physical size and voice pitch: biology of physical versus social advantage

silverback gorilla

Among non-human primates, females compete physically and aggressively.  For example, pairs of female chimpanzees have been observed snatching and eating other females’ infants.[1]  Females killing other females’ infants, while discussed much less than male infanticide in the scholarly literature, has been observed in over 50 species.[2]  Females also engage in group physical aggression:

In social primates, aggressive exchanges often involve kin of the principal protagonists. In vervet monkeys, adult females who have been displaced from food sources may seek out and attack their displacer’s relatives. In macaques, members of different matrilineal groups ally with each other and individuals that have been displaced or attacked by members of another matriline commonly respond by attacking a vulnerable member of the aggressor’s matriline. [3]

The general understanding that females are less physically aggressive than males is true for humans.[4]  But that’s not true for all female animals.

Human adult males on average are larger than human adult females.  Across twenty-two small-scale societies for which data are available, a man is typically 7.4 kg heavier and 10.7 cm taller than a woman.[5]  That means in a direct physical confrontation, all else equal, a man is likely to have an advantage over a woman.  Humans are highly social, highly communicative animals.  Communication is valuable for organizing and coordinating coalitions and prevailing in conflicts.[6]  In conflicts between multi-party antagonists, women’s communicative superiority to men becomes more important.

Men’s larger physical size relative to women has a communicative cost.  A larger vocal organ makes a lower frequency sound.  Across animal species, lower frequency sounds are associated with competition for dominance and hostile interactions.  Higher frequency sounds cause less distress and are more associated with affiliative behavior.[7]  Men on average have much lower pitch voices than women do.[8]  This sex dimorphism in vocal pitch implies that, all else equal, both women and men prefer supportive communication with women.  In societies in which persons predominately value and remember how persons made them feel, women’s higher average voice pitch is a biological advantage.

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Notes:

[1] Pusey, Williams & Goodall (1997).  High-status female chimpanzees have significantly greater reproductive success than low-ranking female chimpanzees.

[2] Digby (2000) p. 429.

[3] Clutton-Brock & Parker (1995) p. 211.

[4] Archer (2004) pp. 302-5.

[5] Calculated using data in Walker et al. (2006), Tables 2 and 3.  Given values calculated based on the median of sex ratios, evaluated at median male figures (weight 55.6 kg, height 158.5 cm). As id., p. 305, notes, male growth rates are less plastic across societies.

[6] Owings & Morton (1998), pp. 101-4, discusses vocal communication as a substitute for fighting with large muscle movements.

[7] Id. pp. 105-25.  Puts, Gaulin & Verdolini (2006).

[8] An average value for the fundamental frequency of human speech is 120 Hz for men and 210 Hz for women. At the fundamental frequencies, this difference amounts to about 10 semitones. The standard deviation for male and female fundamental voice frequencies is about 3 semitones. Traunmüller (1995) p. 1.  In ordinary life, adult voice pitch is a good sex determinant.

References:

Archer, John. 2004. “Sex Differences in Aggression in Real-World Settings: A Meta-Analytic Review.” Review of General Psychology 8(4): 291-322.

Clutton-Brock, T. H. and G. A. Parker. 1995. “Punishment in animal societies.” Nature 373: 209-216.

Digby, Leslie. 2000. “Infanticide by female mammals: implications for the evolution of social systems.” Pp. 423-65 in Carel P. Van Schaik and Charles H. Janson, eds. Infanticide by males and its implications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Owings, Donald H. and Eugene S. Morton. 1998. Animal vocal communication: a new approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pusey, Anne, Jennifer Williams and Jane Goodall. 1997. “The Influence of Dominance Rank on the Reproductive Success of Female Chimpanzees.” Science 277(5327): 828-831.

Puts, Andrew David, Steven J.C. Gaulin and Katherine Verdolini. 2006. “Dominance and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in human voice pitch.” Evolution and Human Behavior 27: 283-296.

Traunmüller, Hartmut and Anders Eriksson. 1995. “The frequency range of the voice fundamental in the speech of male and female adults.”

Walker, Robert, Michael Gurven, Kim Hill, Andrea Migliano, Napoleon Chagnon, Roberta De Souza, Gradimir Djurovic, Raymond Hames, A. Magdalen Hurtado, Richard Kaplan, Karen Kramer, William J. Oliver, Claudia Valeggia and Taro Yamauchi. 2006. “Growth Rates and Life Histories in Twenty-Two Small-Scale Societies.” American Journal of Human Biology 18: 295-311.

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Baghdad to Rouen: Warner’s cosmopolitan literary ambition

About the year 1000, eastern Eurasia arguably had a higher level of social development than western Eurasia.  Moreover, within western Eurasia, Normandy was then far from the leading centers of civilization.  The largest cities in western Eurasia about the year 1000 were Córdoba, Constantinople, and Baghdad.  The largest had a population about 200,000.  London then had a population of less than 25,000.[1]  Rouen, the leading city of Normandy, had much less developed culture than London.  Yet Warner, writing in Rouen early in the eleventh century, produced poetry that measures up to the outrageous urbanity of leading Abbasid literary provocateurs.  The only plausible reason for Warner and others producing big-city work in a remote, small town is cosmopolitan literary ambition.

wild man like Moriuht

One of Warner’s poems is a satirical Latin poem concerning an Irishman named Moriuht.  Warner dedicated this poem to Archbishop Robert of Rouen and the Archbishop’s mother.  This poem isn’t the sort of work one now might imagine being written for a leading cleric and his mother.  The poem declares:

This slow-witted Moriuht, named from the origin of death, … in his own eyes lives as a grammarian.  Scholar, rhetorician, geometer, painter, scribe — let him be all things to you; for me he is Caper himself!  For he knows more about his own goat’s cunt than what force dialectic carries, or the nature of geometry’s power. [2]

The phrase “scholar, rhetorician, geometer, painter, scribe” is a quote from a Roman satire of Juvenal, written about 900 years earlier.[3]  The phrase “let him be all things to you” plausibly parodies 1 Corithinians 9:22.   The word caper means “a stinking, randy goat.”  It was also the proper name of a second-century grammarian.[4]  These learned references contrast sharply with the reference to “his own goat’s cunt.”

Moriuht overflows with sexual activity.  Vikings capture Moriuht, piss on his bald head, and anally rape him.  Moriuht is then sold to nuns.  He vigorously and promiscuously services sexually the nuns.  People catch Moriuht having sex with a nun, beat him, and sell him as a slave to a widow.  Moriuht then vigorously has sex with the widow.  He earns his freedom through that work.  While searching for his wife, who was also captured by Vikings, Moriuht has sex with “countless young men, nuns, widows, and married women.”[5]  Moriuht was a man of strong, independent, transgressive sexuality.  Celebrating such sexuality in learned writing isn’t a modern academic development.

Warner’s poem attacks Moriuht’s merits as a poet.  The poem includes insults directly addressed to Moriuht:

Your mistress {the widow} held you dear because of the performance of your dangling penis. This man {Virgil} was valued in Rome for the beauty of his poetry.  He earned his lands because of the nobility of his great verse.  You gained your liberty by fucking her stiffly erect clitoris.

Contrasting Virgil’s poetry with fucking would be unusual in any discourse.  It’s particularly amazing to find in eleventh-century Norman Latin poetry.  While the poem describes Moriuht’s verses as “worthy of little pages made of shit,” is also links such crude insults to sophisticated technical discussion of poetic meter:

You goat!  May you completely eat the cunt of your nanny-goat and, in equal measure, her sexual organs and her buttocks, before the wise poems of our Virgil disappear and before {the syllables} “fo” and “mo” have two tempora {poetic beats}, as well as {the syllable} “fex.” [6]

What did the Archbishiop and his mother think of this?  In addition to coarsely presented sexual activity, Moriuht also includes sacrifices to heathen gods that succeed in producing magical effects.  Who would have appreciated such learned, scurrilous, blasphemous writing in eleventh-century Rouen?

While some Baghdadi sophisticates cherished such writing, Rouen was far from Baghdad.  In the twelfth century, an English chronicler writing a history of Normandy declared that, prior to about 1042, “scarcely any Norman spent his time in liberal studies.”  The chronicler observed:

the Normans, who issuing from Denmark were more addicted to the pursuit of arms than of learning, and up to the time of William the Bastard {1066} devoted themselves to war rather than reading or writing books. [7]

The English chronicler in part seems to be putting forward a claim that post-Norman-conquest England conquered her rude conqueror culturally.[8]  But to be effective such a claim must have been at least plausible.  Careful study of eleventh-century Latin culture at Rouen indicates that “the court at Rouen was by no means an artistic desert.”[9]   Moriuht makes sense as a niche product within a highly developed social-cultural field.   The court at Rouen surely was not such a field.

Moriuht’s manuscript context suggests little interest in the work, but provides closely related poems.  Moriuht survives in a codex written in Caroline minuscule, probably late in the eleventh century in eastern France, perhaps in Metz.  The contents of the codex:

  • 1  blank flyleaf
  • {missing} toponymic work: “provinces, jurisdictions, mountains, rivers”
  • {missing} Vita et actus Tirii Apolonii (Appollonius, King of Tyre)
  • 2r-9r  Warner, Moriuht
  • 9r-11v  Warner, Runaway Monk, a satiric verse dialogue between Warner and a runway monk of Mont-Saint-Michel
  • 11v-27r Pseudo-Plautus, Querolus (a comedy composed in Gaul c. 400)
  • 28r-30r anonymous, satiric, dialogic poem Jezebel
  • 30r-32r anonymous, satiric, dialogic poem Semiramis
  • 33r-33v text describing rules for making organ-pipes
  • 34r-34v blank, except for table of contents written in the 14th century [10]

The missing works, which are listed in the table of contents, apparently were cut away from an earlier binding of the codex.[11]  A note added to the table of contents declares: “They were robbed and cut away by perverse and iniquitous people.”[12]  Moriuht, Jezebel, and Semiramis have survived only in this codex.  Those works apparently were rarely re-copied and weren’t useful or interesting enough to steal.  Moreover, the disparate bundle of works in the codex suggests cultural circumstances in which highly sophisticated literary works were rare.

Moriuht, Runaway Monk, Jezebel, and Semiramis are closely associated, learned literary works.  Consider some lines from Jezebel:

Whence do you come, Jezebel? – From the foul prison of Babel-Babylon.

What do you have to do with Nazareth? — Much, for my bush is in bloom.
Why have your buttocks swollen? — From a sow’s udder.
What power keeps you laughing? — Practice as a prostitute.
For what do you search above all? — Priapus, in a hundred whorehouses.
What do you seek constantly? — To be mounted, pressed down.
What do you desire least? — People chaste in body. [13]

Like Moriuht, Jezebel couples coarse sexual explicitness with academic allusiveness.  For example, the Latinization of Nazareth means flower.  The word for bush resonates with vagina and the sumac bush, which was believed to constrain heavy menstruation.[14]  Moriuht, Runaway Monk, Jezebel, and Semiramis casually invoke pagan gods and acts blasphemous to Christians.  All four feature poetically sophisticated dialogue in leonine hexameters.  Moriuht and Runaway Monk contain dedications identifying their authors as Warner.  The anonymous Jezebel and Semiramis, if not also authored by Warner, seem to have been authored by someone with a very similar cultural and literary orientation.

Plausible immediate social and political contexts for these works further narrow their local audience.  An interpretation of Jezebel’s now highly obscure opening lines suggests that Jezebel is a satire on Ælfgifu of Northampton.[15]  Ælfgifu was King Cnut’s concubine prior to his marriage with Emma of NormandyHarold Harefoot, Ælfgifu and Cnut’s son, reigned as King of England from 1035 to 1040.  Semiramis seems to be a satire on Emma’s marriage to King Cnut, who killed her former husband King Æthelred II.[16]  The figure Semiramis stands for Emma, the horned adulterer for King Cnut, and the augur for Emma’s brother, the Archbishop Robert of Rouen.  In Semiramis, Archbishop Robert in the figure of the augur appears “weak, pompous and rather pitiful.”[17]  Emma as Semiramis, like Moriuht, has strong, independent sexuality:

Never did any courtesan on earth burn more fiercely than wanton Semiramis, taking her paramour from the fields: it was a bull found to be adulterer in Ninus’ reign.  If a queen sought out a rude bull among the vetch, why did a heifer not wear the royal crown? … Such lewd disorder spread from Babylon.  What prostitute in the whole world could have been more debased? … The woman who took Babylon has submitted to the bull.  One of many, she crushed the city, alone she had crushed her modesty. [18]

While Semiramis provides mythic justification for her behavior, doubting rationalizations of a woman’s behavior was possible before our age of enlightenment.  Emma probably wouldn’t have been interested in patronizing, praising, and disseminating the work of Semiramis’ author.[19]  Appreciation for Warner and closely associated poets who wrote work like Moriuht, Runaway Monk, Jezebel, and Semiramis could easily have been politically dangerous in eleventh-century Normandy.

Warner and any other poets among the authors of Moriuht, Runaway Monk, Jezebel, and Semiramis apparently imagined an audience like that which existed in the high Arabic literary culture of the Islamic world.  While Old French fabliaux feature coarse, explicit sexual acts, they lack the literary sophistication of Moriuht, Runaway Monk, Jezebel, and Semiramis.[20]  Moriuht mixes crude sexual references with technical discussions of grammar.  Runaway Monk mixes satire on vocational infidelity with a technical discussion of music theory.[21]  Al-Jahiz (ninth century Baghdad) and al-Maʿarrī (died 1056 in Aleppo) provide good models of such work within the Islamic world.[22]

Moriuht, Runaway Monk, Jezebel, and Semiramis have a broad geographic scope of literary interest.  In addition to references from Latin ecclesiastic culture and Greco-Roman culture, they also refer to pagan Danes, Swabians, and Numidians.  Jezebel in the Hebrew Bible was the non-Jewish princess of Tyre before she became Ahab’s queen.[23]  Semiramis was a legendary Assyrian queen.  Both Jezebel and Semiramis refer to Babel/Babylon.  Those references may have had some contemporary literary resonances.  Buttocks are of particular sexual interest in Moriuht and Jezebel.[24]  Buttocks were also a prominent focus of sexual interest in Arabic literature.  Rouen is known to have attracted foreign scholars, including scholars from Italy.[25]  Perhaps Rouen also attracted some scholars from the world of Arabic literature.

Cosmopolitan literary ambition best explains Moriuht, Runaway Monk, Jezebel, and Semiramis being written in eleventh-century Rouen.  The complex literary allusiveness and crude sexual explicitness of these works indicates niche products in a highly developed literary field.  Possibilities for patronage, praise, and distribution of such work in eleventh-century Rouen, or even across Normandy and England, were very narrow.  Warner and perhaps other closely associated authors seemed to have imagined themselves writing at the forefront of literary culture of their time.  That cosmopolitan ambition would have encompassed literary creativity in Córdoba, Cairo, and Baghdad.

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Notes:

[1] According to calculations based on the best available evidence, the East had higher social development than the West from 550 GC to 1750 GC.  Morris (2010) Graph 60, p. 193; p. 199.  The historical city size estimates, except for London, are from id. pp. 110, 112.  Other estimates for population c. 1000 GC are 1,200,000 for Baghdad and 450,000 for Córdoba.

[2] Moriuht, ll. 49-54, from Latin trans. McDonough (1995) p. 75.  No specific information about Warner is known outside of the text of the poems Moriuht and Runaway Monk.  Warner almost surely wrote those works within the vicinity of Rouen.  Where Warner was born isn’t known.

[3] Juvenal, Satire 3.76, cited in McDonough (1995) notes, p. 125.

[4] Id. notes, p. 126.

[5] Moriuht, l. 173, trans. id. p. 85

[6] Moriuht, ll.185-8, 338, 447-9 trans. id. pp. 85, 95, 103 (previous three quotes).

[7] Orderic Vitalis, Historia Aecclesiastica, Book 4, 2:250-1, Book 3, 2:2-3, trans. Chibnall, relevant lines given in Ziolkowski (1989) pp. 38-9.

[8] Cf. Horace, Epistles 2.1.156: “Captive Greece took captive her rude conqueror and brought the arts to rustic Latium.”

[9] Ziolkowski (1989) p. 39.

[10] Adapted from id. pp. 28-30, which also provides the judgment of dating and geographic provenance.  The codex is Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 8121A.  Three scribes wrote the codex:

one wrote folios 2-27, another folios 28-32, and a third folio 33.  The hands of the first two scribes resemble each other closely.  The hand of the third scribe differs from the first two, but nonetheless seems to belong to the same milieu.

Id. p. 29.

[11] McDonough (1995), p. 64, observes that following the blank flyleaf are “remains of two leaves that have been excised.”  More than two leaves undoubtedly were needed to hold the toponymic work and Apollonius, King of Tyre.   Evidently the codex originally had more gatherings at the beginning.

[12] Ziolkowski (1989) p. 29.

[13] Jezebel, ll. 8, 12-17, from Latin trans. Ziolkowski (1989) p. 75.

[14] Id. notes, pp. 90-1.

[15] Galloway (1999).

[16] Van Houts (1992)

[17] Id. p. 21.

[18] Semiramis, ll. 5-9, 11-12, 16-17, from Latin trans. Dronke (1970) p. 71.  Van Houts (1992) p. 21 states, “Throughout the poem Semiramis is pictured as a strong, intelligent and brisk woman.”

[19] Id. p. 23 notes of Semiramis:

The author should surely have sought anonymity, not so much to avoid the anger of Emma and her new husband, as to protect himself against reproaches from Emma’s children and to remain in favour with the ducal family and in particular with Archbishop Robert.  The primate of Normandy can hardly have been pleased by his caricature as an effective pagan necromancer.

[20] Cf. McDonough (1995) p. 53.

[21] Id. p. 66.  Ziolkowski (1995), p. 32, summarizes Runaway Monk (Warner Satire 2).

[22] For the latter, see Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī, Risālat al-ghufrān, from Arabic trans. van Gelder (2013).

[23] 1 Kings 16:31.  Jezebel was the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidions.  That made Ethbaal King of Tyre and Jezebel a princess of Tyre.  Perhaps the connection through Tyre helped to motivate the inclusion of Apollonius King of Tyre in the codex.  The plot of Moriuht is also similar to events in Apollonius King of Tyre.

[24] Jezebel ll. 13, 44, 47, 56, 60, 99, 103.  See also note to l. 56, Ziolkowski (1989) pp. 113-4.  Moriuht ll. 22251-44 declares:

all the way up to his buttocks {he was} naked.  And to relate further, his genitals were visible in their entirety, and the black hairs of his arse and groin.  In addition, his anus also constantly gaped so openly when he bent his head and looked down on the ground, that a cat could enter into it and rest {there} for an entire year, passing the winter in company with his consort cat, that in the vast forest of his groin a stork could build its nest and a hoopoe could have a place of its own.

A reviewer of Ziolkowski (1989) complained:

Remarkably, the concept of misogyny is barely acknowledged by Ziolkowski (he occasionally cites it at second hand), and the word “gender” is missing from his otherwise exhaustive commentary.  This curious blind spot ….

Nelson (1995) p. 446.  The more insightful concept of men’s literature of sexed protest has now replaced the misandristic concept of misogyny.  Jezebel could be interpreted as a burlesque of a pious scholar incapable of dealing with the learned guile of a vicious, sex-obsessed woman.   The Old French fabliau La Saineress provides a variation on that theme.

[25] Ziolkowski (1989) p. 40.

[image] Kniender Wild Man, bronze with lacquer patina13.1 x 8 x 5.5 cm, originally attached to a chandelier, 2nd half of 15th century, Frankfurt, Museum of Arts and Crafts. Thanks to Wikipedia.

References:

Dronke, Peter. 1970. Poetic individuality in the Middle Ages: new departures in poetry, 1000-1150. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Galloway, Andrew. 1999. “Word-play and political satire: solving the riddle of the text of Jezebel.” Medium Aevum. 68 (2): 189-208.

Van Houts, Elisabeth M.C. 1992. “A Note on Jezebel and Semiramis, Two Latin Norman Poems from the Early Eleventh Century.” The Journal of Medieval Latin. 2 (1): 18-24.

McDonough, Christopher J. 1995. Warner of Rouen. Moriuht: a Norman Latin poem from the early eleventh century. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

Morris, Ian. 2010. Social Development.  ianmorris.org

Nelson Janet L. 1995. Review. Ziolkowski (Jan M.). Jezebel. A Norman Latin Poem of the Early Eleventh Century. Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire. 73(2): 444-7.

Van Gelder, Geert Jan. 2013. Classical Arabic literature: a library of Arabic literature anthology. New York: New York University Press.

Ziolkowski, Jan M. 1989. Jezebel: a Norman Latin poem of the early eleventh century. New York: P. Lang.

Wednesday’s flowers

purple flower in sea of green leaves

Madonna Filippa ridiculed moralizing formalists

portrait of Italian noblewoman imaginatively representing Madonna Filippa

In Boccaccio’s Decameron, the story of Madonna Filippa explicitly sets up righteous moralizing.  The story begins with a description of a legal statute.  Such descriptions have been fodder for moralizing formalists from the enactment of Hammurabi’s code to the present.  The male story-teller declares the statute to be “no less reprehensible than harsh.”  Then, from his position of moral superiority, he describes it:

a statute … that condemned women taken in adultery to be burned alive, making no distinction between one whose husband caught her with her lover and one who was doing it with somebody for money. [1]

The story itself begins with Madonna Filippa’s husband Rinaldo having discovered her in their bedroom in the arms of a man from an enemy family.  Rinaldo didn’t kill either Madonna Filippa or the man: “it would have been unlawful for him to kill her.”  Laws have commonly allowed a husband to kill a man having sex with the husband’s wife if caught in the act.[2]  Killing men is of much less public concern than is killing women.  The story of Madonna Filippa ignores the fate of the man committing adultery with Madonna Filippa.

Law in action cannot be understood merely by quoting statutes.  Rinaldo denounced Madonna Filippa.  He had her summoned to court.  Her friends advised her to dodge the law:

though many of her friends and relations discouraged her from doing so {obeying the summons}, she was firmly resolved to appear in court, confess the truth, and die bravely rather than flee like a coward and live in exile because she had defied the law

Exile apparently was an alternative to being burned alive under law.  Exile isn’t currently offered as an alternative to the death penalty in U.S.  Between 1973 and 2010, the U.S. executed 1,220 men and 12 women.[3]  Men  in practice have always been much more likely to be subject to the death penalty.  A woman being executed under law is a sensational story.  A man being executed under law is normal practice.

The judge felt pity for Madonna Filippa.  He counseled her about how to avoid the death penalty under the adultery statute:

My lady, as you can see, your husband Rinaldo is here, and he’s lodged a complaint against you, alleging that he caught you committing adultery with another man.  Consequently, he’s demanding that I punish you according to the requirements of a statute that’s in force here and have you put to death.  I can’t do that, however, unless you confess.  So, be very careful now about how you reply, and tell me if what your husband accuses you of is true.”

The judge obviously was encouraging Madonna Filippa to lie.  Instead, she truthfully confessed that she had committed adultery.  She rejected the usual law in action for women.

Madonna Filippa instead presented formal arguments.  She declared:

laws should be impartial and should only be enacted with the consent of those affected by them.  In the present case, these conditions have not been met, because this law applies only to us poor women who are much better than men at giving satisfaction to a whole host of lovers.  Moreover, when it was passed, not only were there no women present to give their consent to it, but since then, not once have they ever been consulted about it.  And that’s why, for all these reasons, it could with justice be called a bad law. [4]

Madonna Filippa was a noblewoman and well-known in her city.  Across medieval Europe, most men were peasants, day labors, and vagabonds.  Property and criminal law was not impartial between nobles and peasants.  Most men had no opportunity to consent to the laws that applied to them, nor were they ever consulted about those laws.  Madonna Filippa’s invocation of “us poor women” should generate derisive laughter.  Yet such remarks don’t do so even in similar circumstances today.

Perhaps frustrated with those too obtuse to recognize the joke, Madonna Filippa turned to a more outrageous joke.  Madonna Filippa declared that she had always fully satisfied her husband sexually.  In response to the judge’s inquiry, her husband affirmed that fact.  Madonna Filippa then declared:

If he’s always obtained what he needed from me and was pleased with it, what was I supposed to do — in fact what am I to do now — with the leftovers?  Should I throw them to the dogs?  Isn’t it much better to serve some of them up to a gentleman who loves me more than his very own life than to let them go to waste and have them spoil?

Madonna Filippa’s argument quotes in Italian translation the first part of Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to dogs.”  In the Latin Bible pervasive in fourteenth-century Europe, the relevant text is “Nolite dare sanctum canibus.”  In the context of elite theological discourse or courtly love, “sanctum” was a term used for a woman’s body.[5]  In addition, Madonna Filippa’s argument resonates with Jesus mocking his disciples in Matthew 15:21-28.  That joke also has largely been lost.  At a cruder level, serving up Madonna Filippa’s leftover sexuality to dogs suggests bestiality.  The celebrity Madonna of the late twentieth-century U.S. seems to have understood the outrageous sexual suggestion of Madonna Filippa better than have learned Boccaccistas.[6]

In a pattern popular from ancient times to the present, Rinaldo leaves the courtroom “utterly abashed” and Madonna Filippa returns home “in triumph.”  The large crowd at the trial rose in unison to support the woman:

they immediately shouted in one voice that she was right and that it was all well said.  Then, at the suggestion of the podéstà {judge}, before they left, they modified their cruel statute, restricting it so that it only applied to those women who betrayed their husbands for money.

That odd, remaining second provision of the statute encourages more thoughtful interpretation.  What’s the difference between a married woman betraying her husband without monetary return and a married woman betraying her husband for money?  A married woman might commit adultery for money because she loves her husband and her husband desperately needs money.[7]  That’s love in the mercantile spirit of the Decameron.  She might also commit adultery for her own personal, material interests.  That’s simply the mercantile spirit of the Decameron.

The story of Madonna Filippa evokes superficial moralizing for rich humor.  A leading male professor of Romance literature, introducing in 1982 what became the most popular English translation of the Decameron, declared:

if they {readers of the Decameron} want to hear a true spokeswoman of “women’s lib” avant la lettre, let them attend to saucy Filippa of Pisa (VI, 7). [8]

Many readers have followed that line.  Madonna Filippa, in arguing before the judge deciding her fate, was more funny, more crude, and more sophisticated than many readers in our enlightened age.  The interpretive history of the story has augmented its humor.

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:

Notes:

[1] Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, Day 6, Story 7, from Italian trans. Rebhorn (2013) p. 494.  All subsequent quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from id. pp. 494-6.

[2] Under the Roman law of Augustus, a husband catching his wife in the act of adultery with a man could kill the man, but not his wife.  Similar statutes persisted in U.S. states until the 1970s.  Punishment for adulterous wives in Boccaccio’s time was typically much less severe than death.  Pennington (1977) p. 902.

[3] Streib (2010) p. 3.

[4] Knowledgeable persons in medieval Europe recognized women to be sexually more capable than men.

[5] Rebhorn (2013) notes,  n. 3, p. 907.

[6] The singer Madonna’s 1992 book Sex included a photograph suggesting Madonna positioning herself to have a dog lick her vagina.

[7] A wife makes such a suggestion in the Old French fabliau Le sacristain ou Du segretain moine (The Sacristan Monk).  For discussion and references, see note [1] discussing that fabliau.

[8] Introduction by Thomas G. Bergin, Sterling Professor of Romance Languages Emeritus, Yale University, in Musa & Bondanella (1982) p. xxx.  The introduction subsequently appeared in Signet Classics editions of 2002 and 2010.  Boccaccio’s text of the story contains three instances of “Madonna Filippa.”  It never uses the name “Filippa of Pisa.”  At the time of the story, Madonna Filippa lived in Prato.  A scholar has recognized common misunderstanding of the story:

Most importantly, although Madonna Filippa has become famous as an example of Love giving courage and bravery to a woman, Boccaccio used her only as a vehicle: the joke is the important element of the tale, not the characters.

Pennington (1977) p. 905.  The joke goes beyond the tale.  Consider Brown University’s Decameron Web.  It features a page entitled, “Madonna Filippa (VI.7): Feminist Mouthpiece or Misogynistic Tool?”  Many academics today seem oblivious to alternatives to such a dichotomy.  The story of Madonna Filippa has serious points: gynocentrism and social rationalization.

[image] Portrait of a Woman, c. 1590, painting by Alessandro Allori, Italian (Florence, Italy 1535 – 1607 Florence, Italy), thanks to Harvard’s Fogg Museum.

References:

Musa, Mark and Peter Bondanella, with an introduction by Thomas G. Bergin. 1982. Giovanni Boccaccio. The Decameron. New York: New American Library.

Pennington, Kenneth. 1977. “A Note to Decameron 6.7: The Wit of Madonna Filippa.” Speculum. 52 (4): 902-905.

Rebhorn, Wayne A., trans. 2013. Giovanni Boccaccio. The Decameron. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Streib, Victor,  2010.  “Death Penalty for Female Offenders, January 1, 1973, through October 31, 2010.”  Death Penalty Information Center website.

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COB-96: Cobra Effect highlights Bureaucratic Golden Rule

British civil servants in colonial India were troubled by the prevalence of cobras.  Without drawing up a strategic plan or having a series of meetings to begin asking questions about possibilities for reducing the cobra population, some renegade British bureaucrats established a bounty for every dead cobra.  The industrious Indians began turning in to the British bounty-payers a large number of dead cobras.  The enterprising Indians did so by establishing cobra farms to raise a large number of cobras.  Without proper meetings and document production, the British then decided to stop paying bounties on cobras.  So the cobra farmers shut down their operations and released all their cobras into the wild.  The net effect of the British program to reduce the cobra population was to greatly increase the cobra population.  This story generated the term “Cobra Effect.”  However, some doubt whether the story of the Cobra Effect is true, because no documentary evidence exists of the British cobra bounty program.

Indian cobra

The bureaucratic lesson is obvious.  No new initiative should take place without a formal strategic plan, a large number of meetings, and the creation of an extensive documentary record.  More generally, an action can bring about the opposite result from the intended effect of the action.  That’s why world-class bureaucrats avoid doing anything if at all possible.  If you do something, the results could be worse than doing nothing.  If there’s any possible doubt about the effects of action, don’t do anything.  That’s the Bureaucratic Golden Rule.  The Bureaucratic Golden Rule is much more practically important than the Cobra Effect.

In other bureaucratic issues this month, Dick Lipton found a mistake on the wall of a Bell Phone Company exhibit at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.  The Bell exhibit was entitled “From Drumbeat to Telstar.”  It took visitors on a narrated, moving-chair ride through communications history from drumbeats and smoke signals to the Space-Age present.  While traveling through this exhibit, Lipton saw on the wall a part of the quadratic formula with a missing superscript for squaring b.  The letter is the first letter in bureaucracy.  The Bell System, a leading bureaucracy, forgot to square the b.  Is it any wonder that the Bell System’s Picturephone, displayed at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, was a flop?

Parker Higgins received a copyright take-down notice for his use of the famous “Houston, we have a problem” line from the Apollo 13 flight.  As a US government work, that recording is public domain.  Hence the copyright take-down notice looks like an instance of copyfraud.  Higgins observes:

The real problem is that we’ve bought into the rhetoric and the arguments that an unauthorized use is an unacceptable use. As a result our online services have looked less like the public platforms we want, and more like policed spaces where any activity can be interrogated for its papers, please.

Bureaucrats are against violations of rules.  Copyfraud violates rules, so bureaucrats are against it.  But bureaucrats need to have rules for everything so that they can figure out if something is against the rules.  Unauthorized use reduces the importance of producing documents, lowers the employment of bureaucrats, promotes innovation, encourages change, and reduces the number of meetings people have to attend.  Unauthorized use should not be authorized.

Kevin Poulsen reports that a guy has a trademark including the symbol pi.  The trademark owner had his lawyer send a cease-and-desist letter to a t-shirt seller who was selling t-shirts containing the letter pi.  The t-shirt seller then banned the use of the symbol pi on any t-shirt it sells.  If such actions continue, the effects on mathematics journals could be devastating.  The Carnival of Bureaucrats calls on a committee to be formed to study the question of the legal status of common use of the mathematical symbol pi.  Since trademark law is extremely complex, the committee should include leading bureaucratic lawyers from the trademark bar.  It should study the issue for a few years and produce detailed recommendations on how to deal with trademarks on pi and other mathematical symbols.

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats.  Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here.  Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.

human vocal communication and humpback whale songs

The social environment is highly relevant to the evolution of human communication capabilities.   Human communication evolved through primates living in groups.  Living in groups creates opportunities for synchronized physiological states, cooperative predator defense, coordinated food acquisition, diffusion and inheritance of behavioral innovations, and exchange of goods such as food, sexual activity, and grooming.  Living in groups also creates opportunities for individual and coalitional action to shift the distribution of food, mating, and physical risks among group members.[1]  Communication capabilities have evolutionary significance both for cooperation and competition within social groups.

15 humpback whales bubble-net fishing

Relative to other animals, humans have greater social complexity and engage in more complex communication.  Consider, for comparison, humpback whales.  Humpback whales work together in role-differentiated teams to feed upon schools of fish.[2]  Male humpback whales also engage in behaviorally elaborate mating competition that includes complex vocalizations (songs).[3]  The coding bandwidth required to communicate a male humpback whale song, however, is roughly fifty times less than the coding bandwidth required to communicate spoken English.[4]  Many organisms are social and communicate with each other in a variety of forms.  Humans form intricate social groups and communicate with each other vocally at a much higher coding complexity per unit time than do other animals.

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Read more:

Notes:

[1] Mitani (2006) describes the importance of differences in group demographics for differences in chimpanzee behavior.  He notes that demographic context has often been overlooked as a cause of intraspecific behavioral variation.  Laskowski & Pruitt (2014) recently established the importance of group demographics for spider personality.

[2] Such behavior is called bubble-net fishing.

[3] For a review of knowledge about humpback whale song, see Parsons, Wright & Gore (2008).

[4] Humpback whales on the Hawaiian breeding ground communicate in song at 0.6 bits/unit, with 2.5 seconds/unit, giving 0.24 bits/second.  Suzuki (2006) pp. 1860, 1862.  Australian humpback whales migrating away from their breeding ground had coding bandwidth about a third less than the Hawaiian whales.  Miksis-Olds et al. (2008) p. 2391.  I calculate the bandwidth of spoken English as 69 bits/second, based on 1 bit/letter, 5 letters/word, and 200 words per minute.  These figures should be understood as rough approximations.

[image] 15 humpback whales bubble-net fishing off the coast of Alaska on 18 August 2007.  Thanks to Evadb and Wikipedia.

References:

Laskowski Kate L., and Jonathan N. Pruitt. 2014. “Evidence of social niche construction: persistent and repeated social interactions generate stronger personalities in a social spider.” Proceedings. Biological Sciences / The Royal Society. 281 (1783).

Miksis-Olds Jennifer L., John R. Buck, Michael J. Noad, Douglas H. Cato, and M. Dale Stokes. 2008. “Information theory analysis of Australian humpback whale song.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 124 (4): 2385-93.

Mitani, John C. 2006. “Demographic influences on the behavior of chimpanzees.” Primates 47: 6-13.

Parsons, E.C.M., A.J. Wright, and M.A. Gore.  2008. “The Nature of Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) Song.”  Journal of Marine Animals and Their Ecology 1 (1): 21-30.

Suzuki, Ryuji, John R. Buck and Peter L. Tyack. 2006. “Information entropy of humpback whale song.” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 119(3): 1849-1866.

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Wednesday’s flowers

two orange flowers against wooden grate

hair samples from first 14 US presidents thanks to John Varden

hair samples from first 14 US presidents, collected by John Varden

Hard-headed practical types tend to question the value of work such as an analysis of the twelfth-century Syriac Book of Medicines.  What’s the point?  Who cares?  Of what use is that knowledge?  Enlightened persons know that pursuit of knowledge is based on faith.  True scholars must have faith in the value of knowing.

Consider the work of John Varden.  Varden was a leading nineteenth-century American promoter of public knowledge.  In 1836, he opened the Washington Museum, a one-room museum in his own home in Washington, DC.  Varden invited the public to view his collection of thought-inspiring artifacts such as ostrich eggs, the jaw bone of a porpoise, a stone in the shape of a potato, winged insects from India, etc.  In 1841, to gain the support of a much larger institution, Varden sold his collection to the National Institute for the Promotion of Science.  The National Institution for the Promotion of Science displayed its collection to the public at no charge in the palatial National Gallery of the US Patent Office.  Varden became an employee of the National Gallery of the US Patent Office.  Varden’s job title has been variously described as curator and janitor.[1]  Titles don’t matter to true scholars.

While working to maintain the collection at the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, Varden in 1850, on his own initiative, established a hair collection.  He collected hair samples from “persons of distinction,” including US presidents.  Varden’s hair collection includes hair from the first 14 US presidents, as well as hair from Senators Henry Clay and Jefferson Davis, Generals Winfield Scott and Sam Houston, Professor Samuel F.B. Morse, a telegraph pioneer, and sculptor Clark Mills.[2]  Others collected hair less systematically.  An author recently noted:

On one occasion in 1842, for example, {former President Andrew Jackson} entertained some two hundred schoolgirls, who according to one reporter, “procured so many of his snow white locks as to give his head the appearance of having just passed from the hands of the barber.” [3]

Most such hair samples probably have been lost.  Moreover, hair samples from historically important, well-defined populations are rare.

Varden’s collection of hair samples can now be recognized to be potentially an enormous contribution to knowledge.  With advances in molecular analysis, hair can provide important biological information.  Varden’s hair collection may enable study of the health of the first 14 US presidents.  Moreover, DNA may exists in small skin fragments attached to the hair.  Varden’s collection may enable DNA typing of the first 14 US presidents.  In addition, technologies for DNA transfer are advancing rapidly.  In the difficult and uncertain future that the US faces, bringing back to life George Washington may become feasible for next-generation US leadership.

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Notes:

[1] Bird (2013) p. 19.  Other information about Varden in the above paragraph is from id. pp. 19-27.

[2] The hair of the presidents was originally included with the hair of persons of distinction.  On the back of a separate display of hair samples of persons of distinction is a note:

Hair of Presidents of the United States with other Persons of Distinction / Prepared and arranged by John Varden, February, 1853 / N.B. Those having hair of Distinguished Persons / will confere a Favor by adding to this Collection.

Id p. 173, note for p. 130.  Varden was thus a pioneer in crowd-sourcing.

[2] Id. p. 130 (doesn’t provide a specific reference for the quotation).  A framed lock of Andrew Jackson’s hair from 1845 exists.  Its provenance is better documented than Varden’s sample. Id. pp. 128-9.  A lock of Sir Walter Scott’s hair in 1832 is also available with specific information about provenance.  Id. pp. 94-5.

[image] Hair of the Presidents, Washington D.C., 1855, from the collection of the U.S. National Museum of American History.

Reference:

Bird, William L. 2013. Souvenir nation: relics, keepsakes, and curios from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. New York: Princeton Architectural Press in association with National Museum of American History (U.S.).

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ingegno and romance: tale of a wool-whacking pirate

ingegno doesn't make love

In the last story of Decameron Day 2, Dioneo fakes a fight about sexual symmetry.  Sexual symmetry characterizes ancient Greek romances.[1]  Championing sexual symmetry, Dioneo disparages the day’s previous story and objects to men pedestalizing women.  He points out:

the stupidity of Bernabò and of all those other men who believe the same thing that he apparently did, namely, that when they go about the world, enjoying themselves with one woman here and another there, they imagine that the wives they left at home are just sitting on their hands.  Albeit things turned out well enough for Bernabò, we, who are born and grow up and live our lives surrounded by women, know what it is they really hanker for. [2]

Shrewdness, opportunism, and guile in pursuing earthly desires (ingegno) is prevalent throughout the DecameronIngegno figures importantly in both the story involving Bernabò and the story Dioneo tells.  Rather than presenting a dispute about sexual symmetry, together those stories burlesque sexual symmetry as a generic convention.

In the day’s previous story, Bernabò and other Italian merchants were on a business trip in Paris.  Some of the merchants rationalized having extra-marital sex by believing that while they were on business trips, their wives similarly played around.  Bernabò did not express interest in an opportunistic sexual affair.  Moreover, he declared his wife’s virtue and her manly merits:

{Bernabò said his wife} possessed not just all the virtues that any woman should have, but even many of those that knights and squires must have. … it was impossible to find a squire or servant, as we would put it, who could wait at a gentleman’s table better or more skillfully than she could, for she was a model of intelligence, discretion, and good manners.  After this, he praised her for being better than any merchant at riding a horse, and at reading and writing and doing accounts.

Bernabò’s wife Madonna Zinevra was in fact chaste.  Moreover, she proved true Bernabò’s praise of her manly virtue.  In cross-dressed disguise, she distinguished herself in high-level manly service to the Sultan of Egypt.

The story involving Bernabò differs from an ancient Greek romance only in a few, significant details.  The story is largely derived from the literary tradition of romance and involves a typical courtly recognition scene.[3]  Boccaccio, however, substituted merchant men for the noble men in romance.[4]  In Boccaccio’s version of the tale, Bernabò’s fellow merchant Ambruogiuolo questioned Bernabò’s belief in his wife’s virtue.  Bernabò got angry.  His anger prompted him to accept a commercial deal.  Ambruogiuolo proposed that he would attempt to seduce Bernabò’s wife.  If he succeeded, Bernabò would pay him 5000 gold florins.  If he failed, he would pay Bernabò 1000 gold florins.  They wrote up a formal contract to this effect and signed it.  Tests of fidelity are common in romance.  But in romance, those tests never entail a monetary exchange written up in a commercial contract.  Ingegno inserted into romance is a distinctive feature of the story involving Bernabò.

Dioneo’s story is generically a mirror image of the story involving Bernabò.  Dioneo’s story turns on a beautiful young woman being abducted at sea by a pirate.  That is a typical plot element of romance.  The rest of the story, however, is completely unlike romance except for a narrow aspect of sexual symmetry.

Dioneo’s story emphasizes the understanding of chivalry before the rise of European romances.  Before European romances turned chivalry into men’s self-debasement and self-harm in service to women, chivalry meant a man always being ready and capable of satisfying his wife sexually.  In Dioneo’s story, a beautiful, young woman named Bartolomea was married to wealthy old man, Messer Ricciardo.  Messer Ricciardo was a judge and a scholar.  He lacked virility and only barely managed to consummate his marriage.  He used honoring saints as an excuse to shirk his chivalric duty to his wife.

After the pirate Paganino abducted Bartolomea, he easily gained her warm affection with his sexual vigor.  Paganino, whose name suggests pagan, treated Bartolomea honorably, like a wife.  He lived with her in his home in Monaco.  Paganino evidently was a pirate who enjoyed ordinary domestic life.  One day Messer Ricciardo appeared in Monaco to attempt to ransom his wife.  Bartolomea espied him and informed Paganino of how she planned to deal with her husband.  Bartolomea, like Bernabò’s wife, could deal with difficult circumstances.

Bartolomea behavior was a model of ingegno.  When her husband Messer Ricciardo appeared, Bartolomea pretended not to recognize him.  Messer Ricciardo then asked Paganino for permission to speak with her in private.  Paganino granted that request on the condition that he “not try to kiss her against her will.”  Messer Ricciardo, judge and scholar, addressed his wife in the style of a man with his head in his chest:

“Oh, sweetheart, my soul mate, my angel, do you still not recognize your Ricciardo now, your Ricciardo who loves you more than life itself?  How is it possible?  Can I have changed so much?  Oh, light of my life, just take another little look at me.”

The lady started laughing and cut him off.

Bartolomea told him how much more active she and Paganino were:

we’re always at work together, giving the wool a good whacking day and night.  In fact, from the time matins was rung early in this morning, I can’t begin to tell you how much wool we’ve whacked since we did it the first time. … Paganino holds me in his arms all night long, hugging me and giving me little love bites, and God alone can tell you how he services me.

She ridiculed Ricciardo’s sexual inadequacy and his promises to do more:

You say you’ll make a really big effort.  But how?  By coming up empty after three feeble bouts and having to give it quite a whacking to make it stand up?  … Go away, and put all that energy of yours into just staying alive, for it seems as if you’re barely hanging on there, that’s how run-down and droopy you look to me.  … if you were squeezed till you were dry, they couldn’t get a spoonful of sauce out of you.  My life with you amounted to nothing but one giant loss, including both principal and interest, so next time I’ll go looking somewhere else for my profit.

That’s the mercantile mentality closely associated with ingegno.  Bartolomea then told her husband to get out and threatened to falsely accuse him of rape:

good-bye, and go away as quickly as you can, because if you don’t, I’m going to scream that you’re trying to rape me. [5]

False accusations of rape have long been a highly threatening tactic.  Messer Ricciardo left.  He shortly thereafter died from resulting sorrow and madness.  Paganino and Bartolomea then wed and continued to whack wool vigorously.  They had “a jolly life together, working away at it as long as their legs could support them.”

Paganino and Bartolomea’s relationship highlights sexual symmetry in sexual desire.  But their relationship isn’t romantic in the sense of the medieval literary genre of romance.  The story of Paganino and Bartolomea reconfigures the merchant-romance of Bernabò.  It also does more than that.  Like the Arabic tale of Aziz and Aziza, it burlesques ancient Greek romance.

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Read more:

Notes:

[1] Konstan (1994).  In recent decades, scholars have disparaged sexual symmetry, particularly with respect to domestic violence.

[2] Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, Day 2, Story 10, from Italian trans. Rebhorn (2013) p. 188.  All subsequent quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from id. pp. 188-195.

[3] At the Sultan’s court, Madonna Zinevra, who had been pretending to be the man Sicurano, bared her breast to show that she is a woman.  Ambruogiuolo had hidden in a chest placed in her bedroom.  He collected a few things as evidence that he was there.  He also uncovered her naked in bed and observed “a mole under her left breast.”  The mole was “surrounded by a few strands of fine, golden blonde hair.”  Using these artifacts and observations, Ambruogiuolo falsely claimed to have seduced Madonna Zinevra.  Shakespeare used a similar device in his romance Cymbeline.

[4] Id. notes, p. 881, n. 1.  Id. notes Boccaccio’s “celebration throughout the Decameron of the ingegno of his heroes and heroines.”

[5] Writing in the medieval genre of moralists supporting dominant social values within a uniform, universal narrative, Grudin & Grudin (2012), p. 40, declares:

The story of Ricciardo’s rebellious wife is the crowning example of the ingegno that has occupied Boccaccio’s attention since Day I.  Here for the first time, in the abducted wife’s brilliantly reasoned attack on cultural taboos, ingegno is allied with ragione (reason), a normative concept that figures importantly in the Decameron.

Rationalization also figures importantly in the Decameron.  Id., p. 38, declares that Bartolomea “diametrically reverse the conventional understanding of right and wrong.”  In Decameron 2.9, the merchants set out a long-established conventional understanding of right and wrong:

It’s a matter of tit for tat: when an ass bumps into a wall, the wall bumps him right back.

Trans. Rebhorn (2013) p. 175.  As Dioneo’s burlesque of ancient Greek romances suggests, Boccaccio didn’t present Greco-Roman morality in the manner of a medieval moralist working for Cicero and the Emperor.

[image] Master of Guillebert de Mets (Flemish, active 1415-1460), c. 1425-30, Ghent, Belgium.  Walters Art Museum, W.166.118R.  The Walters Art Museum deserves high praise for its leadership in making art available to everyone on the web.

References:

Grudin, Michaela Paasche, and Robert Grudin. 2012. Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Ciceronian Renaissance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Konstan, David. 1994. Sexual symmetry: love in the ancient novel and related genres. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Rebhorn, Wayne A., trans. 2013. Giovanni Boccaccio. The Decameron. New York : W.W. Norton & Company.

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authors beware: 80% of books sell less than 100 copies

pile of books

Most published books sell few copies.  According to BookScan data:

79 percent of all new books sold in the United States in 2004 sold fewer than 99 copies, with 16.91 percent of all books selling between 100 and 999 copies.[1]

In 2004, BookScan covered about 70% of all U.S. book sales.[2]  The book industry today, like other industries marketing symbolic works, is based on hugely popular blockbusters.  Most authors, even authors of published books, earn nothing for all their work.

Books that sell less than 100 copies are not a waste.  An author may have enjoyed writing a book.  A few readers may value the book greatly. Of course, authors, like everyone else, need some way to support themselves.  A book that sells less than 100 copies is not likely in itself to provide significant financial benefit to the author.  A reasonable strategy for such books is to make them freely available to everyone on the Internet.  On the Internet, such books potentially can remain economically accessible to billions of persons forever.  Together they can greatly enrich the public landscape of human creativity and knowledge.

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Notes:

[1] Greco, Rodríguez & Wharton (2007) p. 212.

[2] Id.

[image] pile of Nordic books.  Thanks to Johannes Jansson and Wikipedia.

Reference:

Greco, Albert N., Clara E.  Rodríguez and Robert M.  Wharton. 2007. The culture and commerce of publishing in the 21st century. Stanford, Calif., Stanford Business Books.

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