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Updated: Dec 18, 2020



Everyone has a spirit animal, the teenage girls are right about that. Unfortunately, they grow out of this phase and everyone forgets the truth of the spirit animal, although perhaps they merely tire of hearing about it. Young boys running around woodlands calling out for the strength of a bear or a hawk are also, sadly, ignored—usually treated with polite indulgence, up to a point. The entire idea becomes too silly for anyone to take seriously. But it is true and, as we shall see, it is the most reasonable men who are most deeply asleep; and their grave reason will eventually be the death of them.


Take the recent case of celebrity psychologist Jordan Peterson, a man who became an international celebrity and whose work was closely associated with the lobster. He made the connection in an entirely rational way. The lobster was his scientific means to explain how hierarchy is biologically embedded in human social relations. The lobster refuted his enemies. Lobsters, depressed lobsters, those kept in tanks, suspecting they are about to be eaten, respond to anti-depressants designed for humans. Somewhere, deep in the arborescence, humans and lobsters are connected. Peterson’s point was that hierarchies are so embedded in humans that any political attempt to bring about equality would be extremely difficult. The lobster was there before us, and the lobster had a snipping order.


Peterson came to identify with the lobster. He wore lobster ties and produced lobster products for his fans. What was the lobster to Peterson if not his spirit animal? Peterson, before becoming a celebrity, was an academic; he was, as academics usually are, a sensitive introvert. He was, as is the lobster, used to hiding in the deep dark depths of the library stack; it was his seafloor. When he fought his opponents—mainly feminists—he was known for his short, snippy comebacks; his pincer-like attacks made for popular videos, and his opponents squealed as if they had been nipped by a big red claw. And, just like the lobster, Peterson was scooped up by a fishing net and put on display in a tank in a fancy restaurant for the world to admire. He was displayed with pride in many prestigious venues—although, of course, many of their customers were licking their lips at the prospect of devouring him with some creamy butter.


On display, Peterson took to wearing expensive new suits. There were some, the envious, who claimed this was mere greed or vanity. Really, he was a lobster moulting and growing a new shell to protect himself. The retiring lobster—the retiring academic—was not suited to the world’s attention; he was no easy-going extrovert. He required a safer shell. Now, the lifecycle of the lobster must be completed and so Peterson went from the restaurant display tank into the kitchen’s boiling water. Lobsters must be cooked alive, and, though it is merely air escaping the shell, many people swear that they scream and cry when this happens. So it was when Peterson was thrust into the hot water of despair this year and, as his wife faced a terminal illness, fell to prescription drug abuse and near-death treatments. His message of self-reliance, order, and responsibility was in tatters. He had been served up and dismembered, torn apart, claw first, and the meat sucked from his shell by the mob.


The lobster is powerful in its territory; it is powerful in the reclusive and obscure waters of academia. It presents a minor hazard to novice chefs and amateur fishermen. In our overland world, there are much more fearsome beasts—not least the worst of the lot, man. Peterson’s daughter, herself a celebrity, was wise. She made her name promoting a carnivorous diet dubbed “The Lion Diet”. The lion is a regal and formidable beast and, indeed, Peterson’s daughter grows stronger by the day; perhaps there are bones outside her den, perhaps she is a man-eater. Thus we must respect the wisdom of teenage girls.


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