The infinity of lists an illustrated essay

Different parts of the anthology focus on museum collections museums share the sense of the infinite, because they are always adding more objectson the pleasures of excess Rabelais has the starring role here and on the idea of the painted list largely still-lifes, or images of ghastly massacres, where the viewer knows that there is more, and perhaps worse, going on beyond the frame of the painting.

How can a list be infinite and still be something that fits on a page or a canvas? About this title Best-selling author and philosopher Umberto Eco is currently resident at the Louvre, and his chosen theme of study is "the vertigo of lists. At the very beginning of European literature, Eco argues, Homer offered us two ways of seeing the world. A list of cities, territories or rivers, which Eco can find "dizzying" in James Joyce, is also one of the foundations of imperial control. Eco, however, confessed in an interview in that The Name of the Rose may be a book more unread that read. Vitalius' shinbone, one of St. In another chapter, the Ineffable is suggested by giving examples, then leaving the rest to the imagination, like Assumption of the Virgin by Correggio or this list of Christian demons. In the heady days before Christmas, children write to Santa Claus enclosing Homeric catalogues of the toys and games they pine for. Consider, for instance, the wonderfully "incongruous" list found in a Chinese encyclopedia invented by the Argentine fabulist Jorge Luis Borges. He has trouble finding any example of a list in sculpture: "It is hard to imagine," he concedes, "a statue that conveys an 'et cetera', ie one that suggests it may continue beyond its own physical limits. His central thesis is that in Western culture a passion for accumulation is recurring: lists of saints, catalogues of plants, collections of art. All through December, parents scurry through malls, clutching scraps of paper upon which are scribbled sizes, brand names and crucial details about color and price. Eco wriggles awkwardly on this point: "Since Homer cannot say how many men there are for every leader, the number he alludes to is still indefinite.

This is "finite form", a closed and bounded world, with nothing outside it and no possibility of addition or accretion. Little more than a short essay, it is nevertheless a characteristic product of this extraordinary writer and polymath: learned, sparkling, insightful, provocative, packed full of intriguing and arcane information I was particularly taken with the cranium of the year-old John the Baptist supposedly stored among the religious relics in a German cathedral.

Oh, "the infinity of lists," as scholar and novelist Umberto Eco titles this handsome album!

history of lists

Eco wriggles awkwardly on this point: "Since Homer cannot say how many men there are for every leader, the number he alludes to is still indefinite.

In grocery stores, shoppers methodically check off the exotic foodstuffs needed for the seasonal feasting. In my immediately following sentence, I employed polysyndeton, in which a conjunction -- in this case "or" -- appears between each activity mentioned.

Stephen's sword, a fragment of the Cross, the table cloth used for the Last Supper, one of St.

The infinity of lists an illustrated essay

Though "The Infinity of Lists" covers a great deal of ground, its various chapters are all too brief -- and thus tantalize more often than not. Foreword Magazine, Inc. How can a list—the naming of objects or qualities—engage outside its frame? One hungers for further detail, greater amplification.

Only the very young or very feckless manage to escape from the inexorable dictates of schedules, calendars, in-boxes, deadlines, memoranda.

Eoban's chin, Moses' rod, the Virgin's dress. This is the poem's second book, which is euphemistically known as "The Catalogue of Ships" — but is in fact dominated by a line list of the various Greek forces that made up the "coalition of the willing" in the invasion of Troy.

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The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay