It's all about immortality.
Michelangelo has it. So does Rembrandt. And students really want it.
To some degree, they've got it. At least until the next time the desks and walls get cleaned.
Harvard students seeking to shortcut the rough road to immortality graffiti their names, year and other pre-autobiography minutiae, and examples of this unique art form are found everywhere throughout the campus.
The classic feat of spending the night in Widener is commemorated by one who claims he actually did, and wrote it down for the edification of future generations. "I spent the night here. July '85. No shit," reads the desk.
But "on July 4th, 1978, nothing happened here!" someone with a less exciting life wrote on a desk in Lamont.
Graffiti is, after all, "just a gesture against obscurity," as "SDD" admitted in his scribblings on a Lamont desk.
But most graffiti refers not to fame, but to a classic Harvard experience--too much work.
Who could fall to empathize with the pathetic story of a "desperate Wigg freshman," etched on a desk on the Science Center's top floor, even though the student has probably long since blocked out the experience?
"It's fall reading period, 1985. it's 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, and I'm still reading Julius Caesar and Hamlet for my Garber exam on Monday, while I haven't started studying for my Chem 10 exam on Tuesday. Help!"
And, More desperately, "I'm in deep shit. I have a paper due six days ago." Someone who probably turned in that paper, as well as several more, could find only enough words to scribble "if I write one more paper. I am going to lose it."
Some friendly artist kindly inquired of his captive audience in Lamont 605 "Hi, how are you? having fun?" Only to be answered cynically with the scrawl "on, not really."
But when too much work becomes too mundane, students turn to another favorite topic: how much they hate Harvard.
Some express their disillusionment succinctly, "Harvard sucks."
Others are more eloquent in describing their distaste, "Harvard is like a drug. It costs a lot. It's fun to think about doing. It's really neat for a short time. But after a while, you're fucked up for good."