Skin Symbols and Sympathy.

Posted on June 25, 2012


New Skin.

I’d forgotten about the intimacy that accompanies a new tattoo. Perhaps made nostalgic is a better description…I have made nostalgic the way my body experiences the process of a needle biting an image into my skin. It is a sensual nostalgia –my body response leading the memory and the ego trailing after…i dig it. I dig experiencing my life in this way – as a representation known first by the systems of my body and then by the “leader” – ego consciousness. More on this later.

First this:

I find that the interaction of the tattoo artist and the receiver of this art like a dance , tapped out between the sting of flesh and the wash of fight or flight response. The best artists are those who have the ability to create comfort and also allow for authentic interaction with the person on their table. They also have a gentle hand and while that might not seem so important – it is because the artist is crafting a new space on the body – mapping the will of the ego self in symbol and this role must be passive. The artist is the conduit for the seeker to experience something ” other than” normal.

I dunno if it’s the same for others but thumbing my pain response makes me honest and honesty whilst ½ naked on a table trusting someone else to create for you is intense. It makes me want to explore the nexus of ink and the body. How the body responds to pain and how our conscious part- ever tied into the function of being human –seeks out personalization of  symbol.

Yeah this post is stream of consciousness and a bit brambled- but aren’t they all?

Sympathy and parasympathy.

Have you ever Googled the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system? I have and it is an AWESOME space to fall into. Words like visceral and antagonistic. Craniosacral and efferent. Words that pull me down deep into a world filled with how the body interacts with itself.A head filled with thoughts like:

” My body is full of bones and nerves and sheathes of nerves and systems of which I have no conscious control? Word. I must aggregate more information.”

I then spend hours feasting on the functions of the body – after 6 hours I swear that I can tell you exactly where the soul resides in the physical form. After 8 I am convinced that we hold a fucking universe in our molecular make up. The more I am convinced the less sleep I get because QUANTUM PHYSICS AND THE GODDAMN BODY that’s why:

Through experiments over the past few decades physicists have discovered matter to be completely mutable into other particles or energy and vice-versa and on a subatomic level, matter does not exist with certainty in definite places, but rather shows ‘tendencies’ to exist. Quantum physics is beginning to realize that the Universe appears to be a dynamic web of interconnected and inseparable energy patterns. If the universe is indeed composed of such a web, there is logically no such thing as a part. This implies we are not separated parts of a whole but rather we are the Whole. – Barbara Brennan

as an aside, one needs to be starved of sleep when weaving knowledge of light into darkness like some kind of internet Ariadne.

Semiotics and blue bones.

Recently I mentioned the idea of being mapped-my story told through symbol made real on my skin. It was metaphoric but what if I could be literally mapped -all of my body from marrow to mind- what sort of map would I be? What functionality would this map serve? Would it be as Baudrillard notes a simulacrum that becomes more real than my actual body – suffocating or replacing the true empire of the self? Could the symbol of self become Self or if I covered every part of my body with the symbols I associate with…would I then become more map than human? More a metaphor to my perceived existence then actual warm bodied living?I exist in this world of symbols and want so badly to be connected to and gain self-awareness and understanding from them…Hence my degrees in archetypal psychology and philosophy and religion and history. All the parts and pieces that define how we define self through time. ..but is it that I want to become the symbol or do I want for it become a part me?

I think I do ( want to be the symbols and they me). I want my symbols to be my dreams made real…

On the table I asked my tattoo artist if when I died my bones would be marked with ink. He sort of laughed and told me that my bones wouldn’t but my lymph nodes would. It made me kind of sad to think about my bones lying white and unmarred… I think because the romantic parts of me want to leave a legacy…really wanted to have ink stained bones – just like the fleshy parts of me want my ink to by MY ink…even though I get that my symbols resonate with the rest of the world. I cannot lay claim to Ganesha as mine own.

And then:

For me. The drive to explore body and the drive to know symbol are these beautiful minefields. I say minefield because they invite one to think about disparate aspects of the self and this sort of thought can be a beautiful, dangerous, deepening thing – One can self-abuse quite easily with the markers left by others to explore whoand why we are. ( About 12 hours into internet rabbit hole I find myself asking what other people’s ideas mean to me – why do I need Google Scholar to validate the existance of my body?) Wondering why one chooses specific symbols as adornment – wondering if the soul shivers like the body does when new ink enters skin. Wondering about the micro cosmic vs. macro-cosmic drive to become a thing marked. Wondering about the insides and the outsides. Just wondering. Always wondering.

Word of advice: don’t get too caught up in it – we are all just star dust dancing.

We all mark ourselves in one way or another…it’s an affectation of our consciousness and a beautiful one at that.

So with that and for now…

Peace-love and RED MAMBA to all of you.

Yes. Ganapati. My symbol is an elephant headed deity.







Sara – queen of dust and ink.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Kahlil Gibran

Posted in: Life, Philosophy, tattoo