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The writer/philosopher Jorge Luis Borges wrote an essay titled "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins" wherein he attributes the following, somewhat startling, animal taxonomy to an ancient Chinese encyclopedia, the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge:
  1. those that belong to the Emperor
  2. embalmed ones
  3. those that are trained
  4. suckling pigs
  5. mermaids
  6. fabulous ones
  7. stray dogs
  8. those that are included in this classification
  9. those that tremble as if they were mad
  10. innumerable ones
  11. those drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush
  12. others
  13. those that have just broken a flower vase
  14. those that resemble flies from a distance

You can draw what conclusions you like from such an ordered list. That was certainly the intent of its use by Borges. He was interested in order and how ultra-order can become opaque, even disorderly. For example in his story "The Library of Babel" the encyclopedia contained not only entries for everything known, but also for everything that could be known. There was so much information, and such an earnest attempt to anticipate information, that it veered into nightmare. Regarding taxonomies and the example of the Chinese encyclopedia, Borges says "it is clear that there is no classification of the Universe not being arbitrary and full of conjectures. The reason for this is very simple: we do not know what thing the universe is."

There is some disagreement as to the authenticity of "the list". Borges obliquely encouraged doubts as to its origins. It is suggested even that he might have fabricated it himself whole-cloth, attributed the first citation to a certain Doctor Franz Kuhn to wash his hands on the question, and went about the important business of making his point. Prof. Daniel Balderston has written concerning Franz Kuhn, who certainly was a real person, and was queried on this matter of “the list” by a Mr. Jeremy Ahouse some years ago, in a letter I found in a newsgroup. The professor related that although Borges would indeed appear to conveniently attribute some useful facts to other writers it often turns out that, after deeper research, many of these rumored “attributions of convenience” are verifiable at the source.

With that bit of indirection in hand, the reader is left, again, to draw their own conclusions. No doubt Borges would be pleased.