melancholy of the cyborgean pig

by Feng A fresh cut is freeing.

The mother goat sent the kid home and to fetch scissors, and a needle and thread, and then she cut open the monster’s paunch. She had scarcely made one cut, before a little kid stuck its head out, and as she continued to cut, one after the other all six jumped out, and they were all still alive. They were not even hurt, for in his greed the monster had swallowed them down whole. How happy they were! They hugged their dear mother, and jumped about like a tailor on his wedding day.

But the mother said, “Go now and look for some big stones. We will fill the godless beast’s stomach with them while he is still asleep.”

The seven kids quickly brought the stones, and they put as many as many of them into his stomach as it would hold. Then the mother hurriedly sewed him up again. He was not aware of anything and never once stirred.

The wolf finally awoke and got up onto his legs. Because the stones in his stomach made him very thirsty, he wanted to go to a well and get a drink. But when he began to walk and to move about, the stones in his stomach knocked against each other and rattled.

Then he cried out:

What rumbles and tumbles,
Inside of me.
I thought it was kids,
But it’s stones that they be.

When he got to the well and leaned over the water to drink, the heavy stones pulled him in, and he drowned miserably. –

I am writing a manuscript possessed. As if by swine flu. As if the swine flew. There is no central image in my project because it is a diffusion, an infection and inflection. Perhaps the porcine trope was planted in me long ago as a child listening to the story of the three little pigs. It was a lesson about hard work and care. The good little piggy built a house of brick that no wolf wind could shatter. Mother says, our people are a hardworking people. Another says, rice is the most difficult plant to plant, and it is in your blood to be as patient as the ox and as productive as the honeybee.

It was also a lesson about fear and confusion. I couldn’t tell the three little pigs apart. Would they taste different? What makes one little pig not the second little pig? And then, weren’t there five little piggies before? And one of them had roast beef? But what kind of huts would these piggies build? In the end, I, the little girl, was the little piggy. The girl child grows up with a plethora of fables and glowing images of how she is to be eaten, her pink skin and supple curls, rosy cheeks and innocent pigtails, swallowed by the eyes and then the howling gut of something big and bad. Now she is grown but inexplicably takes the shape! An urban shape! But she must make sure she is plump and full of money too, money that goes in the slot, into that dark blowhole! And now, my mother’s country, my mother’s red red rose, my father’s blood, splashed all over the media, the next world superpower, if earth doesn’t collapse its plug pulled out, if the giant invisible piggybank doesn’t smash under another fleshy, pink, invisible thing of a magic economy.

Piglet: It’s hard to be brave when you’re only a Very Small Animal.

I did not relate to the little piggy as much as transform. The shame of the pig was logical and it was mine, genetic shyness and cultural submission made me into the most well-behaved little china piggybank. I couldn’t speak in public, pissed in my pants because I couldn’t ask for permission to go to the little girl’s room. More than that, I was linked to others, crushed by machines impossible to understand, crushed by ourselves, melancholy cyborgs. Shame was the same as good. But I still am, must be. And my friends too, flesh as tender and soft as the clouds we fly through. The piglets of our feet are not bound, but set free, and the many porcine nubs of the body should grow wings like baby Hermes. And so this book does not relate to the pig as much as transform, and the distortion of translation turns the pig wooden. Pegged. At once domestic and innocuous, at once dirty and base, at once not once.

It’s only obsession sullied.

Food seems to be especially important to immigrants, who must carry their internal organs with them as they are transplanted. We know the best of all, that you are what you eat. And what you eat with.

Sometimes I look in the mirror to see that my clothes are eating me like my laziness.

Many animals begin to gnaw at themselves under extreme stress. Some chew and swallow. Some octopuses commit suicide by ingesting their limbs.

We are the pink masses sitting in gestation crates, rubbed raw by steel bars, hurled at the ground, stunned by the stunner. Young college students pepper street corners, thrusting brochures at you, Even If You Like Eating Meat, You Can Help Stop This Cruelty!

But this book isn’t “about” animal rights (which I’m for) or hum-animal rights, or my right to say anything because I have none and because the flesh exceeds those things. Cruelty doesn’t breed, is neither alive nor dead. I think of the chugging of the meat grinder, where separation is brought to relief and then confused, where is the lance and who is the lancer? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Do Grinders Dream of Minced Steel? Do Pigs Dream of Electric Cabbage?

Do We Dream of Humanoid Sausage? Do Mothers Dream of Farrowing? I ask, all parts blushing, how we can consume so much suffering, have so much hunger, how things like pain and joy are contained when it seems like they should not, when they are just like sounds that hum and have a radius, when they can pass through the skin, through consciousnesses, when insides touch and are turned inside out, is it possible? And then how silent and inert a living thing itself can be, a thing like a machine, whose bangs and sputters are nothing, no soul, no ancestry.

When the animal has no soul and we are the animal. And the pig is the least magical of all the fables’ creatures. They are us when we are naked and ashamed, and full of obvious things. But we don’t recognize our s/kin. (until the fat is transferred, perhaps.)

The first pigs crawled across the hot earth like slugs without shells, still covered in odd places by hard scales. To be contemporary is to be ancient and alien. I think of the epigraph of Berg/Goransson’s Transfer Fat. Hal, our (Plathian) “red eye, cauldron of morning”, the computer’s words, “I – am – afraid.”

Piglet: Help! Help!

But I am the wolf and I am full of stones.