion,’ defined in his second essay of The Genealogy of Morals as “an active screening device, responsible for the fact that what we experience and digest psychologically does not, in the stage of digestion, emerge into consciousness any more than what we ingest physically.” Nietzsche is useful here because Wallace’s journalism displays his extreme consciousness, both in the details of the observable world and the impressions they make on his psyche. Often, he was plagued by what he could not let go.

It is apparent that Wallace realizes things that most people do not. In his essay Consider the Lobster, Wallace does a good job of addressing the things around him at the lobster festival that most people are oblivious to. They are oblivious to the morality of boiling another organism alive because it is so normal. That’s what makes people so oblivious, the fact that everyone is participating in the events around them. It is more about physically being there and eating the lobster for most people, but Wallace is very observing and that gives him the opportunity to observe the oblivious people around him.

I’m not sure how much of the lobster festival is oblivion and how much of it is just going a long with the crowd. If no one else has a problem with boiling lobsters then it is easy to go along with that idea and leave it unacknowledged. I personally wonder if I’m hurting the lobster and drop it into the pot as quick as I can when my family cooks them. I’m not sure if that helps but it makes me feel better. I think a lot of people question the morality but I’m not sure everyone addresses it.

Such an understanding helps explain why pieces such as “Consider the Lobster” are more than just individual digressions packed around a central journalistic purpose: “Consider the Lobster” is as much about defining what it means to be a gourmet as it is about animal rights. Although he goes to great lengths to discuss the neuro- logical, bioethical, and philosophical factors that come into play when deciding the ethics of cooking lobsters, he ultimately leaves the matter unresolved — except to resign and say that the decision is still, ultimately, up to an individual’s principles. (And that lackluster conclusion doesn’t come until the second paragraph of footnote twenty, two pages from the article’s end.) For Wallace, the bigger question is whether or not we should think about these matters at all; whether we should be conscious. He ends the essay with a series of earnest rhetorical questions directed at Gourmet readers. “After all,” he asks, “isn’t being extra aware and attentive and thoughtful about one’s food and its overall context part of what distinguishes a real gourmet?”

The Lobster Considered by Robert C. Jones

Is the Lobster a Moral Being?

The Lobster Considered by Robert Jones is about the moral aspect of killing lobsters. Wallace left his theory of morality open for opinion, he presented facts but never declared whether it was okay or not to boil live lobsters. This article tries to pursued towards evidence that crustaceans feel pain. Robert Jones tries to change lobsters image from “things” to “whos.” He essentially disagrees with Wallace who believes that humans are superior to lobsters. Jones argues you cannot try and define morality by looking for human characteristics in nonhuman beings. They communicate differently and live in a much different environment so their response to pain is going to be much different than ours. He argues how can we really know if lobsters feel pain, and he likes to stay on the side of caution.