Pedagogy of the Oppressed

After writing the previous entry on Paglia, my roommate reminded me of a scene near and dear to my heart that I couldn’t stop talking about when I first discovered it in Aristophanes’ The Clouds. Rather than keep the joke to myself, I’ll transcribe it:

Hanging on the walls of the Thinkery are various charts, maps, instruments, etc. In the center of the courtyard stand a number of utterly pale, emaciated students deeply engaged in rapt contemplation of the ground.


Great Herakles, what kind of zoo is this?


What’s so strange about it? What do you take them for?


Spartan prisoners from Pylos. But why are they staring at the ground?


They’re engaged in geological research: a survey of the earth’s strata.


Of course. Looking for truffles.

To one of the students.

—You there, don’t strain yourself looking. I know where they grow big and beautiful.

Pointing to other students who are bent completely double.

Hey, and look there: what are those fellows doing bent over like that?


Those are graduate students doing research on Hades.


On Hades? Then why are their asses scanning the skies?


Taking a minor in Astronomy.

Besides the emphasis on burying students heads in the earth, the notion that they might be pigs rooting for truffles is as timely now as it ever was.

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