Skin Deep 224

Even though all of you should know who Warren Ellis is, I’ll take an educated guess that some of you don’t. If this is the case, rush out right now and pick up a copy of his book Crooked Little Vein and revel in its debauchery. You’ll have read it in a day if you’re a slick reader and then you can storm right back out again and pick up his new book, Gun Machine. Same rules apply. I like Warren Ellis a lot. More people should know about his work – and now that my job on that front is complete, I don’t feel so bad about borrowing something that I found on his site this week.

As something of a radical thinker, or maybe ‘free thinker’ is a better phrase, he’ll quite often go out on a limb when it comes to certain topics. Anyway, there’s a blog post titled ‘What Is Your Priority Internet’ that comes from a tweet by Sean Bonner (you can do your own research on him too) that asks the question: “Have no internet for two days, then you get only 30 minutes – what is top priority?”

Bonner responds to himself saying he would “skim email and twitter for anything urgent and then do quick updates on twitter, vine and flickr.” Ellis on the other hand questions some of this, proposes his own actions and then says something that struck me as being really smart. In fact, he came up with the very sentences that I’ve been searching for when it comes to what the internet is actually about these days and it’s this: “For me, social networks have become pervasive to the point of being old wallpaper.”

Man, Ellis got that right in a nutshell. More importantly, he then goes on to point out all of the apps he’s recently deleted from his phone. Over the last year, I’ve hung up my gloves with nearly all of them for the very same reasons that Ellis has. Because “there’s nobody in the room”. There really isn’t. I’m going to go one step further. Now that everything is louder than everything else, is there anything left to get excited about?

Everything that you might possibly might want to know, see, learn or hear (but not smell, smell is still sacred) is out there now. You can’t discover a new band on the grapevine anymore without there being some kind of machine behind it. You can’t hear a whisper about a book without it being snappily available in two seconds on your device – the list goes on. But you know something… there are tattoo artists out there who live off the grid. Artists who work at the top of their game but have no desire to give themselves a voice online – and I frankly think that’s wonderful. I’m in two minds as to whether to even approach them for interviews in Skin Deep I’m so respectful of their desire to let the grapevine do what it does best.

Retracing my steps back to Bonner’s original blog, I find that he also has some interesting thoughts. For instance, the reasons he left the music business back in the ’90s: “People (and bands) were just running through the motions. They were executing a prescribed set of actions because that’s just what you do.” I know that feeling all too well. It happens everywhere.

Take the book 50 Shades of Grey. It had its fair share of knockers (insert smiley face icon as you wish) but the similarly titled and copycat book cover designs that came after were surely a criminal assault on human intelligence – but they sold all the same.

All this is relevant because so far as I can see, tattooing is one of the last bastions of visual art. It’s changing all the time, but is it wishful thinking to hope it doesn’t go down the same path as other arts? There was a tattoo posted online last week – a blow by blow ripoff of somebody else’s custom work. Why would you want that on you? Why would you even say that you’d do it?

As that other smart old writer, Chuck Palahniuk, said: “The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

Then again as my spiritual alter ego Hank Moody would say: “You have a dog named Cat Stevens? Holy fuck!”


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