Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Handwriting on the Wall

Rewrites of Jottings: Handwriting on the Wall

Graffito, an inscription or drawing scratched on a wall or other surface started with early human etchings on boulders and cave walls. Egyptians later refined it into a system of writing called hieroglyphs (somewhat resembling a modern day doctor’s prescription). In modern times, graffiti ─ amateur inscriptions and decorations in public places ─ can be regarded as an intolerable nuisance or untrammeled self-expression.
Not all graffiti are the nuisance variety. Some are merely announcements of their existence (“Kilroy was here.”), a few even profound (“The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.”). The anonymous authors also offer postscripts on formal signs, such as the handwritten comment
below the sign of BANKERS TRUST: not me they don’t.

However, many are of the save-the-world type one-liner ─ "Despite the increase in the cost of living, the demand for it continues" and Make it idiot proof and someone will make a better idiot.” or “The gene pool could use a little chlorine.”
Cagayan de Oro also displays the educational level of its youngsters who spray-paint public and private walls and billboards with graffiti. But these are unique. They are expressed with neither art nor wisdom, not with vulgarity, not even with gibberish, which at least hints of a smattering of language, but with random incomprehensible markings. The scribbles strongly suggest the creativity of the scrambled mind of idiots. (In America though, a sort of idiocy is tolerated, even admired, with the advent of neo-abstract art. The new art fad is an agglutination of spontaneous and random forms painted or spilled on canvas and displayed in museums.)
The nuisance of graffiti did raise a storm of displeasure in various sectors of the community led by property owners, and an over-zealous security guard shot a teenager in the act of inscribing his adornment skills. Nevertheless, those who may be enraged by graffiti, whether property owner or guard securing the property, should first reflect before acting, on pain of losing more than their temper following an impulsive act. For there are better ways than venting anger to address the problem.
Graffiti can be contained, not by penalties or threats of sanctions, but by a simple solution: coat the original surface with a special substance from which markings can be removed easily. The U.S. National Bureau of Standards undertook a study for the Dept. of Housing on the problem of graffiti and found first that there are commercially available products (in the U.S.), all of them liquid paint removers, that erased the largest variety of spray-paint markings from common surfaces. Next, they looked at preventive coatings and found three products broadly successful in resisting permanent bonding of the common types of marking: spray paint, crayon, felt-tip pens and lipstick. The three products are generally classified as a urethane, a dimethyl silicone and a styrene acrylonitrile terpolymer. The coatings cost just slightly more than a coat of paint but make graffiti defacement easier to clean up.
The writing on the wall, just as with Nebuchadnezzar’s wall 2,500 years ago, literally and figuratively does not bode well for the image of the city. The absence of wit, wail, railing or sense should be viewed as more worrisome than the vandalism aspect of local graffiti. For childish vandalism can be outgrown, but vacuousness could last a lifetime.

Ignorance is nine tenths of the law

Good judgment comes from experience
And much of that comes from bad judgment

Text Box: YOUTH IS FLEETING But immaturity can last a lifetime

No comments: