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He’s Making a List (of Lists)

December 11, 2009

Umberto Eco recently posited, with much notoriety, that the act of making lists is a quintessentially humanistic and lively activity. It is not inherently reductive, as some might fear would be a natural consequence of distillation, but rather an attempt at inclusivity in the face of infinity in a vain but ultimately noble attempt to leave nothing behind and take all into account. It makes perfect sense that we would reach the apotheosis of hubris during a time of artificial reflection on the past.

Indeed, I’ve been reading the year- and decade-ending lists that have attempted to sum up much more than they can reasonably handle, and perhaps the best list is Kottke’s “Noughtie List,” a meta-list of best-of lists. After all, who isn’t fond of both quick reference and intellectual masturbation? I myself have found much worth discovering in these lists in case you missed it the first time it came around, but here are just a few recommended lists to start perusing. I’ll be pulling out the best of the best in separate posts soon enough.

The New York Times’ Year in Ideas. Supposedly “interactive,” but that just seems to mean “made with Flash” these days. Still, it has some of the most excellent, important content that you likely haven’t seen before.

The Encyclopedia of Counterintuitive Thought. Great compendium of articles written by clever and subversive journalists, economists (very well represented, unsurprisingly), and cultural critics in general. This is my brand of contrarianism at it’s finest.

101 Things to do in New York City in the Winter. It’s lighter fare, but it sure made me a bit nostalgic. Worth reading to exacerbate longing or for temporary escapism.

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