Why do we love both the lists?

Photo: Fred Dufour Agence France-Presse
A list creates a branch, a hierarchy, and so a value; especially in culture, where the supply remains higher than demand.

Between the shopping list of Christmas gifts, the top popular and microcritique, tops the annual change in a few weeks, the news articles in the lists… and the media, lists of lists. Custom that readers love and that ring in chorus the festive bells of the consumption and the culture of melancholy and efficiency, while stopping — “Click” ! — a portrait annual of the society by its cultural objects. But why do we love both the tops ?

And here we go again ! Another year end, another set of top 5, top, ” 10 ” coups de coeur “, ” best of cds, books, performances, restaurants, movies, wine, and tutti quanti. The tops of the end of the year, and The Duty is generous, they are nothing more than lists signed by the hand of criticism. The experts of the writing and the shrinks will tell you the same. A list, this is the equivalent to delicious sugar for the brain. 1) A numbered list, 2) defined in space and time, which one can estimate the playback time, 3) to the subject and the classification established, and therefore more simple to understand 4) that drags our eye very smoothly, title in title, and from the first to the fifth position, 5) on beautiful rounded numbers (5, 10, 15, 20), has what it takes to keep our attention.

Nothing seems simpler, as a list, in fact it is much more complicated than it seems : you always forget something, one is tempted to write etc, but just that, a inventory, it is when we don’t write etc
Georges Perec

“All of these elements contribute to create an experience that is easy-to-read, where the hard efforts of conceptualization, categorization and analysis are already made for us [by the same] — it is a bit like drinking a smoothie with the kale instead of grazing a bouquet “, shows the author, a psychologist and contributor to the New Yorker Maria Konnikova in an article on the subject. “And our brain is always thirsty of information that can be integrated without effort. “


This love of the list by our cognitive structures is such that some authors do not hesitate to offer it as panacea for a better life, and it has been seen on the shelves, “Psychology” libraries of titles like The art of lists. Simplify, organize, enrich his life, or The magic of the list. Live your dreams. Among others.


Critics, ossa gives ?


“We are in such an overabundance of information and news, with social media, even if it is a cliché to say it, that the media still remain advisors and curators of cultural significance “, the president and publisher of Infopresse, Arnaud Granata, when asked why the media leave at the end of each year as a place for the tops. “They tell us upon what our attention should be focused. Especially in culture, where the supply remains higher than demand, ” and where, for all to see, it would be necessary to devote much, much time, and much, much money.


“The list comes to create a sort of management hierarchy, analysis of his side Dannick Trottier, professor of musicology at the UQAM. By prioritizing and, we create value : the more one comes to the higher level, the more one creates. It always works by stratification. Even on the human level, read something and go to that final point creates expectations. “


Just before Christmas, the lists also allow you to sell and buy gifts, ” says Mr. Granata, they are of the dynamic that seeks to make us buy “. To horse between the council and cultural consumption, the tops respond well to our current vision of the culture, which does not escape its scope commercial. We track to the best, perhaps, to the shock aesthetic, avoiding air pockets, the troubles, the turnips and all the “yeah, this is ordinary” that come with the regular attendance of a part


Each one seeks his own list


So down-to-earth, the tops also allow for the cultural journalism to retain its place in the information when the current subsides, at a time when entertainment and news are much more rare, in the middle of winter. More poetically, if the charts have the distinction of being lists practices — defined, complete and finished, they are both infinitely debatable and open to criticism.


We can always find a good reason to be in disagreement with a proposal, either because they hated her, or, on the contrary, because one of our blows of heart does not find. “We are in a relationship a little dialectic between what the list offers us and what we have seen during the year,” illustrates Mr. Trottier, between the values carried by the critical top and our values of aficionado. “There is always a link, a game that everyone plays with the lists, which confirm or disprove some of our assumptions. “Enough to feed the discussions, the ones we take alone with his copy of the newspaper, or with loved ones around a warm table.


The magic seductress lists work, for formal reasons, psychological and algorithmic, miraculously well on the Web, ” supreme Mother of all lists “, as the named Umberto Eco in his book the Vertigo of the list (Flammarion Quebec), ” infinite by definition, because in continuous evolution […], spider’s web and maze, and not tree-ordered, that, of all the dizziness, the most totally virtual, and we offer a catalog of information that makes us feel rich and powerful, at the price of no longer knowing which of its elements refers to data from the real world and which not, without any distinction now between truth and error “. And you, what list do you eat ?

Time travel on the back of the “tops”

“The top end by a witness of an era,” stressed the editor Infopresse Arnaud Granata. You can easily, plunging into the tops of the years 1960 or 1970, feel the air of the time. “He edits, and occurs so much during a year, you lose it in pieces “, said professor Dannick Trottier. “The list of the end of the year just redirect it all, she draws what will stay. “Or what should stay, because the critical eye remains fallible and oblivion, cruel. Travel back in time, to see, on the back of tops of musical Duty.

1987 : in a text that is more in the nature of the retrospective that the top of the year, Jean-François Doré pointed out, and now we’re not, the success of Nuance, and Live in the night, Rock et Belles oreilles, sea View-Daniel Lavoie and A hole in the clouds of Michel Rivard.

1997 : the colleague Sylvain Cormier fights back, in this order, the records of Claire Pelletier Murmures d’histoire, Fred Fortin Joseph Antoine Frédéric Fortin Perron, the ultimate Gaston Mandeville, Eight, as well as the opus of Jean Rabouin and of Patrick Norman.

2007 : more franco-alternator, the colleague Philippe Papineau elected Turnip Confit and LP22, Knitting Machine, Gatineau and El Motor, these last three albums whose titles bore their names.

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