robert wrote:I also wonder if this couldn't be cleaned up a bit.. still seems confusing as is:
The trump series originally had a coherent meaning.
There are three families of orders for the trump series.
Every one of the original orders has a coherent symbolic meaning.
Not every tarot trump series has a coherent meaning.
I'll have to think about where the confusion lies. With the force and meaning of the term "original"?
For the last one, I felt it had to be there because it addresses the possibility of random changes with no narrative function in the sequence.
This is important because of the "null-hypothesis" (Michael Hurst's term I think), advanced by Dummett on pages 387-388 of Game of Tarot
concerning interpretations of the meaning of the sequence, or whether it has one:
I do not even want to take a stand about the theories that have been advanced. The question is whether a theory is needed at all. I do no mean to deny that some of the subjects , or some of the details of their conventional representations, may have had a symbolic significance obvious to fifteenth-century Italians, or, at least, to educated ones, that escapes us and may be revealed by patient research; that is very likely to be the case. But the question is whether the sequence as a sequence has any special symbolic meaning. I am inclined to think that it did not: to think, that is, that those who originally designed the Tarot pack were doing the equivalent, for their day, of those who later selected a sequence of animal pictures to adorn the trump cards of the new French-suited pack. They wanted to design a new kind of pack with an additional set of twenty-one picture cards that would play a special, indeed a quite new, role in the game; so they selected for those cards a number of subjects, most of them entirely familiar, that would naturally come to the mind of someone at a fifteenth-century Italian court.
The problem for me with the Animal Tarock analogy is, of course, that the numbers are already there
. They did all the work - any pictures at all, or none at all, could be there - the numbers tell you everything you need to know.
This isn't possible before numbers were placed on the cards, which is presumably the case in the earliest period. When the numbers aren't there to tell you what order the pictures go in, the pictures themselves have to tell you - and when pictures tell you something, that's a narrative. Narrative is by definition a story, and a story by definition has a meaning
. Therefore, the order of the unnumbered cards had
to have had a meaning - they told a story.
The problem is that numbers quickly got added, already maybe in the 1450s in some places (like the numbers on the Charles VI), and in Ferrara at least by the late 15th century. So we can't take it for granted that on a numbered pack, every visual or pictorial aspect actually has narrative intent. The numbers would presumably have been the only thing the players looked at, and the images were secondary.
So I felt it important to stress that, although we can presume the three original orders were meant to convey a narrative, probably without numbers, we can't take for granted
that any given set of images is free of superfluous or incidental - non-narrative - decoration.