Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's Permanent!

           A tattoo states a message and tells a story, but what it says and how it’s told matters.  Permanent ink really stays on the skin, and hopefully your story is worth telling again and again.  The continuity of your tattoo hopefully conveys a pattern or symbol worth continuing.  I associate tattoos with regret.  A generalization and negative stigma of a spiritually rich art form, I attest there are particular examples of unfortunate stories; ones worth telling maybe once.  The cynic is a disappointed optimist; I guess I have seen too many egregious tattoos, ones with a story not worth telling, clichéd patterns, and emotionally driven mistakes.  Tramp stamps, barbed wire, and cruddy expressions disappoint me because I want and believe there is more to tattoo.  In Dr. Ellis’ book, Tattooing The World, she states, “When tattoo—sacred in its home contexts—is bought, borrowed, or stolen, the designs’ meaning comes unmoored…it is also true that in this process, the patterns may be treated as pure form. The people, ways of being, and lands that shaped the designs may be removed from consideration, treated as not present (consigned to the distant past or to an unreachable place) if they are acknowledged at all” (Ellis, 18,19).  I infer that in the process of stealing and borrowing ideas the tattoo becomes “unmoored” or unanchored.  This feeling of being lost at sea translates to what I see.  Bad tattoos, and we all know what I’m talking about, seem like muted expressions that are later realized as a regrettable decision.  Mistakes are made when we try to find expression through avenues we do not understand and appreciate.  The misconception with a lot of designs and tattoos leads to my cynical standpoint.  I defend my mindset by asking you to look around, to see the abysmal representations of the richly spiritual art form, to witness the stories of regret told by those emotionally driven or deceived people.  I do not abhor tattoos, in fact if it is used or expressed in the ‘right’ way I think they are awesome and deepen my appreciation for the individual.  But when they are not, boy do I have some heated words for their misplaced ink.  

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