Emily emailed me her awesome tattoo a few weeks ago. She described it as follows:
Several quotes including Emily Dickinson, Alfred (Lord) Tennyson, Jack Kerouac, Carl Sagan, covering topics such as love, science, education, imagination, strength, and passionate people. Tattoo was done by Ivy Gowen at Metamorphosis in Winnipeg, MB (Canada). Fonts used are Travelling Typewriter and Veteran Typewriter with the artist's own ink splatterings added :)
It's not every day someone emails me a whole text sleeve tattoo, so I wrote back for more details! I've included some of the excerpts below, and you can read more about the tattoo on her blog.
The first excerpt across my shoulder is from Ulysses, and talks of the evanescence of the strength of youth, but also of the immortality of the strength of heart and will:
“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Around the corner, across the top of my arm, is an excerpt from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
Beneath, by Emily Dickinson, is one of my favourite quotes about love. Not an everyday kind of love, but a love that burns brighter than any dream imaginable… a love that transcends words, life, time and death:
“That I shall love always, I argue thee that love is life, and life hath immortality.”
After this, I had two terribly sciencey quotes added, along with a brilliant splattering of ink across much of what had already been done.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known,” (Carl Sagan), and “ad astra per aspera” (through adversity to the stars… I believe at one point, this was used by NASA).
I have a few strands of text still to go, a couple of stray words and one full-size quote (below), and then, for now, I’ll be finished! The thing I love about this isn’t just the immortality of so many sentiments that mean so much to me, but also that as I grow and evolve, so too can this.
“As I see it, life is an effort to grip before they slip through one’s fingers and slide into oblivion, the startling, the ghastly, or the blindingly exquisite fish of the imagination before they whip away on the endless current and are lost forever in oblivion’s black ocean.”
Love, science, imagination, language, strength and stars now walk with me through life, and I couldn't be happier with how it’s taking shape.
This tattoo belongs to Cindy.
I like that this line means both that I carry within me the impressions of all experiences, and that I leave traces of me whenever I go. These 4 lines remind me that experience is limitless, and that we are meant to move forever forward.
Tattoo done by Os of Cottage 13 in Hamilton, Ontario.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
- Excerpt from Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson
This belongs to A.M. Wells.
My tattoo is a line from the poem Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux. When I first read the poem I was struck immediately by how beautiful it was. To me it spoke of how we shape our lives and how we are in return shaped by the lives we live. It encourages us not to regret pain or mistakes because everything passes eventually and we emerge better prepared for the beauty. We know ourselves more truly.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don't bother remembering any of it. Let's stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
- Excerpt from Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux
This belongs to Anthony Tracy.
1984 is one of my favorite novels. The opening line is incredibly significant for me. It was the inspiration for my recent tattoo, a timepiece with the hands striking 13.
I chose the clock because it is the most recognizable symbol from the book and of its theme; that truth is subjective and a product of power. I don't find the 12 hour day to be a particularly significant expression of power, but for me it is an adequate example of the theme. I understand that I could have gone with a 24 hour analog (which some people say is actually what is happening in the novel) but I opted for the 13 hour for its simplicity and its capacity for emphasizing the idea I wanted to express.
I wanted to express the concept of Newspeak, the thirteen hour clock would be category C vocabulary, or scientific and technical language (per the categories administered by the Ministry of Truth). This category is less significant for meeting the ideological needs of the party but is nonetheless an expression of the ability of the party to determine truth. My opinion of most things accepted to be truth is that it is more a constructed product of tradition and reiteration than it is of an objective, pre-existing truth. I know this isn't the case for every thing taken to be true; I am not so naïve to believe that gravity is a social construct, my view on this obviously has its nuances. However, I find myself agreing with the idea in almost all of my studies; from international relations to religious studies. I think Nietzsche said it best:
"All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth."
Following that statement, I think it's fair to say that we have 12 hour clocks for the same reason we use the imperial measurement system instead of metric, the same reason we have the Christian Gregorian Calendar instead of the Mayan, or the same reason that I attended Catholic church growing up; because of tradition and because the people embracing that tradition prevailed over other people embracing alternative interpretations, not because it is the naturally true or correct way. A day can be divided up any way you like, but for historically significant reasons we have settled on this particular interpretation. Aside from the Orwell reference, I would be perfectly fine with just this as my justification.
Basically, this is one of my favorite concepts. It summarizes my personal philosophy on everything from politics to religion. Plus, Katie Kroeck of Nectar Tattoo in Excelsior did a brilliant job. I gave her a concept and she turned it into a beautiful piece of art.
The poem underneath is from "my doom smiles at me" by Charles Bukowski.
This is Kira's tattoo from "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas.
This tattoo serves as a reminder against apathy and indifference towards suffering and death--experiences I never want to fall into complacency with.
This tattoo belongs to Alina.
My tattoo is the last three lines of Bukowski's 'Splash'. I had had a serious reckoning with myself, identity questions etc. when I got this tattoo and this poem sums up how I feel about writing, about myself, how I should be about life and how we should all be; always doing and working with conviction, always fighting, never giving up. Living gloriously, being truly ourselves without shame or hiding, fulfilling our destinies.