The question “What does it mean?” in regard to any work of art is, in my opinion, overrated. I’m not saying it’s unimportant, but if an artist is trying to say something that can be summed up in a simple sentence or two they can just come right out and say “Don’t play with razor blades in the middle of the interstate”. The more important question, I think, is, “Do I like this?” If you like something then it has some kind of meaning for you even if you can’t put it into words. And if you like it maybe you’ll try to understand what the artist’s intentions were, what meaning the work had for the person who created it and what, if anything, they hoped to convey. Maybe knowing what the artist wanted to convey will help you understand why you like a specific work.
I always wonder about the artist’s intentions with any graffiti I see but I’m especially fascinated by these two words. From the handwriting I’m pretty sure it’s the same person. What did they mean here?
The Oxford English Dictionary helps a little. “Abate” can be a noun that means “Diminution, reduction”, or a verb meaning “To put an end to” or ” To take possession of land between the death of the owner and the accession of the heir, thereby keeping the legitimate heir out of possession”. It can also mean ” Of a falcon, hawk, etc.: to beat or flap the wings, to flutter”.
All those definitions are listed as obsolete which is weird because I’m sure I’ve heard the word “abate” used, or maybe I’m just hanging around obsolete people.
So what is “erge”? Even though it’s kinda funky I’m pretty sure that second letter is an “r”. This would be a lot easier to figure out if it were an “d” because I know what “edge” means but not even the OED helps with “erge”. I have to go farther afield and consult the Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures by Theresa Bane: “From Basque mythology comes the demon Erge (‘taker’). The intangible and invisible demon of death, he takes a person when he feels that their time is right.”
I have no clue whether that’s what the artist intended and it doesn’t really matter. I like it.
Seen any graffiti you like? Send a picture to email@example.com. I’ll give you credit, unless you wouldn’t like that.