Friday, March 28, 2008

the cavorting pig

Infinite Thought is in San Francisco. Checks out some socialist realism, quotes:

'No nation has ever treated the pig as cruelly, as barbarously, as diabolically as the U.S. But you will never find a pig sign or sculpture where the pig isn’t smiling. So the question is – is this unanimous smile the successful result of the big lie? Or, examined a little closer, aren’t those smiles more in the nature of grimaces? Aren’t the mass of happy cartoon pigs really like the damned in Memlinc’s paintings, except that they are denied even the faculty of frowning or crying out as the demons poke them with their tridents – or, the case of the poor American pig, stun them with their tasers? There’s an interesting connection to be made to feminism – Ellen Willis, in the eighties, suggested the idea of a smile strike by women. The idea never really got off the ground, but I think that the omni-depicted smiling pig is, perhaps, engaged in something like it – such exaggerated smiles are put on the pig, so happy is the cavorting pig, that I suspect a strike-like aspect, a sort of kabuki piggism in which the smiles are coded, in their exaggeration, to mean the opposite. Charlotte’s Pig, Wilbur, was, in a sense, a last, romantic feudal pig before the meat corporations took over the pig’s life – perhaps, indeed, the Wilbur, or the Empress of Blandings, stands to pigdom as Robinson Crusoe stood to the ideology of the classical economists. Marx would immediately understand the smiling pig for what it was.'


"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

I love in the big grocery stores in the states those cheezy plastic pig-dressed-as smiling butcher sculptures... you know what I#m talking about?... scheiß, can't find a foto online... rare occurance.

kermitthefrog said...

Tangentially, there is a pretty good YA sci-fi book called Interstellar Pig, by William Sleator, whose premise is a board game in which varying alien species fight for a possession of a token--a smiling pig--that allows you to stay alive when the game's timer goes off. The game turns out to be real, played by competing alien species. The twist is the discovery that EVERYONE stays alive when the timer goes off, no matter what, and that the game has been invented by the Pig itself, to allow it to get passed from hand to hand and see different planets. So you see, the pig itself actually desires to be exchanged and commodified.

nsiqueiros said...

Not sure if any of you have read Old School by Tobias Wolff, but there's a story writing contest in the book and one of the stories that wins is called, "The Day the Cows Come Home."

It went like this. A flying saucer lands in a field outside Boston. The police and various armed services try to destroy it, without success. Then it fires a ray that atomizes a nearby truck, mercifully empty, and everyone backs off while an exhaustively desbribed robot disembarks and demands that a delegation of world leaders present themselves to the saucer's commander. Tomorrow--or else.

Old hat so far, but not for long. The next day the president, the Soviet premier, and the queen of England assemble in the field and are led by the robot to the command center. And what do they find there, sitting at the controls and surrounded by a crew of the same species, but an enormous bull! This is no ordinary bull, but a horned argonaut of imperial carriage whose eyes flash with preternatural intelligence adn who otherwise bears the same resemblance to earthly bovines that the untrammeled wolf, bold ruler of his arctic realm, bears to the permed and coiffured poodle in his rhinestone sweater.

Then the world's leaders get the story. Long ago, one of the aliens' ships had developed engine trouble and been directed to our planet because of its nutritiouis flora. Their own galaxy was light years away and by now the crew would've been dead for scores of centuries, but this expedition had come to gather the descendants of that valiant band take them home. They had left descendants, hadn't they?

The perils of answering this question are not lost on the humans. They deny any knowledge of such creatures, until the ship's commander produces a picture of cows in a field--at which point the queen of England, her tender female spirit unequal to the sternness of his gaze, breaks down and babbles out the truth. The travelers gathered around her are not pleased to learn the present state of their kin, or the uses to which they've been put. Indeed they can hardly believe their ears, and they commander insists on a fact-finding tour.

He visits a dairy in Wisconsin, where he sees the cows sucked dry by machines and shot full of sperm from bulls they've never even met. He watches calves being castrated and branded in Texas, and tours a farm in Japan where the animals are force-fed gallons of beer to sweeten their flesh. He's taken to a messy bullfight in Mexico, a rodeo in Wyoming, and a killing-floor in the Chicago stockyards.

The commander of the spaceship sees all this and more. He grows ominously silent. After returning to the ship to confer with his comrades, he emerges to make a grand tour of all the ranches and farms, gathering the herds around him to tell them exactly what lies in store if they don't accept his invitation to return to the home planet. They retain just enough of the old language to understand the warning, but most of them shrug it off. Instead they invite him to join them. They've got it made: all they can eat, protection from predators, medical care--and in Montana a bunch of steers stampede him off the ranch. Finally, only a handful of the bravest and smartest choose to leave, and even this small procession is diminished when some of them lose their nerve at the sight of the long ramp leading into the ship, and defect.

At sunset the saucer lifts off with its crew and their newfound cousins. But they don't head for home--not yet. They hang up there for a while putting their ray to work. The killing is efficient, implacable, and completely misanthropic. In the end not a single human being remains alive. The story concludes with this line, spoken by one of the crew to a cow weeping for the little boy who milked her: "He's lucky we didn't eat him."

Anonymous said...

Well one should visit Papua New Guinea where Pig rules supreme- one slows down for them running along the road, one exchanges them for wife 'bride price' and to mark the death of someone big one slaughters little piggy for a feast.
And then when they are killed the only thing that escapes the Pig is their squeal - all parts are consumed... yum.
Your Man in Moresby