All you other semioticians can't deny
That's an excellent summary (on metafilter) of this article, where Umberto Eco speaks about why our knowledge of infiity and mortality leds us to like lists of things.
The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order -- not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists... The list doesn't destroy culture; it creates it. Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists.I think lists are a way of imposing some order on infinity, for people who don't like order too much. Lists retain a certain provisionality, they invite amendment, and they don't formalise the relationship between elements very strongly. They are less oppressive than systems.