This is the wording of a piece of graffiti
to be found on South Parks Road in Oxford
. The words are in plain foot
-high white letters and although some significant effort
has been made to scrub the wall
clean, the enigmatic one-liner
simply cannot be shifted
Where did that oddball statement come from? The person who daubed it on the wall almost certainly got it from E.E.Cummings, who said, "life is not a paragraph . . . and death, I think, is no parenthesis." in the poem "Since Feeling is First"
What does it mean? 1,000 Oxford students have thought that self same thing every day as they head up South Parks Road to lectures in the Engineering, Computation and Physics departments. So much wasted brain power. If only the author had realised how much power he had at his disposal, he surely would've put something more worthwhile up there.
I never said it was. Who said it was? I must have had this thought about 10 percent of the times I saw those words. Was this person responding to a false assertion, or simply making a point? Or perhaps a point without a point: a bland statement of fact.
How long has it been there? I thought this quite often too. It was there in 1997 when I first went to Oxford but it still looks the same today. Maybe it's been there for decades. I am unlikely to ever find out.
What a tosser. I think this was my most common thought upon reading the sentence. This is partly because there are great swathes of tossers in Oxford and partly because going to lectures put me in a bad mood. I think this says more about my bad attitude than it says about the graffiti.
Who wrote it? This is the biggie. It will surely go down as another unsolved mystery alongside Why did he write that? What did it mean to him?
The main reason I have brought this little slice of Oxford to E2 is that for the first time I can remember, those five words have seemed appropriate to a situation. You see, in the world of E2, life is merely paragraphs. Admittedly there are a great many and a number of them are even worthwhile, but it has to be made clear to the obsessive noders that life is not a paragraph. You can build a gigantic collection of writeups, but you'll never manage to condense even a day of your life into neatly formatted HTML.