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Literary Tattoos, pt. 1, Cormac McCarthy

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gougetheeyes

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There's been a little bit of discussion on song lyric tattoos from a post on Ms.Rad's blog (here:http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/tattooforum/entries/19-song-lyric-tattoos) and I mentioned something about literature-themed tattoos. So I thought I'd share. After pulling out a few books, I realized I'd marked up so many pages that I'd have to do this in parts; Part 1 is all Cormac McCarthy who is, in my opinion, one of the greatest writers of the 20th/21st century and possibly one of the greatest American writers in our country's short history. PM me if you want any suggestions on books.. I'm not an expert just really love Cormac McCarthy.

Most quotes I imagine with an image, some with a single word or phrase and image..

From All the Pretty Horses.

"Ardenthearted" from: "All his reverence and all his fondness and all the leanings of his life were for the ardenthearted and they would always be so and never be otherwise."

"He saw very clearly how all his life led only to this moment and all after led nowhere at all. He felt something cold and soulless enter him like another being and he imagined that it smiled malignly and he had no reason to believe that it would ever leave."

"Nothing for the living or the dead" from: "…he held out his hands as if to steady himself or as if to bless the ground there or perhaps as if to slow the world that was rushing away and seemed to care nothing for the old or the young or rich or poor or dark or pale or he or she. Nothing for their struggles, nothing for their names. Nothing for the living or the dead."

From The Crossing

"No order save death." One of my favorites, from: "He said that the wolf is a being of great order and that it knows what men do not: that there is no order in the world save that which death has put there."

"It was never that this man ceased to believe in God. No. It was rather that he came to believe terrible things of Him."

"Every word we speak is a vanity."

From Blood Meridian.. a dense and amazing novel. Possibly the most complex and beautiful and brutal thing I have ever read.

"Fraudulent destinies." "For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by sleight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent destinies."

"Spectre horsemen, pale with dust, anonymous in the crenellated heat."

"Blood and smoke and gunblack."

And finally, a horn with fire, from the dream at the end of No Country for Old Men.. Maybe I should get cracking on these, since I have yet to get any.

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I'm surprised no one's commented on this blog yet. I haven't read a lot of fiction for a long time, and the last author I fully comitted to was Barbara Kingsolver. But I will seek Cormac McCarthy now, love those quotes. But "For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by sleight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent destinies." What does that even mean?

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In context, the group left a fire burning behind them and rode up into the mountains where the light of the fire seemed to move and shift, and everyone saw it but said nothing. He is assigning a "will to deceive" to "things luminous" -- fire (, sun, stars... spirit, angels, God even?) -- that through some kind of unspoken deception changes your destiny, because you've already gone past a certain point of no return. And only in retrospect can you realize it.

Like when you look back on something and think, "Shit, I can't believe I went this way when I should've gone that way." You've already completed part of the journey, which you'll never get back, which leads you to an end that isn't what should have been. Maybe at the time you thought you were on the right path. He's saying it's more than just chance, that some "luminous thing" you'ved used as a guide has either purposefully led you astray or that it's inherent that it will/can deceive you.

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Also from Blood Meridian: "War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way."

...ok now I'm just throwing out random paragraphs I've marked.

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Thanks for the translation, as I too have been led to "fraudulent destinies" by many a "luminous thing." Much more poetic than "dead end" and "piece of shit."

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Over the years , Hunter S. has been the subject of most literary tattoo's I've made. However its usually Ralph Steadman's art rather than Hunter's words. I've done a lot of writing, although when I picked up the tattoo machines, my reading really fell off.

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this is a great list! i've been wanting to read Cormack McCarthy's work for a few years now, but haven't had the chance. now you're inspiring me to do so once winter break hits. there's a few literary quotes that i've wanted for a while as tattoos, but haven't been able to tack down exactly how they should be:

the first is "timshel" (or thou mayest) from Steibeck's East of Eden. that book changed me in so many ways.

i'd totally get "so it goes" from Vonnegut and i'd love to get something from the Willow Tree by Hubert Selby Jr., however i haven't been able to pin down what yet (and it's been a while since i've read it).

i also want the line "it's always necessary." from Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, specifically a passage where the main character's grandmother describes losing her sister during the bombing of Dresden, and never getting the chance to tell her how she felt. i believe just as Oskar's Grandmother does, that it is always necessary to say how you feel to the ones you care about. your time is short. you may miss your last chance.

i also want two tattoo's for books from my childhood (not picture books either): one for the Wizard of Oz and the other for Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

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Nerdy tattoo thread!

I push Cormac McCarthy on anyone who'll listen. No Country is a good starter, as is All the Pretty Horses, though it's a bit longer.

Currently, I've been really into the hardboiled detective/crime novels from the 40s/50s.. Mickey Spillane, Jim Thompson, Raymond Chandler.. good stuff. And another blog post to follow, I'm sure.

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he wrote The Road too didn't he?

i really want to read that. i've heard great things about All the Pretty Horses and Blood Meridian.

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Over the years , Hunter S. has been the subject of most literary tattoo's I've made. However its usually Ralph Steadman's art rather than Hunter's words. I've done a lot of writing, although when I picked up the tattoo machines, my reading really fell off.

Dean, would you consider sharing some of your writing?

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he wrote The Road too didn't he?

He did, and it's superb, I just happen to have gotten really attached to the old American west/Mexico-themed novels. The Road is fantastic.

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ive been wanting to get a blood meridian inspired tattoo for a while based on the quote "when lamb is lost, lamb cries..sometimes comes mother, sometimes wof." i think his writing is so amazingly visual and im glad im not the only one inspired by him.

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The Road was one of the most intense books I have ever read. All The Pretty Horses was just a wonderful story, and Blood Meridian was like you said "Complex and beautiful." Literary genius.

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McCarthy is one of the best. Very stark, spare, violent and awesome. Ive read a handful of his books. I was glad I read the Road before I saw the movie, it made the whole thing that much more special. Blood Meridian is the next one up. Ben Nichols put out an album a year ago or so based up on some of the characters in Blood Meridian.

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Update: Wolf head with “No Order” by the good Mr. John Poverty, working out of Goose Tattoo with Nalla Smith.

From an excerpt from The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy. Here’s the full quote: ”He said that the wolf is a being of great order and that it knows what men do not: that there is no order in the world save that which death has put there.”

Good stuff.

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I'm a big fan of McCarthy. Great blog. McCarthy is the most "tattoo worthy" author since Hemmingway (IMO of course).

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Why didn't I see this before? I love literary tattoos! I love your wolf head, it's cool when people get actual pictures instead of massive phrases- that's what tattoos are supposed to be, right?

I have one myself, actually, though now it'll sound silly since I said I prefer tattoos to be pictures: got the word "Nevermore" tattooed across the front of my shoulder (or the side of my chest? It's a tricky place to describe), from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. I love Poe's work, he was incredible.

To be honest, I'm surprised I've seen only a few Sylvia Plath tattoos, has anyone seen any?

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I have a Poe tattoo from Todd Noble! But the raven has a yellow beak hahahaa.. I'll have to do a part 2 to this, include that one.

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Just saw a dog-eared copy of "blood meridian" on the ole Lucero tour bus... Thanks for this post and thread..It's a bunch of fun to digest.

I'm currently in love with the quote from A movie I have had to read the play to digest-- -Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

"The Player: We're more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see.

Guildenstern: Is that what people want?

The Player: It's what we do."

I just really like saying "blood is compulsory".... Universal truths etc...

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This dude sounds like an idiot, and I'm sure he's a nice person, and I'm sure I'd craft a better response if I didn't just come off a 12 hr. shift at the bar. I'd have to read it again but I did see it as a bit more ambiguous than the movie made it; I thought the movie made it very hopeful. The Road was a beautiful story and the father and son relationship was so stunning to me because it could be so stark and serious, but so deep and strong. The "shifty eye look" I'd take to mean the man is unsure of whether they can actually provide the right care to get him (and all of them) along in the future.. more uncomfortable than sneaky.

Man, this blogger dude really sounds like a 12 year old. Good thing he is "a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG)" with "a strong interest in Theoretical Physics, especially quantum physics." And is also a "Huge movie buff, a bit of a foodie and a travel addict."

I apologize, I'm half drunk and half cranky and it bugs me when people write in CAPS to stress POINTS they've not thought more than TWO SECONDS about before "PUBLISHING" online.

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