Oops, I Spilled My Guts!

Four years now I’ve been harboring a secret, a deep and unyielding sense of shame about something I cannot change. A few people very close to me know this secret, but when most people ask me about it I hem and haw and answer sideways. The real problem is that there actually is nothing wrong with what I’m going to reveal, nothing one should find embarrassing.

My woodcut tattoo was inspired by Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.

By “inspired” I mean I directly copied it from the series of woodcuts interspersed in the copy I read. I never remember the artist’s name (Randy Rackliff, I looked it up), nor do I remember most of the book (other than some people die and it was a harrowing experience, yadda yadda yadda). It wasn’t a bad book, I definitely enjoyed it. But it wasn’t life-changing in the manner of Moby-Dick or Gravity’s Rainbow or Lisa Robertson’s Occasional Work. It’s just a good read that happened to have a couple interesting pieces of art inside.

That’s always difficult to explain, and I found myself having to try and explain it (drunkenly) again at a friend’s recent party. In the midst of such a situation one often wants to come across as cool and thoughtful, “Yes, I got this because symbolically….” But that never works, especially since nothing I happen to like is cool (and that’s not even taking into account that this party was in Williamsburg). What’s more is that the tattoo does happen to have a certain ad-hoc symbolic meaning to it (Perseverance) that nobody could possibly give a shit about besides me. It’s just a neat image.

Tattoos are funny like that. Everyone has their own reason(s) for getting them—from the profound to the whimsical (I have a lumberjack bear swinging a guitar [his “axe”] on my left leg)—which often makes for awkward conversation with people who don’t have any tattoos and seem to think that there’s always something very thoughtful about each one. Well, there isn’t. Lots of stuff in life is simultaneously great and stupid (see: Beavis & Butthead) and nobody should feel too bad about harboring an appreciation for “the unprofound”. Frankly, as I’ve found lately in comment-thread-debates with certain Christians, those who only seek profundity in life can be insufferably dull, with paradoxically truncated worldviews.

So…yeah, go get yrself a silly tattoo or something. You deserve it.

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