2009-03-27

Tattoo You

Tattooed Inuit Woman
Tattooed Inuit Woman.

Le premier Pink Floyd.

In a new Syd Barrett biography that was recently published in France its author, Emmanuel Le Bret, can get quite lyrical from time to time. How this reacts, interferes or enriches the biography is a question that will be further investigated in our review to be published here in a while (see: Barrett: first in space!). But the Church can’t of course not ignore some Iggy statements to be found in a chapter well spend on The Madcap Laughs:

La cinquième chanson est Dark Globe (Sphère Sombre), un titre inspiré du Seigneur Des Anneaux. C’est l’un des moments les plus forts de l’album, une chanson où Barrett démontre une fois encore ses talents d’écriture.
The fifth song is Sphère Sombre (Dark Globe), a title inspired by Lord Of The Rings. It is one of the strongest moments of the album, a song where Barrett can once again demonstrate his writing talents…

Then, in fine French tradition, starts an in-depth review of some of the themes to be found in Dark Globe. What to think of the following:

Il y a une allusion à la drogue (l’opium que l’on fume allongé) et qui explique le vers suivant: « Ma tête embrassa la surface de la Terre. » Quant à « La personne enchaînée à une Esquimaude », c’est bien sûr Syd qui vit épisodiquement avec Iggy, moitié Inuit!
There is an allusion to the drug opium that is smoked lying on the floor and that explains the following verse: “my head kissed the ground”. “I'm only a person with Eskimo chain” is of course about his short episode with Iggy, who was half Inuit!

The opium reference is quite far-fetched and the head down / ground image symbolism can be found in several Syd songs:
I'll lay my head down and see what I see - Love Song
She loves to see me get down to ground - She Took A Long Cold Look
Creep into bed when your head's on the ground - It Is Obvious.

That the Eskimo Chain verse could refer to Ig is something that the Church has wondered about before in When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 3) , but according to JenS, who knew both Iggy and Syd in the Sixties this is quite a preposterous idea:

Syd wrote songs and not all of them were about one person or another. It was his job.
His songs were more often a jumble of ideas put together to serve his purpose. I think it’s risky, even though you like the idea, to project this as it just leads to further mythologizing. Syd was not romantically inclined this way.
“I'm only a person with Eskimo chain” refers to the evolutionary chain, not to a specific person. He was on a very much higher spiritual plane, not so much on the material.
I find this idea quite funny and I just hear Syd roaring with laughter.

But Emmanuel Le Bret mythologizes, to use JenS’ discourse, even a bit further…

Le célèbre vers « J’ai tatoué mon cerveau », qui fit les gorges chaudes de journaux à sensation, possède un pouvoir évocateur exceptionnel. Parmi les nombreux sens qu’on peut lui donner, n’oublions pas que, dans la tradition shamanique Inuit , il existe une tradition du tatouage (comme chez les Maoris) qui consiste à se tatouer le crâne en bleu. L’on peut interpréter ces mots comme l’allusion à un rite initiatique pour rentrer dans la « famille » d’Iggy.
The famous verse ‘I tattooed my brain all the way’, which was a splendid headline for the tabloids, has an extraordinary evocative power. Of all the significances one can find, we may not forget, that in Inuit shamanic tradition, there is a tattooing tradition (as with the Maori) to tattoo the skull in blue. One could interpret these words as an allusion to the ritual initiation to enter Iggy’s ‘family’.

Lars Krutak, an anthropologist who specializes in body adornments, has written about Inuit tattoos:

Arctic tattoo was a lived symbol of common participation in the cyclical and subsistence culture of the arctic hunter-gatherer. Tattoo recorded the “biographies” of personhood, reflecting individual and social experience through an array of significant relationships that oscillated between the poles of masculine and feminine, human and animal, sickness and health, the living and the dead. Arguably, tattoos provided a nexus between the individual and communally defined forces that shaped Inuit and Yupiget perceptions of existence… (Taken from: Vanishing Tattoo. An updated version of the same article can be found at: Lars Krutak.)

Although all the writings of Lars Krutak are very interesting it would take us to far to dig further into the specifics of tribal tattooing. Further more, regardless of the fact that ‘Eskimo chain’ may well or not refer to Iggy, who may have acted as a muse for Syd, rather than the groupie some biographers have made of her, she probably was not Inuit at all.

And as far as the Reverend can see, with his little piggy eyes, he cannot distinguish any tattoos on her body.

(The in-depth review of Le Bret's biography can be found at Barrett: first in space!)

Update: some of the above post is redundant as it has been established that Ig has got no Eskimo roots whatsoever: Little old lady from London-by-the-Sea 


Sources (other than internet links mentioned above):

Le Bret, Emmanuel : Syd Barrett. Le premier Pink Floyd., Editions du Moment, Paris, 2008, p.210-211. (Translations from French to English done by the Reverend.)


Direct link: Tattoo You. Posted on 2009-03-27 at 15:12.
Tags: JenS Review X-Tra Time


 

 

 


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© The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 2009.

Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.
Celebrating 10 years of The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.