Readability, like flies

by CarlD

Shahar and Mikhail are wondering what the levels of readability other than High School and Genius might be, and suddenly I feel there’s some geeky fun to be had with epistemes of readability. I’m thinking along the lines of Foucault opening The Order of Things with the passage from Borges that quotes “‘a certain Chinese encyclopedia’ in which it is written that ‘animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies’.”

Readabilities might look like this, for example:

(a) head scratching, (b) bathroom only, (c) cereal box, (d) hopeless, (e) mirrored, (f) italicized, (g) written with a fingertip in the murderer’s blood, (h) text, (i) drifting, (j) in the style of Proust, (k) not, (l) max characters, (m) in a pinch, (n) waterlogged.

Any other suggestions?


5 Comments to “Readability, like flies”

  1. First of all, I just finished Mirowski’s More Heat Than Light. The book makes at least three explicit Borges references, the last chapter titled “Universal history is the story of different intonations given to a handful of metaphors”, from “The Fearful Sphere of Pascal.” All that Borges tickles pink this former Spanish Lit major.

    With regards to readability, I would suggest: (o) translated from the Latin, (p) written by Socrates, (q) disreputable or disproven, (r) writ in water.

  2. Hi Dan, I gotta remember I can invoke you with Borges! These are all great additions; I especially like (q).

    Your Post-Structuralist, Steampunk SAT Question was fun the same way. I wish more folks had picked up on that one, I was all set to go with more.

  3. (s) tiny smudgy characters which even with your face pressed almost right up against the page still look like flies

  4. Cool, Praxis. Following up on that: (t) smelling ominously of mildew, (u) distorted through poor lenses

    Funny readability story here. I had an acquaintance in grad school who went down to Latin America to research the history of a religious order involved in liberation theology, and discovered himself to be violently, near-fatally allergic to a rare mold that was growing in the boxes his source documents were collected in. He had to do his dissertation research in a gas mask.

  5. Wow. Talk about a steampunk sociologist (or historian). I want to do research that requires a gas mask – then I would be hard core, or centro duro as I used to get mocked for saying.
    Last addendum: (v) inspiring mockery from onlookers.

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