Saturday, September 13, 2008


"Obama for president..."
That's exactly the way it appears, in spray paint, on a brick wall six blocks away from my house. It's not the words that stuck with me. It's not my general disdain for graffiti. On the contrary. It occur ed to me that if ever there was a sentiment that needed to be scrawled across city streets and sidewalks, that would be it. It's the urban equivalent of a yard sign, I suppose. It was not the opinion expressed that struck me. It was the punctuation.
According to Wikipedia: "The triple-dot punctuation mark is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially, dot-dot-dot." An ellipsis is generally used to indicate an omission. Maybe just a word, or a phrase, but it could be a thought or conclusion that has been left out. I use this device myself on a regular basis when I am writing notes or e-mail. It is a great way to lead a reader to a conclusion. It is very effective in comedy, when you write your setup, and leave the punchline hanging in the guise of those three dots.
Parents use it when they don't want to give voice to their threats. Teachers use it when they expect their students to know an answer. It is not a question, but a rhetorical pause. The response should be known to the reader or listener. "Or there will be trouble." "George Washington and the Continental Congress." "Voodoo Economics." What follows "Obama for President..." leaves me wondering. Is it a threat? Is there an obvious response?
I want to believe that the author's intent was to suggest that the election of Barack Obama is a foregone conclusion. I hope that whoever wrote that on the wall had something in mind when they left me hanging. I have decided that this is what the politically-minded vandal had in mind: "Obama for president, because the alternative is unthinkable."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen, my brother.