Literary Tattoos

Yesterday, WBUR's, <a href="">On Point program</a> had an hour on Literary Tattoos. "Tattoos were once for sailors and wayfarers — exotic souvenirs of adventure and romance. Now, they’re mainstream. Walk into any college gym – any gym, anywhere – and you know. But literary tattoos – now there’s the high frontier. And even it is becoming wildly populated. Rimbaud on the forearm. Kafka on the whole arm. Sylvia Plath across the chest. Kundera on the abdomen. A big back covered in Proust. Oh my." Do any LISNews folks sport literary tattoos?


I don't believe in tattoos. It is my humble belief that I will not come up with an idea or image that I want on my body for the rest of my life. Also I like to keep identifying marks to a minimum in case I ever run afoul of the law.

I have custom dog tags that have a quote on them that I like. I wear them and when people are showing off tattoos I can show off my dog tags.

They say: I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance, and affection to be art.
Kahlil Gibran

Dog tags have limited space. On the first tag is: I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge,

On the second tag it has the rest of the quote and the author's name: silence to be ignorance, and affection to be art.
Kahlil Gibran

Wouldn't it be quicker to just say "I hate Twitter"

Life of the party, eh?

I really like this comment that someone made to the "On Point" piece.

Literary tattoos are an interesting twist on the subject. However, my sense is that the popularity of tattoos (along with body piercing) represents a culmination of a narcissist pop culture that is inherently nihilistic, looking for meaning through (destructive) self-expression. Small town America has transformed itself into a series of tattoo parlors, body piercing establishments and nail salons. Rather than celebrating the increasing popularity of tattoos, we ought to be seeking to understand the pervasive personal void that has led us to embrace this latest expression of a call for help.

If you want to look literary without a permanent mark on your body you could carry around a book.

Yikes, tough crowd. Why yes, there are some LISNews folks sporting literary tattoos. I have a line from Whitman ("I sing the Body electric.") on my inner left forearm and plan to get a companion piece on my right, a line from May Swenson ("Body my house / my horse my hound").

I have the words "Poetic Genius" written in Elvish (yes, like from Lord of the Rings) on my back, and I'm proud to be that big of a dork :)

I have the cover drawing from Fahrenheit 451 on my right arm.

I have a muted post horn on my right arm:
The crying of lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.

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