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Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Only one time in the movie do we see Four's entire tattoo.
We see it in the scene directly following the one where Four takes Tris into his own Fearscape and Tris sees Four's deepest fear, being beaten with a leather belt and buckle by his father Marcus starting in childhood.

Usually Four stands and calms his breathing and heart rate. (This is standard technique for "flooding" developed by Edna Foa.) Tris however grabs Marcus's belt, punches Marcus and Four protects her from Marcus, thus initiating a new response in Four.

In these two images we have the complete history of Four/Tobias's childhood, in reverse sequence for the viewer.

The Tattoo

The tattoo is a record of his beatings. On a child's skin, a leather belt is going to leave terrible welts, cuts and permanent scars. Not like Patsy's beatings in 12 Years a Slave nor like this slave:
A horrifying explicit vision of Nietzsche's Torturous Inscription of  the Body
But you get the idea. To a child it is a terrible thing to endure beatings that leave permanent markings. 
Down the center of Four's back on his spinal cord are the five faction symbols. 
So with this piece of dialogue we know that every time Tobias displayed curiosity - forbidden in Abnegation - which is linked to intelligence, or bravery, honesty, happiness or kindness Marcus forbid it. And he not only forbid it - the way Beatrice was forbidden - but he was also punished unmercifully for being a curious, kind, intelligent, honest, brave and happy child until he learned never to show any of those feelings. Ever. 
The tattoo clearly shows the lash marks probably covering some scars. It clearly shows all five of the factions, desires, attributes, a well rounded person who was emotionally mature might have. 

But exposing the tattoo reveals both shame and desire.

In revealing what he has concealed to Tris in his Fearscape and on his back he is confessing shame and opening himself to vulnerability. (Badiou:In Praise of Love)
Tris carefully runs her fingers and hand down Four's back touching him tenderly and admiringly
And Four is being touched tenderly for the very first time in his life. He does not wear his tattoo openly nor share it with anyone as he is a very private person.
"Not approachable."

This is an explicit Inscription of the Body - Mind always included in this concept - that Nietzsche details for us in The Genealogy of Morals. 
Four has turned his torture into body art. He has carved the memory of it onto his back to be there forever. 
All you have to do  is look at the lashes as they curve around his arms, neck and rib cage, how the belt falls on his shoulder blades and back to understand this. He never wants to forget it. He never wants to forgive. He always wants to remember the terrified child he was. 

Is this why he keeps going back into his Fearscape? Has it become erotic for him? 

Actually in terms of Behavior Therapy Four chooses flooding - implosion - to confront his fears (Edna Foa). With flooding it is necessary to re-experience the "flooding" on a semi regular basis to keep the fear manageable. It doesn't go away forever. 
Spontaneous recovery is a fact of psychological learning theory.

BTW this works really well to desensitize your dog to thunder and Fourth of July explosions. Tape similar sounds, go to confined room with your dog, play the tape very low (read a book or something) until your dog ignores it. Every time you do  it increase the noise a little bit. Until you can play it as loud as possible and your dog ignores it. You will have to do it semi regularly to condition your dog as Four is conditioning himself.

Back to Four and Nietzsche and The Inscription of the Body/Mind
Four's body/mind is inscripted by Dauntless when we meet him. He is carefully gendered masculine: he walks forcefully into every scene or exits purposefully. All his movements are deliberate. His dialogue is all truth. No extraneous small talk. He exhibits a frightening awareness of being a killer when he acts in that capacity. He is deadly.
Nietzsche on The Inscription of the Body which also includes the Mind.

192 How does one create a memory for the human animal?
192-193 ....there is perhaps nothing more terrible in man's earliest history than his mnemotechnics. "A thing is branded on the memory to make it stay there; only what goes on  hurting will stick"...It is the past - the longest, deepest, hardest of pasts - that seems to surge up....Whenever man has thought it necessary to create a memory for himself, his effort has been attended with torture, blood, sacrifice. ....sacrifice...repulsive mutilations...the cruelest rituals in every religious cult....all these have their origin in that instinct which divined pain to be the the strongest aid to mnemonics.

Nietzsche says more and he says pages about punishment. Festinger's work has showed that the stronger the initiation procedures, the more adherence to the group. Is this the rule for punitive families also?

Engraving your back is not  pleasurable. And culturally now, tattooing has become a wide practice. These people are engraving their body/minds. This is a surface Inscription of the Body. Ask anyone who wants to tell you why they have this one, where they got it, how they chose it, what it means, when they got it, who was the artist who did it. Each one is a MEMORY.

Going through a reading of Badiou it is only Love that opens him to vulnerability. 

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