I adore making lists. It gives me an absurd sense of purpose and the (often false) feeling that there is order where there appears to be chaos. But my lists are not always functional. Quite the contrary actually. Riffling through old notebooks, journals and the innumerable pieces of loose paper I hoard (I'll get into that subject some other time) I found list after list of things, names, activities, places, people, words and thoughts. (I was reminded of the film Pillow Book (1996) by director Peter Greenaway. The film had a fascination for lists - lists of a more 'bohemian' nature.)
I was going through the Top Ten section at sensesofcinema.com. Random lists submitted by readers of their top ten favourite films. Thats what got me thinking about lists in the first place. I have never succeeded in making my own "top ten" list of films. It's horribly tempting what with film magazines, e-zines and TV shows throwing lists at you from every direction. Best Directors, Best Films, All Time Greats, Top Ten Film Noir, Best Musicals and so on and so forth. Sight and Sound had asked renowned film directors for their own lists. One of the directors said "I won't put Citizen Kane on that list just because every list in the world tells me to!' Fair enough. And I don't blame said director for the outburst. Lists are sensitive things. You have to be careful what you put on it. When I tried making such a list I felt so burdened that I had to abandon the venture. How do you decide the criteria for such a list? And why only ten? Why not five or fifteen? Since then I have stuck to making lists that come with far less responsibility and where the criteria are not as important as the making of the list itself! It's been good going so far.
A list is ordinarily prioritised. Some things are more important while others are not so. Some things demand immediate attention while others may be content to wait a while. But then there are the lists that are simply there because someone felt like making a list. An idle mind is the perfect source of an odd little list. And the possibilities are endless!
My own lists include:
My favourite words with each letter of the alphabet
The books I simply must read before I die and a list of all the books I have ever read (it's a work in progress)
The films that I think have changed the way I look at cinema
'Indian' English words that I think are indispensable
Names for my dog when I do get one
Hindustani Classical Ragas that give me goosebumps and/or make me cry
Possible subjects for a research paper tracing the material history of an object (e.g. paper, cotton, salt, indigo etc.)
Overrated film classics (next in line is underrated film classics)
Credit lists for my various film projects
Thank you lists for various things
Things I learnt from Mumbai
Words to look up in the dictionary (obsequious, eponymous words like that)
Things to do when hopelessly bored
A list of my most vivid childhood memories
And now......A list of lists! How fitting!