[Baypiggies] New PyOP List

Alex Martelli aleax at google.com
Fri Mar 2 05:22:55 CET 2007

On 3/1/07, Andy Wiggin <andywiggin at gmail.com> wrote:
> I saw this float by recently on http://www.quotationspage.com/qotd.html.
>   "I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat
> us as equals."
>   Sir Winston Churchill

As a "Pearls Before Swine" enthusiast, I can't help loving Pig (and,
by extension, pigs): he's the modern incarnation of the Bear of Little

Besides, I spent my childhood spending summers at grandpa's farm (even
though I was a city kid).  Being a morning person even then, I was
typically the second person in the household to wake up right after
grampa (I woke up at dawn, he a little bit earlier).  I sneaked down
to the huge kitchen (biggest room of the house in traditional Italian
farms) where grampa would typically be having his breakfast -- salami
or prosciutto, red wine, yesterday's bread carefully roasted.  He'd
shush me and feed me bread and salami (and a heavily watered glass of
wine -- he had little time for these foreign stuff like coffee -- so
if you ever wonder about my mental abilities, it's all grampa's fault
for having me drink wine when I was little!-).

Then we'd go out in the glorious hills, let the chickens and the cows
and the pigs (and sometimes the pheasants and the geese and the sheep
&c, if he was raising any that year, but pigs, cows and chickens were,
well, staples) out of their nightly shelters, and if needed provide
food and other services.  We couldn't always take the time to lead the
pigs to roam in the woods (feeding on acorns &c) and frolic in the
stream (it would take a long time to herd them back in the evening),
so often we'd feed them our leftovers (they can eat and enjoy anything
people can!) and spray water from a hose so they could play under it
and make themselves clean (pigs' smell is distinctive, but they're
only dirty if they're denied access to sufficient water: they enjoy
water and cleanliness as much as people do, I learned during those
summers).  Feeding cows and chicken &c was fun for this city boy...
but nothing compared to the sheer joy of feeding pigs.

And when a sow had suckling piglets, THAT was the best: after he's
done suckling, each piglet walks to mom's snout and *kisses* her in
thanks.  I swear.  It's the sweetest, most heart-rending animal scene
I've ever witnessed in my life, and it happened to me at a very
impressionable age, and repeatedly.

Some of you may wonder why I didn't become a vegetarian, but that's
about grampa again: he enjoyed his animals' antics and individuality
just as much as I did, but that would never stop him from enjoying his
salame, prosciutto, roast chicken, etc.  He was keenly aware of his
*lettuce* being alive and unique, too... that didn't stop him from
having a salad as a side dish to pork chops... that we kill and eat
what we cherish and love was second nature to him, as, I guess, befits
a farmer who also raises animals, hunts, etc.  I knew perfectly well
that the incredible, wonderful prosciutto I was eating had recently
been a frolicking piglet... I was faced with the omnivore's tragedy
and wonder much more starkly than most city kids ever are, just by
having a farmer grampa living close enough to the city that we spent
all summers at the farm.

Anybody whose perception of "pigs" (or any other animal, or vegetal
species) is chiefly symbolical, metaphorical, and indirect, has my
sympathy and condolences.  Each species has its wonders and tragedies,
and if you can't perceive it _as itself_ any more, because metaphors
about it have conquered your brain, then your experience of life is
proportionally diminished.  Penguins are waterfowl with uniquely
fascinating lives, not metaphors for Linux; pigs are amazingly
near-sentient and yet incredibly good-tasting quadrupeds, not
metaphors for cops, capitalists, or people who eat too much; if you
can't experience life itself because the metaphorical contents of
words takes over, you've proportionately renounced your status as an
actual living being in favour of being a "symbol-processing system".
Try Zen: if you undertake it seriously, experientially, and without
hidden agenda, it's a practice that _can_ "break the back of your
mind" and let you EXIST, LIVE, EXPERIENCE, rather than THINK, REASON,

Oink, oink,


More information about the Baypiggies mailing list