Friday, December 29

Exposing Shallowness

Exposing Shallowness, by Theodore Dalrymple.

This article, an attack on the phenomenon of middle-class tattoos, has some very good, very incisive points. Unfortunately, the author comes across like a right-wing libertarian dickhead. No surprise: it ran in the New Criterion.

It is also no accident that some members of the middle classes should have adopted a typically proletarian form of bodily adornment as a badge not only of independence, but also of liberal virtue. A tattoo establishes them as tolerant, open-minded, and sympathetic towards those below them in the social scale: the highest virtues of which they can conceive. The tattoo thus appeals to the kind of modern bourgeois who believes that foulness of language is a token of purity of heart, or at least of sincerity. The tattoo, like the constant resort to the swearword, is an attack on bourgeois propriety, and as such a demonstration of largeness of heart and generosity of spirit.

Of course, this antinomianism (itself so tiresomely bourgeois) has a tinny ring. ... The fate of all people who imitate others to achieve authenticity is to live a lie.