Precepts to use in everyday life

1. Think for yourself, 2. Be yourself, 3. Speak up, 4. Feel free to agree and disagree, 5. Be honest with yourself and others, 6. Be open-minded, 7. Avoid being judgmental and 8. Question everything - even your own thinking.

TOK Essay Titles May 2019

Friday, December 4, 2009


The Arts (Literature) and Human Sciences (Economics)

In the light of what we've been discussing in recent posts - the idea that we are being nurtured to become consumers (food) and distracted from what's really going on in the world by technological gadgetry (games) - consider this little gem from Roald Dahl: 'The Pig'.

In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn't read.
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn't puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found.
Till suddenly one wondrous night.
All in a flash he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, "By gum, I've got the answer!"

"They want my bacon slice by slice"
To sell at a tremendous price!"
They want my tender juicy chops
"To put in all the butcher's shops!
"They want my pork to make a roast
"And that's the part'll cost the most!
"They want my sausages in strings!
"They even want my chitterlings!
"The butcher's shop! The carving knife!
"That is the reason for my life!"
Such thoughts as these are not designed
To give a pig great piece of mind.

Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland,
A pail of pigswill in his hand,
And piggy with a mighty roar,
Bashes the farmer to the floor…
Now comes the rather grizzly bit
So let's not make to much of it,
Except that you must understand
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland,
He ate him up from head to toe,
Chewing the pieces nice and slow.
It took an hour to reach the feet,
Because there was so much to eat,
And when he finished, Pig, of course,
Felt absolutely no remorse.
Slowly he scratched his brainy head
And with a little smile he said,
"I had a fairly powerful hunch
"That he might have me for his lunch.
"And so, because I feared the worst,
"I thought I'd better eat him first."

Apart from being so much fun, what can we learn from this piece of writing?

Unlike some of us, Pig wakes up to what is happening to him. And how? Well, it's really a tough thing to do, but it seems that he asked the right questions and thought deeply about the answers with that big brain of his. This is extremely hard to do when one is bombarded from all directions by distractions and compelled to consume. And why are we so bombarded and compelled? Presumably to avoid a scenario whereby we do exactly what Pig does: rise up against his conditions and the people that create them. So 'bravo' Pig for his epiphany!

Now, Pig's actions might appear to be somewhat extreme, but wouldn't you act in the same 'grizzly' way if you discovered the truth about what was happening to you? Wouldn't you want to think for yourself against everything else in the world and to resist being turned into (at the risk of mixing the animal metaphor) a sheep?

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