Unread Ully

Somehow, I heard about this idea that Ulysses would be high up in the ranks of books that are either considered unreadable or no-one ever finishes reading it. Why …?
Digging a bit, I found big U high up in various lists indeed, e.g.:

In 2014, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Jordan Ellenberg invented the so-called “Hawking Index,” which uses Amazon e-book highlights data as a proxy for where people stop reading the books they’ve purchased. Some people use the highlight function on the devices and apps, and the unscientific-but-workable “Hawking Index” uses the assumption that if the most-highlighted passages are clustered at the beginning of the book, the book is more likely to have been abandoned. (The name refers to Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, which is ranked up with Ulysses for the dubious title of “most unread book of all time.”) On the other side, books with popular passages marked all the way to the end mean lots of people made it through the entire story.
So on this Bloomsday where does Ulysses truly stack up? Here’s a list of famous books and their scores on the Hawking Index, ranked from most-likely abandoned to most likely-finished.

Book Author HI Score Comment [ed.]
Ulysses James Joyce 1.7% [There it is though I can’t see why]
Les Miserables Victor Hugo 1.8% [Yes, possibly here when Hugo’s characters are like Anne Hathaway]
Capital in the Twenty-First Century Thomas Piketty 2.4% [Come on now, this book’s not even hard!]
Hard Choices Hillary Clinton 4.2% [Understandable; proably no-one has taken the time to try to finish it]
A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking 6.6% [This simply is not difficult]
Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman 6.8% [And this one’s easy for sure!]
Lean In Sheryl Sandberg 12.3% [DR; but did read that other one – Option B thank you – and that one’s easy]
Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace 15.0% [Obscure]
Moby Dick Herman Melville 19.2% [Strange]
Art of the Deal Donald Trump 19.4% [Totally understandable on this list]
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald 28.3% [Huh? Surely you’re joking, mr. Feynman! This is a page-turner!]
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce 29.6% [Joyce again. But not Finnegan’s Wake that also is doable of sorts?]

So, as you can see, if you abandoned Ulysses, you’re hardly alone. Likewise, if you didn’t quite make it through A Brief History of Time, which you maybe thought was brief and readable since it is just over 250 pages, let that weight off your shoulders.

There. But why isn’t Finnegan’s Wake on the list – it may be popular to call that Difficult but hey, we call that merely a challenge, right? It’s doable I can tell you!
And, same, for The Man Without Qualities, where I must say I’m into the third volume but still don’t see why it would be such a difficult read or hard-to-finisher as many have it. Is it because people lack stamina ..!?

Oh well. What’s on your Unfinishable list ..? [Mine’s blank…; ed.] And:

[I have no clue why this particular pic is here; Porta Nigra Trier]

Alasdair MacDuck

Just a Friday’s folly about Alasdair MacIntyre who, in his seminal and, when you’re into it (finally) quite pleasurably readable, After Virtue, has on pp. 243-244 (I have another edition 😉 ) “The name of the common wild duck is histrionicus histrionicus histrionicus.” – apart from this, it also is not true. The Mallard is; Anas platyrhynchos it is.
And now, I do challenge thee – was this ‘error’ on purpose or not, and if so, either to dare you to check it, or to pass off some signal to some kabal that reads his work and had put him under pressure ..? (As may be the reference close-by of secret passwords/passphrases of spies and double agents, and the three spelling errors in the book.)

Now, it’s weekend… plus:
[Now that’s low-light analog-to-digital conversion… decades ago, at Les Ménuires]

Some nuggets for social

Alas,dair MacIntyre may have scared off some readers in the first few chapters of his After Virtue, with reason to not offend the simpletons, the dunces though addressed, as ‘they’. When after a while, the langauge becomes more simple, but the content no less valid. As in:
It is of course that if social science does not present its findings in the form of law-like generalizations [z, sic; ed.], the grounds for employing social scientists as expert advisors to government or to private corporations become unclear and the very notion of managerial expertise is imperilled. For the central function of the social scientists as expert advisor or manager is to predict the outcomes of alternative policies, and if his predictions do not derive from a knowledge of law-like generalizations, the status of the social scientist as predictor becomes endangered – as, so it turns out, it ought to be; for the record of social scientists as predictors is very bad indeed, insofar as the record can be pieced together. … One could go on multiplying examples of the predictive ineptitude of economists, and with demography the situation has even been worse, but this would be grossly unfair; for economists and demographers have at least gone on record with their predictions in a systematic fashion. But most sociologists and political scientists keep no systematic record of their predictions and those futurologists who scatter predictions lavishly around rarely, if ever, advert to their predictive failures afterward. … it is impressive that in not a single class is the predictive power of the theories listed assessed in statistical terms – a wise precaution, … [pp. 104-105]

Since organizational success [shown to be dependent on mass individual flexibility and unpredictability; ed.] and organizational predictability exclude one another, the project of creating a wholly or largely predictable organization committed to creating a wholly or largely predictable society is doomed and is doomed by the facts of social life. [p.123]

The dominance of the manipulative mode in our culture is not and cnnot be accompagnied by very much actual success in manipulation. I do not of course mean that the activities of purported experts do not have effects and at we do not suffer from those effects and suffer gravely. But the notion of social control embodied in the notion of expertise is indeed a masquerade. … The fetishism of commodities has been supplemented by a just as important fetishism, that of bureacratic skills. For it follows from my whole argument that the realm of managerial expertise is one in which what pruport to be objectively-grounded claims function in fact as expressions of arbitrary, but disguised, will and preference. … For claims of this modest kind could never legitimate the possession or the uses of power either within or by bureaucratic corporations in anything like the way or on anything like the scale on which that power is wielded. So the modest and unpretentious claims embodied in this reply to my argument [the above, suggesting malevolent attitudes towards others; ed.] may themselves be highly misleading, as much to those who utter them as to anyone else. For they seem to function not as a rebuttal of my argument that a metaphysical belief in manageral expertise has been institutionalised in our corporations, but as an excuse for continuing to participate in the charades which are consequently enacted. The histrionic talents of the player with small walking-on parts are as necessary to the bureaucratic drama as the contributions of the great managerial character actors. [pp. 124-125]

O-kay, that seems to be enough for now, to consider and ponder, and to weep for your own part in the ‘charades’. How is your defense not a corroberation of the argument ..? Also:

[Actual Class, now bluntly demolished by technobureaucratic pauperminds; Clos Eugénie, Culmont]

Neo is right

When it is about the way The Neo-Generalist, Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin, is:

The Neo-Generalist is both specialist and generalist, often able to master multiple disciplines. We all carry within us the potential to specialise and generalise. Many of us are unwittingly eclectic, innately curious. There is a continuum between the extremes of specialism and generalism, a spectrum of possibilities. …
Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, our society has remained in the thrall of the notion of hyperspecialism. This places constraints on the way weare educated, the work we do, how we are recruited, how our career progression [say what? ed.] is managed [not; ed.], how we label ourselves for the benefit of others’ understanding. …
Our workplaces, governments, intelligence agencies and other communities and institutions constantly complain of silos, but that is an inevitable consequence of our promotion of hyperspecialism. So too the myopia of expertise that prevents us from seeing properly what is right in front of us, or connecting it in meaningful [sic; ed.] ways with other information, other people.
[Preface, almost completely]

The institutionalisation of the label, and the constraints it demarcates, both physical and psychological, is an unfortunate legacy of the Industrial Revolution and its effects on society. The scientific management practices popularised at the turn of the twentieth century retain an insidious hold on how people think and organise themselves for manufacturing and knowledge work, even extending into Healthcare and education. It is a dehumanised and mechanical approach that views individuals not as people with unique charcteristics, knowldge and expertise but as replaceable parts. Their very humanity is occluded by the labels they are forced to bear. We remove this welder and replace them with that welder. When this accountant leaves, we will hire another accountant. Our project managers, nurses, teachers, bus drivers, are considered entirely interchangeable.

In the meantime, however, we have set up a conveyor belt of humanity that is geared towards squeezing people into the correctly shaped holes, ensuring that the label fits. Hyperspecialism is the end goal. … Educational choices made during our impressionalble teen years can have a lasting effect. To select is also to exclude. Opting for certain academic disciplines during high school limits what can be pursued at university or as a trade. For those who aspire to it, a higher-education specialism then narrows workplace possibilities. Qualifications lead to employment, whcih in turn leads to the constraints of a role and job description, the path towards increasing functional expertise. Measurement and performance assessments impel us to sharpen our skill set within the restricted field. The myopia of the expert sets in. The boundaries within which the specialist operates get narrower still.

The funneling has an inevitable consequence: it fosters silo-based practices and behaviours. Corporations, government departments, intelligence agencies and a host of other types of organisations bemoan the disjointness of their departments, the lack of interoperability between IT systems, the hoarding and protection of knowledge. Yet this is the end result of a system that encourages hyperspecialism and narrow, deep expertise. [pp. 24-25]

And so it goes on, with relevance. We may interject a full Book by Quote later, but for now leave it at this and encourage you to Study the work. To weep and learn, how you should not do it. I mean, tag along. Resist!

Oh, plus:

[Cordoníu the Beautiful (~ design by Puig i Cadafalch), San Sadurní d’Anoia Catalunya]