Monday, November 3, 2014

More on Lists

An interesting book on lists has just been published. It was reviewed in the Independent under the title "Why do we like making lists?" This might well be a complex question because it is far from clear that everyone does in fact like making lists. In any case, it reminded me of Nietzsche's "Why am I so intelligent?"

What I liked most in the article were the following paragraphs:
A few years back, the Italian author Umberto Eco curated an exhibition at the Louvre entitled "Infinity of Lists". "We have a limit," he wrote, "a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death." He saw lists as a way in which we shrug off the finite nature of life and embrace the infinite, while also making it somehow comprehensible.

I don't share Eco's view; my own to-do lists – those ones that begin with "1. Make List" – very frequently end with something along the lines of "14. Rest of Life; 15. End". Less a celebration of the infinite, more a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the finite. But that is no less reassuring for an atheist like me, living in a world characterised by chaos. Blessed be the listmakers.
I criticized Eco's pretentiousness in a post of November 2009, called Umberto Eco on Lists. I do like the suggestion that you should start every to-do list with "1. Make List," and end it "X. End," at least implicitly.

And, no, I have not read the book itself yet.

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