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Living Out Loud: : A Simple Tale

Questions

By Steven Paul Lansky · April 4th, 2007 · Living Out Loud
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The monks sat on a platform around an open area. They faced outward toward the sea. They were on an island, so each of them faced the ocean. What were they protecting? A village dog. A village dog sat scrunched on her haunches, licking her nipples. Was she pregnant? No one in the village knew, yet a dog knew. He had mounted, penetrated and climaxed on the bitch. Now he wandered the outskirts of the village, unsure of his place.

Some men came and built a wall around the monks. The wall had two doors cut in it. One was so the monks could escape in case of a fire, although no one intended to roast the bitch. A fire warmed the hearth where the dog lay. The other door was intended so more monks could come in and for the pups to exit once they were weaned.

One traveling monk came in and watched the dog deliver eight pups. The monk enjoyed watching the bitch give birth. The other monks kept sitting, facing outward toward the sea. Should the man give the pups names? He did not ask this question. The writer and -- now following along -- the reader, asked this question: The island had more dogs than monks. Was this a good thing? No one knew.

A young woman came by and counted the monks. Then she counted and tagged the dogs.

She was certain that one monk would go, and the dogs would take over the village, even though they counted on the monks to deliver the safety of the pups. She feared that, if she took action to limit the number of dogs, eventually there would not be enough monks to protect the bitches as they weaned the pups.

This is a word problem. How many monks were there? Is there enough information for the problem solver? If so, what is the information? If not, what is the information? Is there a causal relationship between monks and dogs? If so, how do you categorize it? Could this problem be declined by a philosophy student? What about a math student?

What makes a problem declinable? If the teacher presented the problem unclearly, would this be grounds for dismissing the teacher? Disciplining the teacher? If the teacher were a monk, would the problem be more accessible? If the teacher were a dog, would the problem be just another pregnant bitch? Would the dog wandering the outskirts of the village learn to climb aboard a canoe or sailboat? If such a dog were to travel to another island, would he find bitches to play with? Does the use of the word "bitch" to describe a female dog degrade the dog? The reader? The teacher? The writer?

If this problem were to be corrected by an official censor or if the monks decided no one should be allowed to read about this problem, would the problem go away? Do problems go away? If the dog -- the dog that is headed for exile, the stud -- left the island, would this solve the problem? Would the monks still have a reason to sit on a platform facing the sea? What if the island had no natural harbor?

Is this a reason to dismiss the whole discourse? Are you, as a reader, bored with the variety of tomatoes available in your local market? Does the last question have any relevance symbolically or correspondingly to any of the elements of the earlier questions in this story? Is this a story at all?

When the word parable was invented, do you think everyone had a "problem with it"? What would Jesus do with the pregnant bitch? Was Jesus such a nomad and wanderer that he never knew how to grow tomatoes? What if the island had no natural harbor? Is the fire still burning within? No natural harbor.



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