Limulus J. C. Polyphemus [Chronicles of Dis/Infection, November2014]

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. – Immanuel Kant


No, contrary to initial appearances this will not turn out to be a lecture on morals. Just lovely Limulus.


It is not only the son of god who died for our sins. The dying, as the record bespeaks, has proceeded apace these last two millenia. Slaves at one time, now, among others, the young workers driven to suicide while producing our laptops and smartphones and various pads. More distant fellow beings‘ deaths that are taken for granted abound, e.g. the young calf steelbolted in the head, cut up, cooked and finally laid out on our plates [aka veal], beheaded chickens we cannot even begin to think about other than in terms of lean meat and so&so‘s diet, and so on and so forth.

One can think of it in terms of natural order or predators‘ evolution as one‘s consciousness remains unperturbed – images of humane quietus drown out the slaughter. There is the simple calculus of civilization‘s progress: negentropy is paid for in expiry. In a strange family resemblance, DeLillo‘s imagery of cities atop millenia of detritus comes to mind, because burried amidst all that refuse are, certainly, the calcified remains of those who passed so we can be… for a while, for all of an eternity‘s blink. Jesus of Nazareth, there amidst our rubble, together with all those other fellow unhappy dead.

We, the pampered living, the planetary middle&upper crust, in whose domain is it we reside? Where do we lay our heads and souls when the day‘s are numbered at last and long night swoops from the eaves? How is it we imagine to pay up for all our shitty dabblings? To me this is cause for concern. jesus eric

Among the many oblations, in meditation, I feel obliged to seek out this or that particular being for those whose negentropy was taken in our name are without count. The least they deserve is specificity. The particular blood harvest I consider comes from one especially unobstrusive fellow: Limulus polyphemus. A creature that has been around since long before our ancestors could be even remotely bothered to scan the savannah for predators on…their hindlegs! Limulus polyphemus, there is music in that name as it comes rolling off one‘s tongue like a latinate mantra. Limulus Polyphemus, say it ten thousand times and all thy sins shall be washed to the sea. Is there an image yet in thy mind? A bird in migratory flight across the blazing welkin? An ancient, mud-caked amphibian waiting for the young starved springbok to approach the dwindling waterhole? Yes, No? Close perhaps – it is the old sea they hail from, dark green crabs that put me in mind of WWI munition. I can see them, legion and  lethal and glaucous, streaking through the sky above the trenches of the Ardennes, bringing death to Frontschweine, Poilus and Tommies indifferently. But no, according to The Blood Harvest in The Atlantic, these literally primordial creatures are the ones doing the dying, to the tune of half a million per annum.

Having evolved with their skeletons facing outward in an inclement bacterial ur–broth, these crabs, invaded at every swoosh of their rapier tailfin by unfriendly bacteria, had to come up with incredible autoimmunal defenses. And they did: „If there are dangerous bacterial endotoxins in the liquid—even at a concentration of one part per trillion— the horseshoe crab blood extract will go to work, turning the solution into what scientist Fred Bang, who co-discovered the substance, called a “gel.”“ This singular biochemical property is what we human beings are interested in, harvesting the horshoe crab‘s blood to derive from it the LAL, aka Limulus amebocyte lysate used in testing for bacteria. School of Neon Fusiliers

That is correct: our antiseptic aspirations hinge on being industrially vampirical towards poor ol‘ Limulus Polyphemus.Their blood is our sterility! We haven‘t exactly been friendly towards this hard-shelled muckerfuckers [yes, they burrow through the muck of the intertidal zone]. The procedure of harvesting the blood sounds both brutal and lucrative and is euphemistically referred to as ,sublethal‘: „After the biomedical horseshoe crab collectors get them back to a lab, they pierce the tissue around the animals’ hearts and drain up to 30 percent of the animals’ blood. The LAL is extracted from the blood, and can go for $15,000 per quart.“ [Quart?… The US measurement units are as outrageous as their biomedical shenanigans!]

Nothing to blog home about? What took me about this article is how we blindly live by the death of so many life-forms, so many different being out there in the wide, wide, wild world and yet never no the first thing about them….oftentimes their simple existence is unknown to us, all the while we bleed them in their millions. This must be what Buddhism calls „invisible suffering“…and whenever it becomes visible, whenver we see how negentropy is traded in for entropy, see it even only just as letters and little pixelated pictures, my eyeballs for one just about pop out and I can feel the rasp on my retina.

Then this, the sweep and waft of the culinary world. luxemburgerli-6a457473-bfc8-40c8-9411-a1f233a7b4daNot that it‘s a corner of the cosmos I give too much of a coitus volantis about. But one often can‘t help noticing the rise of a hype, the inflation of a bubble, as it ushers certain forgettable trends to the top of the collective consciousness. Forgettable because they are essentially fluff, nine parts air and one part pre-existent substance. One of these here in Lucerne has been the comically belated surgence of the CaCrot, the cakelet with excessive cream on top OKA cupcake [please, no capital letters]. Let there be no misunderstandingS: I enjoy munching one of these little bleepers sporadically. They‘re tasty and fluffy and can conveniently stave off a meal proper for another hour or so. But as is so often the case with gastronomical convenience, problems spring out the woodwork at once.

Here in Luciaria, the middle of the middle of Europe, the prime one as usual is the wallett-busting price tag. The other month, spring 14, I showed up at the local CaCroteria and had the audacity to buy two pieces. Dinner must have been a long way off, I suppose. The damage ran to 12 bucks something. I shelled out willingly and asked for a cutsie stamp in my idiot coupon booklet, 10 of which I would have to accrete to get 5 measly clams off. No such luck, 15 franks the fake-cheery matron insisted, is the minimal purchase so as to qualify for said stamp. At which point I decided to never again frequent the certainly insolvency-bound establishment. All the while still liking thes CaCrots quite a bit.

I should‘ve kept track, since then, how many Lucernese ladies I heard talking about different flavors and recipes for CupCakes, as if it were some fabulous cure for hunger, fatness and existential anxiety. As if it were, in fact, a newly discovered continent. And a very hard-to-define US cultural cachet attached/s itself to them, as if suddenly our transatlantic neighbor were not only permitted into the circle for culinary consideration but were some long lost really cool cousin.

The hype, soon enough, transformed into what has every appearance of crackpot business schemes: not one but two CaCroterias bless our little town. Yet, as of now, they still seem to be flourishing. Which might well relate to the high number of screen-shot-2012-05-10-at-11-17-12-amfresh, house-hold running, hipster mothers roving our town with their ultra high-tech strollers, babys crying for suck, in search of the next Frappucino or low-carb Cup Cake before dashing back home to prepare dinner and give breast. Consider the single words, none of them is necessarily negative; semantics are what we make them to be, aren‘t they? These women and their killer cool hubbies might have the necessary disposable income and conspicuous consumption dispositions to keep two stores of this creamy ilk above the tideline.

This central European rise of the CupCake is inversely correlated to The Atlantic‘s postulated downfall of it in the great US of A: „And then it followed the trajectory that all trends will, in the end: innovation to ubiquity to cliche. The descent was quick. Crumbs, the cupcake-only chain, closed. The obituaries for the cupcake-as-the-dessert came rolling in.“

There, another caloric light-weight rose to the top of the foodista pyramid: the French Macaron. Which to us is known instead by a different, much less glorious, nationality: The Luxemburgerli. At least that way the French and the Italian [macaron] don‘t get muddled, which would seem a terrible idea in the culinary field. The Luxemburgerli has also been a highly prominent pastry here in Switzerland the past few years thanks to the pattisserie flagships of Spruengli and Lucerne‘s very own Bachmann, who push the the meringue-like sandwich cookies at every possible turn, for any conceivable occasion. The Chinese tourists can never get tired of taking pictures of themselves smiling beside a 2.50 m sculpture of colorful Luxemburgerli.



About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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