A Trespass of Swine

the Porkopolis blog

Considerations of humanity and hogritude, because an insufficiency of pigs is one of the great faults of all that the gods have made manifest to man.

Memory Hogs

bacon ram

memory hog: a favored term to describe computer processes or hardware that eat more than their share of system’s resources. RAM – random access memory – is the most commonly stolen form of resources in computers.

a paraphrase of several dictionaries of computing

Wrestling with Memory

I have added another pig poem to the Best Loved Poetry section of the Library. Carrie Jerrell’s ‘Pig Wrestling’ interweaves her experiences on a high school pig wrestling team with the human struggle to save memories from being slowly erased by time. Carrie recalls:

…When the bell calls time,
[the hog] twists off in escape, just like those thoughts
that bolt away after their capture, more
alive than when you pinned them for the count.

Popular contemporary descriptions of the bio-mechanical functioning of memory do not mention hogs. But wrestling the hogs of memory is a good description for the struggle of remembering. Daily life often seems to want to eat up more than its share of our attention, our resources.

Praeteritas futures fecundant.
    – The past craps up the future.

Letters: a novel by John Barth

Managing Memories Resources

Our brains are continually occupied in the process of both the purposeful and accidental managing of our memory’s resources. Remembering all that we want to keep requires effort and a formula. There are distractions. The complexity of life, or its monotony can dissolve our resources.

[in Cincinnati]…the very gutters are congested with them, as a the dull monotony of pigs is visible everywhere.

Nicholas A. Woods, a London Times correspondent accompanying the Prince of Whales on his tour of America in September of 1860.

Memories Have to Go Somewhere

Our capacity to remember the amount of data that we do through out our lives, much of it reflexively, subconsciously and without effort, is a formidable accomplishment. Think for a moment about everything you know… More than animal instinct, more than a bio-mechanical process, our memory is the comprehensive, yet incomplete, narrative of our life experiences.

Vast amounts of information are absorbed, ordered and recalled every moment of the day. Yet, all that is overshadowed by lost car keys and forgotten names and whatever else “bolts away” like Carrie’s subdued hog. And we are all sure that those memories have to go somewhere – some hog snuggery, sheltered away from the wind and cold.

Memory pundits suggest we should build an attic in our brains, (not accessible to hogs, I trust) and stock it with stores of personal and regularly useful facts. Then we should let libraries store the perhaps-needed facts where they are accessible if we ever need them.

A library’s presentation is systematically organized and displayed in enticing fashion. Librarians oversee the information and stand at the ready, just like the friendly pork butcher, indiscriminate and eager to serve all.

introduction to the Arnold Ziffel Memorial Library at Porkopolis.org

Ultimately, sometimes desperately, we chase our personal recollections through brainstorms like an Illinois farmer herding his stubborn hogs to shelter before an approaching tornado.

Memory marches backward
Space flows out the door
The mirror face is winking back
At the face before;
How we try to hang in time
Stop the rhythm and the rhyme
But the circle rolls us on
Until we roll no more.

“Ode To A Swine” Convenire cum omni ente by Pamela Silin-Palmer

yahoo memory hog

Mnemonic Devices

‘Random access memory’ sounds to me like a terrific description of the mechanism with which the brain accesses our most necessary recollections. Sporadic sounds good, too. And because memory hogs abound, authors, public speakers and well-meaning workplace supervisors expound on ways to encourage and enhance memory:

Repeat new acquaintances names as we converse with them.
Thanks, Gurth. Everyone said, “Ask Gurth if you want to know about swine.” I appreciate your help, Gurth.”

Assign common images as triggers for recollection.
It’s “Exit #28 South. Swineford Falls” So, 28 was my apartment number in college, South is where I like to vacation and the town name is like, well, no problem…”

Focus on putting stuff away in the same place every time.
“Honey, have you seen the keys to the hog barn? They’re not on the hook by the door.”

Develop routines for repetitive tasks.
“NO! Don’t. Let me wrap up the leftover pork chops and put them in the fridge, or I’ll never find them later…”

Some foods and herbal supplements may affect the brain’s recall processes.
“I eat a lot of SPAM, and I take this great stuff called… Gecko or Ginkgo or Geico… Something like that.”

Forbidden and Forgotten

Evocation is an important component of recollection as well. We speak of elusive thoughts and fleeting memories. Carrie Jerrell calls these, “a cornered memory that’s stuck somewhere between forbidden and forgotten.”

And I believe that everyone, at some point, finds herself desperate to provoke, summon or induce the particular and unique conditions of retentiveness that work in their own brain. And we struggle again and again with that hog to get our fair share of memory resources.

Persuasiveness of Call

These qualities are important factors in enticing a hog away from the shade of a tree, a spot of fresh clover, or a patch of rich rooting-ground and persuading him to trek to the approved feed. Certain terms of endearment or sentiment should enter in, but “honeyed” tones will not add to the score.

Criteria for Judging Hog Calling “The Prairie Farmer” magazine, (1934)

memory lane

Wallowing in the Mud of What There Is

My memory needs are probably fundamental. I want to forget my fears and retain the finest moments of my family and friends. I want to accept that there are translucent fragments of memory drawn in pale ink and that these will always distort the reality of the past. And I want to be selective and efficacious, learning what to forget and wallowing in the mud of what remains without regret.

Yet, if in herds you pen them,
On ‘mast or meadow bloom
Their startling backs will gleam in rows
Against the gathering gloom.

Satisfied, their shapes will hold,
Eternally, they say,
The last, pink glowing memory
Of every sunny day.

“Herding Swine” by Charlie Mansfield

Memories are essential points of departure for the choices we make in our lives. However we see life, most all of it is memory. The exception being that brief present moment that, like a greased hog in a pen, runs by so fast you often can’t catch it. The memories that we can hold on to make us the individuals that we are.

If there is a struggle with memory, it is a collective trait of humanity – keeping what is interesting or important in existence, and recreating it over and over again through time.

Pigs, in fact, do think of time, but metaphysically, and in so doing they doubt that it properly exists. They only know the present is as indefinite as what’s for dinner, the future has no reality other than as a present hope of the next pleasurable indulgence, and the past has no reality other than as a present memory of the last succulent scent or morsel.

What Is Time To A Pig? Porkopolis.org

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.