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Prufrock-Quoting Taggers Target Pittsburgh Library

Daily News

Online Only, posted 7.31.08

The Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh's culturally vibrant Oakland neighborhood was hit with a bit of bookish graffiti early Monday morning, much to the chagrin of library staff. One of the tags, more messy scrawling than graffiti art, attempts to quote a line from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot: "I wish I were a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas." (The actual line begins "I should have been...")

While the library’s main focus is removing the tags from the historic building, the vandalism did spark public interest, prompting some members of the community to contemplate the impetus behind the tagging. The vandal "might have felt alienated," Linda Kinnhan, a professor of English at Duquesne University, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It's an expression of feeling not at home in the world, perhaps."

Library surveillance footage attributes the tags to two men, who also sprayed the library's front steps with the imperative, "for freedom—enter here." Library staff were not the only ones to find the method of this sentiment’s delivery misdirected; the vandals themselves left a third mark, "this is not a good way to handle my problems," punctuated with a yin-yang-eyed frowning face shedding a single black tear.

 

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