When I started writing this blog (over 7 years ago!) I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know that complete strangers would be interested in what I have to say, nor did I have any idea that I would one day develop a small but fierce following. I also had no idea how popular my “lists” would be. I thought I was alone in this, but it seems everybody likes to read a good list.
Lists are more than just a cool way of putting information together. Umberto Eco once said, “The list is the origin of culture”. I agree. I find making lists cathartic and useful in gauging the pulse of the average human. Lists are very much a part of today’s cultural currency, and a way for people like me to participate in the world around me. Lists are the great equalizer – they put us all on the same page. We all have favorites, likes and dislikes, and we all understand what “best” and “worst” means.
Susan Sontag said, “I perceive value, I confer value, I create value, I even create — or guarantee — existence. Hence, my compulsion to make “lists.” The things (Beethoven’s music, movies, business firms) won’t exist unless I signify my interest in them by at least noting down their names. Nothing exists unless I maintain it (by my interest, or mypotential interest). This is an ultimate, mostly subliminal anxiety. Hence, I must remain always, both in principle + actively, interested in everything. Taking all of knowledge as my province.”
I know. It’s pretty deep shit. But, Sontag is pretty deep. I think what she is getting at here is that by putting things into lists, by putting them down on paper, we are in fact acknowledging their importance or even their mere existence in the world.
In 1977 she wrote down a stream-of-consciousness type list of her LIKES and DISLIKES probably inspired by Roland Barthes famous lists of likes and dislikes. They are both great fun to read and they both give you a glimpse into the minds of these two great thinkers. (She likes: babies, boots and Bach, and dislikes couples, cats and cigars. He likes salad, cinnamon and cheese. Dislikes women in slacks, geraniums, strawberries.) Of course there are more, but you can look it up for yourself. The fact is, lists matter and they are important.
In honor of two of my heroes, here are some of my likes and dislikes.
Things I like: Cold weather, cats & kittens, beans, strawberries, cold water, maps, exercise, peaches, pears, cherries, swimming, mythology, apple pie, Prague, empanadas, Indian food, Mexican food, London, almonds, Star Wars, Prince, Mozart, Jazz, Stephen King, Hawaii, mis-matched chairs, weed, painting, coarse salt, making lists, movies, Vivaldi, New York, jazz flute, yoga, Cher.
Things I dislike: Football games, matching furniture, extreme heat, humidity, brocoli, being photographed, driving, talking on the telephone, rudeness, passive aggressive behavior, “Sunday School”, excuses, Sushi, Czech post offices, Anne Rice, tepid water, abbreviations, socks and sandals, Vice Magazine, flies, mushrooms, men wearing overalls, animals in clothing, women who don’t wear bras, artificial sweeteners, TiVo.
Things I like: Pizza, Margaret Atwood, baking, books, reading, the beach, mountains, solitude, laughing, pillows, sleeping, humus, travel, trains, cooking, cumin, singing, cabins, babies, taking photographs, Czech beer gardens, playing games, rivers, Gala apples, cinnamon, sweaters, caves, bats, Zadie Smith, school, dreams, down comforters, ice tea, Alan Alda.
Things I dislike: Paying bills, packing, large vehicles, vehicles with televisions inside, alcoholics, long painted finger nails, bad hygiene, “busy-bodies”, Vin Diesel movies, boxed wine, cigars, hypocrites, mosquitos, brussels sprouts, ants, wicker furniture, mirrors, televisions, excess, people who say “supposably”, Coldplay, really large groups of people, women who wear ostentatious hats.
Things I like: Colored pencils, playing ukulele, robots, dinosaurs, sparkling water, Hitchcock, blues, fine pens, salad, cheese, the smell of fresh coffee grounds, hot tea, sugar cubes, the piano, camping, amusement parks, luchadores, ice cream, water slides, San Francisco (The Bay Area), getting my hair cut, museums, lounging, magazines, coffee, Pollock, Tom Waits, trams, old movie theaters, jeans, shoes, swings, parks, cake, bookstores, Jim Henson.