Pigs, animals and us.


An extract from Ralph Steadman’s ‘Gonzo The Art’

Pigs have been treated like swine since the dawn of time, or at least since man first stood on two legs and found a creature more loathsome than himself. Pig said oink and man said ink. From that moment on, man was master. Man learned to write. The hog tribe stands unrivaled among quadrupeds in its grossness of manner, which corresponds in equal measure to their actions. Pigs have capricious tastes. While chewing herbs and vegetable peelings with delicacy and relish they voraciously devour nauseous and putrid carrion.

They eat their own young and have been known to attack and mangle young children. A pig’s appearance is slothful and stupid and if not disturbed it will sleep for the remainder of the time not devoted to gluttony. Given enough food a pig will indulge itself until it can no longer move. Pigs display a prodigious ability to multiply. The pig devours our trash and we devour the pig. It’s a deal!

It’s features remind us of our newborn babies and its pink flesh taunts us with an image of ourselves in middle age. For this unfortunate similarity some religions have banned it as a source of nourishment, casting the wretched creature in the role of a delicious temptation, one step away from cannibalism. Cannibals referred to white humans as ‘long pigs’. A pig’s sense of smell is acute – they can locate truffles some distance under the ground. Generally their life is one long round of torpor, gluttony and self-interest. They supply a prodigious wealth of vermin on their person and suffer crippling alimentary disorders more varied and complex than those of an army on the march. There I thought the similarities ended until it occurred to me that while the pig will eat its young, we will turn half of ours into starving refugee’s or slaughter them for no good reason. We are natural brothers and distance ourselves from the discomfort of this fact by using the word ‘PIG’ to describe the brutish, the despicable, the unsavory and those among us who would attempt to control societies  with harsh and repressive measures. Noah had a lot to answer for when he saved two of every species. He gave the animal kingdom a taste for domestication. Slopping out and putting up with the most obnoxious smells was all the thanks man got. Count your blessings, Noah. The bible does not mention dinosaurs and tyrannosaurus Rex. They had long gone.

Cleaning up after only one beast like that would have been a mammoth task – and there would have been two of those as well.

Man tired of his diet of human flesh. He was losing friends. He used his cunning instead. Animals needed to drink so he lay in  wait along paths leading to waterholes, displaying a practical intelligence beyond the wits if beasts. This is the principle of pyramid selling. He drove the animals out of their holes and caves of post ice-age palaeolithic times to inhabit those places himself and then with this new-found domestication brought the animal back in to share his house on a second-class citizen arrangement.


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