The Consolation of Lists

November 21st, 2009

In an interview in Der Spiegel, The Name of the Rose novelist Umberto Eco talks about the show at the Louvre he’s been curating. The theme of the exhibition is lists (Eco has a new book out from Rizzoli called The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay.) When asked, Why lists, Eco first proves evasive, offering,

I can’t really say. I like lists for the same reason other people like football or pedophilia. People have their preferences.

But pressed further, Eco opines,

We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.