Monday, July 30, 2012

36. The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide by Eva Talmadge

The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwideis a guide to the emerging subculture of literary tattoos?a collection of more than 150 full-color photographs of human epidermis indelibly adorned with quotations and illustrations from Dickinson to Pynchon, from Shakespeare to Plath. With beloved lines of verse, literary portraits, and illustrations?and statements from the bearers on their tattoos'' history and the personal significance of the chosen literary work?The Word Made Flesh is part collection of photographs and part literary anthology written on skin.

Fans of the written word are memorialising their favourite passages or sometimes just a phrase or even a single word in a different type of ink.  The book is a photo essay showing tattoos from literary sources: quotations, images of book art and illustrations, character and author portraits, even definitions and syntax marks.  And just like other tattoos, it's so interesting to see what words and images spoke to someone so profoundly that they felt the need to imprint them on themselves, sometimes as a badge, a memorial or perhaps as a personal mantra. Some of the stories behind their choices are fascinating and inspiring.

The concept of literary tattoos bring me to thoughts of Fahrenheit 451.  The ideas and words within books can change people, sometimes profoundly. Perhaps the literary tattoo is merely the physical evidence of that change, a reminder of our personal evolution. Books introduce us to new ideas, show us how do view life differently, examine the lives of characters and often, in turn, our own.  Literature judges, defends, convicts and frees us.  It educates and challenges and as a result of reading, we change.

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