Sunday, January 28, 2007

Habeas Corpus



Foot-binding, apparently, has ceased altogether. The Kayan women of Myanmar still stretch their necks with brass coils and in the West young folk pierce themselves for an endorphin rush. Michelle, a friend of mine, explains that one can consider one's body as a blank canvas, or as an unadorned sculpture, that is ripe for decoration.

I don't understand, and I likely never will. I appreciate that there's a degree of hypocrisy in my position. I shave, after all. I wear wooden bracelets and a wedding ring. I'm circumcised, though that wasn't my idea. I have this dark, rather nasty suspicion that body modification, particulary the extreme, socially deviant type, is an expression of an inward deficiency, or a distractionary tactic. The idea being that you think of an individual not as the sum of their shortcomings but instead as the guy with the rawlbolt through his septum. Interestingly this is a view I've always held and perhaps, like any view long held it's subject to erosion. Almost everyone's pierced or tattooed nowadays, after all. Soon I'll be the outsider. The only man in London under forty without some visible scarification. People will point and stare. "Look at him, the self-satisfied fool!" they'll say. "He's nothing more than a lump of crude, unshaped soapstone!" But I'll know, whether they have modified themselves in order to fit in, or in order to stand out, that they cannot judge me, because I have remained pure of heart, and just as the God I don't believe in intended. I will refuse to judge them, out loud at least. But I'll know. I'll know.

5 comments:

Nancy said...

For the most part I agree with you, especially when it comes to piercings - anything beyond the ears, I fail to see the beauty in it. But recently I've become fascinated with tattoos. Sure a lot of people get them to scream "look at me", but many are marking an important personal event or as a way to memorialize a loved one. Done well, they can be pretty cool. I've been chewing over the idea of getting one myself upon turning 40. Something small and meaningful, where no else can see (except maybe my beloved and members of the medical community, as necessary.) Of course, I've got 3 long years to talk myself out of it.

JD said...

Nancy, I say "go for it."

I don't have any tatoos myself, but after being laid off from an extremely promising job three years ago, I drove straight to the parlor and had my nose pierced.

After a life of doing as I was told (I blame the nuns), this was definitely my (admittedly pitiful)way of sticking it to The Man.

Now I use the piercing as a yardstick: If someone won't hire me because of it, I don't want to work for them.

Tom Miles said...

Now, see, the danger here is that the piercing becomes an excuse rather than a yardstick. "I would have got that darned job had they had not (albeit tacitly) disapproved of my piercing."

Nancy said...

I do admit - a small nose stud can be appealing. We hire college kids to help out in the office during the summer and we've had many who've been multi-pierced. Publishing's a little more laid back though. I've given thought more than once to actually coming to work in pajamas.

Gaijinity said...

Do it, Nancy, do it, do it! I love tattoos. I'm thinking of getting the two I have now removed or covered and having one large one down my back, but oh, the expense...