Live octopus tentacles, a dining opportunity

I have an ongoing love/eat relationship with cephalopods. Squids and octopuses are among my favourite wonders of nature, being so smart and alien and jet-powered. And yet, so tasty. I’ve required small pep talks a few time in restaurants when someone has ordered a delicious tentacle dish that I can’t bring myself to eat even though it is surely a triumph of human culture (barbecued squid, pasta with olipetti, common kalimari, octopus sashimi…).

The best perspective I’ve come up with to handle the awesomeness yet deliciousness of my tentacled comrades is that life isn’t fair. My ongoing meditation on cephalopods is partly to do with my fascination with hard truths. I can’t be friends with octopods because they are ruthless killers. Also, I eat them. But I want to give them my love. C’est la vie, c’est la poubelle.

So I’m really fascinated by this account of eating live octopus tentacles , still writhing on the plate and trying to kill the brave diner. (Don’t miss the movie linked in the comments.)

I snapped out of the absolute stunned trauma of having to fight with my food and attempted to regain control of the situation… Without hesitating, I bit hard on it over and over and over again while mumbling “Die! Die! Die!”

Eating live tentacles embodies almost my entire relationship with cephalopods. They fight, I desire. They are worthy opponents. I am conflicted, but must commit myself or I will barf. I’d rather be friends, but any relationship will do.

Separately, I like food that won’t come to you, but demands you play by its rules. Wasabi is like that for me: I can’t think about anything else when wasabi catches me off guard. I reckon live tentacles would be the same. There’d be no daydreaming about the office while battling a tentacle into the chili sauce.

All in all, now seems to be the time to re-examine my decision not to be a ruthless killer. I used to be OK with ruthless cruelty and domination in high school. Maybe this is yet another trait from the past that is resurfacing now that I’ve stopped taking birth control. That would be unsettling.

Convergence of unlikely killers

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being violent and hitting people, because of learning kung fu. The validity of using force in self-defense is so obvious to everyone in the world except me that I haven’t been able to have a discussion about this with anybody, really.

“I can’t see how I could justify hitting someone in the face.”

“Well, if they were going to hurt you otherwise, it just makes sense.”

“But— “

The End.

After eating too many Penguin caffeinated mints yesterday, I finally figured out why I was so hung up on this. I’m happy about this for two reasons!

  1. Problem solved. I am suddenly really grounded about hitting people in the face. This feels much more stable and honest than my previous inner turmoil. (More below.)
  2. I think my caffeine-induced revelation counts as a junior Vision Quest, which I’ve been wanting to add to my problem solving repertoire for awhile.

Why I couldn’t just hit people, already

I think my hang up was that most rationalizations of self-defense would require me to either believe in the law of the jungle (eat or be eaten, man!), or some kind of means vs. end justification, both of which options run directly into the hardest part of my hard-ass ethical instincts (the part that says “TRY HARDER”).

At first I tried to go with the dog-eat-dog strategy, on the grounds that life is not fair. Man, do I love to get down with the unfairness of life. (It’s the core of atheism for me, and why I love it so much. I’m not the apple of god’s eye? Hot.)

But. Despite my addiction to Hard Truth, being allowed to punch somebody back seemed like a cop out. Does someone else’s violence really give an excuse to me, a separate person who believes in being peaceful?

Relationships are magic.

And there you go. An attacker, and a defender. Two separate people… who are having a relationship. It takes two to fight. If I’m being attacked, I’m already in the fight, and that relationship already has hitting in it.

For some reason, this relationship perspective makes a huge difference to me. I think I can defend without adding any violence. (Sure, I could escalate with really disproportionate defense, like explosions. But also I could do something appropriate.)

This really jives with one of the things I like about wing chun— it is focused on ending the fight, rather than having an extended battle or taking revenge. The point is just to bring the relationship back to a non-violent state. If either person can run away at any point, it’s done. I can live with that.

Post script

A separate hard truth that has been popping up lately is that I can’t get friendly with octopods, even though they are so interesting, because they are ruthless killers. I am intrigued by my potential to be a tough bitch. What would happen if I got to the point where I could take an octopus? (This is silly.)

Dork Parade

All today:

One of the guys at kung fu brought out his kung fu magazines to show people, leading to a discussion of the best places to buy these in town. I’m not that kind of kung fu student yet, but I’m sort of looking forward to it.

While I was out, my Squid Overlords shirt got me into a conversation about whether it’s possible to respect cephalopods for their intelligence without forgetting that they are ruthless killers. (That’s most of the attraction for me. My busmate was unconvinced.)

When I got home, I found Galen barricaded into the office with a friend, 3 guitars and 25 pedals, three hours into a giant wank jam. Mark showed me where he had written JH on his wah pedal in glow paint in high school. I thought he’d bought it second hand from someone (Jeremiah Henderson, for example), but he had just wanted Jimi Hendrix’s initials on his pedal, and for them to glow in the black lit practice space he was using at the time.

Later tonight we’re going to see the music video Bex’s brother made for a Monsieur Guy track— hopefully there can be some film geekery before the night is through. All I need to make this day complete is to listen to folk rock on the living room floor, and practice drawing typographic grids or something. And for my comic books to arrive in the mail. And I guess I should knit something using a technique I have to look up in a book. This might not happen after all. But it’s good to have goals.