Friday, December 14, 2012

Caitlin's Faulknerian Tattoo and Language

This past summer, while attending the 2nd Annual New York City Poetry Festival on Governor's Island, I saw a lot of great ink. I have a soft spot for word tattoos, and was drawn to this one, on the back of Caitlin:

This reads, in Latin, "Et ego in Arcadia."

"It's actually grammatically incorrect, but it's as it appears in a Faulkner novel [The Sound and the Fury] ... something Quentin's father says to him," Caitlin told me. "And," she added, "he says it with that wording, but it's really supposed to be Et in Arcadio ego."

Loosely interpreted, she understands it to mean "I am even in paradise."

When I asked her why she had that phrase tattooed on her, Caitlin elaborated:
"It's difficult to say ... I just think, reading Faulkner, when I was a teenager was sort of the first time that I realized what language could do. I thought ... it had certain constraints ... that is part of why I chose the saying from the Faulkner novel, I also liked the idea that ... language is fluid, there aren't really rules to it. We're changing language every day ... It's sort of comforting, walking around New York City and you see, like, all of these signs and they have grammatical errors in them ... it's sort of comforting to think of language as this living, breathing thing."
She had this done at White Rabbit Tattoo Studio in the East Village.

Thanks to Caitlin for sharing this literary tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

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