‘tis the season to start lists, and lists are on my list of Things I Like to Do But Whose Ultimate Usefulness I Sometimes Doubt. But then again, I may just have a naturally doubting mind, and it won’t stop me from making lists. As a procrastinator, I must admit they are an amazing gift. Make a list, feel you accomplished something, and leave the rest to tomorrow. As a pathologically untidy person, they are the rock on which my world revolves. Make a list, and put some semblance of order in the chaos that surrounds you.
Every day starts with a list of Things to Do Today. Strangely enough, I often end up copying yesterday’s list, albeit with some minor adjustments. Then, there is the list of Things I Would Like to Avoid but Put on a List to Feel Virtuous. Dentist appointments tend to figure prominently on that one, as well as cleaning the windows.
And we come to Christmas Lists, separated into Food List, Presents List, Christmas Cards List, What to Pack for the Holidays List, and Books List. Those tend to figure on every list of lists. Books that I Want for Christmas. Books that I Will Buy for Christmas. Books That I Will Take With Me In Case No One Gives Me Books for Christmas. Yes, book lists are in a special category, they are both numerous and endless. We have the Books for Thesis List, divided into Books Read, Books to Read and a list of Books not Entirely Necessary But Much More Fun Than Some of the Others. They are then sub-divided into books according to disciplines: adolescent psychology, discourse analysis, internet research, itself subdivided… but I’ll stop here.
Yesterday, in the course of my reading, which occasionally interrupts the list-making, I came across a snippet about lists. A bell sounded in my brain, and a little bulb lit up over my head. It said, I think, that one of the earliest occurrences of lists in the written word was the Index. Surely there were earlier ones… The 10 Commandments, for one, and did the Pharaohs not keep lists of everything they wanted with them in the afterlife ?
Things have gone slightly out of hand, though, and I blame Channel 4. They seem to resort to lists every Saturday or Sunday Night. The 100 best films, 100 best videos, 100 most ridiculous moments, 100 top lists (ok, that’s mine, but it could work…) On the internet, try googling “list”, and you’ll get a list of 708.000.000 items. That’s some list! There is a site dedicated to shopping lists at http://www.grocerylists.org/100/ . As for blogs, let’s just say I am amongst kindred spirits. Lists of books read or to read. Lists of links to other blogs. Lists of links to other sites. And they often include, at some stage a List of 101 Things About Me. Methinks this goes straight onto my list of Lists To Do.