Sunday, March 10, 2013

George Steiner on Lists

George Steiner notes at one point in his Errata, an Examined Life (Yale: Yale University Press, 1998) that "Lists are tedious. They prove nothing."

It is difficult to disagree with the second point, unless, perhaps, you are Umberto Eco or lack basic training in logic. Some people make lists of the failings of others to "prove" that they fall short of some mark. The first point seems less true. Certainly, list can (and often are) tedious, but they do not need to be. In any case, nowadays lists seem to be just the beginning for outlines, narratives and more sophisticated arguments.

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