Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Hog Heaven

One of today's thoughts is going to be an excerpt from The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I've taken to spending my free time reading, lately, because the city of Dushanbe is very small, and I've pretty much seen the whole thing. Aside from processing my data set, I have nothing much else to do at night but to snuggle down with a good book. So here's a little snippet about a wonderful place. (If you would like to read this or other good old classic novels for free in the same way that I do, go here.)

"One could not stand and watch very long without becoming philosophical, without beginning to deal in symbols and similes, and to hear the hog squeal of the universe. Was it permitted to believe that there was nowhere upon the earth, or above the earth, a heaven for hogs, where they were requited for all this suffering? Each one of these hogs was a separate creature. Some were white hogs, some were black; some were brown, some were spotted; some were old, some young; some were long and lean, some were monstrous. And each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope and a heart's desire; each was full of self- confidence, of self-importance, and a sense of dignity. And trusting and strong in faith he had gone about his business, the while a black shadow hung over him and a horrid Fate waited in his pathway. Now suddenly it had swooped upon him, and had seized him by the leg. Relentless, remorseless, it was; all his protests, his screams, were nothing to it-- it did its cruel will with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and watched him gasp out his life. And now was one to believe that there was nowhere a god of hogs, to whom this hog personality was precious, to whom these hog squeals and agonies had a meaning? Who would take this hog into his arms and comfort him, reward him for his work well done, and show him the meaning of his sacrifice? Perhaps some glimpse of all this was in the thoughts of our humble-minded Jurgis, as he turned to go on with the rest of the party, and muttered: "Dieve--but I'm glad I'm not a hog!""

After nearly finishing the novel, I think I can correctly interpret Sinclair's not-so-subtle irony. Ultimately, both hogs and people end up the same way: meat.


leah said...

thank you for that uplift to my day jer. now i'll be thinking about the whole meat thing all night.

Pyetlura said...

I pity the unloved hog...your visit to Dushanbe was appreciation...we'll see you again soon!