We live in an increasingly absurd and corrupt world in which the simulation of violence in movies is perfected, convincing us that we are indeed watching real explosions and tortures, while in the wake of the bombing at the Boston Marathon one paper, The New York Daily News, photo-shopped carnage, rent limbs, out of images of the explosions' aftermath to make them less horrific: the simulated is real, and the real must be faked. We are surrounded by a ferocious whirlwind, an opaque cloud, churning performance and verity, beyond which, unseen, mythical, lies history.
This condition terrifies us, and our reaction is acquiescence to empire, war and the mad
shattering of civil liberties. If there is a reason to admire bad
history, "ecstatic truth", and those stories sometimes called conspiracy
theories, it is that at least with half-baked history there is a narrative
that one can engage -- allowing us to talk about history -- because
what we have more commonly is no history. And with no history everything is predestined, wealth, intelligence, cancer, poverty, sexuality, all conditions of existence only sourceless phenomena in a lonely chaotic landscape -- no source and no subject.
This is the way we feel. It reminds me
of my hometown; those people who got tattoos to commemorate the deaths of friends
and family -- the guys with the Chinese symbols on their shoulders that just as surely read "Panda Express" as "Brothers Forever" --
these men and women feel so lightly present in the world that they try
inscribe on their skin some memory as though any thought not literally
present upon their bodies would be sucked into this gyre of
unmeaning. In the West the tattoo was once a mark of sub-human status,
sailors in their unfixed world, legionaries, soldiers and gladiators marked for and making
death, and criminals, outlaws, prostitutes inviting hire. These ink runes told of their wrecked state; specifically threatening, they read "I
have less to lose
than you". Some women tattoo their lower back -- a desperate indelible
lingerie framed by a gesture of underwear, not an open erotic invitation, but the
cattle brand of surrender to humiliation and contempt -- commonly called a "tramp stamp".
In the solitary free-fall of American unknowing, men and women hope to preempt what they believe to be their necessary or
inevitable degradation by tattooing themselves, the foreword of a
violent and hopeless life. These feelings often exist
unconsciously within the tattooed. Once the mark of the proletarian, this retreat of expression onto the body has become popular with the middle class in America who previously branded themselves through material possessions -- their combination, once the Apple logo on the back of the VW, now a scarf, a garlic peeler, a designer baby-carrier and bicycle rack upon their Leaf. They too now, in the loss of their future, in the absence of history, are exploring the proletarian arts of the condemned. These are the Faux-letarians and their affect of danger, these account managers in leather and IT girls at the gun range, abrade their bodies in an act of mourning, to manifest the shards of this broken vessel Enlightenment through which their future has fled.