Category Archives: tattooing

Fuck off

These words, writes Dalrymple, are

the chief motto of British service industries.

They are also chosen, he points out, by

a surprisingly large number of auto-tattooists for the exercise of their dermatographical art.

He recalls a patient who

had the two words tattooed in mirror writing upon his forehead, no doubt that he might read them in the bathroom mirror every morning and be reminded of the vanity of earthly concerns.

Suitable applicant for a post in the British service industries

The seemingly minor social phænomenon of tattooing affords us, says Dalrymple,

a little glimpse into the Hobbesian moral world inhabited by a section of the population with whom we normally have little contact: they actually want to be considered psychopathic.

Moreover, we must not discriminate against someone who has Fuck off tattooed on his forehead. Dalrymple notes that

prudence is a virtue and used to be considered one of the cardinal virtues. No longer.

We have become so individualistic that

we claim the right to behave any way we like without any consequences for ourselves. A man may tattoo Fuck off on his forehead and then claim to have been discriminated against when he is refused a job serving the public.

A Mussolinian end for Erdoğan

That is what a friend of Dalrymple’s foresees. But Dalrymple points out that

a bad end is often also a bad beginning.

At Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Dalrymple finds the crowd

very interesting to observe.

On the one hand

are the women who are dressed in a strange fashion that I have not noticed anywhere else in the Muslim world: a kind of long and shapeless gabardine sack of the most negative possible allure in the dullest of shades, that of concrete in the rain, that makes women look like a harvest of potatoes. By comparison with this, the burqa is attractive and elegant.

On the other hand

are the young men and women bearing tattoos. There has been a sudden explosion in their numbers: I noticed an increase in the last year alone since I was last there.

What is happening? Dalrymple says:

It looks as if people are digging themselves into one of two incompatible identities, rather as they seem to be doing in many other countries. I sense that it will end badly.

Uncouth chic

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 13.53.48Professional soccer players, Dalrymple points out, are drawn

from the class adjacent to the underclass, into which downward slippage is all too easy.

But in the past,

those who managed to escape their lowly origins usually aspired to be taken for bona fide members of the middle classes by conforming their conduct to middle-class standards.

No longer. Newfound wealth imposes no obligation to change one’s ways. Violent and despicable public conduct results

neither in legal sanction, social ostracism, nor even strong disapproval.

In England,

the direction of cultural aspiration has reversed: it is the middle classes that aspire to be taken for their social inferiors, an aspiration that (in their opinion) necessitates misconduct.

Young middle-class women proudly sport tattoos, for example,

as badges of antinomian defiance, of intellectual independence, and of identification with the supposedly downtrodden—if not of the entire world, then at least of our inner cities.

Advertising

glamorises the underclass way of life and its attitude towards the world. A new style has been invented.

Ze stonden wel op zijn arm!

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 10.19.30De Britse arts en schrijver Theodore Dalrymple beschreef het al in 2000 op onnavolgbare wijze: de vader die, op de vraag of hij nog wel eens contact had met zijn kinderen, in plaats van te antwoorden zijn mouw oprolde en twee getatoeëerde harten toonde met daarin de namen van zijn kinderen. Nooit naar ze omgekeken, nooit een cent bijgedragen, maar hé! Ze stonden wel op zijn arm!

Fuck you

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 07.57.38These words, writes Dalrymple, are

the chief motto of British service industries.

They are also chosen, he points out, by

a surprisingly large number of auto-tattooists for the exercise of their dermatographical art.

He recalls a patient who

had the two words tattooed in mirror writing upon his forehead, no doubt that he might read them in the bathroom mirror every morning and be reminded of the vanity of earthly concerns.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 07.49.36The seemingly minor social phænomenon of tattooing affords us, says Dalrymple,

a little glimpse into the Hobbesian moral world inhabited by a section of the population with whom we normally have little contact: they actually want to be considered psychopathic.

A considerable number of the auto-tattooed inject themselves with swastikas. At first Dalrymple thought this was

profoundly nasty, a reflection of their political beliefs.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 08.08.54But in his alarm he had failed to take into consideration the fathomless historical ignorance of those who do such things to themselves.

People who believe (as one of my recent patients did) that the Second World War started in 1918 and ended in 1960—a better approximation to the true dates than some I have heard—are unlikely to know what exactly the Nazis and their emblem stood for, beyond the everyday brutality with which they are familiar, and which they admire and aspire to.

This fucking fucker of a tattoo’s fucked me up

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 22.29.24Anthropological interlude

Among the British savages

Dalrymple runs into three men with tattoos,

  • one with Fuck off
  • one with Fuck it
  • one with FTW, which stands for Fuck the world

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 22.40.26The trio tell Dalrymple that they

bitterly regret their youthful stupidity in having had themselves thus maimed. They did it to be like everyone else.

Another has Fuck off tattooed on his forehead in mirror writing. The message, the man tells Dalrymple,

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 22.37.25tends to wake him up in the mornings when he looks in the mirror.

Dalrymple observes that some men

have the letters LTFC tattooed on the knuckles of one hand and ESUK on the other. These appear enigmatic until the two hands are joined together.

In the customs of the British, a man who is tattooed in this fashion approaches, in the public house, a lady whom he admires and puts his hands together in front of her. She is charmed and flattered, and they begin their courtship.

Postcards from Brussels

A bourgeois city gone to seed

A Sint-Jans-Molenbeek street, Brussels:

The Sint-Jans-Molenbeek district: Brussels, the ‘sepulchral city’, as Conrad called it in Heart of Darkness, is, says Dalrymple, ‘dirty and unswept’; the houses, once all ‘bourgeois pride and prosperity’, are neglected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The degeneration Brussels: 'Despite the fact that the public sector accounts for 50 per cent of GDP, it remains dirty and uncared for, and is architecturally ever more a hideous mish-mash. Many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and just as idiotically egotistic'

Degeneration: ‘despite the fact that the public sector accounts for 50% of GDP, Brussels remains dirty and uncared for’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cretinism: 'Many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and just as idiotically egotistic'

Cretinism: ‘many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and as idiotically egotistic’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An architectural 'mishmash', says Dalrymple, but he would surely acknowledge that this is part of the city's charm

An architectural ‘mishmash’, says Dalrymple, but he would surely acknowledge that this is part of the charm of Brussels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palais des Beaux-Arts (Paleis voor Schone Kunsten), Victor Horta, 1928: the ugliest of all the major art galleries of the world, a building in the fascist style but without the courage of its megalomania, designed as if by a pocket Albert Speer

Palais des Beaux-Arts (Paleis voor Schone Kunsten), Victor Horta, 1928: ‘the ugliest of all the world’s major art galleries, a building in the fascist style but without the courage of its megalomania, designed as if by a pocket Albert Speer’