Friday, November 26, 2010

Vampire photos, sucking the skin

Just look at this aesthetically pleasing pattern of dents made from golf-tees pressed into a slab of damp clay [h/t DKW].

Not may people know that golf was a favoured sport amongst the Sumerian elite, four-&-½ millennia ago on the Mesopotamian plains; nor that their habit of pressing the tees into clay after each hole to keep track of the score became the inspiration for the very idea of a written language (eat 8-iron, Denise Schmandt-Besserat!). These esoteric secrets are only taught in the advanced class, Sumerian 301.

According to the experts, Figure 1 up there or ama-gi4 has an etymology along the lines of "Return to the Mother", but there is room for debate about its actual meaning. I am not sure how you pronounce the "4". From context -- the word only appears in a couple of advertising campaigns from two rulers of Lagash in connection with the mysterious word "Brawn-do" -- it apparently means something along the lines of "cancellation of debts" --

  • Dominique Charpin (1987) proposes that the term ama or mother, connotes origin, and thus ama-ar-gi is return to the origin, a restoration of the original mother situation.
  • Igor Diakonoff (1991) suggests that ama-ar-gi, understood as the relief of a debt or burden, also should be understood as returning to mother, returning to the original situation.
  • Maurice Lambert (1972) suggests that it means the return of the child pledged in debt to the mother.
Michael Hudson sees the core meaning as "relief from an unjust debt or legal burden" and links it to the Old Testament tradition of a Jubilee year of debt reversion.

So here are a shower of nimrods [h/t anonymous] who chose to be tattooed with a slightly mis-shaped version of ama-gi4 . It would be nice to think that they are pledging their allegiance to the ideological cause of cancelling their credit-card overdrafts and mortgages, but no, they are under the impression that it means "liberty".



As one libertarian author admits,
My conjecture is that some fucker simply made it up a few years ago, and a whole downpour of drongoes have been obediently copying a mis-shapen version of the word onto their wasted skin ever since, as a token of independence. That was easy.

Look, this guy has even managed to end up with the mirror image. CUNEIFORM FAIL. Or perhaps they have all opted for this tattoo as a way of informing the world that they have returned to their mothers and are all living in their parents' basements.

Many of us were exposed in early childhood to the story of Harold and the Purple Tattooing Machine, but most people eventually realised that the purple tattooing machine was a metaphor for the creative process, and engraving our wishes into our flesh would not magically bring them into existence.

UPDATE: In comments, ZRM wonders if anyone has tattooed the symbol on his penis yet.
I'm going for the longer version, ama-ar-gi4.

27 comments:

Dragon-King Wangchuck said...

I never thought that I'd be referenced in a post about Returning to Mothers - for mentioning golf.

I was going to say "in defense of the mirror image d00d, perhaps it's a photo of a mirror image - but the STOP sign in the background says Sadly, No!

WV agrees that these ama-ar-gi[4] tats are unwin.

J— said...

Hey, someone wrote a blog-post on this!

the relief of a debt or burden…the Old Testament tradition of a Jubilee year of debt reversion

Granted periodically by a mysterious entity whose name currently escapes me.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

...and engraving our wishes into our flesh would not magically bring them into existence.

Damn it, Smut. Must you crush everyone's dream?
~

J— said...

Okay, but the frightening dragon guarding the apple tree is the Church, I'm sure of it. Look how it pops out just like Pope Benedict!

Another Kiwi said...

They all get the little box thing wrong at the very front of the ama-ar-gi. They all have it closed whilst in the original it is open. Thus the WOLVERINES are probably wearing the injunction "Love Your Mother" if you know what I mean and I think you do.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

and engraving our wishes into our flesh would not magically bring them into existence.


So this tattoo of Diane Lane on my butt was pointless?

Smut Clyde said...

I know that it's rather silly to get hung up on the original meaning of some symbol from a long-dead civilisation is beside the point; what matters is the meaning given to it by the Liberty Fund and the Mises Institute in a (literal) branding exercise. Allowing people to announce their beliefs to like-minded mates without describing them at length. Rather like the swastika.

Smut Clyde said...

the STOP sign in the background says Sadly, No!

Nothing shouts out "integrity and intelligence" like public property in the form of an important road-safety sign that's been stolen for room decoration.

Substance McGravitas said...

The cool thing is that the really big tattoos hurt more.

tigris said...

CUNEIFORM FAIL.

Hey, dude, your crazy RULES about correctly written signs don't interest FREEDOM MAN. Also: DA VINCI.

Harold said...

I like pie!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Interesting that when Mr. Clyde is actually using actual Blue Oyster Cult lyrics, he neglects the tag.

I remember when Riddled had quality control, man.

Kathleen said...

when is this trend going to sweep the NBA?

J— said...

I know that it's rather silly to get hung up on the original meaning of some symbol from a long-dead civilisation is beside the point; what matters is the meaning given to it by the Liberty Fund and the Mises Institute in a (literal) branding exercise.

I am amused by the own-goal quality of inking one's libertarian body with an ode to the state's power to periodically rescind its collection power.

Smut Clyde said...

What the libertarians are glorifying with such enthusiasm, when you go and look at the actual proclamations, sounds more like the power of the state to overrule private contracts and release one party of any obligation to pay the other party.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Also, I fully expect D K-W to show up with a link to a photo of some idiot with this tattooed on his PENIS.

Smut Clyde said...

We cannot endorse any suggestion about getting a libertarian drunk and insensible.

Dragon-King Wangchuck said...

Pfft, as if. They're libertarians for a Reason, meaning that you won't find a libertarian PENIS big enough to sport a tat of a single golf tee.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

We cannot endorse any suggestion about getting a libertarian drunk and insensible.

Aren't they insensible to begin with? All the ones I've met are.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Not may people know that golf was a favoured sport amongst the Sumerian elite, four-&-½ millennia ago on the Mesopotamian plains

The clay tablets for that book of the Epic of Gilgamesh, known to scholars as "Enkidu plays through", went missing from the British museum for decades.

fish said...

Also, I fully expect D K-W to show up with a link to a photo of some idiot with this tattooed on his PENIS.

Okay, a guy that has "return to mother" on his penis is getting the wrong message from Oedipus Rex.

Pete Eyre said...

I'm the guy who's tat page you pointed out (http://peteeyre.com/tats) and while I appreciate the link I think you're mistaken about the vagueness of the the amagi's meaning. The phrase "return to the mother" was told to individuals that had up until that point been enslaved, so it literally meant that the person is free to go, free to return to their mother.

From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cuneiform_amagi.gif):
The cuneiform inscription that serves as the logo and a design element in Liberty Fund books is the earliest-known written appearance of the word "freedom" (amagi), or "liberty."

Also, http://www.libertyfund.org/logo.html

Substance McGravitas said...

Well, if you read the post you'll see that explanation has been noted, but not really nailed down. Might have been smarter to go with a word people were actually sure about, like LIBERTY for instance.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea a Sumerian phrase could induce so much rage from liberals.

Smut Clyde said...

Ragey people R Us. There are times when merely shouting at clouds is not enough.
How's the weather in London?

Substance McGravitas said...

Why just the other day I was raging about the high cost of tattoo removal.

Another Kiwi said...

who knew that Captain Hurricane was a Liberal?