Our lives are awash with lists: grocery lists, task lists, project lists, lists of parts, lists of procedures. Umberto Eco, novelist and curator for a massive exhibition about the history of lists, reflects on our love of list making.
Photo by peagreengirl.
SPIEGEL Online, a German publication, shares an interesting interview with Umberto Eco. Curator of a massive historical retrospective on lists, he has quite a few things to say about them — including the quotable snippet in the image above — like:
The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right.
Check out the full interview for more insights and reflections on the humble list.