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I hate lists. They are evil, tyrannical, “Type A” instruments of oppression, dogma and stultification.

I love lists. They’re liberating. And they’re a helluva lot easier than actually organizing my thoughts.

I have much more to say about lists, about their corrupting, insidious evil and their glorious, divine grace.

For now, I want you to know that I’m going to employ them liberally (yes, “liberally”–bwahahaha–and I mean that in nearly every possible sense, especially the ones that make you most uncomfortable). I hate them, but I’m going to use them. We often use the things we hate, don’t we? I do. Judge me if you must.

The truth is that I don’t necessarily hate lists. I hate the way that lists are often employed, what so often seems to be implied by them. Maybe what I hate most about lists is merely my perception of what people mean by them. It may be that I hate an idea of Lists, an imagined evil List-ness. No matter. Even if merely imagined, it’s real.

To distinguish my lists from the evil ones (and from the “evil one”), I present to you a random assortment of characteristics not so much defining but casting an ambiguous net of semantic approximation in the vicinity of Joel’s Bastard Lists. Yes, my lists are bastards. You need to know who and how they are, lest you confuse them with their wicked step siblings and find yourselves, as is human habit, controlled by their sinister insinuations. Yes, even my beautiful little bastards insinuate. They insinuate sinisterly. Don’t hate them; it’s not their fault. I’m telling you now so that you can know and not bend to their illusory (and, in fact–in my case at least–entirely unintended) but nevertheless consequential web of control.

Joel’s bastard lists are (unless otherwise clearly indicated–and sometimes contrary to clearest explicit indication) . . .

  1. random, ambiguous, approximate;
  2. irregular, asymmetric, mismatched, periodically perpendicular, potentially hazardous;
  3. repetitive;
  4. redundant, overlapping, sometimes superfluous, frequently gratuitous;
  5. incomplete;
  6. by no means exclusive
  7. rarely authoritative;
  8. not meant to be limiting, constricting, binding, controlling, containing or contained;
  9. mostly unstructured;
  10. only loosely affiliated with any system or dogma, even my own;
  11. inconsistently (and perhaps most often simply not at all) prioritized;
  12. only occasionally sequential, even when ostentatiously numbered;
  13. often painfully amended so as to be odd–and, ideally, prime–both in the number of their constituent elements and otherwise. . .

Whereas evil lists define and circumscribe, my lists mean to set you free–to begin and not end, to disrupt and not merely to order, the thoughts and feelings you might have about the subject whose qualities or whose members or whose whatever other thingies they sort of haphazardly, only-superficially-numerically enumerate.

Today I took off the tail end (the parenthetical addendum) of the subtitle of my blog , because it was inadvertently (though not entirely undesirably) rhymey. I found this moderately delightful at one point, but increasingly annoying. It was an accident; I kept it; now I’m abandoning it. Here it is: “(and if I am, it’s only because I’m at sea, and not because I mean to be).”

Somehow it just seemed that I should mark the passing.

So there, I did.