Re: mutilation and ritual

Adrienne Dearmas (DearmasA@AOL.COM)
Thu, 4 Jul 1996 11:44:53 -0400

In a message dated 96-07-04 00:02:39 EDT, rs219@IDIR.NET (Robert Snower)

> I do not think there is anything too mysterious about the custom of
> tatooing, except the great mystery of how the emotional value of such
> can get into our bones, and stay there for thousands of years--how there
> be such a thing as the "deep structure" of Dwight Read's recent post. I
> not very optimistic about your interviews. People have no idea, on an
> articulate level, why they get a kick out of, e.g., a Pollock and not out
> a Picasso, or vice-versa, and likewise they are unable to tell you why
> tatooing turns them on, and stamp collecting doesn't. Tatooing harks
> to totem days, and that is a long time ago. I spoke in previous posts of
> ethnic identity of the present day as a descendant of the totemic
> device. That's what it is, and there is where the story of tatooing lies.

Ah, a negative voice! I disagree that all people have no idea. I do. Miro
confuses me aethetically, William H. Johnson has rich deep meaning evident in
each brushstroke (now, that's personal, but it is my idea of why I get a kick
out of what I get a kick out of). Not all tattoos are about totems. There is
merit in what you say, but it is too generalized. Totems may have been the
origin of many tattoos in many cultures, but so many other aspects have crept
in an affected the practice. Nothing exists in a vacuum in any culture!
Japanese irezumi (sp?) or full body tattooing was once a man's real clothing.
Now, I understand it is the mark of the "old fashioned" John, have you
noticed anything in Japan about the waning of tattooing?

- Adrienne