I go to seek a great perhaps.

This belongs to Kayla.

John Green’s Looking for Alaska inspired this quote by François Rabelais. Nothing better fits me.  I ended this book with so many tears, happy as well as sad, and the great desire to have this forever on my body.

Literary Tattoos: Looking for Alaska John Green François Rabelais

“I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”

- Possibly the last words of French writer François Rabelais


Literary Tattoos: Einstein

This belongs to Rachel.
This is a tattoo I got [March 14th], on Einstein’s birthday, of my favorite Einstein quote: “Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.
I’d heard it before as “You can’t blame gravity for falling in love”, but by researching it a bit I found that this was the actual quote. I love it!


Literary Sleeve

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 :)

Literary Tattoos: Ulysses On The Road Jack Kerouac Carl Sagan Alfred Lord Tennyson

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.

Literary Tattoos: Ulysses On The Road Jack Kerouac Carl Sagan Alfred Lord Tennyson

Emily explains:

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.

We are a battlefield

Literary Tattoos: Jiddu Krishnamurti

This tattoo belongs to Chris.

This is a partial quote from the late Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian philosopher that focused a lot on human interaction and psyche, and a broad divorce from labels and extrinsic motivations for growth (like religion, race, creed, etc.). I first ran across it in a transcription of one of his talks he gave for an audience, and there are many versions with slight deviations in phrasing, but the paragraph it’s lifted from usually goes something like this:

“We are sorrowful human beings who have not a moment of bliss uncontaminated by thought, not a moment of real deep enjoyment untouched by any thought or memory. We are a battlefield from the moment we are born until we die. There is never order, never peace, never a sense of tranquility and bliss. All that we know is sorrow and conflict.”

Taken at face value, it’s actually quite depressing, but I look at it in a more positive light…moments of happiness are fleeting, so we should treasure them when we are lucky enough to experience one. I got the tattoo to remind myself not to take the few moments of bliss for granted.

Amor Fati

Literary Tattoos: Friedrich Nietzsche

This belongs to Heather Reizner.

My tattoo was done by Zack Stuka at Deluxe Tattoo in Chicago.

Amor fati is a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good. That is, one feels that everything that happens is destiny’s way of reaching its ultimate purpose, and so should be considered good. Moreover, it is characterized by an acceptance of the events that occur in one’s life.

The phrase is used repeatedly in Nietzsche’s writingsLiterary Tattoos: Friedrich Nietzsche -

“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.”

Literary Tattoos: Friedrich Nietzsche

This belongs to Ron.

I have been reading Nietzsche for years, studying his ideas on self-overcoming and self-transformation. That’s why my amor fati tattoo is something that means a lot to me. It represents an outlook on life that certainly does not come easy. Point of fact, it is just as much a personal goal as it is a declaration of my world view.

From Wikipedia:

Amor fati is a Latin phrase coined by Nietzsche loosely translating to “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good. Moreover, it is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one’s life.