I have a tattoo. It’s on my back, and it’s that most cheesy and cliched of tattoos, a Chinese symbol. For what it’s worth, though, what that symbol means and represents to me was a very specific and personal choice, as all tattoos should be. As most anyone who’s ever gotten a tattoo will tell you, the experience of getting one tends to make you want to get another. I haven’t yet — haven’t found the right tattoo, the right place for it, the right time. I’ll know when I’m there. But one thing I never really thought of before was words — literature to be exact. From The New Yorker:
Check out Contrariwise, a site devoted to pictures of bookish tattoos. The sources for the tats run the gamut, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Social Contract” to Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park.” Harry Potter-inspired tattoos are popular, as are lines from “The Giving Tree” and “Where the Wild Things Are.” In terms of more grownup reading material, an astonishing number of people have chosen to engrave Kurt Vonnegut’s quip “So it goes” on various body parts. The tattoos mostly consist of just a line or two, but some braver souls have inked on entire passages (at least the guy with the opening of “A Tale of Two Cities” on his inner forearms will never be without reading material while waiting in line at the post office).
I wish there were more pics in the database, but it’s a good start. I like the idea. I’d have to wonder if, no matter how much I liked a certain quote, I’d always want it on my body. Remember signature lines on emails? All the rage for awhile there. But you could change that whenever you wanted. I’ve got a couple of favorite literary quotes, but narrowing it down to just one for the rest of my life would be awfully difficult. The only quote that’s stayed with me my entire adult life is from Douglas Adams: “So long and thanks for all the fish.” I still smirk at it just the same as I did when I first read it, but I’m not sure I want to be that snarky all the time.
If you had to choose one literary quote to tattoo on your body, what would it be?