Saturday, November 22, 2008

More about literary tattoos 

I'll say straight up that I know I'm working from a skewed sample. I'm looking not at the entire population of people who have tattoos of literary quotes but only those who choose to post pictures of said tattoos on the internet and on particular blogs or zines.

But I have reached a conclusion anyway, and it interests me.

Three authors are clearly the most popular. And of these authors, I've only seen one or two quotes from each. In order, the authors are
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Dr. Seuss
- Chuck Palahniuk

Vonnegut is by far the most popular, with two quotes from Slaughterhouse-Five. The most common is "So it goes." The other is "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt." See here and here and here and here.

Dr. Seuss's fan's have an image of the Lorax and the line, "I speak for the trees." Sometimes the quote itself is missing, and the tattoo is just of the Lorax. Like this.

One Chuck Palahniuk quote is a long speech my Tyler Durden. Here.

I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

And there's this.

I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions, because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.

One or two people had a simple, "Nevermore."

Many tattoos were in Sindarin, or at least in Tolkien's Elvish. e. e. cummings made a good showing, and so did Shel Silverstein. And the Little Prince. Lots of pictures of him.

And of course, there's Shelley Jackson's project, "Skin," a short story written on flesh instead of paper. Almost 3,000 words, almost 3,000 people, and each person volunteered to have a single word tattoos somewhere on his or her body. They could not choose the word (though they knew the word before they got the tattoo - I mean that once they got their word, they couldn't ask for a different one). I don't think any of them yet know the story.

(I got all the links from contrariwise.org but chose to link to the images the site links to.)

I wonder now what words would be worth writing on my skin. I've written on my skin plenty in ink and in Sharpie permanent ink (and other things) but nothing that's lasted. Only symbols - life, movement, strength, love. No, once faintly the word "loved" in Ogham 0 only the lo--d remain, just barely visible.

When I got married, I thought of a tattooed wedding ring. I wondered how I could shorten the Hebrew line "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." אלִול I think, instead of אני אהובי, ואהובי שלי. "Our sages have told us that Elul is the acronym for "ani l'dodi v'dodi le," says Avi Lazerson. But I don't know Hebrew, and I wouldn't want to rely on the Internet for a translation for something I'd get as a tattoo. (Here's why. The page shows people who wanted tattoos in Japanese, but end up with tattoos in gibberish.)

I think:

- Parachute over me. or How much strength does it take for exploration, a split decision, or are you stronger to remain?

- Dis alter visum.

- I miss Saturn very much.

I've also got a sketch of a book that would look nice on my inner elbow, opposite my anhk...

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