By Jane O'Brien
BBC News, Washington DC
What can lists tells us about the personality of the list-maker? An exhibition in Washington reveals the obsessive and controlling sides of some of the world's greatest artists.
There are several stages to writing a list.
First there is the gentle thrill of anticipation as I contemplate the pristine paper in front of me. I may not yet have a subject for my list, but just the thought of one gives me a sense of purpose.
Second there is the light-headed buzz that gradually develops into bliss, euphoria and an all-consuming calm.
Third comes the extraordinary sense of satisfaction from having created a rigid timetable of impossible tasks that has taken a disproportionate amount of time and thought.
It doesn't matter that I will never look at it again.
Psychologists say that obsessive compulsive list makers (I guess that includes me) are trying to create an illusion of control in otherwise chaotic lives.
I see nothing wrong with that. In the words of the American abstract artist, Charles Green Shaw: "Real happiness consists in not what we actually accomplish, but what we think we accomplish."
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