Saturday, May 26, 2007

awful art of list-making or how I learned to stop worrying and accept my borderline OCD tendencies

So I'm a list maker. That's the first step. Admitting you've got a problem. I try to organize everything: to-do list, favorite movies, reading lists, piles of things to watch, my cd catalogues, my crates of vinyls, the bookshelf, websites I'm going to look at sometime soon, director's I should see, director's I already should have seen, director's I'm probably not going to see but if I don't know what to put on my netflix queue I should try one of them, which itself is a useless list because my netflix queue is always full because it is itself a list, always a full 500 films long.

I was somewhat comforted this winter as I was reading the 2006 Best American Non-Required reading and saw Matt Groening's introduction. He confesses to making absurd lists, having piles of magazines and books lying around his house that he'll never get to, and list of things he'll never read. But this onyl provoked me. He had ideas on his list of books to read that I hadn't gotten to yet, like of course I should have a list of biographies of US presidents that I should read. This is something that I, as an American, whether dissenting or not, should do, I should know about our history thoroughly, I should know about every presidency. Why? Why do I care? I'm setting myself up for disappointment. If this was the only list I had (in the realm of things to read) I wouldn't finish the list in the next decade.

But I make it anyway. I need it. Here I am trying to read a biography on Andrew Jackson, whom I care nothing about, because I feel like I should. I'm compelled to do it. So as I got bored I decided to look at a more interesting list of mine. I think this idea also came from Matt Groening's introduction, but I want to, by the end of the year, have read a novel from every year of the 20th century. It seems kind of silly, but I've got a good chunk done already, and I've already started doing this and have read some interesting novels, some I didn't like, but it reveals a lot about our history and our concerns by the subject matter that arises. But really I'll never finish this. So, fuck it. I'm reading a book written in 1985, that's all.

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