Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lists and Files

The world is divided, or should be, between those who make lists and those who don't. I, of course, am among the former. I suppose it comes from my innate desire to impose order (or from of fear of being so overloaded with information that I will never find what I'm looking for at a given moment).

I made lists of favorite baseball players when I was a kid. Now I have lists of dozens of things: grammar and usage; odd names of real people (including those of former students named Sky Rocket and Forrest Stump and of dozens of others, my favorites being Gaston Feeblebunny, Lavender Sidebottom, Iris Faircloth Blitch, and Wigfall Green); fave movies; former students; and eccentric people/events. I also keep a list of dead friends, family, and neighbors.

The computer makes keeping lists a snap. It doesn't help with old articles and clippings too interesting to discard.

I have copious files on every author I have ever taught, every artist (Vermeer) I have talked about or wanted to, every topic (happiness, dreams, silence, time, love, medieval cathedrals, Mark Twain, masculinity, deserts, monasteries) I have researched or written about, not to mention files of jokes and songs and examples of prose style that I admire.

I try without success to get Lynn, also a writer, teacher, and even more voracious reader, to put material in files. She instead has her own non-system, backed up by a photographic memory. The result: our crowded study is awash in paper, some organized, some not. A constant source of potential irritation.

Saving it satisfies something in me, even when I don't (and probably never will) use it. I suppose it is all a small bulwark against oblivion.

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