Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Tattoo-Rumba Man

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with maps.

I was a Studio Art major at Carleton College. I had a fascination with northern Renaissance painting, especially folks like Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, whose paintings are essentially visual texts: they are composed of symbolic elements posed to make a theological statement, within an illusionistic "window" into a sacred world.

My senior comps project was designed around this idea of art as text, based on texts and functioning as adjuncts to text. My problem: I didn't have a religious text I believed in as deeply as the painters of 500 years ago.

So I decided to write one. I had some examples of student-written stream-of-consciousness stuff I really liked, and some bits of text I was thinking of as kind of central to me, but it was my friend Adam sending me a scrap of text about the Tattoo-Rumba Man that got me going. I took it and ran (with his permission).

I still like the character, twenty years on, and I recently pulled out the text I wrote (it was edited somewhat over the following three years and then it lay fallow on various hard drives after 1991). It needed some tweaking, but I kinda like it, so I put it up on the web. Enjoy!


[After the fact, there was a scene in Strictly Ballroom that to me is the Tattoo-Rumba Man. See here and go to 8:20 on the timer]

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