I make lists. I suspect you do, too. Some of my lists are conventional and useful (errands, groceries), others are data dumps or notes that make sense at the time but puzzle me on later viewing. For those list-lovers out there, the following is a meditation on lists from Susan Sontag’s The Volcano Lover.
What you like: your five favorite flowers, spices, films, cars, poems, hotels, names, dogs, inventions, Roman emperors, novels, actors, restaurants, paintings, gems, cities, . . .
What you’ve done: everyone you’ve gone to bed with, every state you’ve been in, country you’ve visited, house or apartment you’ve lived in, school you’ve attended, car you’ve owned, pet you’ve had, job you’ve held, Shakespeare play you’ve seen . . .
What the world has in it: the names of Mozart’s twenty operas or of the kings and queens of England or of the fifty American state capitals. . . . Even the making of such lists is an expression of desire: the desire to know, to see arranged, to commit to memory.
What you actually have: all your CDs, your bottles of wine, your first editions, the vintage photographs you’ve purchased at auctions—such lists may do no more than ratify the acquiring lust, unless, as it is with the Cavaliere, your purchases are imperiled.
(Picture from Edward Gorey’s unpublished and unfinished story, An Interesting List.)