Rough Drafts

Stet is a Latin verb—stand firm, remain, rest. As any editor worth their salt knows, in both Latin and English, it usually means “let it be.” Don’t make any changes. It is fine as it is. As graffiti on a concrete wall, it becomes more of a plea than a command: please, let it stay. Don’t erase, don’t overwrite. The artist does not want their work—and their name—to be seen as a first trial which can be discarded, but rather as a final product. It is a plea for permanence in an impermanent medium, for stability in a chaotic world. They want to be history, not its rough draft.

Photos: Mark Silberstein/Flickr/CC BY 2.0; James Street, XI/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 (images cropped)

Download PDF

Perspectives on History April 2023 Cover.


L. Renato Grigoli, editor
Laura Ansley, managing editor
Lizzy Meggyesy, research and publications assistant
Alexandra F. Levy, communications manager
Liz Townsend, manager, data administration and integrity