Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Looking Past the Surface

On the last day of elementary school my librarian read Dr.Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”, at the time being a cool fifth grader, I thought we out grew Dr. Seuss and his childish stories, so I just sat back and listened to my librarian treat us as if we were first graders.

Years went by, and I hadn’t heard one story by Dr.Seuss, until my senior year of high school. My English teacher read us “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”, and now I understood why my elementary school librarian wanted to end our education with some inspiration. The story touches on the topics of exploring the world, and as a child I thought the book was referring to the many vacations I would take with my parents. Now looking back on my shallow understanding of Dr. Seuss’s writing I am inspired by the intricate writing found within.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” may be a child’s book, but the lessons within the text are addressed to anyone, as a child you may only understand the literal meaning of the words, but with education and time the deeper understanding is revealed. Just like in Dr. Ellis’s Tattooing the World, “the tattoo designs, like print characters, appear to be the stuff on which meaning is made” (3).

Tattoo’s signify more then the actual symbol or pattern on the skin, but a statement and expression of the soul. The symbol of getting a tattoo represents importance a person holds on the pattern or image that they place on their body. Just like “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” now that I understand the deeper meaning within the book, I can pass on the experience and lessons found hidden within the text. Now the person with the tattoo can share their story and hidden meaning (if they want to) to the viewer.

As Dr. Seuss states: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where you'll go. Oh the places you'll go.” The text may describe an actual ‘vacation’ or trip, but the true meaning is behind the surface.

Just like tattoo literature or any form of art supplies the viewer with inspiration, forcing them into a new world of imagination. As Dr. Ellis states, tattoo “involves both surface and depth [that] makes visible the simultaneous intensification and joining of the interior and the exterior” (18). Tattoo is an instrument to understanding a person, by representing their story with art on their skin.

Also this concept can be related back to C.S. Lewis’s “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, where the picture on the wall pulled the children into their own world. Art serves as a window for imagination and inspiration. Also Lewis’s writing like Dr. Seuss’s writing demonstrates the important role that age and education has on understanding. The two authors writing appeals to children, but a deeper meaning can be made by the same individual as they age. Dr. Ellis discusses how tattoo embodies the same characteristics, and stresses the importance of perspective on interpretation of art.

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