Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 12. June 16, 1971

Pine Your Pork — Or Porcupine, if you Feel Spikes in Whati'm About to Say

page break

Pine Your Pork

[unclear: Or] Porcupine, if you Feel Spikes in Whati'm About to Say

Drawing of a pig on a platter

People of course are pigs. Human institutions of course are pig-sties or pig factory-farms and abattoirs for pigs. But why 'of course'? The Whyness' of the 'of course' is the very coure of history. Pigs roll in the mud as we roll with equal comfort in the ecological mud of our urban and rural effluents and waste. Pigs often destroy their off-spring, but then so do we in our more devious humanoid ways. These models of careless mess and gratuitous cannibalism are, so far, very close.

The conventional bourgeois parern-[unclear: tal] couple is both the super ambisexual pig and massive bacon factory. This is its central ambiguity. Those who escape through some fire exit or in the disguise of a workman, tend to end in a great porcine bin or in a prison or in another abattoir. A few, through great travail and pain, manage to escape and become sane, and these sane ones inevitably bear a prophetic burden.

For the rest of us, we finally roll into a deep enough patch of mud to be buried, or we manage to get fried into an over-crisp bacon in the vault of the crematorium—keeping our relatives' feet or trotters warm by the way.

Be sure that there is no chance matter in the appellation 'pig' made by young American revolutionaries to police and their collaborators, psychiatrists, and false authorities in general. The pig is a clear-cut identification. The other phrase, 'mother-fucker', is more ambiguous in the sense that it may imply a limitation of one's sexuality to one's mother or, alternatively, a liberation from an incest taboo.

Despite its cannibalism the pig is the most anally-genitally inviting animal in the world. It offers up its arsehole, with a protruding lower anal lip, for all comers. Perhaps through recognizing this invited bestiality, we may see our way out of being the beasts we are to others. We may cease to be that strange beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be born again, as Yeats wrote in a poem expressing his conic, or con-ic, theory of history. Maybe we can become not false messiahs but true prophets, each not chattering but telling true messages to the other. The false messiah simply exteriorizes the evil spirit of the madman and puts them into the swine who rush to their destruction down the Gadarene slope. The true prophet, by personal exemplification, shows the other person how to de-terrorize the demonic forces, contain them in the person and, ultimately, integrate and befriend them. One wonders about the man who was so violently bereft of his demons by Christ. The man who said his name was Legion because he had so many internal family and pre-family (archaic) figures inside him. I think that in his parable one can be sure of one thing; the madness left the madman for sure, but it did not die with the swine—it remained in vacuo available to all the world. Madness, although always particularized in each person, is also something that permeates the human ether. Madness is a tentative vision of a new and truer world to be achieved through destructing—a de-structing that must become final—of the old, conditioned world.

But let us return to pigs. In Italian, porco dio and porca madonna are supposed to be blasphemies. In fact in these invocations (one's eyes usually look up as one says them) one is asking for one's porcine mergence with God and the Madonna—lift me out of this porcine earth to your higher place. So it is invocation, not blasphemy. English and French blasphemies are simple. Merde means you (or something) are a shit or should go off and shit. 'Fuck' or 'Fuck you' are innocent of any transcendental quality and in fact are anti-sexual. The Polish 'go fuck your mother' is equally immanent. No pigs are involved.

Drawing of a pig and piglet

If pigs had wings, as the saying goes, anything could happen. Well maybe pigs do have mysterious, unseen wings, and maybe we don't see the wings Because we are afraid that 'anything might happen'. In that case we are pigs with either invisible or vestigial wings. For some people the wings are simply invisible and may be made to appear at any moment. For others the vestigial wings may never allow ascendance and flight, even in dreams.

It is no sheer chance that Cerletti discovered electro-convulsive 'treatment' in the abattoirs of Rome, where pigs were killed by electrocution. Those pigs who did not die showed notable changes in their modes of behaviour, and then of course he started giving electric shocks to mental patients 'experimentally' as well as to 'improve the race'. This comes close to the geneticist Kallman's classical book in which he starts off with modes of eliminating the genetically inferior to purify the race and thereby heighten the cultural level of humanity. A great many psychiatrists who see madness as genetic and constitutional have been influenced by Kallman's work despite its dubious methodology and the contradictory results published later.

But pork, like us, is always painfull. Like the legendary story of the Chinese man whose house burnt down and whose pigs were roasted. He put his finger into one of the pigs but quickly pulled it out because of the intense heat. He sucked his painful finger and found the taste delicious, and so roast pork was discovered. No doubt in this story there was some hidden intentionality in the burning down of the house. All eating is concealed sacrifice, all gour-mandise is necrophilia in disguise.

Drawing of a pig butcher

The porkhuman takes many forms. There is a poster in a London butcher's of a nude girl, showing lines drawn across her body marking the different joints of meat, breasts, legs, etc. The difficulty here is that people take no heed of the violence done to women in terms of their being made sheer abject objects—and women seem so far to notice least of all.

Greed may involve parts of people's bodies or it may involve whole persons and groups of people or even whole classes.

Oral greed is perhaps the most easily understood. Mothers often feel their babies are greedy to the point of wanting to swallow the whole breast—at least! And of course if babies are not nursed and held in the 'instinctive right way', they will demand more feed than they objectively need. This oral greed is repeated in the case of people who take hard drugs or alcohol in excess—though here of course there are many layers of intelligibility beyond the infantile oral situation that have to be analytically explored. Cannibalism is supreme as a greed fantasy but in practice it is ritualistic or a direct expression of hunger. (See Pier Paolo Pasolini's film The Pigsty.)

Melanie Klein has dealt so well with greed on this level that I shall proceed to the farther reaches of greed.

The next sort of greed we must look at is evacuation greed. This refers to the need excessively to shit or fart on other people, to piss on them from a great height, spitting in someone's face in excess of the provocation of the other. It reaches psychotic limits, to use the term in its conventional sense, with bombs and guns, as at the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, which was a clear display of evacuation greed. Whether someone is going to be greedy enough to drop the H-bomb, or unleash chemical warfare, is another matter.

The definite essence of greed, beyond its outward direction, is that it is self-destructive—ultimately, what one eats up or shits on or becomes subservient to, is one's self!

The third mode of greed involving parts of bodies is retention greed. It is obvious that when a child withholds the faeces that would be the celebrated present to the mother it is in some sense being greedy (although there is also a good sense of being self-ish, in control of one's acts, in this). A more mysterious area is the retention of babies in the womb. I do not for one moment believe that this is greedy fear on the part of the mother; I think that there is a collusive greed between mother and baby for the latter to stay inside the former, each greedily consuming the other through a visceral susurration, a whispering through the umbilical cord, bowels, blood vessels, ureters, and so on lf we want to understand something of prematurity and post-maturity, we have to have some understanding of this visceral language. But if greed, as may often seem to be the case, is mutually satisfying, no panicky intervention may be necessary. But this mutual satisfaction, I am afraid, does not constitute a true greed structure. Greed requires the violent schism between the greedy one and the one the greedy one is greedy about. The most immediate answer to this is that the greedy one goes into the analysis of his greed, and the other, at least temporarily, removes her—or himself from the greed scene however painful that may be. Greed rarely in my experience comes from actual deprivation but always from fantasies of deprivation that have to be explored. In fact greed often comes not from deprivation in fact or fantasy, but from an excess of love. An excess of love induces a state of affairs in which one's non-corporeal eyes are bigger than one's metaphysical stomach. People who are greedy in this mode are like children who get sick after too much delicious trifle at birthday parties.

The baby must feel to be and be felt to be a separate although [unclear: cnjoint] human entity before birth, and apart from the mother feeling her abdomen and the other personal entity in it, the best way of achieving this sense of separateness is through love-making by the parents during the mother's pregnancy. The impact of the penis on the neck of the womb makes the baby feel 'other'. Otherness in this sense is quite the opposition to alienation, which is fusion and confusion and loss of identity in another person or in a work process. The evidence for these assertions lies precisely in the properly generated anamnesis of psycho-analytic work. But again this is recollection of experience rather than simple, direct memory. The person in therapy may at a certain point go through the foetal responses to parental coitus without knowing and without memory in the ordinary sense.

Finally, we must consider greed for whole persons which subsumes all the above part-body greeds. When people group together in a network the motives are multifarious: some people wish to maintain their autonomy and privacy (though no secrecy), whereas others wish to form replica families that would invade the autonomy of others: this latter mode is greed—the violation of the other person's internal territory. If this greed prevails, often because of the other's collusion with it, the network will crumble, often with individual disasters along the way. This network breaks down also in terms of the competitive greed for acclamation and fame.

There is also of course the need to feed people into production lines which is greed, and the need to feed facts about people into computers which is also greed. Then there is genocidal greed such as the wish of the US government to consume the Vietnamese people.

It seems that in the first world, at least, we are all greedy hogs. I think I'm going off bacon!

Drawing of a pig chef

From The Death of the Family by David Cooper, to be published by Allen Lane The Penguin Press on 27 May at £1.50. David Cooper was born in Cape Town. South Africa, in 1931. His principal concern has been to develop existential psychiatry in Britain and to elaborate principles to overcome the methodological difficulties and compartmentalization of the human sciences. He is a founder member of the Philadelphia Association. London, and Director of the Institute of Phenomenological Studies. Among his works are Reason and Violence (with R.D.Laing) and Psychiatry and Antipsychiatry. He edited the Pelican original The Dialectics of Liberation.