« The Great Influenza | Main | Certain parts of San Francisco are what happens when white people have no natural predators. »

September 17, 2014

[Bumped] Perhaps it’s an ungenerous attribution,


but they can’t help finding tattoos obnoxious.
The tattoo seems to summon their eyes, to draw their focus even if they have other things they wish to think about. In that sense, a tattoo is narcissistic, and narcissism is coercive. It lives off of others’ notice, and when the narcissist fails to draw attention, he feels disturbed and wounded. Whenever we sense that need, we recoil from it.
A Theory for Tattoos | Mark Bauerlein | First Things

Posted by gerardvanderleun at September 17, 2014 9:56 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

My uncle Louie Lozko, we all called him "Letsgo Lozko"' he raised bantam chickens.
He told me one time "tattoos vibe: loser".
I agree with him.

Bigoted: stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own.

"You're describing yourself to a tee" says Arthurstone.

I'm good with that.

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2014 11:29 PM

I have one I got in the army when I was 20 years old. Left inside forearm and I wish I never did it.
What is it you ask?

An underground comic character from the late 60's named "Ashley Hamilton Roachclip III at your immediate and complete service madam".

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2014 7:38 AM

There is one exception to my disapproval of tattoo's in general. I would really like all leftists, communists, Democrats, Mohammedans to be tattooed with a big red circular dot on the forehead for easy identification and targeting.

Posted by: Terry [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2014 8:02 AM

I have learned to not be bothered by tattoos. I don't know what Bauerlein is going on about in this case.

Posted by: DonRodrigo [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2014 10:42 AM

For most of human history only slaves, prisoners, and savages were tattooed, leave it our degenerate times to add pathetic dweeb to the list.

Posted by: Fat Man [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2014 11:02 AM

I don't care for tattoos, I think they look bad are something people regret as they get older, and turn a pretty girl into someone I don't even care if I know any longer. The same thing goes with piercings. I can tolerate a woman thinking she needs to dangle things from her ears in some weird way, but anything more than that and its just gone too far.

I'll give military a pass because, military and stress and companionship. But otherwise? No.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2014 3:21 PM

41 years ago I was living in Chicago after my wife left me and took my daughter, and I had ostensibly survived the resultant breakdown. Since I had narrowly escaped the mess I was born into, the only thing left was the magic between me and my guitar.

One weekend I got a call from a girl I'd known casually, to inform me that she'd lied about her infertility (the pill, anybody remember?) and that she was pregnant. She called to tell me that she was going to get an abortion, and she wanted money from me to pay for it. All I had in the world was that week's pay envelope. This amounted to about half what she wanted, and I gave it to her and spent the weekend crying over another lost child.

Monday morning, determined to make a fresh start once again, I was on my way to work when a dog attacked my bicycle; in avoiding the dog I hit a hole in the street you could have hidden 2 dozen eggs in, and went head over the handlebars while the dog's owner cursed me from the sidewalk. Several hours of increasing pain left no option but the emergency room, where I was X-rayed and, while a cast was being applied, told that I had broken a bone in my left wrist and would probably henceforth be unable to play the guitar.


There ensued several months of terrific pain, inability to work (I was doing guitar repair for a living,) sadness about......everything, and a daily struggle against despair. Have you ever lived alone with one hand? Done the dishes, learned to dress yourself, figure out how to stay clean and keep the cast dry? In a strange city where it felt dangerous to go out even when you weren't crippled? A great learning opportunity ensued.

Finally the day came that the cast came off, and after a couple of weeks I'd gotten through the pain sufficiently that the guitar was once again possible. The first thing I did was go down to Cliff Raven's tattoo shop and show him my Martin D-28, and he copied, free-hand and perfectly, the C.F. Martin & Co. logo from the peghead onto my right shoulder.

So that's my tattoo story. I've never regretted it for an instant, and though it doesn't look very good after all these years, nobody's seen me with my shirt off in this century either.

Posted by: Rob De Witt [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2014 3:52 PM

I never could understand why someone wanted to put some ink under their skin pledging love to some one night stand or or in a ddopey moment get a ridiculous image along with an infection which will have no meaning in a week.

Unless it your cell-block lover.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2014 4:12 PM

Have you never been young and dumb VW?
I was, several times.
And still.
Well, the dumb part.
We age, sometimes we learn, we regret, we live some more, then we die.
And hopefully we leave this plane better than we received it.

When our son was 6 he came out of the bathroom and said, "Mom, I think my dad was smoking his pipe again.", and something in my head clicked. I was 30 years old and still behaving like I was a teenager in many ways. I visited a friend, gave him the rest of what I had, and didn't smoke my pipe anymore. That was just the beginning....and it was almost half my life ago.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2014 7:40 PM

Ghost, Young, dumb roaring drunk, tiding my bike at 90mph in a pouring down rain storm, standing up in a dog nutz fire fight in the Nam when every body else was cursing the buttons on the fatigues.

Yeah that qualifies for being outright buggy. But no one could get me to get a tat. Just wouldn't do it.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 3:16 AM

Some of you guys should write a book. Or at least some stories (See Sippican Cottage). The buttons on the fatigues is also an old reference to a Bill Mauldin Willie and Joe cartoon I know Ghost from somewhere...
As for skin ink: make yourselves happy either way; the topic reminds me of the hair discussions from '64.
Y'all be real sweet.

Posted by: Dan J Patterson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 7:13 AM

The difference between a good haircut and a bad one is um, thirty days. Tats are forever.

As Rob portrayed, a tattoo might have a deep meaning. My wife had breast cancer, they did a lumpectomy and used radiation to clear up any loose ends. The radiation folks use tattoo dots to precisely line up the zap rays. Well, when she was one year cancer-free she decided with the encouragement of her daughter to make one of the dots into a flower. Little bitty thing, size of a dime. She said she would do another one each year she was free and clear. (She is now eleven years free, thanks be to God) but the tattoos? Uh uh. after she got home from the first one I asked her how'd it go, was she gonna do that again next year? "Hell no, hurt like a sumbitch, uh uh."

For the most part tattoos indicate issues with self-esteem or other psycho-socially debilitating disorders. Why stop at tats? Why not cut off an ear or slice a chunk out of the nose? Ritual branding and scarring is big in some jungle societies.

Each and every one of us wants to be different, unique, and we all seem to do it in ways that millions of others are doing. Blow wise to this: Character is an Inside Job.

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 7:44 AM

Again, I don't have a problem with tattoos the way so many (almost all) of you do. I may have at one time, but no more.
Why? Well, for one, I know a number of gorgeous young ladies who have serious tattoos. Unlike some of you, I don't find that it mars their beauty. It doesn't enhance it either, but I look at the total physical attributes of the girl who has "decorated" herself, and notice that God was very kind to her in how He put her together. The tats are part of who they are, and I accept that. And it does not necessarily connote "narcissism" or "being losers." It is a subset of culture as it is now. There are plenty of other aspects of modern popular culture that are much more worrisome than tattoos.

Posted by: DonRodrigo [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 8:47 AM

@chasmatic: I too, have those three little blue dot tattoos. They were the most painful part of my breast cancer experience, and the sadistic breast MRI. No way in thunder I'd ever get a tattoo for real.

Posted by: Fontessa [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 8:51 AM

For most of human history only slaves, prisoners, and savages were tattooed, leave it our degenerate times to add pathetic dweeb to the list.

Elegantly put, but a problem:
The biggest critics of tattoos were the classical Greeks. They may have been the pinnacle of civilization, but they were also serious sodomites. Better to screw a tattooed female "barbarian" then be hassled by a horny Greek pervert.

Posted by: DonRodrigo [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 10:58 AM

@Don: I'll say this, you're tolerant of others as we rant about this tats thing.
Most people when encountering a stranger look for signs of where the person is at, where they are coming from; vigilant for signs of hostility, the body language game. Vestigial behavior that once kept us from getting bonked on the head or et up for dinner. Clothing, facial expressions, initial overtures of speech.

If I see a young person with tats and piercings and a wild Mohawk 'do, DMs and torn jeans, I can safely form an opinion on where this kid is coming from. Likewise he or she will suss me out with my gray short hair, pair of washed but rumpled jeans and a flannel shirt untucked (to better conceal my pistol, but that discovery comes later if at all) and some Red Wing boots. we all do it with no specific animosity. I see a Black guy in B-ball clothes, bingo, I translate the image. A Meskin sees me in a jacket and tie, same thing. So far, no weight attached to the initial assessments.

What bugs me some is when people of a sub-set project attitude along with the appearance. Like a car rolling down the street with boom box shuddering and wheezing, imposing a guy's musical preference on me. I have no practical choice but to hear it until it goes away. So with physical appearance, Fat people in skimpy clothes, crack of their ass hanging out (I see that in WalMarts, maybe some subconscious conditioning they use to get folks into the stores, whoops, drifting.) or farmer John with hay in his boots, enters my visual space and unless I turn away I got to look at 'em until they go away. With tattoos I sense an attitude probably acquired from catching observers' vibes of disapproval, an attitude that almost says aloud "f**k you, look at me. Don't like what you see? I already knew that, jerk, f**k you."

It is one thing to look, act, speak, do most anything one's little heart desires but when it crosses a line and imposes itself on others the others may react. I don't make noises of disapproval and I expect the same from others observing me. But I don't have to like it. I don't like Fords either, or The Kansas City Chiefs. To each his own preferences. One can form opinions based on assessment of numerous samples and come to some conclusions, like most people I see that have tats exhibit some forms of psycho-social unrest. Not a judgment, I've not always walked in the Light. But an assessment.

To sum it up, and because I finished my last coffee and my fingers are chatterin' like a squirrel on speed, I don't like tattoos nor the folks that wear 'em. So there.

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 11:55 AM

Rather than ask “why a tattoo”? Maybe we should ask “Why the pervasive need to overanalyze ever freakin’ thing we personally don’t like”.

It’s not for you, great! Some people like them. Get over it. Move on. Just don’t categorize me as if you know the intimate details of what the freak is going on in my mind.

It’s skin and ink. Big effing deal. Don’t look if you bothers you that much. Life is too damn short for pettiness of labeling everyone.

Here’s an idea, maybe you can’t judge a person by their cover. Or their tat...or what they wear...or the car they drive...

As long as you're an American...and not a Muslim, you're cool.


Posted by: Lands’nGrooves [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 1:39 PM

I don't care for tatoos, but that snapper lawn mower image is really clever.

Posted by: Terry [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 1:56 PM

Cutting your hair funny, or not cutting it: temporary, easily repaired. Stabbing yourself with needles and ink repeatedly for a permanent stain on your skin: not temporary. Stupid and ugly.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 4:15 PM


That was what Chas was describing.

If I see 1 or 2 'toos, no problem, but it's in the back of my mind. If I see em all over the place, now there's an agenda, now it's in the middle of my mind.

Scatter in some obvious piercings and maybe some brands or a wild 'do, now I have to do something and that depends on the scenario. Is this person asking me for a job? Is this person handling my food? Is this person in anyway interacting with my life?

In the 90's there was a woodworking TV show named "Wood Works" and it was hosted by a gentleman that wore long sleeve shirts which is a big no-no in the world of woodworking. How could they show such a thing on a national TV station (DIY)? I told a friend that the only way this could be is if the host has tattoo's on his forearms and the powers that be decided they must be covered.

Well that host has now been a good friend of mine for the past 6 years and he is a Harley Rider, a drummer in a rock band, a world class woodworker with displays in museums and shows all over the country, and he has tattoo's on his forearms.

He also has a 60 year old Delta 16" wide jointer that he can turn on with a nickle standing on edge on the table, and it won't fall over.

There's a message in there somewhere but I'm not sure what it is.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 5:58 PM

Any figure drawing class I've been in almost unanimously complains if the model has tats and piercings. It's a sin against the beauty of skin. It camouflages contours and masks proportion. And it aggravates the muse to no end. When artists don't like tattoos, that should tell you something.

Anyone with lip/tongue piercings is advertising their whoredoms. Nose, eyebrow piercings, ear gauges on white hipsters... all of it is a crime against the beauty of the human form. They do not adorn so as to make more lovely, they detract so as to deny any loveliness.

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 9:10 PM

I do judge people by their appearance. I've survived a number of lethal force encounters because my judgment was accurate.

Nobody is invisible. That includes their inner self too, if you look hard enough. Even making these comments on this blog reveals much about a person whether they attempt to mask it or not.

My handlers taught me that in an interrogation the questions often reveal more than the answers. You get that paradigm shift? the metaphor of it? Nobody dresses neutral unless premeditated. Nobody wears hair and clothes and tats indifferently. those points of appearance reveal a lot of the person's "private, intimate" self.

I certainly can judge a person by their appearance. "Judge" not in a condemnatory way, but in an analytical way.

By the way I am sure not a handsome guy. I'm sixty-seven, half bald, got a pot belly, my bones are shaky and my teeth are ground down. Oh, no tats and one pierced ear. And a broken nose, a couple scars. This entire commentary is not about aesthetics. only appearance.

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2014 9:47 PM

Some of the bozos I seen with the facial piercings I believe fell face first into a salt water tackle box. The difference twixt those and tats id those can be removed with minor scaring.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2014 3:54 AM

Good point VW. The personality markers - no, wait, more correctly the character markers of any person can change as the person changes. "Protective coloration" is one reason for hair, clothes, tats, whatever so the person blends in with the primary group. when the group changes so can the person. As we get older we shift values and priorities. To get a job in the food business (flipping burgers at Bob's Beef Bongo Hut) requires less conformity than a job at Wells Fargo or a car dealership, selling those trucks to farm & ranch guys or a metal head wants off roaders.

And all this appearance stuff I've been nattering on about has no value of right and wrong, good and bad. What it tells me is what is on the inside of a person, and these days I pay attention to a person's head space. Morals, behavior, reliability, virtues that make for a positive society member, those attributes are important.

My uncle Letsgo Lozko, he raised bantam chickens. He also worked for the Czecho Mafia in Chicago but that is a story for another time, he said "You can tell a lot about a man by looking at his shoes".

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2014 6:05 AM

"I mean seriously, how often do you really look at a man's shoes?"
--Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding, Shawshank Redemption

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2014 6:33 AM

Just to be clear, Sniper, women always look at the shoes.

Posted by: james wilson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2014 1:58 PM

Most people when encountering a stranger look for signs of where the person is at, where they are coming from; vigilant for signs of hostility, the body language game

Sure. That has some merit. I've concluded, for instance, that a heavily tattooed "redneck" in a wife beater may well have a prison record.

Tattoos on a young woman can tell a history as well, but what might that be? Best way to find out is to get to know her. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by: DonRodrigo [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2014 2:05 PM

FWIW, james, Red was speaking about Andy and both were doodz.

My entire attire is always sharp, utilitarian, and I've actually had an unknown female compliment my garments once.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2014 8:03 PM

Well, I see we're still chewing this rag after several days. Since I have, as I pointed out, an extremely (and only to me) symbolic tattoo that only me and a handful of girlfriends have ever seen, it's been kind of a shock to see how much self-righteousness has apparently been engendered by other people's body art.

Whatever. I think ink farms are ugly too, so I don't look. Girls doing their best to look unattractive are only slaves to Kate Millett, and too stupid to know they've been duped.


Too bad, but oh well.

Anyway, as long as we're stirring up shit....

If you wanta know what really sends off signals of "this guy wants to look like a thug," let's start discussing the current mode of shaving your head. That's about the worst thing I've seen in my coming-up-on-70 years.

If you've got attitudes about ink and excuses for shaving your skull, you've got some thinking to do.

Is my opinion.

Posted by: Rob De Witt [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2014 9:53 PM

I wonder if the position of the "Illustrated Man" is open? I haven't seen any ads calling for apps for the job but then I don't scour those pages much anymore.

Running off to join the circus also has gone out of favor so working the Midway Freak Show lost much of it's earning power.

Of course, aspiring to a lifetime of entry level work can be guaranteed if one decides to pierce and tat their punim all to hell and gone. Speaking English a plus but no longer necessary.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2014 5:11 AM

I couldn't agree more, with that last part, Rob.
During most of my life a shaved head meant a criminal or military basic training.

At least half of all men will be bald when they get old, so why shave that skall prematurely?
I seriously don't get it.
I don't know anyone that has shaved their head so I have no one to ask why they do it.

Certainly looks retarded and it's beyond me how any woman could be attracted to it.

Just more indication of the decline I suppose.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2014 7:47 AM

I've had butch cuts, regular cuts, military cuts, hair longer than my sisters, back to regular cuts and now I cut my own stubble to match the beard and save the barbering which is what$15 to 418 a clip, (Heh). My mustache is longer.

With hair this long, no muss, no fuss and who cares what someone thinks. Q-tips are off the radar anyway.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2014 12:41 PM

Oh my, now it's shaved heads that threaten civilization or something?

Look: I won't characterize any of you folks by your remarks here, because you are complex people and are like old friends, after a fashion. I do find these neuroses to be amusing though. And I'm saying that as someone who is not all that mellow himself.

What matters to me is who has the tattoos, or piercings or the shaved heads, and what they are like as individuals.

Posted by: DonRodrigo [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2014 2:43 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)