The Basic Structure of In-class Discussion

In brackets I use an example topic. My de facto filler topic, in all such instances where an example topic is required, is the problem of Nicaraguan youth afflicted with ringworm due to dearth of solid footwear. Also, “Blackburn” and “Goldfeldt” are two filler names in lieu of the “scholars” whose pieces we were supposed to read. I’m dead serious. Please keep in mind that I know nothing about footwear-supply issues in Nicaragua. It should become clear that nobody does the reading, which I claim as the explanatory variable for the kind of stoner-type discussion questions. It’s a universally-applicable critique.

Professor: In the readings for today’s class, Blackburn discusses several systemic-stuctural factors impacting access to footwear in Nicaragua, especially among youth. Now, as you know from the reading, unshod children walk through mud tainted with fecal matter, especially near community cesspools. From this mud they contract hookworm, which can lead to anemia and adverse effects on the neuro-cerebral-spinal collective. Goldfeldt claims the existence of cultural barriers which lead to providing shoes to Nicaraguan youth. So, class, my question is why do Blackburn and Goldfeldt disagree? Is there any discourse we can see between the two, or is a synthesis of the two futile because they analyze two different things?

Crunchy Feminist Chick: Before we address any supposed dialogue between Goldfeldt and the, the other guy, Blackwell, I just want to say that I find the imagery of “cesspools” to be reminiscent of colonialist rhetoric of “oh, look at all these poor people and the filthy conditions they live in”. Isn’t it a little patronizing? Aren’t we imputing some value judgment with the word “cesspool”? Might we instead use “unimproved sewage infrastructure”?

Pompous Philosophy Major: Is a cesspool, ontologically speaking, infrastructure? Shouldn’t we say that the set of all human-waste management systems that aren’t cesspools infrastructure? Don’t cesspools precede infrastructure?

CFC: [addressing the class] I disagree with Pompous Philosophy Major’s point. In so far as cesspools are agreed-upon locales for human-waste management… agreed upon by the community. I don’t know. One sec- [checks computer]

Prof: But, you see, we can have this discussion all day over whether cesspools are infrastructure or not, but that’s beside the point. What does Goldfeldt have to say about confluences of socio-cultural cofactors in the genesis of the unshod Nicaraguan conundrum?


Prof.: Silent CompSci Major? We haven’t heard from you all day.

Silent CompSci Major:

2.times ( eyes.blink ) unless .did_reading? “yes”

CFC: Oooh! Oooh! I found it. “Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” I believe cesspools meet that criterion. “Basic” You know?

Self-Proclaimed Wit: [thinking to himself] Does Nicaragua meet the basic criteria for “society” designation?

PPM: Fine, without cesspool “infrastructure”, what do you propose as the alternative? Something that would clearly not be infrastructure?

CFC: Shitting in the streets.

PPM: Touché.

Prof.: All this notwithstanding, can somebody elucidate the dialectic here?

SPW: Of course, this is all predicated on the existence of “streets”.

PPM: What is this thing you refer to when you say “street”?

CFC: [Gives definition]

SPW: Can we really call a collective of Nicaraguans, in this case, a town?

PPM: A village, perhaps?

CFC: Again with the colonialist rhetoric! How oppressive.

Prof.: This is all well and good, but can somebody explain the dialectic Blackburn and Goldfeldt set up here?


SPW: Wait, you’re going to excoriate me for talking about villages?

PPM: Of course, a village, ontologically speaking…


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