If you aren’t familiar with this series, But Is It Lit aims to report on fun, local(ish) phenomena/ephemera and ask of it the age old question: is it literature?
Last month, we went hiking with our friends in Lancaster Transplant at an excellent boulder field near Lebanon, PA. Where is it exactly? Well, as Jocelyn Park (founder of Lancaster Transplant, visual designer, and our tour guide on this hike) writes, “It’s hard to find the location unless you’ve been there before, a pull-off just to the right, about a mile or so past where Pumping Station Road and 322 meet.”
It’s basically a hill of giant rocks. The hike is as fun and as tough as you want it to be, as there are an endless number of ways to tackle the hill. As we were exploring the rock scramble, colloquially known as the Devil’s Potato Patch, we noticed graffiti-art covering the boulders. We thought we’d be spending the day in nature, where the only literature we’d encounter would be the notes we might scrawl in our journals once we reached the top.
But, oh were we wrong. (Or were we?)
Cutting to the chase—here’s what I think about the graffiti at Potato Patch:
1. The messages spray-painted on the rocks are like news headlines…
…from 17 years ago. But, forest dwellers and passing vagrants might not be aware of some of these things yet, so it serves a purpose.
2. The messages spray-painted on the rocks are like tweets.
Gross oversharing and in-your-face humor work to surprise the reader. Laughter is a common reaction. These short, probably true, jokes are much like the 140-character snapshots we get on a daily basis from writers and humorists alike. They are in our feeds; they are here on our rocks.
3. The messages spray-painted on the rocks may sound like poetry…
…but they are really just quotes from Fight Club. Great line from Palahniuk‘s opus, but can we get some original material? Same goes for the banality displayed here:
4. The messages spray-painted on the rocks are challenging your paradigms about not only what literature is, but where it can be found.
Whitman said it best in Song of Myself:
“Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”
So, keep your eyes open and if you see something that might be literature POINT IT OUT (and then email us).