“Unverlöschliche Merkmale menschlichen Willens”: Heinrich Wuttke und die Geburt der Schrift aus dem Geist der Tätowierung

Ulrike Landfester


In 1872, Heinrich Wuttke publishes a History of Writing in which he presents tattooing as the earliest human practice of writing. Wuttke’s reasoning, grounded in the signs’ endurance “for life” as they are applied to the body as “inextinguishable marks of human will,” contradicts the physical fragility of the human body as well as the sources he actually quotes from. His argument fits into the larger context of a debate about the connection between the human body and the sign system of written language, which attributes special significance to the tattoo within a cultural poetology of modern Western society. (UL; in German)

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