This is an investigation of Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man”: Where would such tattoos come from? What would it be like to have a tattoo that tells stories on your skin?
Gerald MacGregor, new inheritor of his father’s ball-bearing empire, is a fanciful man. He dreams of going to Mars, despite his poor eyesight. He asks his accountant to marry him, even though he’s only known Sylvia for a few months. After seeing a tattooed woman in a carnival side show, a woman with tattoos that play out scenes from adventure stories, he pays a fortune to get a tattoo of his own. MacGregor becomes addicted to the beauty of his tattoo’s images and ignores what bothers Sylvie the most. The stories never have happy endings.
“So what if some of the stories don’t exactly end happily? I just wish we could watch together, to experience the adventures together, the good and the bad.”
MacGregor finds his own happy ending, but of course, it’s the only kind of ending MacGregor sees.
I’m becoming familiar with the Aarne–Thompson tale type index, a dizzying list of motifs found in folklore. Luckily, it’s available online at various places. Identity and recognition tests might be a good place to start.
Also, looked at mention of one of the earliest “magicians,” Simon Magnus. As mentioned in the Bible:
Acts 8:9 – A man named Simon lived there, who for some time has astounded the Samaritans with his magic. He claimed that he was someone great.
Obviously, Simon was not concerned with defining his awesomeness in relation to anyone else.