Lisztomania was characterized by a hysterical reaction to Liszt and his concerts. Liszt’s playing was reported to raise the mood of the audience to a level of mystical ecstasy. Admirers of Liszt would swarm over him, fighting over his handkerchiefs and gloves. Fans would wear his portrait on brooches and cameos. Women would try to get locks of his hair, and whenever he broke a piano string, admirers would try to obtain it in order to make a bracelet. Some female admirers would even carry glass phials into which they poured his coffee dregs. According to one report:Liszt once threw away an old cigar stump in the street under the watchful eyes of an infatuated lady-in-waiting, who reverently picked the offensive weed out of the gutter, had it encased in a locket and surrounded with the monogram “F.L.” in diamonds, and went about her courtly duties unaware of the sickly odour it gave forth.
An enchanted cigar stump? Holy smokes!
Alternatively, one could say that his fans were always Hungary for more.
Anyway, this post isn’t about Liszt so much as it is about lists.
First, one must understand that there are two kinds of people:
1. Those who believe lists should contain at least 3 items.
2. Those who don’t.
Some individuals prefer to live without lists, but these persons are perpetually listless.
(Cf. Tom Swifties)
The best kind of list, of course, is the grocery list. And don’t forget the Surreal List, the Real List, the Mental List, the Duel List, the Survival List, and the Financial Anna List.
Next best, however, is the Ideal List. The Shameless Ideal List.
The Shameless Ideal List, aside from being a terrible pun, is the name given to the list of what we desire in a romantic partner.
1. Writes a so-so blog.
2. Likes puns.
3. Writes a so-so blog that contains puns.
4. Appreciates “meta” things, such as listing a blog in a blog about listing.
5. Likes the chiasmus, and Wikipedia articles, and Wikipedia articles about the chiasmus.
The above list is representative of most girls’ lists.
Oh yeah, it’s missing one:
6. Has an unrealistic understanding of what girls are looking for in a guy.
Anyway, in semi-seriousness, these lists are pretty fun to make. Does anyone really use them, though? I’ve had some fun chats with friends about the topic, and it seems that
1. These lists are fun to make.
2. Although some of the items might be silly (hair colour, eye colour, criminal record), the content of these lists matters to us.
3. Ultimately, we can’t imagine using this list to decide whether or not to pursue someone. Can you imagine?
You know, I was sure that girl was the one. Then I realized she didn’t qualify based upon item 7b of The Ideal List, 12th Edition.
Then again, perhaps some people do do this. Hehe, I said do do.
*AHEM* Perhaps some people do refer back to the list. And perhaps there are potential “deal-breakers” that we don’t think about until it’s too late.
Still, it seems that most items that really matter to us should, well, be pretty apparent fairly early on, assuming that we’re being open with the person in question. Then again, perhaps I’m naive, credulous, gullible, easily tricked, and guilty of redundancy and pleonasm. I mean… I may be naive, but it seems that these lists are better suited as conversation-starters than relationship-enders, at least in the hypothetical scenario in which one’s heart and mind say yes but one’s list says no.
Don’t worry, this blog post will turn to Social Psychological research shortly
But first – Perhaps just as creating love based on lists seems foolish, perhaps so too is creating lists based on love.
What I mean to say is, while it’s fun, perhaps even healthy, to explicitly state “why” you like something, love someone, etc.
(“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”),
it seems that sometimes we just like someone (a significant other… or a celebrity crush) or something (e.g., a Sufjan Stevens song) and cannot, and need not, decompose the reasons. Decompose is not a romantic word.
In fact, some very fascinating Social Psychological research (haha, another redundant pleonasm) indicates that thinking about why we like something (i.e., introspection), such as why we like a Monet painting, can temporarily change our attitudes (attitude = whether, and how much, we like/dislike something).
If we make decisions based upon this temporary attitude, we may later regret these decisions when our attitudes return to “normal” and no longer favour the painting we have just purchased.
Classic studies (e.g., Wilson et al., 1993) have provided evidence for just that.
For example, when looking at a painting by Monet, people might have a generally positive reaction. When thinking about why they feel the way they do, however, what comes to mind and is easiest to verbalize might be that some of the colors are not very pleasing and that the subject matter, a haystack, is rather boring. If so, people might adopt, at least temporarily, the more negative attitude implied by their reasons. We have found evidence in several studies for just this sequence of events. When people are asked why they feel the way they do about something, they often change their attitudes in the direction of the attitude implied by their reasons…
Wilson and colleagues are careful to note that there are certainly times when introspection is helpful. Still, there are many situations in which over-thinking may be just as harmful as under-thinking.
My, that was a wordy, and nerdy, blog post. Ah well – it’s food for thought. You can chews how long to spend digesting it, but as Wilson and colleagues note, it may be best not to spend too much time ruminating. All right, time for brunch.
Questions? Blog post ideas? A guest blog post, or two, or three, or four, etc., and guest cartoons, would be ideal … If I you don’t mind me being an idealist.