the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

stewart on the locket vs the tattoo

Posted by rigorousm on March 4, 2015

To carry the other’s face in a locket is to create a double interiority, the interiority of the bourgeois marriage encapsulated and surrounded by the ring. Within the body is both the heart and the heart’s content—the other. The heart’s state of contentment, we must remember, exists only in its interior plentitude.

The locket creates an additional secret recess of the body. Such recesses, which depend upon the protective functions of clothing, are always vulnerable to exposure. … they typify the restrained and domesticated sexuality of “the private life.” … The antithesis of the locket is the tattoo. The tattoo creates not depth but additional surface. It is publically symbolic; calling on communal symbols and communal values, it is easily read and easily exposed. The locket is always threatened by loss, for its magic is dependent upon possession. But the tattoo is indelible, and in the sense that all ownership proper implies potential separation and loss, it cannot be “owned.” It represents incorporation just as other carnival grotesque images do.

— Susan Stewart, On Longing, p 127.

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