We like lists because we don’t want to die

We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.

That is Umberto Eco on his new exhibition of lists at the Louvre.

The people from the Louvre approached me and asked whether I’d like to curate an exhibition there, and they asked me to come up with a program of events. Just the idea of working in a museum was appealing to me. I was there alone recently, and I felt like a character in a Dan Brown novel. It was both eerie and wonderful at the same time. I realized immediately that the exhibition would focus on lists.

Why am I so interested in the subject? I can’t really say. I like lists for the same reason other people like football or pedophilia. People have their preferences.

See the full Der Spiegel interview. Hat tip to Phillip S.