The epic, which has all of life and then some, is strewn with lists
March 29, 2024 12:51 AM   Subscribe

We all make lists, if only to buy bread and milk. But we tend to forget how mythic and subversive, joyful and maddening, enchanting and sobering, and utterly chilling lists can be—and what they can do. To love a list is to partake in letter and word, form and change. To make lists is to join a long line of list makers, to indulge in a timeless art, to break down the artificial wall that separates thinking and doing, thinkers and doers. from One Thing After Another: A Reading List for Lovers & Makers of Lists by Kanya Kanchana [Longreads]
posted by chavenet (13 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes I'll add a job I've already done to a list just for the pleasure of crossing it off again.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:13 AM on March 29 [17 favorites]

I went into this thinking, "Oh, I hope she mentions Eco a little here"--and indeed she did, BUT she also brought in Atul Gawande's great little book, AND wrote this impossibly silly sequence of words, "the palate-sticking ickiness of the word 'listicle.'" I will be saying that all day. The only thing bad about this is that it wasn't really a long read--I would've read something five times as long!
posted by mittens at 6:38 AM on March 29 [5 favorites]

A short list of gratitude:
  1. To chavenet, for sharing this delightful essay with us;
  2. To Kanya Kanchana, for writing this delightful essay, and linking to delightful side excursions;
  3. To mittens, for the enthusiastic comment that prompted me to read this now, rather than later, or more likely, not at all;
  4. To MetaFilter, and all its informally constituent members, for existing
  5. To MeFite and listmaker gnimmel, whose ceaselessly astoundingly wonderful Listing to Port remains, in my opinion, the best thing on the whole internet. (Listing to Port at MeFi Projects, and subsequent FPP: The hats of your mortal enemies, turned inside-out and used as flowerpots
Thank you for this, chavenet!
posted by kristi at 8:26 AM on March 29 [9 favorites]

Today I discovered:

1. this great article thanks to Chavnet.
2. that I am not alone in adding things to To Do lists so that I can strike them off.
3. that the Buddha made a lot of lists.
4. the Listing to Port Tumblr thanks to kristi.
5. how I am going to be spending the rest of the afternoon (following the many fascinating links in the article).
posted by rpfields at 9:53 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]

Jira recently deprecated Epic in favour of Parent which was a mildly annoying disruption to my professional list-making.
posted by phigmov at 10:33 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]

Oh no, RIP Jira epics!

If you like lists and collections of found objects, check out MeFi's Own bkeaggy's Milk, Eggs, Vodka and
posted by limeonaire at 10:38 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]

Although, now that I read about it, it sounds like Jira is just standardizing on Parent—is parent just another story or task? Because that would solve the issue of not being able to see an epic in the backlog...
posted by limeonaire at 10:43 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]

Very nice piece.
I'm fond of Melville's bizarre list of quotes which prefaces Moby-Dick.
posted by doctornemo at 11:22 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]

MetaFilter: mythic and subversive, joyful and maddening, enchanting and sobering, and utterly chilling
posted by doctornemo at 11:22 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]

If you like lists, you should read François Rabelais — there are a lot of lists in Gargantua and Pantagruel.
posted by bouvin at 2:16 PM on March 29 [5 favorites]

Mod note: [btw, this post has been listed in the sidebar and BestOf blog!]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:25 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

I recommend Matthew Dicks's book Twenty-One Truths About Love.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:10 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

Of course also "Forty ways to leave your lover".
posted by Vegiemon at 8:35 AM on April 13

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