Juan Eduardo Tesone : tattooing and the shield of perseus

Like an image in a dream, the tattoo is above all the graphic expression of the subject’s psychical production. Voluntary tattooing become a language act half-way between a writing that is close to hieroglyphics, with its symbolisms, and spoken discourse. A substituting representation, the image inscribed on the skin acquires value as an ersatz of the subject’s inner world, not necessarily metaphorized. Drive excitation is in search of representations. When these are lacking, the inscription of an image on the skin can have the status of a substitute function. Half-way between psychical representation and the external object, in an in-between neither completely outside nor completely inside. For Nicolas, his tattoo, like the shield of Perseus, reflected back the gaze of an other who could remind him of the difference of the sexes, and thus he felt protected from his fear of remaining petrified by his own projected castration anxiety. This was a meta-psychological function for fencing off the representational void he feared he would be sucked into, and for keeping his bodily ego from falling into it at the same time, reinforcing his shaky system of repression.