I'm reading Dan Brown's new novel, The Lost Symbol, and came across this snippet at the beginning of the book. He's describing the book's villain, Mal'akh, who is heavily tattooed. (emphasis his)
The goal of tattooing was never beauty. The goal was change. From the scarified Nubian priests of 2000 B.C. to the tattooed acolytes of the Cybele cult of ancient Rome, to the moko scars of the modern Maori, humans have tattooed themselves as a way of offering up their bodies in partial sacrifice, enduring the physical pain of embellishment and emerging changed beings.
Despite the ominous admonitions of Leviticus 19:28, which forbade the marking of one's flesh, tattoos had become a rite of passage shared by millions of people in the modern age - everyone from clean-cut teenagers to hard-core drug users to suburban housewives.
The act of tattooing one's skin was a transformative declaration of power, an announcement to the world: I am in control of my own flesh. The intoxicating feeling of control derived from physical transformation had addicted millions to flesh-altering practices... cosmetic surgery, body piercing, bodybuilding, and steroids... even bulimia and transgendering. The human spirit craves mastery over it's carnal shell.
Some thoughts and a question after the jump.