Thursday, December 18, 2008

Here I sit, broken hearted...

While i was Christmas shopping, I noticed something that I hadn't seen in a while: bathroom graffiti.

This would be no big thing for most people, but I hadn't seen any for quite a while. BYU naturally erased any graffiti that appeared on bathroom walls immediately. However, when I was doing my undergrad, I had the opportunity to see many a stall covered with graffiti. From classic poems to offers of goods and services to political debates, bathroom stalls were always a source of entertainment and fascination to me.

Apparently I'm not the only one. Latrinalia (apparently bathroom graffiti has a technical name—who knew?) has been studied by anthropologists and archaeologists. apparently graffiti has been found in restrooms in Pompeii, and the content of that graffiti was basically the same as it is now. In fact, the Romans used to revere Venus Cloacina as goddess of the Roman sewers—prayers to her were in the form of rhymed verses.

I had a college professor who, only half-jokingly, said that bathroom graffiti was a cradle of true democracy. He likened it to the graffiti on the Berlin Wall--a place where vulgar and lofty ideas are displayed side by side, and the censor's paintbrush only provides a fresh canvas. I'm not sure about all of that. I just find myself entertained by statements that have later been altered by subsequent users in a series of ever funnier edits. I wonder whether anyone has actually called the phone number carved into the plastic of the toilet paper dispenser. And I take solace in the fact that even though most poets write in blank or free verse, the shithouse poet will make sure that his poems rhyme properly.

3 comments:

Mitch said...

"And I take solace in the fact that even though most poets write in blank or free verse, the shithouse poet will make sure that his poems rhyme properly."

This is exactly the same for EVERY poem that I heard in Church growing up. Every single one of them was either an ABAB or an AABB couplet.

Jacobi said...

I too enjoy the eclectic medium of the bathroom stall.

LA VIDA said...

This is one of the best blogs I have seen ya do. It was entertaining, comical, made me think of the Latrinalia that I have seen in my life. Knights to you Nato!