Begin: On Blood and Water

Question: How to spread yourself even thinner, vaguely endangering your mental health, when you’re already mired in writing, job searching, theatre, and work?

Answer: Blog!

I’d like to have a way to create vaguely-themed content, surrounding things I find interesting, without having to stress too much about it. So, on occasion, how about I shove some words on the internet, and maybe you like them, or maybe you don’t? Sometimes I’ll give you fun facts, sometimes I’ll give you my responses to movies (I’m currently braining-together a consideration of how Rogue One explores the differing forms of theatrical tragedy).

Anyway. Today, let us begin with: a fun fact!

Doubtless you’ve heard the following phrase on occasion:

Blood is Thicker Than Water

The modern interpretation of the idiom means, basically, that your family is more reliable than your friends. One presumes the idea here is that blood, being more viscous than water, makes for a better adhesive, so when you’re assembling your trust walls, it’s best to use your family’s blood, because your friends are full of nothing but water.


Anyway. If you trust Albert Jack, who wrote a book by the name of Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep: The Origins of Even More Phrases We Use Every Day, the original phrase is:

The Blood of the Covenant is Thicker Than the Water of the Womb

I don’t have much more clear information (I got it from a list online, which got it from another list, which got it from Jack’s book) but let’s break that down.

“Blood of the Covenant”: A covenant is an agreement. So, the blood of a covenant, would be a blood-oath, or sworn alliance. With me so far? Good. If not, go back, read it again ‘til it makes sense.

“Water of the Womb”: This would be another kind of blood, yes? But the water of the womb would be blood, the way we use the word in the phrase “blood relation”. So, family. Yes?

So if the blood of oaths is thicker than the blood of family, we can read this statement as being: the bonds you choose to forge are more important than the ones you’re born with. So, if we accept my (admittedly flawless) translation, we come up with this:

Modern Phrase: Familial Relations are Stronger than Others

Classic Phrase: Sworn Oaths are Stronger than Familial Ones

So the phrase (like many things in English) has basically switched meanings over time.

I guess what I’m getting to is this: if you hate your family, don’t worry. The family you chose is a good deal more important to your well-being. If you hate your chosen family, though, maybe try to find a different one. Find a game night somewhere. Or craigslist. Just don't get murdered, I'd be sad if you got murdered.

Granted, I can't really prove any of that argument, as I haven't gotten ahold of Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep, but if you have a crappy family,  the classic phrase is probably a lot more helpful to you than the modern version.

Anyway, check out Chapter Ten of SMILIN' JAQ which is out today! If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can check out the argument, which acts as a sort of high-falutin' preface to the whole thing.

Obligatory cat content (cattent).