Freak Creep

The sideshow of an old-time circus often included tents wherein one could take a gander at a bearded lady or a tattooed man. It is undoubtedly a boon of progress that those days are over, so that one may nowadays enjoy both of these spectacles on any sidewalk in America, free of charge. Like an orange in one’s Christmas stocking, or song from a man who could sing, the treats of our ancestors are the everyday blessings of today.

My grocery shopping was, for instance, this morning enriched by the spectacle of two tattooed ladies, one stocking the shelves and the other in command of the cash register. In neither case was the ensemble completed by the suggestion of a beard, but I’m the last one to look a gift horse in the mouth. And neither lady was, I hasten to add, a mere lady with a tattoo, such being nowadays more common than a lady with a purse. They were both tattooed ladies of the sort that once caused P. T. Barnum to rub his hands and pull out a contract and a pen.

I have yet to read a satisfying explanation of the tattoo mania, but personally suspect that it may be a case of Freak Creep. This is the process whereby freaks are pressed into ever-greater freakiness by slumming normies. That this might be the case struck me forcibly in the parking lot of that same supermarket, when, only moments after parting from the tattooed lady at the cash register, I saw a young mother unloading her infant from a minivan and wearing a tee shirt that said Counterculture.

There, I thought, is the bugbear of every freak.  There is the engine that drives Freak Creep.

32 thoughts on “Freak Creep

  1. Pingback: Freak Creep | @the_arv

  2. Rusty Reno, about the time he took over as editor at First Things, wrote about the tattoo fad that it represented a desire for permanence and commitment in the lives of the mutilatees. There’s a grain of truth in that, but the larger reality is expressed by the Punks’ slogan “No Future!” There has been no past, there will be no future: there is only the moment and its momentary pleasures.

    • Speaking of Rusty Reno, I recall that he wrote somewhere (perhaps in the same article you mention) that he once asked a graduate student (paraphrasing): “Hey, what gives with all the piercing and tattooing I see these days?” To which the student responded: “It’s a way to express one’s individuality. Besides, everyone’s doing it.” The student spoke in a serious tone, not aware of the irony of what she had just said. But I think her pronouncement betrays an attitude that applies to many fads we see these days. The “individuality” is just an illusion. In reality, it’s a herd phenomenon.

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  4. Tattoos and studs and rings are vanities in the precise meaning of the word. They betoken the emptiness of the person, who, having nothing to offer by way of character or conviction that would interest someone else, has recourse to the purely external and the purely ornamental. Often nowadays these external substitutes for the internal run to ugliness and freakishness, as if to force the attention of the other. Related to body-ornamentation are T-shirts with slogans or pictures, buttons with slogans that people pin to their denim jackets, virtue-signaling bumper-stickers, and the circulation of “selfies.”

    • I don’t suppose all freakish behavior is aggressive attention seeking, but much of it surely is. The growing mania for weirdly colored hair has its origin in the signaling behavior of prostitutes. It is easy to put this down as narcissism, but I think the Right too often forgets its own theory when it does this. Many of our ideological enemies are victims of the atomized liberal society that they defend. The desperate attention-seeking of the self-mutilated freak whose every lip stud cries “look at me” really is desperate.

      I think one part of this is that we are all of us, nowadays, competing with the media for the attention of the people who should be our friends and families. Here I am trying to get a little attention with my best attempt at a joke, political commentary, or philosophic musing, and there are my friends reading better jokes, commentary and musings on their cell phones. I think there is some truth in what feminists write about the “beauty myth,” namely that many very nice looking women are thrown into the shadows by images of supermodels. It was barely a hundred years ago that the prettiest girl a man ever saw was “sipping cider through a straw” at his church social. That girl probably aroused envy in the other girls of the church, but she didn’t provoke them into dying their hair green, getting a tattoo sleeve, and cutting holes in their faces.

      • The desperate attention-seeking of the self-mutilated freak whose every lip stud cries “look at me” really is desperate.

        I agree. There is a certain amount of pity I generally feel for such persons when I see them precisely because of the desperation you allude to.
        I wrote awhile back that I have always considered myself one of the “fortunate ones,” in that I was raised by a good and decent father who never forsook nor abandoned me; and, moreover, who was well respected and loved in the small community in which I was raised.
        That latter part had the overall effect, in contradistinction to what we witness all too often in today’s world, of the surrounding community – particularly the men, but the women too – doing all in their power to reinforce (as opposed to undermining) the values and mores my father diligently worked to instill in me mainly by example.
        I do admit, however, that be all of that as it may, there is a strong sense of revulsion I experience when seeing such people, in addition to the pity. It’s not always directed at the individual in question, often it is directed at the society at large which encourages (or at least doesn’t discourage) such self-mutilating behavior. It is revolting in any case, because it is ugly, and often indicates an internal ugliness as Dr. Bertonneau points out.

      • There’s all sorts of theories about female tatoos. A popular one in the manosphere is that each tatoo (and lip piercing etc.) represents the trauma of an alpha male that pumped her and dumped her. No idea if this is true.

      • I (very respectfully) disagree about the feminist beauty myth. The average guy has a threshold for being attracted to a girl that includes the pretty girl next door (most young girls are pretty if they keep their weight under control) and excludes obese and ugly women. Beyond that threshold, the girl next door is just as good as the supermodel and probably better because she’s nicer.
        E.g. I saw a picture yesterday of Trump and Melania with some political candidate (senate??) and his “plain” wife. I thought the “plain” wife was prettier.
        Hypergamy is real and is amplified by our current culture so the feminists aren’t interested in the average guy. They think they deserve the guy that gets the supermodel who throws them into the shadow. Sorry for the distraction.

      • I agree with much of what you say, but still think that exposure to media representations of the very best reduces our appreciation of that which is merely very good. It is fun to be a “big fish,” so a world of “small ponds” makes more happy people.

      • Bruce:

        There’s all sorts of theories about female tatoos. A popular one in the manosphere is that each tatoo (and lip piercing etc.) represents the trauma of an alpha male that pumped her and dumped her. No idea if this is true.

        Hmm.

        Several of the women in my extended family (none in my immediate family) sport a tattoo, or tattoos. One explanation a sibling gave me for hers is that, at the time she got it, she was ‘playing the harlot’ looking to land a man.

        It was never my purpose to elicit an explanation from her in the first place, given that we are worlds apart in world view and political philosophy, but she nevertheless thrust it upon me as a way of rubbing the issue in my face when she took one of our nieces to get her own … marking. My reply to her was something along the lines of ‘desperate people, as they say, do desperate things. I’m pretty sure in any case that the man you caught while playing the harlot, inasmuch as you caught him by that means, will prove to be a … disappointment.’

      • They (tattoos) are not all bad. I know a very devout woman, mother of a large family, who has been obliged to hide for years from her children and others the mutilation she inflicted on herself in her unrestrained youth. The sight of these has been a constant self-reproach, especially since she changed her way of life before she found her husband and started her family. She has recently, in middle-age, covered one of her scars with a tattoo of poppy-like flowers, and hopes to cover the remaining instances in due time and with an eye to the family budget.
        The current mania for tattoos has provided her with a convenient cover for her cover.

  5. My personal opinion on tattooed women has been a tattoo won’t make an ugly woman prettier, and only makes a pretty woman uglier. I therefore simply cannot understand them.

  6. @JM – I regard the spread and positive valuation of tattoos as a very significant, malign symptom of our modern spiritual malaise; esepcially among women – I’ve been intermittently wriring about the theme for the past seven years – producing various suggested explanations of the covert meaning. In case anyone is interested, here are some:

    https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2011/12/deliberate-self-mutilation-is-evil.html
    https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2015/02/crossing-another-line.html
    https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2015/10/why-many-modern-women-have-become.html
    https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-modern-boom-in-skin-mutilation.html
    https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2017/06/beneath-contempt-permanent-self.html

  7. Since we’ve broached the subject, there is now the phenomenon of pastors and worship performers in churches, who are tattooed. One good friend who is a worship pastor at a large church, apparently already had his quite noticeable tattoos on his forearms (easily visible to all when he plays his guitar in anything less than long sleeves) when he auditioned and applied for the position!
    He’s a loving father, husband and friend, and couldn’t understand why his tattoos disturbed and disappointed me. I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t understand my feelings about it either. I’m not sure what the tats represent in my friend’s case.
    I’m a 63 year old who professes to be a Christian, and 3 of 4 women I’ve dated in the last 2 years had tattoo(s).
    For me it’s emblematic of doctrinal creep in the extreme, as the SJW/Liberal mentality achieves a kind of bastardized new version of what was our faith.

    • I would have a reaction similar to yours, but I also try to keep in mind that Christianity is not the same as middle class respectability. Informal hip pastors can speak to people who would otherwise believe that the Church was for fuddy duddies and squares. In my own experience with cool youth ministers, however, the Christianity was often adulterated.

  8. It’s because working class white people don’t have any hope of improving their economic or social situation and nobody else stands up for them to help them find a purpose in life. Getting designs put on their skin is a way they can feel special.

    You didn’t say they were white but I know they are.

    And here you are calling them circus freaks instead of trying to get them to come to church and live for a better reality than their pointless secular lives. In place of charity you offer ridicule.

    Fuck you.

    • I didn’t call them circus freaks. I observed, correctly, that tattooing of that sort would only have been seen in a sideshow attraction not that long ago. I don’t know about these two women, but many people in the counterculture embrace the word freak. I didn’t mean to ridicule the women, both of whom appeared hardworking and friendly. I was ridiculing our culture, which is, frankly, rather ridiculous. Your economic argument doesn’t really work, since a great many people in low-wage, dead-end jobs do not disfigure themselves.

    • “F*ck You” is one of my favorite parting salutations employed by liberals; second only to its slightly less vulgar yet equally effective cousin, “eat sh*t and die!”

  9. My husband and I believe there is some element of addiction to tattoos. In addition to a compulsion to add more and more camouflage, there’s also an unwarrantedly fierce defense against anyone who objects to tattooing, or who tries to point out risks, dangers or even just the annoyances of the practice. And just as with other addictions, the families of heavily tattooed people also defend the practice loudly and vigorously.
    Tattoos are still associated with pagan and superstitious practices, and those who get them do know this even if they don’t discuss it – much like those who follow astrology. Leviticus 19 is a rough book to read. 90% of it is stuff that most preachers will no longer happily take into the pulpit, so they pretend it doesn’t exist – unless they want to beat us over the head with verses 33 & 34. Along with the ten commandments in expanded form, there are verses that delight the globalists, verses that appall Americans, verses that make businesses uncomfortable,verses that confuse us, verses that convict each of us in our own hearts … and verses that make clear why tattoos are indefensible for Christians.
    Doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have tattoos on Christians, just like we also have every other kind of sin represented within the congregation … and too often even in the pulpit. But surely it should mean that Christians do lament that sin, and urge others to avoid it, rather than “making our sin their door” by bragging on it.

  10. I have been following and listening to an exorcist, who is also a theologian and philosopher: Father Chad Ripperger. I strongly encourage people to listen to him.

    Maybe I heard to many of his conferences on exorcism/demonic; I associate compulsive tattoing with the person being under demonic possession and/or influence. Interestingly, in the catholic circles I attend, I have only seen only 1 tattoed woman (one tattoo in her right wrist with her name).

      • Do you consider one single tattoo as “compulsive tattoing”?

        I do not. For me it designates 3 or more.

      • Some people stop at one or two, but submitting to one very often starts the itch for a second, third, fourth, etc. Perhaps it is like drinking or drugs. Not everyone gets hooked, but you will not know if you are one of them until it is too late.

      • A “gateway” tattoo, piercing, whatever. I’m being facetious, of course. I agree that tattooing can be, and often is, addicting. Which is the main reason I strongly advise against its first instantiation with my kith and kin.

  11. Pingback: Priggishness or Salvation. – Dark Brightness

  12. It’s definitely an addiction. I have a bunch that I got in the past 4 years of my falling into decadence. At some point you want more because your arm feels “empty” in places. It’s also somewhat of a working class status symbol to show that you could afford the tattoo.
    Currently I’m not sure how I feel about them. I honestly forget they are there, but they are a part of me now. At least mine are good quality.

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