Friday, March 09, 2012

Will history judge society by our graffiti?

Dostoevsky said the "degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons," but perhaps future historians will judge us instead by our graffiti, or at least the graff that escapes buffing. The headline of a recent article in Science Daily proclaimed: "Ancient 'graffiti' unlocks the life of the common man," referring to 2,000 year-old graffiti in Israel as a sociological treasure trove equivalent to the "tweets of antiquity."

It must infuriate anti-graff zealots like the good folks in Corpus Christi to imagine that history might someday judge them by the scrawls they buff, cover and prosecute with Sisyphian doggedness.


Soronel Haetir said...

Well, the thing is, such things are about all we have of what common people were thinking and writing at the time. Unlike now where we produce so much written material it clogs our garbage processing systems. If society were to completely collapse sure most of that would disappear, but just like the dead sea scrolls survived I suspect that caches would survive from now. There is simply so much more material that to think all of it would disappear is a little far fetched. And that even though modern paper is not as durable, I believe the total quantity would ensure that some of it would survive.

Now, the more interesting task I would give our future archeologist would be separating fact from fantasy. Writing 2000 years ago was such a limited commodity that there simply wasn't a great deal of fiction, and the fiction that was written down was for the most part intended to serve a larger purpose than pure entertainment, education, etc.

rodsmith said...

IF they do the only conclusion they will be able to make is the entire society we have now is pyschotic!

Lee said...

Don't read too much into graffiti.