Lists for all


[Flickr Photo: List, by Queenie & the Dew, shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license]

Umberto Eco once wrote that we like lists because they somehow glimpse at immortality. He also wrote The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay, to pursue this point.

Check this interview from Spiegel: ‘We Like Lists Because We Don’t Want to Die

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.


Woody Allen was not shy about them. In a highly amusing parody of literary criticism he wrote a review of (invented character) Metterling Laundry Lists (New Yorker, May 10, 1969). Look:

Indeed, the very first Metterling laundry list

List No. 1
6 prs. shorts
4 undershirts
6 prs. blue socks
4 blue shirts
2 white shirts
6 handkerchiefs
No Starch

serves as a perfect, near-total introduction to this troubled genius, known to his contemporaries as the “Prague Weirdo.” The list was dashed off while Metterling was writing Confessions of a Monstrous Cheese, that work of stunning philosophical import in which he proved not only that Kant was wrong about the universe but that he never picked up a check.


I love lists in fact. One example is the tab I have earmarked in my browser from The Guardian’s Best Culture 2016. Common to see by a year’s end, best-of lists are everywhere in the media, but this is particularly impressive and worth the inspiration it gives: from films to novels to noirs to philosophy and history.

But one other fancy lists I found recently is One Grand’s . This is a bookstore (in Narrowsburg, NY): “Everything that Amazon is not – [a] modern, yet intimate, 550-square-foot space perched above the Delaware River, with a beautiful view of the water..” wrote The New York Times.

They ask people more or less widely known to compile their personal list ot top ten books. You find nice things, there: for instance you discover chef René Redzepi’s (of Noma) suggestion of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs & Steel.

Screenshot of René Redzepi's booklist from One Grand.

Screenshot of René Redzepi’s booklist from One Grand.

Or, you may find that Eric Ripert (another chef) remembers the great poet Jacques Prevert’s Paroles (which prompted me to write the last post in this blog.

You don’ t really care of what Bill Gates recommends, but you find Tilda Swinton.

I ended up making a useful list for myself—I mean, one beyond the tens of lists I already make with Evernote and Instapaper (and diigo): 2016__films. It was great to keep track of the movies I watched (at a cinema), because the less good ones tend to evaporate from memory. So now I’m doing a new list for 2017__films.

Umberto Eco on Lists and Making Infinity Comprehensible



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delicious Zeitgeist 15 Feb 2017

A few delicious Web sites to use or meditate about, from the latest addition to my diigo collection.

Screen Shot from

Screen Shot from

I get my delicious-tagged bookmarks draft-posted automatically from Diigo. on this blog, I edit them and compile a bunch every so often–when the inspiration cometh–. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Sudden remembrance of Jacques Prévert’s poems

Remembering Jacques Prévert’s poems that I loved when youngster.


Quel jour sommes-nous
Nous sommes tous les jours
Mon amie
Nous sommes toute la vie
Mon amour
Nous nous aimons et nous vivons
Nous vivons et nous nous aimons
Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que la vie
Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que le jour
Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que l’amour.


What day are we?
We are every day
My friend
We’re the whole of life
My love
We love and we live
We live and we love
And we don’t really know
What life is
And we don’t really know
What the day is
And we don’t really know
What love is

Poems of Jacques Prévert“, Alastair Campbell. Deep South v.3. n.1. (Autumn 1997)

Of course, a quick glance on the Web fetched quite some nice stuff. For instance this collection of poems from Paroles translated into English by none other than Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Which brings us to a very current one, Pater Noster, which Ferlinghetti took inspiration from for his Last prayer video (below).

Our Father who art in heaven
Stay there
And we’ll stay here on earth
Which is sometimes so pretty
With its mysteries of New York
And its mysteries of Paris
Worth as much as that of the Trinity
With its little canal at Ourcq
Its great wall of China
Its river at Morlaix
Its candy canes
With its Pacific Ocean
And its two basins in the Tuileries
With its good children and bad people
With all the wonders of the world
Which are here
Simply on the earth
Offered to everyone
Strewn about
Wondering at the wonder of themselves
And daring not avow it
As a naked pretty girl dares not show herself
With the world’s outrageous misfortunes
Which are legion
With their legionaries
With their torturers
With the masters of this world
The masters with their priests their traitors and their troops
With the seasons
With the years
With the pretty girls and with the old bastards
With the straw of misery rotting in the steel
of cannons.

— Jacques Prévert, Paroles. Translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. City Lights Books, San Francisco 1958, 1990. Available here:

Ferlinghetti’s own City Light Bookstore in San Francisco posted on Scribd a selection online of poems from Paroles.

Now, Prévert reminds me the French chansonnier Jacques Brel. Here is the famed Les feuilles mortes (Autumn Leaves) sung by the great Yves Montand and then Jacques Brel singing Ne me quitte pas.


[Featured Image: “Riviera” flickr photo by geofroi  shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license]

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The New Year. Sounds good, from western Puerto Rico.

The new year sounded good from the aquamarine waters of western Puerto Rico, where we had the luck to spend New Year’s Eve. This is the door to tranquillity at Crushboat beach at Aguadilla.


And this is the very first sunset of the year from this latitude, over the magnificent horizon.


The night before, New Year’s Eve, we had a wonderful night on the beach too, with a fantastic bonfire.

Of course, sooner or later there would be someone with good loudspeakers sharing his (always a male) fancy muzak.


Fortunately, one could turn his attention to a good book. This one I just began the night before and did savor it on the beach. It’s Roseanna, the first novel by the Swedish duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (husband and wife in real life), with the celebrity detective Martin Beck. Nice and calm, the most gruesome and horrible crime gets committed and they turn on their typewriting machine and little by little the story unfolds, stopping only at the end. This is the foremother of all the nordic crime stories, including Wallander and Stieg Larson.


Of course, what the

img_5713! A nice beer would finish off the first day of the year in style, on the rocks of the Aguadilla lighthouse ruins, just on the northwest corner of this awesome island.

[All photos by moi meme. License is granted through CC: BY-SA-NC]

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A Year Lived Fully: A Condensed Story of 2016 in Images

So I am rushing a last 2016 post before 2016 actually goes, quite inspired from a post the great cogdog Alan Levine just did… ‘Twas an unbelievable year, 2016. The good thing, great! The bad ones, terrible, including a bad flu that grabbed breadth from Hilda and me just during Christmas week. The students this year were great, and they produced the best blogs ever, to be shown in a next post. If I weren’t that lazy, I’d have done it a month ago. Three groups of students also won prizes for videos on the Internet for the Internet Society.

I did 35 posts in 2016, that is one every two weeks. Too little, now that we ought to reclaim and defend the Web. Yes, I fell into apathy with Twitter and other networks, but I participated a lot with my classes and students. That was a lot of fun.

So, 2016 began in Rincón, under the tropical sun with the four of us.

Rincón, Puerto Rico

Then came Alan for a month-long stay at Sagrado, where we had a wonderful time sharing the Inf115 course and his genius “Una foto cada día” activity, cloned from the famed ds106 assignment bank. I cannot thank Alan enough for the great inspiration and time together. I have suspicion he had some good time himself!


The two big events of 2016 were our daughters’ graduations, of course. Chiara graduated from Syracuse University with a hard-earned BS in Biology and we went to upstate NY to share a little with her, her friends and environment. We saw her house, her neighborhood, her workplace at one cafeteria, where she was loved and commended by fellow workers.


On our way back to NYC we stayed at the famous “quirky, art-focused” Carlton Arms Hotel, a place close to Madison Square Park, where everything is made and decorated by the artists who have been living there. Great place, if spartan–and cheap.


In NYC, we had the luck to savor a wonderful meal at one of my favorite restaurants, the Hundred Acres, down in the Village. Spring menu, fantastic!


At B&N of course, I bought a copy of this book, just to have with me. It would serve me well during the rest of the year!


We also spent one night in Pennsylvania on the route from Syracuse: that was when we learned that we’d actually cross this state in mid NY. It was a nice stay, and of course we were so happy and proud for Chiara.

Younger daughter Flavia (on the right here, with friend Gaby) graduated from High School later, and she felt so adult, having just marked her 18th year!


So, mission accomplished, in one sense, but still a long road to go.

During the summer nobody made a move: Chiara was studying, Flavia partying and I kept sort of going to my office to begin working on the STEMmED project’s end that was closing in fast.


Flavia continued to do her dance and theater pieces, better and better. I kept on with my culinary passion (here a home-made roman Tomato Stuffed with rice, one of the delicacies of Rome’s ubiquitous rosticcerie).


And now, since autumn, the STEMmED project is over, and we’ll soon complete its final report. As the last hours of this year come and go, I am enjoying a tranquil time with the family, here in San Juan, and recovering from the flu. Just want to thank friends and foes who helped make this a very non-conforming one!

[All photos taken and shared by moi meme. Please use according to CC-license BY-SA-NC]

[Featured photo–also by me– is of baby turtles being rescued by specialized personnel from a beach in eastern Puerto Rico. We were amazed and speechless witnessing the experience.]

Baby turtles being rescued on the beach.

Baby turtles being rescued on the beach.

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