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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Into the Labyrinth...

By the time I finished teaching last night and made it to my New York "pad" (courtesy of very generous cousin-in-laws) I was, to say the least, exhausted -- but pleased that this will work out so well. Despite my frazzled condition and incoherence, the class went well (obviously I am more entertaining when tired) and the nutty decision to take this "busman's holiday" may actually to be an enjoyable experience. Check this blog in four weeks to find out how it works out in the long term....

As is always the case when I get some time in NYC, my first trek this AM was to Labyrinth Books on 112th off Broadway (directions: heading north on Broadway, turn right at the "Seinfeld" Restaurant sign). I rate Labyrinth up there among the best bookstores to wander around in just to scan the shelves to see what is new, what is old and on sale -- and to just plain enjoy. It was once a regular stop for me when I taught some courses at Columbia, and I think many people regard it was the real Columbia University bookstore....

Since I am not going to have the opportunity to do my usual "workout", I walked the distance to and from Labyrinth, and at ten in the AM the weather was perfect for just such a hike (perhaps a bit over a mile and a quarter each way, with brief stops for coffee at one of the many Starbucks along the route).

As usual, I found myself wandering from shelf to shelf -- especially on their "new releases" tables where the quality of their choices for display is consistently first rate. I always walk away with several books, and this time was no exception.

The find of the day for me was Avinash Dixit's Lawlessness and Economics: Alternative Modes of Governance (sexy titles always get to me....) I was two chapters into it by the end of dinner and look forward to diving ahead despite the fact that thumbing through I can see some formulaic sections that will clearly give me problems.... But the basic premise of the book -- that governance emerges in the economic sphere, even if not in "governmental" form -- is intriguing and I want to see how Dixit handles the logic.

Why does this stuff interest me? Well, for the same reason that I am digging into the medieval history of corporate governance -- that is, to see what role accountability plays in the formation of modern governance. Along those lines I also picked up a couple of older titles related to the history of European medieval business enterprises that seem to offer even more evidence to support my work along these lines.

The rest of the day involved a bit of a rest, and then it was off to City Hall -- but that is the topic for a different post....

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