10 January, 2009

I am 8,694 days old.

So it's fairly common knowledge that I'm obsessed with lists and tabulations, statistics and spreadsheets, complete documentation. It hasn't yet reached the point where I'm like Nicholas Feltron, recording every beer imbibed and every subway trip traveled, but if you'll look in the right hand column then you'll see that I've racked my brain to recall and rate every movie I've seen and every book I've written (EDIT: read, haha). I have a detailed, scored, sortable inventory of all the 900 or so books in my library with aspirations of adding additional denotations for place purchased and date read and price paid and pagination and condition and god only knows what else I can imagine. I've considered writing an encyclopedia of all of my memories and impressions of every person I can ever recall meeting, and at one point a couple years ago I was writing a maximalist autobiography of all my life's details, both personal and trivial--from my first day of kindergarten to the temperature and wind speed at the time and location of my birth.

I've used the Social Security Death Index to research the obituaries, Myspace pages, newspaper articles, etc. of all 66 of the American citizens who were born on my birthday and have since died. I've expanded my family tree from about 15 known people to over 300. I know unillustrious ancestors ten generations back; I know every address my maternal, maternal great grandfather has ever lived at. Eventually I'll probably draw up some formula to calculate what my genetic life expectancy is.

I'm sentimental. I cling to arbitrary documents. I have most of the movie tickets I've ever purchased. Until twelfth grade I saved every receipt from every purchase I ever made with my own money, and when I started smoking I saved every empty cigarette pack for almost a year.

I've obsessed over canons--which is the point I'm eventually getting to. Time's 100 greatest novels of the twentieth century. Harold Bloom's Western Canon. The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You
Die. The Nobel laureates. The Pulitzer winners. The largely bullshit IMDb Top 250. The AFI 100 Greatest American Films. All of the 78 Academy Award Best Picture winners, which eventually grew to the over 400 Best Picture nominees, which is in the process of growing into the thousands of movies that have ever been nominated for any Oscar whatsoever--as if I really care to see U-571, unsuccessful contender for Best Sound in 2000.

I realize all the list-making and trivial documentation is a national plague. The Wall Street Journal recently did a very forgiving analysis of the trend. Life used to be simple, I imagine, with religious duties and physical science and local warfare imposing all the necessary duties and order. Now we're bombarded with lists of the Greatest Snowbound Horror Movies, trying to figure out how this somehow has anything to do with our place in the world. It's a way to waste time while being active, a time-consuming form of procrastination, a way to make sense of an extremely complicated world, and a way to hold onto memories and ideas and personal mementos in a throwaway, consumerist culture.

But, alas, I'm getting too serious. I wanted to talk about the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? list of the 1000 greatest movies of all time as determined by a consensus of all international film critics and publications of merit. It's a list that's updated about once a year, which is good because it's kept current but also bad because each year, when about 100 movies are swapped out for new, supposedly better choices, the number of movies I've seen on the list tends to drop. I've more or less seen 225 of them at this point, and it'll take me almost 62 days of nonstop watching to see the remaining 775.

I've never ascribed any particular motive to this blog, which though called Bibliophonic is more about movie reviews, often about book reviews, occasionally about gender and media studies, and much less frequently than I'd hoped about my own fiction writing. I just wanted to state that my journey down the TSP list is going to be one of my new foci.

And goddammit, I'll try to post more fiction, too.