Thebastidge: Artwork
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    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    Artwork

    I’m 33 years old as of a few weeks ago, and I’m about to get my first tattoo. At this point, I’ve made the decision, and it’s just a matter of budgeting, because what I want won’t be cheap. I’ve been thinking about this for some time (in excess of ten years) because while the idea of making a statement is interesting, it has to be a statement that I feel comfortable with being permanently a part of my body. Certainly, you can get a tattoo removed, and some day soon, perhaps painlessly and without any scarring. But not at this point. Reality as it obtains right now when I do this thing is what is important.

    It’s not a light decision. I see so many people who (from an arguably valid point of view) disfigure themselves with piercings and tattoos, scarring and branding etc. Then they claim that people unfairly discriminate against them. They rant about ‘judging a book by its cover” and other such nonsense.

    Newsflash for you people: books don’t choose their own covers. Everything about your person is a sort of communication, from your posture to your clothing, tone of voice, facial expression, and yes, the ring through your nose. We’re all evolved to take meaning from visual clues. It’s ridiculous to think people would do otherwise.

    “But I’m not doing this for impressing other people, I do it for myself,” you cry. In a word; bullshit. How often do you spend time admiring the tattoo on your shoulder blade, or lower back? Tattoos may be something that we find interesting, but like our names, they are more for other people to acknowledge than for our own internal use.

    The fact that you have a tattoo doesn’t make you any less reliable, or less of a good person, or anything like that. Alt-lifestyle people are perfectly right in that claim. However, they’ve made a strawman argument by reversing the cause and effect: people who are unreliable and flaky are much more likely to do weird stuff to their bodies. One of the statements you make is that you don’t care about society’s standards of propriety. That statement is about more than just appearance. The more bizarre and unusual the thing you’ve done to yourself, the more extreme the statement, and the more widely it will be interpreted.

    In my local radio market lately, there have been advertisements of the ‘anti-drug’ variety where a teenage voice-over has a monologue about being judged unfairly by their appearance. I have no idea what the relevance of this is, except perhaps to tap into the universal teenage resentment of rules, but I find it extremely annoying. One such advert has a female complaining about being taken for ‘just another pot-smoking teenager’. Well, if you look like a pot-smoking teenager, you’re likely to be treated that way: after all, you made the choice to identify visibly with a pot-smoking teenage culture! Get a clue. And the adults who are encouraging this line of victim-based thinking are to be chastised as well!

    The way you present yourself gives other people clues as to how you regard yourself. It’s that simple.

    So why am I getting a tattoo? I have something to say. It’s that simple. I’ve been getting into my Celtic heritage for some years now. It’s a part of me, and I cannot conceive of a time I might wish to repudiate it. I wear the kilt (Gordon clan) proudly. The tattoo I’m planning will be based upon this theme. On my left arm, I will have a complete wrap around the bicep. On the upper and lower ends, a band of knot-work, and the central theme will be a motif of hounds. Hounds are a symbol of healing, health, and life in Celtic mythology. Beneath the wrap, will be a banner with the clan motto (one of them, anyway) “Bydand”, which means “Enduring”.

    As I’m very graphics-arts challenged, I’m searching for some good examples of the kind of art I’m looking for. The hounds will be elongated and perhaps knotted or wrapped around each other in a pack, as though they were coursing on a hunt. I want to give the impression of movement, of the sort of jostling that a pack of dogs would engage in when they’re excited and focused on a chase. so I'm appealing to my multitude of readers: if either of you happens across something like that online, then I would appreciate it if you were to send it to me.

    4 Comments:

    Blogger Tara Shay said...

    I am curious as to what will you eventually permanently place on your body...and to where. :) Best of luck deciding on this art piece!

    11:45 PM  
    Blogger Jeff Edwards said...

    Larry,
    First off, kudos on the excellent site. I'm looking forward to crossing swords with you now and again. I don't always agree with you, but you always make me think. And that's the whole idea behind this human-interaction thing.
    More on topic, I have three tattoos. Two of them were frivolous, and I've regretted them for years. One of them, the blue feather on my right arm, was an act of love. My nephew wanted to get a tattoo on his 18th birthday, but he couldn't, because he was in chemo. He decided to postpone it until his 21st birthday, on the idea that it was his next big milestone. The cancer got him before that day arrived. So, my sister, my brother, and I all got tattoos for him.
    That tattoo I will never regret. Because it means something to me. The other two were acts of drunken whimsy (back when I still did such things).
    Despite having gone to the well three times, I never advise anyone to get a tattoo. It's too personal, and too likely to become an object of regret. Yours - I think - will mean something to you, because of the time and the thought you have invested in it. Good luck. Can't wait to see it.

    9:16 PM  
    Blogger Larry said...

    Thanks for you kind words, Jeff. Likewise with the appreciation for your opinions.

    That's a (sad but) great story about your nephew- that's the kind of thing I mean when I talk about having meaning to something so permanent.

    I'll post pictures when I get it done- hopefully next month I'll have at least part of it done.

    BTW, I've posted a link to your novel up on the left-hand side in the links section. I don't have too many people visiting the site, but perhaps someone will find it there. I'll be ordering my copy soon- can I order directly from you, and get an autographed copy?

    10:41 PM  
    Blogger Jeff Edwards said...

    Larry,
    I'm not really equipped to sell books out of my house. I leave that to the book stores, online and brick-and-mortar. The nearest store (to me) that carries copies of Torpedo on hand is Mysterious Galaxy. Their URL (for ordering) is -http://www.mystgalaxy.com/order_book.html
    Their phone number is 1.800.811.4747. You can also email them with your order request, at orders@mystgalaxy.com. Let them know that you want a signed copy. Then ask me to call them at home, and I'll drive over and sign one for you before they package it for shipping. Wish I had a more elegant solution.

    7:43 PM  

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