Thursday, August 28, 2008

On Tattooing.

From an article by R. R. Reno on the First Things blog, discussing the modern trend of tattooing:

When we take a sober look at contemporary society, we can see that one of the main results of the cultural revolution of the last half-century has been the demolition of soul-binding permanence. Marriage and family are the most obvious examples...

In a more subtle way, our postmodern culture of irony and critique also works against permanence. The old binding loyalties of faith and patriotism are openly mocked. The ability of truth to compel the soul is reinterpreted by our culture of critique as an ideological ploy to mask and advance the interests of power. Thus we are taught that nothing rightly compels devotion of heart and mind.

So we are free, freer than any people have ever been in the history of humanity. The old bonds of commitment hang loosely about us. How this came about would require telling the complex history of modern western culture, but the current consequences are not hard to identify. A free soul is a slave of desires for success, desires for social acceptance, desires for all the goodies that our wealthy economy so efficiently provides, to say nothing of our primitive passions. Increasingly uncommitted—free from the limits of marriage, children, faith, devotion, and loyalty—we are more purely and more entirely defined by our social roles as productive workers and eager consumers, and by our passing desires for satisfaction and pleasure. Again, I ask myself, is it surprising that in an age with so few binding commitments postmodern men and women seek symbols of permanence etched into their bodies?
It's an interesting take. As a tattoo-ee myself, I can relate to this desire for "permanence". I think so many people are seeking something enduring. "See, I really believe in something - I tattooed it on myself," would be the internal dialogue.

Personally, I wish I didn't have my tattoos. It's kind of like my theory on bumper stickers: you can't really say anything important in that small of a space. Cool pictures and pithy phrases are all that really fit.

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