poojagupta

Tattoos...would you ? have you ?

100 posts in this topic

if all jewelry disappeared tomorrow, would the world have lost anything?

Oh yes, definitely!

The purpose of jewellery is to adorn, but the purpose of a tattoo is to make a statement. You cannot substitute "jewellery" for "tattoos" anymore than you can substitute "microwave ovens" for "tattoos." They serve entirely different purposes.

I personally am not a fan of tattoos at all, but I cannot see any justification for an out-of-context condemnation of tattoos per se. If you think that there is something inherently wrong with tattoos

This "inherently" thing keeps popping up in this thread. I don't think anyone has been arguing that "tattoos are wrong irrespective of context" or that "tattoos are a disvalue, independently of a valuer" or anything like that. What people have been saying is "absolutely" and "never." An absolute is not the same thing as an out-of-context condemnation, is it now?

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A tooth implant, or a prosthetic leg, serves a life-supporting function; a tattoo serves life not at all.

For a rational person every value serves his life. That you do not personally value something does not necessitate others to choose as you do.

All in all, I've yet to hear an argument made for the positive rationally selfish value of a tattoo.

Did you miss, for instance, these comments by KendallJ?

Yes, by the way, I have a tattoo. I got a firebird on my ankle about 1996, when I knew that I was an Objectivist. It's a personal symbol, a reminder of my "spiritual" transformation as a result of my choice to live my life by reason. I like the permanence of it. I have no regrets and don't intend to since I can say that I will never stop living my life by reason. I can think of nothing but purely selfish motives I had in getting it.

Seems reasonable to me.

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An absolute is not the same thing as an out-of-context condemnation, is it now?

An absolute in regard to choice is the same thing as an out-of-context condemnation when it fails to or refuses to take a proper context into consideration. One person's personal preferences does not determine the context for everyone else.

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Would I ever get a tattoo or have I already gotten one? I am not sure at this point and I have not seen anything worthy of putting on my body for a lifetime. My first response leads to my second answer as no.

But, I have seen very nice tattoos that I thought esthetically pleasing to the eye. One such tattoo was on a female that I once knew. Her name was Rose and she had a tattoo on her ankle that looked like an ankle bracelet. It was of gold color links with a rose and its thorns intertwined between the links. She said that it was a representation of who she was. Beautiful like the gold and rose, but very prickly about her concerns and the weak should not bother. I laughed and smiled at her boldness and she lived up to her statements.

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I have nothing against someone having one or two. As with everything, I think there should be a reason, a purpose for having one - a "why". Usually, it is nothing more than a whim of youth, as was mine.

I don't think having a reason alone is enough. After all, what if the reason is not a good one? Someone who puts swastikas or a hammer and sickle on his arm is likely not telling you much good about what is going on in his mind.

Also, keep in mind that lots of whims of ones youth are driven by the wider culture around you. Tattoos are a case and point, I would think. So, you may be doing it because everyone else is, and then the question becomes, why is everyone else doing it? What is the source of the thought that made that action "cool"?

Now, one possible good reason for tattoos could be expressed in the following way "This is my life. I own it, and I'm in control of it, and I’m not going to let anyone take that from me." That I respect, though I wouldn’t choose to express it via tattoos.

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An absolute in regard to choice is the same thing as an out-of-context condemnation when it fails to or refuses to take a proper context into consideration. One person's personal preferences does not determine the context for everyone else.

But they do determine the context for that one person, don't they? So I still don't see what's wrong with saying "I would absolutely never get a tattoo."

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An absolute in regard to choice is the same thing as an out-of-context condemnation when it fails to or refuses to take a proper context into consideration. One person's personal preferences does not determine the context for everyone else.

But they do determine the context for that one person, don't they? So I still don't see what's wrong with saying "I would absolutely never get a tattoo."

There is nothing wrong in saying that in regard to oneself.

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I have already given my own opinion of my own tattoo. But, I am amazed at what is given as the arguments against tattoos. If there are arguments that are baseless and arbitrary, I have seen them in this topic. By what standard is a tattoo to be judged? I have heard that it is a symptom of tribal conformity. How so? If it has its origins in the tribe, how many things are then bad? Fire? Pets? Gathering, hunting, meals? Jewlery? If there is one thing that reaches back farther than any other it is certainly the advancement of jewerly.

The implicit premise in this is the movie camera image. Someone perceiving themsselves as if through a lens perceived by others. Why does a tattoo draw attention away from oneself? How? How is it in the nature of a tattoo to draw attention away from an individual? And how does this differentiate from from the use of makeup? Specifically, since you put it in a very specific form, how does a tattoo draw away from the person's individuality "qua" individual. Namely, how does it make this person "not an individual" or; how does a tattoo by its intrinsic nature sap an individual of his/hers individuality?

To say you would not get a tattoo, or that you would not get one is one thing. But, to make an argument against the phenomena, a little more than a pinky raised on a champagne toast with smelly fish on a stale cracker is required. That is, if you want to deal with proof and objectivity.

When I see a person with a large tattoo, one, say, covering a whole arm or his entire back, to me ,it is a distraction. It is a distraction from viewing the man's build, posture, the way he carries himself. The smaller the tattoo, the less the distraction, and no tattoo, none. From his point of view, if he has seen a design or picture that he likes, it would make sense to buy it and hang it in good light for his full, enjoyable viewing. It makes no sense, to me, at any rate, to have that picture placed on an inferior material---his skin---where he can enjoy it less. However, I will allow that that could make sense to someone else.

Now, KendallJ has said that he got a tattoo to remind him of the moment he knew he was an Objectivist. Again, to me, that makes no sense. I don't understand a need to be reminded of something so important. But, I will allow that someone else could have that need. But I have been in the position of someone trying to prove a negative. Perhaps someone else can speak out positively for tattoos, perhaps make a sales pitch and persuade me to get one. :(

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In earlier times Tattoos were most associated with criminal gangs.

As an aside, is that really the case? My understanding is that tattooes were brought back from Asia by sailors. I suspect that the association with gangs is very recent (i.e., last 30 yrs).

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Now, KendallJ has said that he got a tattoo to remind him of the moment he knew he was an Objectivist. Again, to me, that makes no sense. I don't understand a need to be reminded of something so important.

How about birthdays and anniversarys? Or commemorations of various kinds? Do those also make no sense? Why, I have even heard of people writing poetry as a reminder of an important event. :(

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How about birthdays and anniversarys? Or commemorations of various kinds? Do those also make no sense? Why, I have even heard of people writing poetry as a reminder of an important event. :(

Well, these are celebrations (I would hope) of things you have remembered (I would hope) :( Of course, you could have a different colored tattoo (with a date on it) on your body to remind you of loved ones' birthdays. No more scribbling in calendars-------hey! now there's a salespitch! :D

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As an aside, is that really the case? My understanding is that tattooes were brought back from Asia by sailors. I suspect that the association with gangs is very recent (i.e., last 30 yrs).

The gang usage is fairly recent it appears - post ww2. I uncovered the quote below from Wikipedia, about the negative view of tattoos, but was surprised to find elsewhere, that English nobility were fans of this practice. No less than Kings Edward 7 and George 5 had them! Since the history of tattoos goes back some 3000 years, it appears that the attitude one has toward them, is very much related to the societal associations and attitudes within his own era. Context is obviously important in judging character or motive.

Quote:

In some cultures, tattoos still have negative associations despite their increasing popularity, and are generally associated with criminality in the public's mind; therefore those who choose to be tattooed in such countries usually keep their tattoos covered for fear of reprisal. For example, many businesses such as gyms, hot springs and recreational facilities in Japan still ban people with visible tattoos, in part because of their association in the popular imagination with the yakuza, or Japanese mafia. In Western cultures as well, some dress codes specify that tattoos must be covered.

According to popular belief, most triad members in Hong Kong have a tattoo of a black dragon on the left biceps and one of a white tiger on the right; in fact, many people in Hong Kong use "left a black dragon, right a white tiger" as a euphemism for a triad member. It is widely believed that one of the initiation rites in becoming a triad member is silently withstanding the pain of receiving a large tattoo in one sitting, usually performed in the traditional "hand-poked" style.

In the United States many prisoners and criminal gangs use distinctive tattoos to indicate facts about their criminal behavior, prison sentences, and organizational affiliation. This cultural use of tattoos predates the widespread popularity of tattoos in the general population, so older people may still associate tattoos with criminality. At the same time, members of the U.S. military have an equally established and longstanding history of tattooing to indicate military units, battles, etc., and this association is also widespread among older Americans. Tattooing is also widespread in the British Armed Forces.

Tattoos can have additional negative associations for women; "tramp stamp" and other similarly derogatory slang phrases are sometimes used to describe a tattoo on a woman's lower back.

Unquote

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How about birthdays and anniversarys? Or commemorations of various kinds? Do those also make no sense? Why, I have even heard of people writing poetry as a reminder of an important event. :(

Well, these are celebrations (I would hope) of things you have remembered (I would hope) :( Of course, you could have a different colored tattoo (with a date on it) on your body to remind you of loved ones' birthdays.

I was not suggesting a tattoo as a reminder or a commemoration of those events. Rather I was responding to you saying that commemorating the moment KendallJ became an Objectivist made no sense to you, and you finished with "I don't understand a need to be reminded of something so important." So I brought up birthdays and anniversaries as examples of important events that people remind each other of, and sometimes even remind themelves.

Frankly, at this point I do not understand your reluctance to acknowledge the sense in KendallJ's action, and I do not know what else to say to convince you of what seems so obvious to me. No one wants to convince you yourself to have a tattoo -- I certainly have no interest in having one myself -- but what you or I may not choose as personal values for ourselves, is not per se a reflection on the sensibilities of others who choose differently.

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When I see a person with a large tattoo, one, say, covering a whole arm or his entire back, to me ,it is a distraction. It is a distraction from viewing the man's build, posture, the way he carries himself. The smaller the tattoo, the less the distraction, and no tattoo, none. From his point of view, if he has seen a design or picture that he likes, it would make sense to buy it and hang it in good light for his full, enjoyable viewing. It makes no sense, to me, at any rate, to have that picture placed on an inferior material---his skin---where he can enjoy it less. However, I will allow that that could make sense to someone else.

I think Stephen has mad the point better than my earlier attempt.

hmmm. I'm not sure why skin is an "inferior" material, as an art medium, but I have to say that this form of art work is infinitely more portable than any picture I'd hang in my house. That is one advantage of it, as I find myself, many times hankering for inspiration when I'm out of reach of my art. Just like I carry an mp3 player when I run or bike as a source of "spiritual" inspiration, so too even a "poorly" rendered image on my skin can serve as a trigger of emotional response.

In my younger days I used to do a lot of endurance competition (running races, biathlons, sailing regattas, and windsurfing, etc). These are activities that are as much about mental fortitude as physical conditioning, and you will find much literature about the use of mental preparation, mental imaging, and visioning of success as mechanisms to acheive particular mental states during the effort.

I'm a huge sailing buff, and the whole "flying" motif is a strong mental image for me. Sailing is essentially based on the same pricinples as flying, only at the water / air interface. If I'm running and I can specifically get a mental image of soaring, I find I can work through pain, or effort much more easily. So my mind responds immediately to a flying image. In the same way that some are inspired by the image of Roark atop one of his buildings, or Dagny Taggart at the helm of one of her locomotives, I emotionally respond to the idea of a sailor, or an aviator, harnessing the power inherent in the "invisible" medium of the air or water.

So given the nature of the medium, i.e. the fact that it is permanent, the fact that it is part of one's body, I agree with the comments some have made. Yes, I wouldn't want something that represents a transient emotion. I wouldn't want something that detracts from my physical being. Given these types of considerations, I'm sure many can point to bad uses of the medium. The question is can you think of uses that fit within the nature of the medium, i.e. for which form follows function?

For me, I considered all those facts, this was an inspriational choice. I chose it specifically because of its permanence. It's incorporated into my body because, in effect, I am the bird. That is the mental image I project from it. Because of my psychological response to the motif, it evokes an immediate psychological response, just with a glance or by just thinking about it's presence, in much the same way that the Bercuese and Finale from Stravinsky's Firebird Suite evoke the response over the 10 or so minutes its played.

Anyway, I'm not at all advocating the medium or trying to claim that current fans of it may not have poor motives for using it. Just simply that I can't believe that one could make an argument that the medium itself is intrinsically flawed in some way. Given it's characteristics, what would be a good use of it, and what would not?

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Stephen, I understand commemorating an important event, but KendallJ said that he got a tattoo so that he would remember when he became an Objectivist. That's what I don't understand. I, for instance don't need an external device to remind me of when and where I was (and what I felt) when I first read a book (Anthem) by Ayn Rand. It is locked in my mind forever. Now, maybe I'm taking his "remember" too literally, and maybe he really meant commemorate, though commemorating something of great importance by getting a tattoo doesn't make sense to me. However, if it makes sense to anyone else, that's fine with me.

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Stephen, I understand commemorating an important event, but KendallJ said that he got a tattoo so that he would remember when he became an Objectivist.

I think you have greatly misunderstood the meaning that KendallJ actually communicated. That something is a reminder of something else does not mean it was chosen in order to remember, as if without that 'thing' one would forget. My wedding picture is a reminder of the day I was married, but without the picture I certainly would not forget about that day. Perhaps you should read what KendallJ wrote, again.

Yes, by the way, I have a tattoo. I got a firebird on my ankle about 1996, when I knew that I was an Objectivist. It's a personal symbol, a reminder of my "spiritual" transformation as a result of my choice to live my life by reason. I like the permanence of it. I have no regrets and don't intend to since I can say that I will never stop living my life by reason. I can think of nothing but purely selfish motives I had in getting it.

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I think you have greatly misunderstood the meaning that KendallJ actually communicated. That something is a reminder of something else does not mean it was chosen in order to remember, as if without that 'thing' one would forget. My wedding picture is a reminder of the day I was married, but without the picture I certainly would not forget about that day. Perhaps you should read what KendallJ wrote, again.

Thanks, Stephen; you're right; I did totally misread KendallJ's statement.

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Thanks, Stephen; you're right; I did totally misread KendallJ's statement.

Well, I'm glad we got that straightened out. You're usually right on the mark, but something got flummoxed with this subject.

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I was not suggesting a tattoo as a reminder or a commemoration of those events. Rather I was responding to you saying that commemorating the moment KendallJ became an Objectivist made no sense to you, and you finished with "I don't understand a need to be reminded of something so important." So I brought up birthdays and anniversaries as examples of important events that people remind each other of, and sometimes even remind themelves.

Also, people still find the need to celebrate a marriage or (sometimes) an engagement with a ring. Certainly this is not a "reminder" or simply an adornment - it is a symbol made to celebrate an event.

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Also, people still find the need to celebrate a marriage or (sometimes) an engagement with a ring. Certainly this is not a "reminder" or simply an adornment - it is a symbol made to celebrate an event.

True, but if I wanted a ring as both reminder and celebratory item, I would not sketch a small tattoo on it. Nor would I take an extra fine ballpoint pen and sketch a tattoo on the arm of a picture of a loved one, or of myself. If I ever needed to pawn the ring the tattoo would not add value to it, and visually, as regards both the ring and the picture, the tattoo would be a distraction, it would not add value; at least, not for me.

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Personally I regard tattoos to be a turn-off, and would never get one. However, if there was ever the best argument in favor of tattoos, this would be it:

Yes, by the way, I have a tattoo. I got a firebird on my ankle about 1996, when I knew that I was an Objectivist. It's a personal symbol, a reminder of my "spiritual" transformation as a result of my choice to live my life by reason. I like the permanence of it. I have no regrets and don't intend to since I can say that I will never stop living my life by reason.
Although I wouldn't get one myself, I heartily applaud Kendall for getting his. This is a clear example that, as others have stated, there's nothing "intrinsically" wrong with tattoos, and the best way to approach them seems to be that they should be tasteful, discreet, and acquired to commemorate one's own special values. Even then other people may not like them, for example if they don't like the tattoo's ink color, or something else, but then again what other people like or do not like doesn't matter in this case.

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I've recently been considering getting a tattoo, but have not yet decided what design I would want or where I would want it. I like KendallJ's firebird idea, but since he's already done it...

I don't care for it to be tacky or gaudy, but I don't necessarily intend to hide it from view either. I know it will something to symbolize something of great value to me, though it may not be something everyone else would understand if the saw it.

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I've recently been considering getting a tattoo, but have not yet decided what design I would want or where I would want it.

I have no idea where you would put it, but considering your recent displayname change, and your new avatar, I do have my suspicions about what it might be. :blink:

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I have no idea where you would put it, but considering your recent displayname change, and your new avatar, I do have my suspicions about what it might be. :blink:

Hehe. I'm trying to think of something either Objectivist related, or something which blends Objectivism and motorcycling (like my nick). In other words, you are probably right on the mark! :)

Most likely somewhere on an arm... What surprised me is the cost. Tatoos are a good bit more expensive than I expected, with small ones (say 3 or 4 inches square) being a hundred dollars or more. They vary by design, artist and shop as I understand it. Granted, it would be worth it (for me) if it ensures safer techniques and equipment as well as a talented artist. Several of the local shops and artists have samples on the internet so that helps in picking the style.

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