In the 19th century, the French author Marie-Henri Beyle – otherwise known as Stendhal – described a strange experience he had during a trip to Florence. While visiting the Basilica di Santa Croce, he saw the famous frescoes of the Italian painted Giotto for the first time in his young life. He was dumbfounded, felt his heart start to palpitate, and saw celestial visions swimming before his eyes. He became faint, pale and unsteady on his feet. It was as if he has been overwhelmed by what he had seen before him; overwhelmed by the beauty of art.
With numerous others reporting similar sensations over the years, this phenomenon has become known as 'Stendhal Syndrome', and is considered a psychosomatic disorder by some. We can confirm its medical validity, because we have profound experience of it ourselves. We have seen an artwork so sumptuous, so perfect, that we have felt all of the alarming and exquisite feelings described by Stendhal after his trip to Florence. Far from an inanimate fresco, sculpture or painting, the artwork in question is housed on a living canvas, namely the freshly inked flesh of a Carlisle United fan.
Behold, and shed thee salty tears of appreciation. Behold, and weep thee tear ducts dry. Thee eyes do not deceive thee, for this is a beauteous depiction of thee-time England player, nineties cultural icon and current Carlisle United boss Keith Curle. He has been inked in perpetuum onto another man's bum, alongside some modified Peter Andre lyrics and a rudimentary piece of tactical insight.
Now, forget the fact that Keith Curle is a successful League Two manager and, as such, likely to move on to a club other than Carlisle United in the near future. Forget the fact that this fan will probably be getting this tattoo removed within a few months, or at least inked over with some other identikit former nineties footballer in his early to mid fifties. Forget the fact that the tattoo bears only a passing resemblance to Keith Curle, and is in fact more reminiscent of Hank from King of the Hill. This artwork is beautiful not only for its interpretive technique, but also for what it represents.
It represents loyalty. It represents steadfastness. It represents love and adoration, even to the point of heartfelt disrespect for the integrity of one's own body. It represents human transcendence, and the smiling fraternity of man. More than anything, however, it represents an undying devotion to Carlisle United, and a willingness to sacrifice one's own flesh for the greater good of celebrating Keith Curle's birthday. It is a celestial vision in and of itself, and its owner should be rightly proud.