"Jennifer writes: ‘I’m not a scientist (exactly) but I am in the Navy, just like many of the men who visited the moon. My husband and son are space fanatics, the Goodnight Moon window is for my daughter. She loves the book.’ "
dennett, v. (1) To while away the hours defining surnames; hence, dennettation n. (2) The meaning of a surname. “Every surname has both a meinong and a dennettation.” n. (3) An artificial enzyme used to curdle the milk of human intentionality.
A syzygy of sorts, considering where my mind’s been of late.
"After the Columbia accident, I felt compelled to do something. Space has always meant so much to me, and I felt I wanted to memorialize them somehow.
I donated to college funds and other charities in their name, but still felt like I needed to do more, and I found myself reliving and considering Challenger, and Apollo one too, Gus Grissom being a long time hero of mine.
One morning, I made a list of all of them. It just struck me. I’ll put their names on my forearm. People will see them. They’ll ask who they are. I can then tell them about my tattoo, and what it means to me. Everytime someone asks, and I explain it, they take a second. They reflect. They remember.”
In fits and starts, the keyboard on my laptop is losing its capacity to type capital Ts by way of the shift key (the caps lock, mercifully, still works). Shift + T doesn’t provides not lower-case T—what you’d expect—but nothing at all. This doesn’t affect any other letter, nor does it happen consistently—some days, it will be perfectly fine; then, without warning, it’ll stop working. The bug is consistent across programs. Sometimes restarting fixes the problem. Sometimes it doesn’t.
"On the fourth day of Artemis 3′s manned mission to the moon, while early morning America watched two of its astronauts investigate an alien ship buried under the lunar surface, a live video feed from the orbiting command module captured the third crewmember in an unguarded moment. That astronaut was a tall black man who had earned his navy aviator wings and a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering during two decades in the military. He was floating around the capsule in a red push-up bra and lacy red panties, with black fishnet stockings stretched from thigh to toe.
The first is a wing, which takes up most of the left half of my back, from shoulder to hip. The top is realistic; toward the bottom, it gradually transitions to a line drawing. I had originally planned to get the whole thing done realistically but loved the dissolution from detail to idea, so left it unfinished.
I don’t have a good photo of that one.
My second tattoo is a somewhat oblique reference to Hellboy, which I got shortly before I stopped working on that series and universe. The design—and original art—was a gift from Mike Mignola. I would like to extend the lilies further up my shoulder, eventually, but I feel odd about modifying or asking for modifications on a piece that was designed just for me.
I don’t have a great photo of the tattoo itself, but here’s the original art:
Here are some of the others I intend to get someday, in no particular order, with varying degrees of detail:
One will be a quotation, in Hebrew, at the nape of my neck. This one depends on finding a Hebrew calligrapher willing to design a tattoo.
One will be forget-me-nots.
One will be the Finder symbol, somewhere on my body; I’m not yet sure where. Right now, the front runner is two bands on my right arm, one immediately above and one immediately below the elbow.
One will be the blueprint for a mechanical right wing, accompanied by minor modifications to the existing left.
One will be a specific editorial mark.
One will be a quotation from 1984. Another will be a quotation from Tennyson, probably from either “Ulysses” or In Memoriam, A.H.H. Eventually, I would like an entire sleeve of text and type.
One may or may not be a postmark.
One will have something to do with spaceflight.
One will be the final illustration of The Little Prince.
A brief coda: People ask, “But what if what an image means to you changes, or if you change?” I think the fact that it has meant this much at any point along the way is justification enough. I like the idea of my body becoming history of where I have been on the way to where, at any given moment, I am.
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
The above passage is excerpted from "Politics and the English Language," by George Orwell. If you are an anglophone and you give a fuck about communicating ideas, you should learn this essay like catechism; copy it into your notebooks; tape its most salient sentences to the border of your screen.
If you go up to an artist at a convention and request a sketch of your favorite astronaut, what are the odds that the artist will not only know whom you’re talking about, but also be able to draw him from memory?
Since ladies are apparently the order of the day, here’s set of drawings of female astronauts and cosmonauts, by Philip Bond. They’re great, even if Eileen Collins is inexplicably absent. Plus, y’know, it makes me happy when comics artists draw astronauts.
Also, Nick Mamatas is having a contest over at Haikasoru, where you can post a short essay on the future of women in space exploration for a chance to win a copy of Rocket Girls: The Last Planet. I wrote about the importance of making the fields of math, hard science, and military aviation more accessible to women.
(Today is International Women’s Day, but please don’t forget that you can and should write about women and issues that specifically affect women on the other 364 (or 365 if it’s a leap year) days, too.)
Today is also my dad’s birthday. My dad is fantastic. He teaches feminist philosophy (aren’t I topical!), juggles, and reads every book I edit. Happy birthday, Dad!