When I sat in 8th grade geography, barely listening to Mrs. Johnson discuss the farming and monetary educational game, and doodled this symbol before you, I had one of those weird vertiginous moments–where all of a sudden, you just know you’ve done something important or major in your life. This symbol that I doodled was immensely appealing to me–the interlocking circles, the harmony of it, just really spoke to me. But I didn’t do anything too fancy with it–if anything, it became one of a number of symbols that I drew during high school that my friends referred to as ‘cult symbols’.
I kept drawing this symbol for years, through college and my first few years in Minneapolis, and then the day came where sister Catie called me and told me she had gotten a tattoo. It was an image of a bird, holding a banner saying ‘Freedom’–shifted six inches up and to the left to avoid the tramp stamp stigma–and I knew I could one-up a tattoo like that easily.
So I sat down and started drawing this symbol over and over and over again. Magically, the opposite of semantic saturation occurred and vast new interpretations of this symbol started happening. I saw the tao symbol in it. The moons of Jupiter in perfect orbit. Binary good-and-evil themes expressed basically in the dark and light. The suns of Alpha Centauri and a planet in a temporary reprieve from its wobbly orbit. A space-y theme won the day and I named it the ‘Tetrakreis’, a Greek-German portmanteau of the word ‘four’ and ‘circle’.
The real kicker came when I got this tattooed on my right arm three-dimensionally, applying the image in a wrap around the cylinder of my arm, so that the largest circle connects back to itself. Someone I dated earlier this year, noting my continued zest for this symbol, said that I am still interpreting the symbol, and that the meaning is still evolving. I don’t know if it’s that complex…but that sure as hell sounds good.