Talk nerdy to me: the Sator Square

via contrariwise, right here on the wordpress.

This is a tattoo on the arm of an Illustrated Man which is of a very ancient and hip little meme — the so-called Sator square.

Earliest records of the Sator Square date from Pompeii. M-m-much, much, much, much more (please read that in a combination of Ray D. Tutti from Baron Munchausen and an old school Max Headrome voice) than just your “standard” palindrome, the Sator Square reads the same backward, forward, in rows, and in columns, evinced by the above unfortunately irrevocable tat which can only be removed by expensive, skin-altering surgery, and below, in the defacement of a wall.

There are several translations of the playful-but-persistent square phrase, of which I will only reproduce the one I like best.

“The sower, Arepo, holds the wheels [of the world’s machine] at work.”

Parantheses mine. I’m just suggesting the prospect of a wide definition from the standpoint of a popular metaphor, here, is all.

(ugh! lame, lame caption — unlike this one right here which cures cancer and enlarges penises — call me for your super-official and 10,000% legal prescription!)

There is no “Arepo” of any note who sows or does anything else in the mythology of any proposed countries of origin for this meme, so it’s been assumed since time out of mind that Arepo, like the “she” of “she sells seashells by the seashore,” is referred to in the phrases of the square only for the purposes of making the wordgame pleasing and symmetrical.


edit: “It’s actually a tattoo on the lower left lumbar region of an Illustrated Woman.” Please do read the comment from Fafner for up-to-date fact-checks if you plan to re-blog. Accuracy is cool, good for the skin, and it brings good karma!*

*Karma sold separately — and use witch hazel to enhance good skin effects. But still!

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2 Responses to “Talk nerdy to me: the Sator Square”

  1. Fafner Says:

    It’s actually a tattoo on the lower left lumbar region of an Illustrated Woman (though I don’t know if I deserve that moniker, since it’s still my only tattoo). It may be irrevocable, but it still pleases me greatly seven years after getting it, so I’m not contemplating any skin-altering surgery. Thanks for posting it, though!

    • E. Says:

      Anyone with a tattoo deserves the moniker Illustrated Woman! Because it is a physical leaping-off point of a narrative.

      There are so many worthy and fascinating things to make permanent on our bodies: despite my own fear of being “caught out” at believing in something, I am always fascinated by what others choose to make a part of their personal story. When I consider ideas for tattoos, I can only think of things to do with my daughter and my faith that I might never find shaken through whatever life offers me, and yet so many good friendohs are able to point to this or that tattoo and talk about how it came from a time, place, or person which deeply affected them, which memory-markers can only be admirable in my estimation.

      It leaves me more to question myself as to why I shy away from open display of the things that matter, whatever future may come. What do you know about so-called “white” tattoos, ones done absent of dark ink? I’ve only just heard of them in the last few weeks.

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