There are two markers to the end of every calendar year and the beginning of a new one. They are afflictions that strike the best of us, making it impossible for us not to give in to their conceit. One, of course, is the much-used, much-abused New Year resolution. From the third week of December every year, otherwise perfectly rational people give in to the temptation of believing that the date of January 1 will somehow magick their bad habits away. The idea of renewal is irresistible, even to those who make the same resolutions year after year, only to fall into their regular routine of junk food and smoking before the month is out, thus bringing themselves nothing but guilt. I, for one, definitely fall under this category. So much so that accumulated guilt has prompted me to take the extreme measure of reviving my blog to share the guilt with this post.
The other, far more annoying, conceit is the end of year list. Ubiquitous as it was before the internet was ever dreamed of, it has taken on a whole new arrogance now that the Web has made it so easy for every Tom, Dick and whatshisname to shout out to the world how, clearly, Avatar is the best film ever made. No, really. It is impossible to navigate through cyberspace without at least inadvertently falling into the clutches of The List. Even serious, otherwise sensible newspapers, magazines and journals succumb to this end of year madness. Top 10 books, top 10 movies, top 10 books on movies... and these are only the most innocuous (if widespread) of the bunch. You haven't read a top-whatever list until you stumble across such gems as the top 10 birds that can kick your ass (perhaps the only 10 birds that can do it, particularly if one is... substantial), or the top 10 urinals, which is not information that ever needed to be tabulated. There are even lists on which the best lists are.
This obsession with lists cuts across boundaries, sexes; pretty much every divide. Why must we categorize things into our favourites and bests? And who chose the perfectly arbitrary number of 10, anyway? And why do we think the end of a calendar year is about anything but setting ourselves up for the same fall all over again? My theory is that it's our way of putting the past in neat little categories where they belong. Aside from me, nobody cares if i think the Star Trek reboot trumps Serenity in the best non-Star Wars space opera movie stakes, after all. I could create my list, somebody with too much time and not enough work would notice it and disagree, we'd argue and then lather, rinse and repeat in 2010.
Smart Alec said, "At this rate, he may regrettably have to change his name to Shashi Tha-rue"