Sunday, March 4, 2012

Panning for Zen

There's probably some Zen in a pan of frying crickets, but I have no interest in looking for it. My interest in a pan of frying crickets is not getting popped in the eye by a drop of boiling olive oil. Eating the crickets once they've been cooked, all the way through the guts to kill the tapeworm larvae, is also on the list. That's pretty much it.

The main Zen deficiency of a pan of frying crickets is that they don't chirp. Sizzling, popping and whistling like chitinous little teapots is a poor substitute for chirping. The sizzle, the pop, and the whistle are produced by phase changes in the stuff that crickets are made of, but these changes occur without any deliberate participation by the crickets themselves. Chirping is different. Chirping rate is a neuromuscular response to the cricket's physical environment. A male cricket chirps faster when the air is warmer. This change is probably not a very deliberate act on the cricket's part--it's a function of poikilotherm physiology--but the act of chirping itself directly affects cricket 
reproduction. It attracts female crickets and warns away competing males. A popping, sizzling, whistling cricket in boiling oil does none of these things.

So where is the Zen in a pan of frying crickets?
I don't know. If forced to look more deeply into that skillet, I might say we need need not assign meaning to every whistle and pop we hear, nor to every drop of hot oil that stings our eye, in order to appreciate the connection between the change we impose and the change we experience. But that would probably be a bunch of crap. I suggest you consult Steinbeck or Huell Howser, because I have no answers for you.

© Pseudocognitive

Apologies for the out-of-focus picture. It's the only original one I had, having lost the others.


  1. Tapeworms in crickets?!? Who knew?

  2. One never knows, do one?
    ~The Inmortal Fats Waller