Saturday, August 31, 2013
Umberto Eco - "The Infinity of Lists"
I packed Eco's illustrated book on the history of art and literature in relationship to the list to once and for all read and conquer during my residency. Mission accomplished!
Eco differentiates between "practical" and "poetic" lists, an area I found fascinating. From page 374: "A restaurant menu is a practical list. But in a book on culinary matters, a list of the diverse menues of the most renowned restaurants would already acquire a poetic value. In the same way, one might daydream about an abundance of an exotic cuisine on reading (not with a view to ordering, but for aesthetic reasons) the menu of a Chinese restaurant with its pages and pages of numbered dishes."
Rosa Klein (André Rogi), Bonnard's Palette, 1930 (from Coherent Excess)
Eco included Wislawa Szymborska's Possibilities (1985) in the section on "The Rhetoric of Enumeration":
I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here
to many things I've also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.
He breaks down the list into 21 categories including the visual, collections and treasures, mass-media, coherent excess, and the "ineffable." I was reacquainted with my love of the wunderkammer and know that I will probably make art about that subject matter again (hello site specific installation).