Issue No. 4—The Art & Manner of Arranging One’s Everything is inspired by Georges Perec’s piece by a similar name in which the author considers the problems of order and classification. Using a personal book collection as the basis for his thought experiment, he suggests that any library (or bookshelf) must serve two functions: to conserve certain objects, and to organize them in a certain way. Perec explores various organizational approaches from the obvious (by alphabetical order) to the absurd (an algebraic equation whose solution equals 361). In the process, the author touches upon questions concerning materiality, physics, aesthetics, and the problem of knowledge.

Perec’s obsession with a perfectly organized bookshelf provides a metaphor for the universal (and borderline pathological) urge to make sense of the world through systems of order and classification. He warns us, however, that any effort towards total order and universal understanding will invariably and forever be counterbalanced by chaos and uncertainty.

With this paradox in mind, Issue No. 4 asks how others might approach the taxonomic problem. Is the urge to categorize really a universal tendency? How useful (or problematic) are these constructs for making sense of the world around us? The Art & Manner of Arranging One’s Everything Volume-1, is a compendium of taxonomic systems submitted by various experts and enthusiasts on subjects ranging from postmodern philosophers to sandwiches, and is a first attempt at exploring these questions.

See the full issue on Google Sheets here

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