Friday, February 06, 2004

3/2/04: If you were brought to this spot by Josh Corey's hyperlink to MARKING then go HERE

on lists

Trevor Joyce writes to John Latta and I am lisitng only a small portion:

"The 12-item list is constructed renga-style by ubiquitous punning:
each word links to the previous in one definition, and to its successor via a different one. So it goes (with the linking sense in brackets):

(equal score)
(make fast)
(keep safe)
(bring up)
(teach by practice)

The distinction between ordered list like this, and non-ordered, such
as a list of birds (non-alphabetized), say, is interesting."


It is interesting: let's look at the distinction between order and non-order with the kinds of lists Joyce mentions? I will work towards lists in general.

First person: Gary; Second person: Trevor (and John and )

If I make a list of things I see as I see them or a list of things as I recollect them, am I going to create a non-ordered list? No. A list of birds, non-alphabetized, is an ordered list not because of language giving me the possibility for constructing any list in writing but because such a list implies many complex functions list-making utilizes.

First, "not ordered" is not equivalent to "not alphabetized". Alphabetizing is a process of ordering according to a specific set of rules, but other orders exist outside of language. We might explore how a person with a non-specific aphasia constructs a list: pointing, possibly. Pointing, just one example, is not saying. Second, your list based upon certain rules, such as "using factors of twelve" and "across a spreadsheet", certainly is an ordered list; nevertheless, I might ask, "Ordered by whom?" In other words is order at issue with such a list?

Kenneth Goldsmith once recorded his body movements for a day. Fidget as record of movements is an ordered list because of its chronological relationship to his movements in a locatable past. He speaks each movement, a list, and recorded each word spoken, a second list, and transcribes the recording of the movements spoken, a third list. Each list allows for the other to perform its function. Goldsmith creates a triangulation using lists--can be broken into an infinite number of meta-lists--in order to produce a history of one day. His list is ordered and non-ordered, linguistic and not, and significant from my point of view, his list depends upon an audience to create a fourth list from the totality of the previous three: a list of any given hic et nunc moment during that day. Tedious and Engaging labor for all: like doctoral work.

Looping back,
So, who or what orders the list? Who or what is the author? Your list created through distributing words or phrases across a spreadsheet based on factors of 12 has your name on it but you didn't order it but you did list it or record the order distributed. And this makes me think about an order at a restaurant compared to an order at boot camp compared to an order from an invoice compared to an order of an alphabet, and order based on the set of results from an equation based on the performance of a specific factorial, or an order--unnamed and/or unconsidered--in naming the birds as you see them in my backyard jumping from branch to feeder to fence to yard to clothesline to feeder again.

When I think of order, I think of ontology or physical undeniability. The foundation for my house is at the bottom of its structure. That's simply where it is, and it isn't worth my time considering redesigning it. But my editorial decision to order a list is itself based on choosing from a list of possible editorial perspectives and that list is based on a list of possible functional representations. And we haven't even considered how my education, age, and knowledge challenges the order of my list. And so let's assume I can give up the notion of the order of ideas I would place in a list. I may simply allow a list to be a continued working of focus. A room, the objects in it, the objects themselves, the words on one, the color of another: all determined by my desire to choose what to see in any given composition.

But there is the idea of order in composition, compose(d). I am doing it know: pushing keys on a small keyboard.

A lot has been written about the word LIKE lately. Maybe the fear "like" stirs isn't that its usage is a sign of the decay of our once literate and well-spoken society--an incredibly elitist and snobbish position anyway--but a sign of the evasion of listing, of thinging things in the world. Instead of list-ing or thing-ing we are like-ing. We certainly do not encourage making lists and checking them twice. If we were all involved in taking account of our surroundings, we would surely find ourselves in revolution.

I was thinking today, on the bus to my office on campus, about how many lightpoles and traffic lights there were in Denver now compared to ten years ago,
and then I noticed all of the telephone poles,
and then the wires,
all the electrical fixtures,
wiring boxes,
housing units,
all the junk            built up just above the buildings that cloud
my view of the sky and clutter the everyday.

I don't see it all. But how can I miss it?

Most folks, I will assume, would say I am accustomed to IT--accustomed to the clutter, the mess. But I am a bit paranoid and awfully neat. I am accustomed to seeing IT but not listing it, thinging it, saying it and giving it meaning; therefore, making it different. Holderlin...the poet signifying the difference between subject and object...unvcovering. That's "the list".

And in that way, to LOOP back, lists are neither ordered or non-ordered. Lists are "there" or "not there".

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