11.1.12

The Man with the Phallic Tattoo



I don’t know whether wishing his penis bon voyage would have taken him places or not, but the guy is now doomed to be living off his ‘suitcase’. According to MSNBC’s The Body Odd reports:

The 21-year-old Iranian man found himself between a rock and a hard place after he got a tattoo in Persian script reading "borow be salaamat" (good luck on your journeys), and the first initial of his girlfriend's last name ("M").

The tattoo artist used a handheld needle and caused damage. The reconstructive surgery did not work. Result: A semi-permanent erection.

There is no pain and he can get a “relatively normal erection”. Was it worth it?

I don’t have any particular opinion about body inking and piercing; in fact, I find some mild tattoos and piercings attractive. So, where does one draw the line? Is it cultural or personal? When I got my nose pierced way back when I was in college, quite a few people asked me if it had to do with being a Muslim. Later I was told it was against Islam. For me, it was just a shiny little thing on my nose and carried no baggage of anything other than personal whim.

Yet, in many ways it is more exhibitionistic than the Iranian’s private part. Esoteric tattoos and piercings do reveal personality as well as projection. If I see a person with her/his whole body covered with flora, fauna, faces, symbols, verses I would cease to notice the human behind these externals. One might well ask, don’t we wear clothes that could be considered different? That is where one conditioning revolts against another. Clothes may give away what we are to an extent, but do not take away from us. Even the big name labels are about us. Colourful works of art on skin may draw greater attention, but they strip us of identity. It does sound strange and in fact contrary to what the purpose is – an in-your-face assertion of a self-inflicted ‘wound’. Or, of the self as an art installation.

This could be seen as body mutilation too. In some tribes, parts were burned and marinaded to form an embossed jewel on the skin. Then there are instances of neck stretching, corset waists, tongue splits, and even colouring the whites of eyes and embedding crystals on teeth. How much of it is a fad and how much a need to be part of a group or to carve out a separate identity? Most of those who overdo it are seen as ‘weird’, and it may be the desired goal. But what if they tire of it? One can give away clothes, what does one do with skin, teeth, eyes?

In the case of those who have such embellishments in secret places, we cannot see them in the manner of the rest. No one but they or those they are intimate with would know. So, how can it be projection and the rest? It is probably a niche, a standing apart while doing what the rest do. It is a beguiling hush-hush thing that is often stated to be hidden, or the hiding is the statement.

The Iranian has to live with a phallus which is all dressed up but has nowhere to go. A bit like a travelling salesman who has nothing to sell.

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Image used for representative purposes: www.verparacreer.net

5 comments:

  1. Hi Farzana,

    Vis-a-vis your, ah, "representative" illustration: I'm a bit pressed to decide if it's a political or religious cartoon -- certainly the palm is a nice touch . . .  :)

    You wrote:

    >>One might well ask, don’t we wear clothes that could be considered different? That is where one conditioning revolts against another. Clothes may give away what we are to an extent, but do not take away from us. Even the big name labels are about us. Colourful works of art on skin may draw greater attention, but they strip us of identity.<<

    In that such adornments (i.e. bodily accessories) oftentimes serve to distract or take away or give away to an extent -- and thus can be utilized by the wearer as both a defensive and/or offensive mechanism -- why wouldn't you include clothes in that same category? Or shoes (whether flat, high or platformed), for that matter?

    Indeed, in perhaps the same vein as your recent treatment of such shoes, my sense is that the neck-tie (de rigeuer with respect to "true" business attire), fat or narrow, likely had an origin of which most wearers today are unwitting -- one that might, for some, put a whole new slant on "giving someone the business," as they say . . .

    Mark

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  2. Hi Mark:

    We can, and we have, analysed the role of such expedient use of externals as clothes and shoes. I agree they are revealing, but they are discardable. They are not imprinted; an allegorical 'branding' does not take place.

    A neck collar that was used to lengthen the neck in Egypt would be quite different from a necktie, which you mentioned. Its image of a "true business attire" does denote an orderly circumscribed idea, a following of protocol, a staying 'buttoned up'.

    The neck collar had deeper reasons and ramifications. It became the idea of beauty. The necktie has altered into different versions and I wonder if wearing one with Mickey Mouse would "give anyone the business"...which means that some take the officious tie and 'formalise' it as casual wear. It lasts till the party lasts, unless someone strangles the wearer!

    Re. the image, I'd say it is a wild one which might, if you push it, make for an elephantine fig leaf and also raise political questions about man as beast, preservation, and ecology. take your pick. Yes, the palm is a nice touch, quite close to the heart :)

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  3. For what it's worth, Farzana, I don't see such 'branding', allegorical *or* literal, any less discardable than the clothes we affect to wear. I have scars got of my own ignorance as well as others' ignorance. Similarly, I'm certain I've left a few on others as well. They serve *me* now as a reminder -- kinda like phylactery, lol. That being said, there are other scars -- or "brands," both allegorical and literal -- inflicted on me -- and on others -- done not out of ignorance or accident, but quite deliberate. These also serve me as a reminder -- a reminder of unfinished business. :)

    >>I'd say it is a wild one which might, if you push it, make for an elephantine fig leaf and also raise political questions about man as beast, preservation, and ecology. take your pick.<<

    I pick "man as beast". Any thoughts on how this is accomplished?

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  4. Mark:

    Strange that you recall that which is not deliberate.  Is the scarring then not literal and allegorical? You are 'reading' it, the contents held 'reminding' you of 'finished' business?

    Is this in opposition to unfinished business, that is deliberate? A delightful contradiction.

    Re. 'Man as beast' in the image, I think it would be obvious regarding positioning, analogy etc. A trunk call, mainly.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm a strange person, Farzana. :)

    >>Is the scarring then not literal and allegorical?<<

    A bit of both, perhaps?

    >>You are 'reading' it, the contents held 'reminding' you of 'finished' business?<<

    With respect to the 'finished' brands, tattoos, marks, scars -- allegorical and/or literal -- I don't see them; then I do see them. It might be likened to one's memory being jogged (kinda like certain fabrics on skin, perhaps) -- of course, you may recall, I'm not overly fond of running. :)

    >>Is this in opposition to unfinished business, that is deliberate? A delightful contradiction.<<

    I think so.

    >>'Man as beast' in the image, I think it would be obvious regarding positioning, analogy etc. A trunk call, mainly.<<

    :  )

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