A friend asked, if you ever got a tattoo, what would it be?
I’m still not 100% sure about my own relationship with the idea of tattoos. I think I like them, and I think I’ve wanted them. When I was younger I wanted stuff that was really clever, meaningful, compelling. At some point when I was playing in a band, I had this idea for a concept album called Faeries and Gargoyles, which was basically a sort of yin/yang idea, hot and cold, soft and hard, and so on. And I thought it would be cool to have a faerie (I like that spelling, feels more ethereal and less Disney) on one arm and a Gargoyle on the other. But I never really developed that idea very much.
At some point I thought I’d like to get things that I’d like to remind myself of. I liked the idea of having “think.” on one wrist and “transcend.” on the other. One of my rules for getting tattoos is– if I’m gonna get them, I gotta still want them a year or two years later. They got to endure the test of time. The thing is, when I have something on my mind that long, I eventually seem to internalize it– and then I don’t need it anymore, because it’s inside my mind.
There are a couple of other things that are on my mind now about what sort of tattoos I’d get, if any. A couple of considerations.
One is that it has to be tasteful and endure the test of time in a greater sense. By that I mean… if they find my body a couple of thousand years from now, I’d like it to make sense. The math/science geek in me is amused by the idea of having tattoos with scientific ideas– something that communicates to my future finders that I appreciated universal things. A scale model of the solar system, maybe, if it could fit on the human body? I don’t think it could. But something in that spirit. I don’t mean like “e=mc^2” – but more like, maybe a drawing that has the fibonacci sequence embedded in it. I think that would be super cool.
I also have a thing for fractal systems and complexity. As I mentioned in an earlier vomit– I have these recurring dreams sometimes where I’m a sort of energy-being contained within myself, bursting out, and there are certain visual motifs in those ideas. It’s very… psychadelic. One way I imagine it is– like a massive, full-body tattoo, starting in the center of the chest and expanding outwards towards the hands and legs and neck. But it wouldn’t be “FULL” body in the sense that it would cover every single bit of skin– rather it would have to make good use of empty space and be coherent with the human form. Something like a giant tree of sorts. Or a giant city. Imagine the body as a landscape, and the chest is the city center– and you have long roads going out. And imagine if this map was to represent you and your energies and your interests.
One thing I like about Maori tattoos– the really good ones– is how they follow the bone structure of whoever is being tattooed. That’s the difference (in my imperfect assessment) between a good tattoo and a shitty tribal cut-and-paste job. The really good ones remind me of what someone said about Paul McCartney’s basslines– they somehow manage to add to the rest of the song, give you something beautiful to pay attention to, and yet it accentuates what is good about the song– it doesn’t try to overwhelm. It almost seems like the bassline was already there within the song, just waiting to come out. I believe in that. I think that is the case in all of art. There are masterpieces hidden in plain sight.
I also really like the idea of having an overarching theme– so that any new tattoo can “join the family” and be part of a coherent body of work, and all of them can sort of reference each other, work together, play with one another some how.
Yeah, it’s a kinda really ambitious project to even begin thinking about. I suppose the thing would be just to get started. What do I want tattoos to do for me, anyway? I want them to make me feel stronger and more powerful. I want them to remind me of ideals and principles. I want them to challenge and provoke me. Every time I look at them in the mirror or see them on my arms I’d want to feel compelled, renewed. That’s a hell of a lot to expect from a bunch of ink that you hammer into your skin. So I guess that’s why I haven’t gotten any tattoos yet.
Maybe I should also just answer the question in a simple and straightforward way. What would be a simple thing I could get that I’d really like? I’d like something thin and minimalist that spans a lot of the body. I find myself giggling at the idea of constellation-y lines that span the whole body but are very subtle and almost unnoticable. I like the idea of these constellation lines following the physiology of the body, kind of like the acupuncture doll you see in some old chinese acupuncture shops. I wouldn’t want it to be too tight and rigid, I’d want it to be slightly jackson-pollocky.
Goddamnit, I am utterly incapable of giving a straight answer to a question. If I could get a free high quality tattoo done right now, what would I get? I’d get something like this: http://www.tattooers.net/kostek-stekkos/arm-dotwork-line-tattoo/7520/. I’d give the guy a bunch of pictures of things that I like– fractals and galaxies and such. I’d have rivers and roads running down my body, expanding outwards from my chest. I’d probably do one arm first as a start. And then maybe I’d turn to cartography and map out little towns and cities that represent landmarks in my life.
Yeah, I like that idea. And I guess that’s a sort of metaphor or symbol for what I’m trying to do with these word vomits, or with writing in general.