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Posts Tagged ‘tattoos’

After concise and careful thought, we can call this show one of the greatest shows to ever grace cable television. Sons Of Anarchy, a show praised (by yours truly) for its barbaric violence and a shakespearian plot reminded me of some of our discussions in class. With hopes that my clear publicizing will coax some of you into watching the show I will try not to spoil the plot while trying to link it to our class discussion. You see the man above with the “reaper” tattoo on his back, and his motorcycle club above and the charter location below? That is a type of identification for the people in that show and in reality for many people in motorcycle clubs, gangs etc. Whenever there was a gang retaliation to an event in that show, the current leader would ask to “Check the ink”. The “ink” is so serious to them in this show that once a person leaves the club, they have to either cut the skin with the tattoos of the club off or blacken it out with a blow torch.

Culturally, paradigms about the body fluctuate. In some tribes in Africa, people get tribal marks in forms of tattoos and scars on their face, their arms, legs and other body parts and to this tells where they are from. The body is used as a sort of identification card. The spectrum that body art is viewed is amazing. A woman  struck a conversation with me in a cafe a couple of weeks ago and she had 3 very tiny tattoos on her left hand. I asked “What are those about?” She said “I got them because I was just feeling a little crazy, they don’t really mean anything but I have to hide them when I visit my parents”. I realized she viewed her body differently than the Sons Of Anarchy. They were overly proud and obnoxious of their identity through their body (which is not a bad thing), not only did they have the “reaper” tattoos they got jackets, baby clothing, furniture and all sorts of “reaper” paraphernalia. They made it a whole thing!  It was something they sported proudly because it proved who they were and proved they belong to something. Similar to some other cultures that having body art. No one gets 3 deep permanent cuts on their cheek if they do not want people to see it.

We can see how body art is juxtaposed in cultures some are really proud and must show it off while other cultures it is “not a thing meant for everyone to see”

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My New Body

My friend and ex co-worker moved to Georgia a couple of years ago. She began dating a guy I’d never met, but he seemed charasmatic and energetic enough to keep up with her. He was the best person to get to know through photos- bald with a beard down to his belt buckle, tattooed everywhere, and toured all the time with my friend and his metal band- they seemed to always be having a good time.

A month ago yesterday, they were in a motorcycle accident while he was driving. She’s still in the hospital with a few broken bones, but will make a full recovery. After being in a coma overnight, he passed away from his injuries the day after.

Like I said, I’ve never met him, but I’ve been so torn up about her loss, and have witnessed the journey of her mourning process since he passed. I have a very small family and have been fortunate to have never suffered tragic loss, so maybe her story seems bigger to me than it does to others, but it’s affecting me in real ways.

I’ve been questioning my mortality daily. Maybe because he was so young and so like me. Maybe because of how I’d feel if my boyfriend passed. He justified his literally hundreds of tattoos by saying he wanted to copy his grandfather’s dumb tattoos, and implying that it is merely flesh, and flesh is not permanent.

My goal is to remember that nothing is permanent. I’ve never even met him, and I got a tattoo for him. I hope it reminds me every day that soon enough I’ll be gone too, and to truly live happily and be kind to others because all of it only matters up until this moment.

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I’ve been planning a tattoo for a really long time now.  It’s a book tattoo, surprising no one. 

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In a print based society, we’re trained from an early age to find meaning in marks.  I’m going to look at some of the ways that we ‘read’ bodies today.

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ImageWarning: this post does contain mention of self-injury.

I recently came across this article on scarification. Scarification is a process that involves using a scalpel to carve patterns into flesh. This may seem gruesome to some, but some who are attracted to it are looking for a way to disguise old wounds. One person who had scarification had been a youth who had engaged in self-injury and said that scarification was a form of reclamation.

What is the purpose of disguising scars with more scars? The idea of putting more scars on top of preexisting scars being reclamation is baffling to me. I can’t help but think that scarification may make self-injury worse, or, at least, make people believe that placing scars on their body is a healthy coping mechanism.

What if someone got a tattoo to cover their scars, though?

ImageWhile scarification carries stigma, the cultural status of tattooing has evolved from an anti-social activity to a fashion statement. Tattooing involves placing needles into the body instead of scalpels. Since both processes involve piercing the body, one may wonder which one is worse – or if they are both processes that are equal in magnitude (i.e. in terms of harmlessness, morals, destructiveness of the body, etc.). To me, tattooing is better than scarification, as in my view, no matter the method, producing a scar as opposed to producing an image that does not resemble a scar (given that one is not attempting to tattoo what looks like a scar onto the body) encourages self-harm. However, I am aware that I can’t speak for everyone.

ImageOn a different note, while thinking about the process of scarification, I wondered about the body as a  work of art, or at least a canvas upon which practices such as scarification, which is done in the name of art may be carried out. Another practice is tattoo art, and one may be able to perceive plastic surgery as a procedure that makes the body a work of art or creates art upon it as it sculpts parts of the body. However, more subtle forms of art/processes that make the body art can be simply applying makeup or combing one’s hair. These processes, although they may be viewed as mundane parts of daily life, all involve “fixing” or “adjusting” the body to create a certain visual image for the viewer (whether that viewer may be oneself looking in the mirror or others). That, to me, is art.

I remain on the fence about scarification. However, I believe the practice can bring about some interesting discourse on what makes a body practice acceptable or not, and on the body as art/a canvas for art.

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