Ouch! David Brooks writing on tattoos in a Sunday, August 27 New York Times editorial, Nonconformity Is Skin Deep:
In a forthcoming essay in The American Interest, David Kirby observes that there are essentially two types of tattoo narratives, the Record Book and the Canvas. Record Book tattoos commemorate the rites of passage in a life. Canvas tattoos are means of artistic expression. So some people will have their kids’ faces tattooed across their backs, or the motorcycle that belonged to a now-dead friend, or a fraternity, brigade or company logo. In a world of pixelated flux, these tattoos are expressions of commitment — a way to say that as long as I live, this thing will matter to me. They don’t always work out — on the reality show ”Miami Ink” a woman tried to have her ”I will succeed thru Him” tattoo altered after she grew sick of religion — but the longing for permanence is admirable.Other people are trying to unveil their wild side. They’re taking advantage of the fact that tattoos are associated with felons, bikers and gangstas. They’re trying to show that far from being the dull communications majors they appear to be, they are actually free spirits — sensual, independent, a little dangerous.