An edgy essay by Robert Whyte
Krill are small, free-swimming crustaceans found in all the world’s oceans, especially around Norway, where they are seen at night performing versions of classic ballets, usually The Nutcracker, Giselle and Swan Lake, in that order.
The Antarctic Krill, Euphausia superba, weighs nearly 500 million tonnes dripping wet, but it should be remembered that this is not a single animal, even though it is a single species. It is a great many animals (more of this later) which intriguingly has the highest biomass of any single animal species. Half of this biomass is eaten each year by whales, seals, penguins, squid, and fish, which might lead you to think there would soon be none left. However, Antarctic Krill replenish their numbers by having sex.
Apart from this single species, altogether there are 85 known species of Krill, which is not a lot when compared to some other life forms, like beetles (over 350,000) but quite a lot when compared to humans, just one species.
There are about seven billion people, oops another one, and another one… anyway a lot. The biomass of humans is about 350 million tonnes, but that’s chickenfeed. Cattle weigh around 600 million tonnes. Actually, chickens are chickenfeed. They weigh only 48 million tonnes. All animals together, when you look at the big picture, are in fact chickenfeed because plants weight 225 times as much as all animals put together. Humans are pathetic. Bacteria weighs 1100 times as much as humans. Even fungi weigh more than humans. A lot more. 200 times more!
But getting back to Krill. In case you were wondering if you have met any Krill on the way home through the metaphysical turnstiles of fear, remorse and uncontrollable flatulence after just a wee bit too much to drink, they look kind-of-like a prawn. Here are the basic facts.
Krill are small, but not ridiculously small, like an atom. That’s just stupid small. Adult Krill are about 2–6 cm long, weight 1–2 grams and can live up to 10 years, although a lot live only 2–4. The gills of Krill are externally visible, which is probably why Quentin Tarantino though to name Kill Bill “The Gills of Krill” until someone talked him out of it. The following questions, which we hold to be self-evidently vexatious, are questions about Krill.
- Do Krill think? and if so
- What do they think about?
- If they did think, would we as humans, know?
- Is there an expert on Krill thinking? and if there is
- Who is it? and
- What is the study of Krill thought called?
We cannot answer these questions here, so for the sake of getting on with this, we have assumed the answers to be 1. Yes, 2. Krill, 3. No, 4. Maybe, 5. Krill and 6. Krill.
As in Robert Hanna’s The Rational Human Condition, Volume 1–Preface and General Introduction, Supplementary Essays, and General Bibliography, answering questions which cannot be answered is more than a fait accompli, it is de rigeur, at least until the end of the universe or rigor mortis sets in, whichever comes first.
But as Hanna explains, the most important question of all, is “What is Krill?”
In order to answer this, which you know full well is “not gunna happen, buster”, we need to be able to determine
- What do Krill know?
- What use is Krill knowledge to humans?
- Are Krill in danger?
- Do Krill even like us?
- Do Krill care?
Krill have their own views on this and would answer as follows, 1. Not much, 2. More than you think, 3. Yes, 4. No and 5. Yes, a lot.
In the everyday oceanic life of an average Krill, which is a mildly insulting concept to begin with, Krill would not contemplate such weighty matters, weighing themselves less than 2 grams, resulting in a population by biomass calculations, as above, of about three hundred and fifty trillion, or 3.5 × 1014 or interestingly 213 × 514 × 7 which are three prime numbers multiplied together. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a lot of Krill, and it’s only natural that as a biomass Krill do indeed contemplate extremely weighty matters, weighing in combination more than twice the entire combined weight of humans who, it follows, are intellectual lightweights.
Furthermore, Krill are transparent, or at least pinky translucent, so you can easily see what is going on in their pretty little (literally) pointed heads. They have intricate compound eyes with built in sunglasses, which might lead you to think their future is bright, but it’s not. Krill can glow in the dark, something humans have never figured out how to do, forcing them to invent the means of producing electricity in large quantities and shipping it out to people who need it. Krill mostly eat plants, but they are not strict Vegans.
We mentioned that the future for Krill is not looking bright, but that’s not such a problem for the leaders of the so-called free world, who are Krill skeptics. This skepticism does not extend to the ectoparasite Oculophryxus bicaulis which attaches itself to the Krill’s eyestalk and sucks blood from its head. One possible upside of the existence of Krill despite skepticism, is their ability to eat and digest microplastics, excreting them back into the environment in smaller form.
One reason there are so many Krill (three hundred and fifty trillion, remember) is because females can carry several thousand eggs in their ovary and have multiple broods in one season. Another reason is their tendency to swarm, with 10,000 to 60,000 individuals per cubic meter. Krill hide in the daytime to avoid being eaten, however in the ocean there is nowhere to hide, so all they do is sink deeper into the water when they get a bellyful of phytoplankton, shitting out the digested stuff until they are light enough to swim back to the surface and eat some more. Some Krill can swim pretty fast over short distances when alarmed, but they are no Dawn Fraser. People eat Krill and will probably eat a lot more of them when there is nothing else left to eat. But that’s all by the by, because Krill, the topic in question, is not about eating, fucking or farting, it is about thinking, which may startle some people to learn is actually different and more important than those other things.
Krill, the work you are now looking at and wondering if you can afford to buy, is a five-volume book series, including
- Volume 1. The stuff you are reading now
- Volume 2. Deep thought and real Krill: a study in metaphysics
- Volume 3. Krill and human existence: a moral object lesson
- Volume 4. Krill politics: A better way of doing things
- Volume 5. How we know all this
We, and by this we mean Krill collectively, with minimal human help, decided to write the last volume (Volume 5. How we know all this) first. Contrarian? Yes. Sensible? No. Why? Because we can’t find it. Just forget that volume. Who needs it anyway.
Apart from that minor hiccough (pronounced hiccup, if you can believe) with the exception of this volume which just pre-emptory blather, each of the other three remaining volumes can be read anywhere, on the train, bus, Ferris wheel or spacecraft, to help pass the time while searching for an answer to the meaning of life.
This is not a big exercise. It is only as big as it needs to be, which isn’t very big at all, given the almost complete ignorance and publishing potential of Krill as a subject. It’s nowhere near as big as that Hanna monster we mentioned earlier, but in terms of what it offers the intelligent reader, almost identical.
In a nutshell, Krill is about Krill. Real, serious, thoughtful Krill, not Krill that couldn’t give a shit. Since Krill have never managed to produce even one fossil in the entire 130 million years of their existence, when they are gone, when the last Krill is tossed onto the barbie and snaffled by the scrofulous Labrador from next door, nothing will be left behind, except perhaps a chain of smelly Labrador farts. Therefore non-existence, especially historically, is assured. Perhaps non-existence can be witnessed, but before we subscribe to that notion, we are going to need a lot of convincing. This is why a metaphysical theory is phenomenologically adequate if and only if that metaphysical theory is evidentially grounded on all and only phenomenologically self-evident Krill.
Our next volume will deal with Krill history, which, given the ultimate non-existence of Krill in the fossil record, will be very short indeed. Until then, we bid you a gnostic and hope you are feeling better in the morning.
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 202
Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Tuesday 13 November 2018
Please consider becoming a patron!