One must imagine Sisyphus happy

This belongs to Alessandra.

I had this done on my twentieth birthday, as a reminder that the expectations of others should not (and will not) determine whether or not I am happy in/with my life.

Literary Tattoos: The Myth of Sisyphus Albert Camus

“Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

- The last lines in the essay The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

Do not be too moral.

This belongs to Damen.

I love Henry David Thoreau and found this in a book called Letters to a Spiritual SeekerLiterary Tattoos: Letters to a Spiritual Seeker Henry David Thoreau . It’s a collection of letters that Thoreau wrote to Blake. Not sure of the font. I gave the quote to the artist and said if you have any ideas go for it. This is what he came up with and I loved it. I just wanted the punctuation to stay the say because this is how it was written in the book.

Literary Tattoos: Letters to a Spiritual Seeker Henry David Thoreau

Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something. All fables, indeed, have their morals; but the innocent enjoy the story.

- Written by Henry David Thoreau in a letter to Harrison Blake at Worcester on March 27, 1848 from Concord

You’re a Genius all the time

Literary Tattoos: Jack Kerouac Belief and Technique for Modern Prose

This belongs to Zoe.

This tattoo is from Jack Kerouac’s 30 rules on writing. It’s his 29th rule, written in his handwriting on my forearm. Took me a while to pull and place all of his unique little characters together (printed out a lot of his handwritten correspondences to get his handwriting as accurate as I wanted), but it’s finally done. I’m so happy with it, and it’ll serve as a reminder to value myself, especially when I’m writing.

Got this done at Harlem Hype Tattoos in New York City, by Sherman Patrice.

scribbled secret notebooks

Literary Tattoos: Jack Kerouac Belief and Technique for Modern Prose

This belongs to “kinko88″.

This is my first tattoo, done by Matt at Evolved in Columbus, OH. The quote is from Jack Kerouac; it’s his first on a list of thirty tips for “spontaneous prose” (what he called his own writing style). I chose this quote because I’ve been fascinated by the Beat Generation–their literature, poems, the relationships between different members of the circle, ideas in general–since I first read On the RoadLiterary Tattoos: Jack Kerouac Belief and Technique for Modern Prose and “Howl” in high school. I write poetry and stories casually (using an old typewriter of course!), and am always jotting down little phrases that come to my head, so I thought this quote was especially appropriate. And no, the “yr” is not a typo, it’s how Kerouac wrote it.

“scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy”

- Jack Kerouac

nothing more

This belongs to Hallgrímur from Iceland.

The concept of an afterlife has always struck me as wishful thinking that dumbs down the astonishing thing that life really is. This quote by Ayaan Hirsi Ali greatly summarises my feelings on the subject and serves to remind me that we are the authors of our own meaning and purpose. This is the one chance we’ve got, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(The font is GeosansLight.)

Literary Tattoos: The Portable Atheist How (and Why) I Became an Infidel Christopher Hitchens Ayaan Hirsi Ali

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more, but I want nothing more.”

- Excerpt from How (and Why) I Became an Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, in Christopher Hitchens’ book The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

I saw the tree with the lights in it

This is Melanie’s tattoo:

The quote represents the period of transcendence when one is truly in tune with themselves and their surroundings without being consciously aware of it. For example, I am an artist, so I recognize this as occurring when I zone in so completely to the process of the piece.  However, once I realize that this is occurring, the moment is gone.  I no longer see the tree with the lights in it.

Literary Tattoos: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Annie Dillard

When the doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw “the tree with the lights in it.”  It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forests of fall and down winter and spring for years.  Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it.  I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame.  I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed.  It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance.  The lights of the fire abated, but I’m still spending the power.  Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared.  I was still ringing.  I had my whole life been a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.  I have since only rarely seen the tree with the lights in it.  The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.

- Excerpt from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard