Saturday, December 30, 2006


On many blogs, on many internet magazines, the last days of the year are marked by a profileration of lists, generally of the 'best of ...' kind. As the previous post shows, not even this blog is free from this impulse to classify, to order, to fit "(...) what exists into a frockcoat, a mathematical frock-coat". Countermeasures appear to be necessary "to affirm that the universe resembles nothing at all and is only formless (...)" (from the Encyclopedia Acephalica).

Thus, now is the right time to bring into play Jorge Luis Borges' famous list of animals from "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins" (reproduced here). In this list, purportedly taken from "a certain Chinese encyclopedia, the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge", it is written that animals are divided into:
  1. those that belong to the Emperor,
  2. embalmed ones,
  3. those that are trained,
  4. suckling pigs,
  5. mermaids,
  6. fabulous ones,
  7. stray dogs,
  8. those included in the present classification,
  9. those that tremble as if they were mad,
  10. innumerable ones,
  11. those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
  12. others,
  13. those that have just broken a flower vase,
  14. those that from a long way off look like flies.
Thus, I'd like to use this post as a platform to call for end-of-the-year-lists full of "...ambiguities, redundancies and deficiencies...", for end-of-the-year-lists that declassify, for formless end-of-the-year-lists....


Here is a link to Foucault's introduction to "Les mots et les choses" which is amongst others a beautiful essay on Borges's list.

Here is a link to a documentary on Borges, from Ubuweb.

Here is a link to an interesting thread about lists.

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