Graffito: "To Be Is To Do" "To Do Is To Be" "Do Be Do Be Do"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Sep 16 14:59:30 UTC 2013

According to Google Books
"frank sinatra" socrates sartre "to be is to do" "to do is to be" "do be do be do"
are found in The Butterfly Kid by Chester Anderson (1967),
but I have not seen to book to attempt to confirm this.

Stephen Goranson
From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Monday, September 16, 2013 8:49 AM
Subject: [ADS-L] Graffito: "To Be Is To Do" "To Do Is To Be" "Do Be Do Be              Do"

The 1982 novel “Deadeye Dick” by Kurt Vonnegut mentioned the following
piece of graffiti:

    To be is to do - Socrates.
    To do is to be - Jean-Paul Sartre.
    Do be do be do - Frank Sinatra.

There are many versions of this graffito. It is listed in Cassell's
Humorous Quotations (2001), Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations
(1980) and Encyclopedia of Graffiti (1974).

Victor Steinbok contacted me off-list and suggested this would be an
interesting topic for research. Thanks Victor!

The earliest relevant cite I have located appeared in the Dallas
Morning News on Januarys 29, 1968. Here is a link to the QI article:

The graffito evolved over several decades and many philosophers and
authors have been substituted into the template including: Dale
Carnegie, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus,
John Stuart Mill, William James, William Shakespeare, and Bertrand
Russell. The punchline ascribed to Frank Sinatra, in some form, is
usually preserved.

Feedback welcome,

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