In which Y'r F'thf'll D'r'st records a bit of "academic humor" told first by the renowned wag and ethnographer, Clifford Geertz about cosmology and the order of things.Traveling in Bali, a cultural anthropologist encountered a mahout bathing his elephant in a slow-flowing river.
Engaging the fellow, the anthropologist ("A'ist") pursues his academic quest to discover how the regular people understand their religion, and so inquires of the chap his cosmological views.
"My good fellow, this earth of ours? Where we now stand? Do you know how it stands in the vacuum of the stars?" he asks. The mahout without pausing in his labors replies, "Why sahib, every child knows that the earth is borne on the back of an enormous, celestial Elephant."
The A'ist persists: "Yes, that is true. But, but then, where does the Elephant stand?" And the mahout replies: "Sahib, all men know: the Elephant stands on the back of a gigantic Buffalo. Do they not?"
And the A'ist replies, "Oh assuredly. But then, the Buffalo? Where does it stand?" To which the mahout politely replies, "Why, sahib, the wise ones teach us, the Buffalo stands on the back of a Turtle."
"Ah, yes," the A'ist replies. "But the Turtle????" Says the mahout: "Ah, Sahib! You know how it is? After that, it's turtles all the way down..."