Rollicks like a plastic pony on my Macintosh keyboard – Oink Oink Oink, MA thesis

oink oink oink

Eric Yoshiaki Dando

Submitted in total fulfillment of the requirements of

the degree of Master of the Arts

Creative Writing of English with Cultural Studies

Faculty of Arts

University of Melbourne

December 2001

Table of Contents

Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… i

Declaration………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. iii

Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… iv

Foreword: Discussion of oink oink oink…………………………………………………………………… 1

BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 14

oink oink oink………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16


oink oink oink explores the lives of a post-human (transgenic) family, some of whom are humans implanted with the genetic material of animals, and some of whom are animals that have been implanted with the genetic material of humans.  As the boundaries between humans and animals erode, so does our relationship with the ‘natural’ components of the remaining ecosystem; breathable air, pure water, fertile soil.

The narrator of the story, Squirly Fern (SF), is of Japanese/ Australian decent; his grandfathers fought each other in World War Two and he is living with his mother in Japan.  At the beginning of the story, he moves to Australia to meet his father, not realising that his father has fallen in love with a transgenic pig and has been ‘stimulating’ the swine in his charge for some time.

Squirly Fern suffers from some form of self-inflicted sleep apnea and cannot tell us his story all at once, he must constantly refresh himself with little snoozes.  A snooze is represented by the dinkus ‘Z Z Z‘ and reminds us of the short attention span of the narrator, but also reflects the short attention span of popular culture to which this novella is directed.

The whimsical narrative is packaged neatly into vignettes, which serve as building blocks.  In this way the formal arrangement of text is similar to my 1996 Penguin publication snail, however in this case the vignettes are untitled and defined only by the ‘Z Z Z‘ dinkus and generous spacing.

Corruption is a major theme in oink oink oink.  The story is set in Melbourne, which over the course of the novella is renamed Circe Central, a chilling alternative present dominated by multi-national corporations.  The ecosystem and the genetic integrity of living things have also been corrupted by these corporations and our language is corrupted by the advertisements for their products.  The  text in oink oink oink is deliberately peppered with product brand names and it is these emboldened brand names emblazoned with the ‘™’ symbol that evoke the sense of a corrupt and corporate evil.

The culture of consumerism in oink oink oink revolves around the consumption of consumer products and the central characters’ addictions to these products.  The most significant products in Circe Central are Sleep™ and Awake™, which serve as euphemisms for narcotic and stimulant drugs.  I want to exorcise the prohibited and demonised drugs of heroin and cocaine and marijuana in some way, by making these products as common-place as coffee and tea and chocolate and cigarettes and alcohol and the myriad legal, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.  oink oink oink portrays many modern products as addictions of our consumer society, so in oink oink oink, Coca-Cola™ and Fisher and Paykel Washmaster 2000™ share the same “™” symbol.  Our perceptions of drugs, or addictions, in ‘polite’ society could possibly be dazzled and confounded by this literary technique.

oink oink oink is the sum of its products, which are distinguished from the rest of the text by their bold type and by the insidious “™” symbol.  If oink oink oink was visual art, it would be an absurd and surreal collage of landscape and portrait using the discarded containers of consumer goods.  oink oink oink is a sieve for ‘corrupted language’, like a river litter trap collecting anthropological clues to a city suspiciously like Melbourne.


I, Eric Yoshiaki Dando , declare

(i) this thesis comprises only my original work except where indicated in the preface,

(ii) due acknowledgement has been made in the text to all other material used,

(iii)  this thesis is 30,000 words in length, exclusive of footnotes, appendices and bibliography.

Eric Yoshiaki Dando


I would like to thank all the good people at Melbourne University, especially Karen Burns for her generous support and patience.

Foreword: Discussion of oink oink oink

The story I have written for this thesis is called oink oink oink.  In its present form it is 25,200 words, spans three generations and is told in the first person by a member of the third generation.  It is an imagined autobiography, comparable in technique to the strategies used by Kurt Vonnegut in his novels Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1983), and Hocus Pocus (1990).  I will address two major concerns of the novella in this essay; the symbolic choices I have made, the significance of their web of associations and the literary techniques I have used.

The narrator of the story, Squirly Fern (SF), is of Japanese/Australian descent: his grandfathers fought each other in WWII.  He moves to Australia to meet his father, not realising that his father has fallen in love with a transgenic pig, named Paula. The corruption of the individual in society is a central theme of oink oink oink.  Here in the alternative present of Circe Central, a greedy, slothful transgenic pig threatens to dominate the narrator’s father, to gradually transform him into a pig, both physically and emotionally.   SF reveals himself to be part swine.  In the first part of this essay I will discuss some of the symbolism of this post-human, part animal analogy.

When SF arrives at his father’s house it is known as Ashburton, Melbourne.  As the novella develops, the place names change; Melbourne is renamed the city of Circe and Ashburton is eventually swallowed by Circe Central’s  business district.  The last part of oink oink oink is set in a possible near future, or an alternative present, or a parallel world similar to our own, like the parallel worlds of The Simpson’s or The Flintstones, or even The Jetsons.  Circe Central becomes a battery farm for drug addicted post-humans.  The drug Crikey™ in oink oink oink has parallels to the suicide clinics in Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green (1973).  A world dominated by pigs is not far away from the world depicted in Franklin Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes (1968), with genetic engineering replacing mutation from atomic fallout.   We are shown similar horrors with plastic surgery in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1984).  The Dream Machine in oink oink oink has connections to David Bowie’s magic dream ball in Labyrinth (1986).  A general feeling of paranoia is borrowed from Boris Segal’s film The Omega Man (1971), although much of this paranoia is my own.  The monkey theories of SF’s father, relating to masturbation are pure Desmond Morris, from The Human Zoo (1969), and The Naked Ape (1967).

The theme of gluttony in oink oink oink revolves around the consumption of Sleep™ and Awake™ by both humans and post-humans.  The central characters are addicted to one or the other.  The humans and post-humans and the drugs they consume are controlled by the government.  I am exercising the demonised drugs of heroin and cocaine and marijuana, by associating them with coffee and tea and chocolate and cigarettes and alcohol and the myriad of legal over the counter pharmaceuticals.   Each of these products shares the ™ symbol within the pages of oink oink oink.  Coca-Cola™ and Fischer and Paykel Washmaster 2000™ also share this ™ symbol, suggesting all modern products are hopeless addictions of a consumer society.  Our perceptions of drugs (or addictions) in polite society may be questioned by this literary technique, which increasingly draws attention to legally sanctioned and corporately owned products as the novella develops.

Having made Sleep™ and Awake™ into products, it was difficult to use words like ‘sleeping’ and ‘woke’ and ‘wake’ and ‘slept’.  I had the temptation to use Awoke™ and Slept™ but this would disrupt the integrity of the corner I have painted myself into.  Strangely, it is these very constraints that challenged and inspired me to generate new text that did conform to the laws and structures within oink oink oink.

The corruption of human DNA in oink oink oink, particularly when mixed with swine DNA, symbolises the fall of man, the darkness of his heart; a territory explored by George Orwell in Animal Farm (1945) and William Golding in Lord of the Flies (1954).  oink oink oink uses symbols comparable to the symbolic techniques I used in snail for the corruption of the individual.  In snail there was the repetition of weevil infestations, weevils in the blood sugar, symbolising chemical imbalances that create psychosis.

In Animal Farm, George Orwell uses pigs as symbols for gluttony and greed, but also for intelligence and cunning diplomacy.   On the surface, Animal Farm is a simple story and can be read to children of seven or eight; a group of talking animals revolutionise a small farm, they drive out the humans and learn to read and write.  The pigs assume control and become meaner than the humans.  The humans and the pigs join forces and co-operate to dominate the other creatures.  They begin to resemble each other, the characters are transformed from men into pigs, from pigs into men and back again.  The pigs and the humans are like mirrors reflecting each other.  The deceptively simple children’s story becomes a bleak study of political systems in a controlled state, the group dynamics of allegiance, betrayal and the pack mentality.

In Lord of the Flies, a group of schoolboys crash-land on a deserted island somewhere in the Pacific.  Ostensibly, it is a schoolboys’ paradise.  Without adult supervision, they organise themselves into a tribe and live a self-governed idyllic lifestyle.  The boys gradually shake off civilisation and behave like animals.  They enact inhuman deeds against each other, but first they practice these deeds on the population of wild pigs on the island.  Fear of the unknown and political squabbling lead to murder and dark ritual.

Like Golding and Orwell, I play with the mythic and symbolic ambiguity of swine: demonic and unholy, yet soft and yielding.  Unclean and slothful, yet clever and resourceful.  Golding even names his porkiest and most sophisticated character Piggy.  Is this because we are human animals, no better or worse than pigs, or cows, or chickens?  This is one of the questions explored in oink oink oink.

As well as invoking the duplicitous and gluttonous aspects of swine, my novella consciously draws on the tradition of coding swine as feminine.  Swine enjoyed a golden age in the pre-history of Europe, revered and honoured in sacrifice to fat and stumpy goddesses.  These goddesses were often represented with the head or hind quarters of a sow, with between three to six pairs of breasts.  Large hips and buttocks were valued then, unlike western culture today.   Cultures still exist today, in the South Pacific, New Guinea and other places where physical symbols of fertility (such as child bearing hips and huge bottoms) are valued.  Of course in oink oink oink, Paula is a genetically engineered pig, so her body was designed to be in vogue today and therefore has tiny little hips.  Sex is no longer required for procreation in Circe Central.  Child bearing hips are no longer necessary as babies can be produced (in oink oink oink at least) in surrogate wombs, by robots and computers.

One of the major sources of the feminine swine tradition remains The Odyssey (1AD). I have focused on episode X of The Odyssey where Odysseus and his crew are shipwrecked on Circe’s island after battling with the powerful Cyclops.  They have had many adventures and they will have many more, but it is their adventure on the island of Circe that concerns us here.  Tired, hungry and in need of general repair, a group of men wander off in search of food and wood.  They come to the palace of Circe, and are greeted by tamed lions and tigers and bears, which fawn about them.  These are bewitched sailors from other ships, doomed by Circe’s trickery never to speak like men again.   One man, Eurylochos, runs back to the broken ship to tell Odysseus, as the rest of his expedition feast on Circe’s drugs and are magically changed into pig men by a wave of her wand.  On the way to save his crew, Odysseus, wearing his boar’s tusk helmet, meets Mercury, who gives him a magical herb to protect against the sorcery of Circe.  The name of the herb is molly.  In oink oink oink, SF finds solace at the home of Molly, who is apparently addicted to the opposite drugs that SF consumes.  Molly is SF’s protective muse, his magic unquantifiable herb of peace and light.  Odysseus battles with the wits and magic and beauty of Circe, but her piggery magic will not work when he is holding the magic sprig of molly.

The metamorphosis of Odysseus from a man into a pig is mirrored by SF’s father in oink oink oink.  Homer’s Odysseus forces Circe to change his crew back into human shapes, but instead of leaving the island when they can, they stay for a year and enjoy the complete hospitality of Circe: eating, drinking, fornicating.  They were busy men.  They had things to do, they have an entire odyssey to complete.  How long do they spend there swilling her wine, gorging themselves on banquets and orgies?  Twelve months. There must have been confusion about who was a pig and who was a man.  They regain human form but act like gluttonous hedonistic swine.  Circe wins by default.  True, Odysseus leaves, eventually, when reminded of his quest by members of his crew.  This detail is full of comic potential and rollicks like a plastic pony on my Macintosh keyboard, via the metamorphosis of SF’s father who replaces his liver (damaged by gluttonous amounts of Sleep™ and Awake™) with a pig’s liver and is encouraged by Paula to replace his heart and have plastic surgery to make his nose more like hers.

George Orwell and William Golding play around with the theme of animality in  Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies, as do I in oink oink oink by exploring the relationship between humanity and the natural world in a climate of genetic engineering, blurring the boundaries between humans and other animals.  Perhaps this is why Squirly Fern’s stepmother is a transgenic pig, allowing me to delve into the half-life of the nuclear family, the mutations and turbulent dynamics of the step-family.  Paula is the collective step-parent and SF is the collective step-child.  They play out a horrible soap opera. This struggle has already been enacted in popular fairy tale and myth, Stepmothers have been coded as archetypically evil, as in the stepmother figures in Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and Cinderella. Transgenic post-human stepmothers can only heighten the mythic tension.  It may be ‘natural’ for a transgenic stepmother to eat the young of another, even more ‘natural’ to eat her own young while in captivity and so on.

The ambiguity of Paula is represented in the image of Paula as a modern Circe, bewitching and transforming men.  Circe is the goddess of love gone wrong, the patron saint of unnatural love.  The novella is partly inspired by the bawdier original versions of The Odyssey.  Reputedly the word for ‘pig’ (choiros) is interchangeable with the word for ‘cunt’ in ancient Greek and Homer took full advantage of this with bawdy puns and double entendres that are missing in the translations of episode X I have read.  Perhaps calling a woman ‘a bush pig’ is only reaffirming the Ancient Vegetation Goddess within her, though I would not recommend it.   Perhaps The Muppet’s Miss Piggy is merely a modern echo of the once great and powerful sow fertility cults

Swine can also be encoded textually as masculine symbols;  boars can symbolise masculine sun power, while the sow may symbolise the feminine lunar cycle.  Male and female, black and white, sun and moon, good and evil, night and day.  Opposites and equals, we can learn so much from them.  We seem to equate pigs with the feminine in colloquial Australian English, but it is always derogatory.  For example, ‘I porked a big fat bush pig.’  Although we do have a limited masculine derogatory vocabulary, ‘He was a big fat male chauvinist pig…pig headed…making a pig of yourself.’

The meanings behind these sexualised swine symbols have been perverted in recent years, from fertility to uninhibited lust blurring the traditional heterosexual associations of swine.  Remember the legendary line from the rape scene in John Boorman’s film Deliverance (1972), ‘I wanna hear you squeal like a pig boy.’  There is something very primordial stirring here.  I haven’t seen the film but do I need to?  The scene has been retold to me many times and grows more horrific in the retelling, it swells on the barbeque of my imagination.  ‘I wanna hear you squeal like a pig’ has sunk into the songs of our popular culture.  The line appears in the Nine Inch Richards’ song about bestiality I Wanna fuck you like an Animal(1997), which in turn lampoons The Nine Inch Nails’ song Closer (1994).  Don’t worry, the line doesn’t appear anywhere in oink oink oink, but the feeling is there. There is a joke amongst farmers that is lost here on paper:  to fuck a pig, you need to put its back legs inside your gumboots so it can’t get away.  It’s a joke that gets mumbled as a horrific distraction between chores maybe, but I don’t know – in every joke there is an element of truth, otherwise, it wouldn’t be funny.  The joke – if that is what it is – equates pigs with sexuality and fertility, however horrific and debasing the equation.

Popular culture is both revolted and attracted by the power of male swine as symbols of masculine authority in myth and movie.  Police are known as pigs in street slang on over three continents. Police are represented as pigs in cartoons, such as the pig police in Fritz the Cat (1972), or Chief Wiggam on The Simpson’s, who closely resembles a pig and is characterised as one.  I, too, toy with the nuances of pig/police in oink oink oink, there is a police force populated by actual transgenic pig people, they guard a flock of valuable flying pigs.  When pigs fly, anything is possible.  I will discuss these myths in relation to oink oink oink.

After collecting stories, myths and fairy tales involving pigs, such as The Three Little Pigs and the Circe myth, I used them to generate new ideas by bundling the main themes together in my subconscious.  As well as referencing the swine imagery discussed above, the novella also cites quite openly, this body of swine stories.

So, for example, the Warner Brothers’ animated interpretation of The Three Little Pigs story (where the wolf ends up playing the trumpet with the little pigs) is referred to in oink oink oink.  SF narrates this tale:

the first book i learn to read is the three little pigs.  my father gives it to me.  the thing you have to know about the three little pigs is that they live in little houses.

the first one lives in long grass for a while.  the second one lives in a hedge.  the third little pig is very clever, he builds a house out of bricks and the three of them move in together and form a ragtime jazz band.

there is a mad dog that wants to eat them out of house and home.  he tries to blow down their house with his breath, he huffs and he puffs but nothing happens.  he climbs down their chimney, but slips and falls into a pot of boiling water.

i think i know what three little pigs would do with a boiled dog.  pigs are omnivorous, pigs will eat anything, pigs will eat turds, pigs will eat their own babies.

The novella resonates with these references, layering the cultural representations of swine.

In the second part of this introductory essay I will discuss some of the techniques used in oink oink oink and the visual, aural and oral effects created by them. The most striking technique apparent to the reader upon reading the first page is the use of lower case.  My choice of lower case is linked to my interest in concrete poetry and the symbolic force of letters that resonate back to our prehistoric past.

My favourite poets, PiO, Vasco Popa, Michael Leunig and ee cummings, all have a leaning for concrete poetry and use lower case letters to great effect.  They often use patterns of text to create levels of meaning, which are established slowly, in a magical, intuitive way.  snail has a style of concrete poetry in the arrangement of the short vignettes of lower case text, as does oink oink oink.

I’m not sure Penguin Books, who published snail, were really truly sold on the idea of concrete novels.  I know now that the Police know more about these phenomena than Penguin Books – I should have talked to them first.  I tried to enthuse Penguin Books about the simple beauty of the lower case ‘i’ in the first person narrative.  The way the dot in the ‘i’ could represent a human eye, or the dot on top of the stick of the ‘i’ could resemble a little man with a circle for a head and a stick for a body.  I mean, if you want it to- if you can open yourself up to the possibilities of concrete poetry.  Some people can’t and that’s okay.  I feel that the lowercase humbles the narrator just that little bit more, on a sub-atomic level.  It brings the reader closer to the smaller things in our microcosmos.

In the internet chat rooms, if you type in capital letters, it is said that you are shouting.  I suppose there is nothing wrong with shouting but my narrators (SF and Snail) have so far been humble, quiet types.  Perhaps I will write a story about an angry old man that shouts at everyone, entirely in capital letters.  It would have to be a short story.

In 1989 the Police were switching from uppercase to mostly lower case on their Police vehicles and stationery to appear less intimidating and more friendly to the public.  They paid a team of people to come up with this theory.  They now wished to be known as the ‘Police’, instead of the more threatening ‘POLICE’. (Note the big capital ‘P’ towering over the ordinary letters in ‘Police’ on any Police car or helicopter, these lower case letters represent you and me.)  They didn’t realise how scary it had been for people.

Of course this is absurd, if the Police wanted to seem less oppressive they shouldn’t shoot so many people.  The Police know the power of upper/lower case concrete poetics; so do the poets: e.e.cummings and Vasco Popa and Michael Leunig and PiO.  In snail, POLICE was the only word intended (by the author at least) to be in capitals, but this wish was not able to be realised.

I still use capital letters, on special occasions.  In oink oink oink, capital letters seem to be associated with evil forces.  This gives products and companies, like McDonalds and Coca-Cola added emphasis and dimension in the novella, as each brand name ends with the uppercase symbol ‘™’.  There are very few trademark words in the early pages of oink oink oink, recalling a golden age of consumer innocence.  As the narrative unravels, however, the brand names and trademarks insinuate themselves into the text, building a world out of products, brand names, catch-phrases, repetition.  oink oink oink also explores the power of the ‘™’ symbol currently placed at the end of words and phrases and the concept that companies or individuals now claim some sort of ownership of them, just as similar companies now own certain types of plants and animals.

I hope that the carefully placed product trademarks will become repressive by cluttering up the page and intimidating the other words; polluting the purity of the god text.  These evil capital letters are typeset by the devil.  The leftover words, with their magnificent lower case letters are owned by the people.  

As well as the repetition of brand names and trademarks, I have impregnated oink oink oink with certain repetitious catch-phrases.  I use ‘made out like a bandit’, ‘jerked off into outer space’, ‘stupid, crazy’ and ‘crazy, stupid.’  In snail the repetition of ‘weevils in the sugar’ serves as a similar device.  Kurt Vonnegut uses ‘and so it goes’ in Slaughterhouse Five, (1970) but even more so in his other first person narratives, such as Deadeye Dick and Jailbird.  J.D Salinger uses ‘it kills me.’ in Catcher in the Rye (1951).  This network of repeated expressions, catch-phrases, key words or onomatopoeic sounds, create a matrix within the text, sometimes where no other connections exist.

The language in oink oink oink chases its own tail.  I make stencils and models and then try to corrupt them and expose them as the mechanical systematic nightmares that they become.  I encourage repetitious sentences to have lives of their own, to mutate independently.

I thought one word titles were interesting in 1996; I liked the look of one word on its own, the economy of it.  I liked the sound of it.  oink oink oink, is a one word title repeated three times, perhaps inspired by the repetitious nature of advertising.

Simple English has an infectious musical quality, when re-jigged by skilled word scientists such as Dr Seuss.  Written with a limited vocabulary of 28 words,  Cat in the Hat (1958), showcases his experiments:

“Look at me, look at me, look at me now.  It’s fun to have fun, you have to know how.”

Note the repetition of ‘look at me now’, the energy and momentum build to a conclusion, like a spring unwinding.  I pay homage to this particular “Seuss-ism” in oink oink oink.

the focus is on having fun.  that’s the most important thing right now.  it’s fun to have fun, you have to know how.  we go to the Melbourne zoo to look at the monkeys. I say that i would rather look at the butterflies but my father wants to look at the monkeys.

I have been experimenting with repetition, especially the repetition of onomatopoeic words ‘spoken’ by animals.  Paula often uses a volley of these words to make fun of lesser animals such as when she is taunting the neighbour’s dog:  ‘is that the only word you know, woof woof woof.’   Of course paula repeats the taunt three times which makes us wonder if they are the only words she knows.

On a trip to the “country”:

paula walks up to them with a twig and pokes it into the mouth of one of the cows, ‘moo-moo to you too, you dumb fucks.’

and this when she is stroking her familiar:

she leans down and whispers in its ear, ‘meeow.’

‘meow.’ says the cat.

‘oh, you’re a clever cat.  yes you are.  oh, you’re so clever.’ says paula back to the cat.

Note the repetition of ‘clever’, the subversion of the previous structure each time it is repeated.  These pieces of text have common links in structure, but there are revolutions going on.  There are also evolutions of structure.  Here I have slightly changed the structure by doubling it, (2×3=6):

‘what’s wrong s.f,  you look tired.  can’t you Sleep™?  what’s up, rats in the roof?  squeak, squeak, squeak.  squeak, squeak, squeak.’

Here Paula causes a volley of onomatopoeic language in her seafood sacrifice to her new progeny (3×3=9):

paula comes home with a bucket of lobsters to celebrate.  that’s them tapping on the pot as their last time ticks out.  tap, tap, tap.  tap, tap, tap. tap, tap, tap.

And this at the breakfast table:

‘you know, i’m so hungry right now that i could eat a horse.’

Part of the experimentation with repetition occurs through the use of anthropomorphic language.  English turns of phrase involving animals resonate back to agricultural pre-history, or sometimes even further back to hunting and gathering days.  But what has become of this natural world portrayed in oink oink oink? Nature has been exploited and copyrighted, and sold offshore, bottled in test tubes, fiddled with.  In a modern world devoid of tangible links with nature, these cliche phrases become chilling echoes of our once harmonious connection to the natural world.

We often use animals to describe our behaviour, or situation, or place in the world.  We can be as busy as bees, cunning as foxes, horny as a box of rabbits and so on.  Here are three turns of phrase involving pigs and the improbable: pigs arse!  When pigs fly!  Telling porky pies.

SF and also Snail, use this anamorphic language when making contact with the natural world and so a framework of subverted cliche develops within the fabric of symbolism.  In snail, I deliberately used animorphism to symbolise various aspects of character; Snail has an affinity with snails and the shape of the snail shell is also the fundamental shape of the universe, as is the shape of a fern uncurling behind the name of SF.

Employing a first person vernacular narrative affords opportunities to subvert common turns of phrase, including anamorphic language.  This gentle anamorphism is used at a level below the surface which becomes comically obvious when reploughed as mixed metaphor, often suggesting a feeling of melancholy: ‘and it’s raining.  cats and dogs. sheets of them.’  Note the volley of punchy sentences, mixing metaphoric cliches while simultaneously subverting them.  There is a fine line between this and a bad pun.  Remember, mixing metaphors is something that everybody tells you not to do.  And also they tell you not to start a sentence with ‘and’, and to use capital letters at the start of a sentence.  I suppose the puns are carefully hidden in that they are not used as punch lines, but as phantoms of multiple meanings.  Perhaps I imagine myself having two audiences.  One for each layer of meaning; one layer for the balcony and one for the floor.  The general feeling of these sentences is often profound but pedestrian.  It is welcoming text, the ambiguity makes it easy for the reader.  It can mean whatever the reader thinks it means, like sculpture or water color can mean different things to different people at different times.

The overall effect could be described as ‘slippage’, a writer’s alchemy using homonyms to create deliberate ambiguity within a menu of possible meanings.  Sometimes slippage may be hard to quantify, looming with spirits and ghosts and phantoms.   For example, ‘tear’ can have the multiple meaning, if used eloquently, of ‘tearing’ and ‘crying’.  SF are the initials of Squirly Fern, but the letters also trigger a response for Science Fiction somewhere in our sub-conscious.

The repetitious anamorphic onomatopoeic language used in oink oink oink is intentionally connected to the form and content of the imagery and symbolism of pig-humans and human-pigs.  They are presented as deliberately inseparable, signaled to the reader immediately in the title, oink oink oink.  The strategic use of uppercase letters and ‘™’ symbols, the repetitious use of brand names within the vignette structure, are other techniques that build this strange parallel future world, where nothing is quite as it once was.



Morris, Desmond, The Naked Ape, (Johnathan Cape, London 1967).

Morris, Desmond,  The Human Zoo, (Johnathan Cape, London, 1969).


Dando, Eric, snail, (Penguin Books, Melbourne, 1996).

The Odyssey Of Homer, translated by Richard Lattimore (Harper and Row, New York, 1965).

Salinger, JD, Catcher in the Rye, (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1951).

Seuss, Dr, The Cat in The Hat, (Collins, London, 1958).

Orwell, George, Animal Farm, (Secker and Warburg, London, 1945).

Golding, William, Lord of the Flies, (Faber and Faber, London, 1954).

Vonnegut, Kurt, Slaughter-House Five, (Johnathan Cape Ltd, London 1970).

Vonnegut, Kurt, Jailbird, (Johnathan Cape Ltd, London, 1979).

Vonnegut, Kurt, Dead Eye Dick, (Johnathan Cape, London, 1983).

Vonnegut, Kurt, Hokus Pokus, (Johnathan Cape Ltd, London, 1990).


Boorman, John, Deliverance, (Warner Home Video, 1972).

Gilliam, Terry, Brazil, (Thorn EMI, 1984).

Schaffner, Franklin, Planet of the Apes, (Fox Video, 1968).

Henson, Jim, Labyrinth, (CEL Entertainment, 1986).

Segal, Boris, The Omega Man, (Warner Home Video, 1971).

Fleischer, Richard, Soylent Green, (CEL Entertainment, 1973).


Groening, Matt, The Simpsons, (The Tracy Ulman Show, April 19th, 1987).

Hanna, W. and Barbera, J., The Flintstones (ABC, 1960).

Hanna, W. and Barbera, J., The Jetsons (ABC, 1962).

Crumb, R. and Bakshi, R., Fritz the Cat, (Roadshow Entertainment, 1972).

The Three Little Pigs, (Warner Brothers).

The Three Little Pigs, (Walt Disney).


Superintendent Mike, Trippella Lik Lik Pik, (Australian Broadcasting Commission, date not listed.)

Walt Disney’s story of the Three Little Pigs, (Walt Disney Productions Inc., 1965).

Nine Inch Nails, “Closer”, The Downward Spiral (Atlantic Recording Corp., New York, 1994).

Nine Inch Richards, “I Wanna Fuck You Like an Animal”, Closer to Hog, (Leaving Hope Publishing, Australia, 1997).


One Response to “Rollicks like a plastic pony on my Macintosh keyboard – Oink Oink Oink, MA thesis”

  1. […] also uploading plenty of his new work, and the essay on his latest book, oink oink oink is a must read. his poetry is incisive and deceptively simple, and there’s a wonderful story […]

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