I've always been a big fan of quotations. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations was one of my favorite books growing up. It was much more than a mere research tool to spice up high-school papers. I would flip through it, finding random inspiration here and there. Sometimes it would lead me to new authors and adventures in reading.
The expression, "misery loves company" is not so much a quote as an idiom. Honestly, it's one that while I understood I didn't identify with and I always found solace in separation and not being around people.
The maxim made an impact on me when I was on a long run, but I will address in but a moment.
Once I decided on a tattoo of my particular twist on the wording, I started delving into the history of the saying. For some reason what stuck in my memory was Goethe's play, but I found I much preferred Christopher Marlowe's version of the classic German folk story of Dr. Faustus. to Goethe's.
I had forgotten what an interesting tale it was as well as its impact.
I was running in the LA Marathon a few years back. Once again, I hadn't properly trained and the race conditions were less than ideal. It was raining buckets, was stormy and cold.
And that gave me a leg up. I do better under less than ideal situations. When things are easy, I can get complacent and bored.
I often face falling into depression after the pressure is off. My manic state buoys me through the tough times. I can focus and rise to the occasion.
Which is where I came up with, "I am the company misery loves"
There is a very interesting book "A First Rate Madness, Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness", that tells the story of several famous world leaders who may have never reached any level of prominence or import if they hadn't been thrust into difficult and challenging situations. They were mediocre at best until circumstance forced them to rise to the occasion.
I feel a kinship to that.
I look at the root of the word endurance, endure, and that's what I enjoy about marathons and the longer more demanding obstacle course races.
But I do need to remind myself, and it's a big reason I decided on the tattoos, not to indulge my depression and misery, not to romanticize it. Knowing that I will have ups and downs, I must remember that my downs affect the people around me and that while I am enduring it, they are enduring me.
The parallels and intersections of anarchism and piracy are quite fascinating. My interest in pirates started as a kid with the Crimson Pirate and my love of the mythical romanticized version of pirates has continued through the years. Whereas my interest in anarchy was based in it's philosophy, which for me interestingly enough stemmed from several passages from The Tao Te Ching, not what one typically thinks of as an anarchist work but many of its central tenets are very much anarchistic.
One of my first tattoos was a Yin-yang symbol incorporating anarchy and peace signs. I used the most common and popular Anarchy symbol that came into fashion with the anarcho-punk movement, which was part of the punk rockmovement of the late 1970s. With time, the symbol — and "anarchy" as a vague synonym for rebelliousness and chaos — were incorporated into common punk imagery.
Which was very far removed from anarchies origin or what interested me about it.
My new anarchy tattoo was originally the crest of the Federal Council of Spain of the International Workers Association, the origin of the circle-A in 1868. I took out the lettering for a number of reasons. The Circle-A was still not considered an anarchist symbol, that didn't happen until the Spanish Civil War in the 1830's.
In The Confessions of a Revolutionary, (1849) Pierre-Joseph Proudhon asserted that, Anarchy is Order Without Power, the phrase which much later inspired, in the view of some, the anarchist circled-A symbol.
"The black flag, and the color black in general, have been associated with anarchism since the 1880s. Many anarchist collectives contain the word "black" in their names. There have been a number of anarchist periodicals entitled Black Flag. The uniform blackness of the flag is in stark contrast to the colorful flags typical of most nation-states.....
Both the black and red flags first gained notoriety for their use by Buccaneers, who were pirates of French origin operating in the West Indies. The black flag (later the "Jolly Roger") was displayed, or 'run up' the mast, first as an indication that the lives of the crew would be spared if they surrendered. from Wikipedia.
There are plenty of other tie-ins between Taoism, anarchy and pirates, but for now I've said my peace and gone on for long enough.
I have a very interesting and elaborate tattoo in mind for the future. But I won't get it until I attain a couple of lofty goals. More on that in a future post perhaps.
That's a typical justification for a tattoo. A record and celebration of attaining a goal. My right leg being a perfect example.
But in respect to my Jolly Roger, there is a bit of putting the cart in front of the horse, as it were.
The three long-knives or daggers are what I plan to be able to juggle and incorporate into some sort of performance. I also plan to wick them and set them on fire. And I have a larger scimitar that I am crafting into a fire sword.
There's also a nod to my Georgian Burner roots.
All of this will take many hours of practice, fabricating and experimenting. But I'm determined to make it happen and inking it on my flesh was both a motivation and a challenge to myself.