Essay: THE YEARS BEST, OR, THERE IS ROOM AT THE TOP

MAN is a tireless maker of lists. He catalogues sins and virtues, victories and defeats, laws of nature and properties of beauty, the noblest thoughts and the fastest athletes, the richest men and the best-dressed women. The habit is not universally applauded. Kierkegaard, for instance, a little contemptuously compared categorizers to Leporello, Don Juan's servant, who merely kept a list of his master's conquests while the Don enjoyed them. But listmaking remains popular, perhaps because it creates the impression, however illusory, that it imposes order on a chaotic world, establishes a hierarchy...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!