Monday, March 5, 2007

List of Lists

1. Processes Lists. Glenn Alps, a renowned printmaker in the 60s, visited SMU when I was teaching there. He looked at a list of steps to process a lithographic drawing that I had written on a poster board for my students. He laughed and told me that lists don't work, because processes can't be broken down into steps.

2. Laundry Lists. Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, used to write down his laundry list on an ink slab before he sent out his laundry. He was a printer, and after the laundry came back, he tried to wipe the list off the stone with water. He noticed that the ink resisted the water, but the rest of the stone absorbed it. Low and behold, he inked up the stone with a roller, put down a sheet of paper on stone, ran it through a press and presto, had a mirror image of his laundry list. Lithography had been invented.

3. To Do Lists. Kim Mosley, the writer of this blog, has quite a few "to do" lists. Sometimes, though, he can't remember needed tasks long enough to write them down. Most of his items on the list never get done, or even, never needs to be done. Or inadvertently get done anyway, in spite of the fact that they are on the list.

4. Bad Lists. Then there is the Black List from the Senator McCarthy's days. These were people that you weren't supposed to hire because they were red. And don't forget the Most Wanted List from the FBI, a group of people we wish never to meet, except on the bulletin board at the post office.

5. Conservator Lists. One of the most comic lists I've seen was made by a museum conservator who was inventorying one of my photographs. I mistreat photographs, not because I'm mean, but because I feel sorry for them and feel that they need a little help. The conservator had to log everything I had done to this poor photograph. It sounded like a catastrophe. A staple here, a scratch there, some thread going through a hole in the middle, and an second scratch there. She didn't miss a trick!

6. More on To Do Lists. I'm not sure if organized people are more likely to make lists, but I do know that certain people won't do something unless they write it down. And then there is the proverbial "email me" which means "I'm more important than you and so you should make it your job to remind me because I don't have a list with me of things I need to do (you see that is a pet peeve of mine.) But I oblige the person with an email, and I also put the task on my to do list, because I know, in time, a second email will probably need to be written.

P.S. Wedding Lists. April is the cruelest month. If you've never made a wedding list (and had to pick between aunt Sima and cousin John) you haven't faced a real dilemma. You imagine that the unlucky one will face the disgrace of being the last to be chosen for a sandlot baseball team. You remember all the good and bad that each did to you, and you weigh the "contestants" out so very carefully and then you flip a coin and then you change your mind and then you decide that the stars aren't aligned properly and you need to come back to the list tomorrow, or better yet, next week. In the end, you never face the truth that most people want to be invited, but feel relieved to find out they are already booked for that evening.

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