Re: The ordering of the trumps

#21
robert wrote:Why would the Chariot be above the Pope?
I think this one is clear. Dummett, M.J. Hurst and Mellancholic / RAH have proved that the trumps are divided in three sections:
http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x172 ... arotv2.jpg

Since the Chariot is in section II, it trumps all the Ranks of Man in section I. Trumps belonging to the different sections cannot be directly compared, since they have different natures.
Michael discusses some of Dummett's points here:
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2007/11 ... cards.html

robert wrote:...the end of the sequence is the clearest, the cards before the Devil are harder to "naturally" order, IMHO.
I agree that the last section is the clearest, but I would say that also section one (from The Fool to The Pope) is clear. Of course, there is some ambiguity about the Empress and the Popesse, so their positions are different in different orderings. But in general it is clear that what is represented is a social hierarchy, at the bottom there are the Fool and the Bagat, and at the top there is the Pope.

What I find complex is the middle section. I think this is somehow necessary, because the first and last sections "rise" from low to high and/or from bad to good. So, in order to join these two rising sequences, a falling sequence is necessary: section one goes from low to high, section two goes from high to low, section three from low to high again. The middle section starts with Love and "goes down" to Death.

This change in direction is confusing, but it is necessary both to join the other two sequences and to express the idea of "contemptu mundi": life in this world is painful. Another source of complexity is that the sequence includes elements of different kinds:
1) states of human life: Love, Success (the Chariot), Treason, Death
2) the principles that cause changes in such states: Time and Fortune
3) the Virtues

Since Love and the Chariot both represent different forms of success in this world, I agree with RAH that they are somehow interchangeable.

I have tried to draw a rough diagram of how I read the middle section. I have excluded the virtues, since I think that at this stage things are complex enough for me :)
The point is that the designer(s) decided to put the principles causing change in the middle of the section. So the "descend" we see in the middle section can be seen as the descending curve of the Wheel of Fortune. I think this makes sense, but it is not so obvious to me.

Marco

PS: diagram updated hoping to clarify the meaning of High and Low as "Desirable" / "Undesirable"
Attachments
order2.jpg

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#22
marco wrote:
robert wrote:Why would the Chariot be above the Pope?
I think this one is clear. Dummett, M.J. Hurst and Mellancholic / RAH have proved that the trumps are divided in three sections:
http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x172 ... arotv2.jpg
I would agree in general that the trumps belong in three sections, and that Dummet / Hurst / RAH split makes for a very elegant model . RAH in particular with his protectors / detractors rather than the ranks of man scenario I find particularly elegant... but 'proved' I think is a bit of a strong statement to make, no matter how seemingly 'elegant' the model.

I agree that the last section is the clearest, but I would say that also section one (from The Fool to The Pope) is clear.
I do not find it so clear, to many ambiguities the 'explanations' put forth for which I still find unconvincing...
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#23
My working hypothesis about the Popes and Emperors for a number of years now has been that they are a schematic of the contemporary "state of the world".

If you accept my conclusions about the date of invention of the trump series, then it occurred during a very tumultuous time for the Papacy and the balance of power in Italy. From late 1439 there were in fact two popes, the "antipope" Felix V being supported by Savoy, Milan and Alfonso (in his quest for Naples), the rest (?) of Italy supporting Eugenius IV, and the Empire trying to mediate. It was resolved by 1442 for all intents and purposes, with everyone backing Eugenius - but tarot had been invented by then.

Additionally there was the Council of Ferrara-Florence, which brought the Eastern Emperor, and the Eastern Church, to Italy. During the discussions, the seating was arranged so that the two "popes" (Patriarch of Constantinople and Bishop of Rome) faced each other, with the two chairs for the two Emperors on their respective sides, slightly behind - the western Emperor having just died (Sigismund, died a few weeks before the council began), his throne was empty - but it was placed there nonetheless to indicate the presence of the western Empire.

(There are therefore at least two possibilities in my view for the presence of two popes and two emperors, as in the Bolognese pack.)

In my analysis, the "Bagatella" is just a depcition of the idea of "lowest" (bagatella = trifle = magic trick), and doesn't represent a social "type" or rank. The "types" are the rest of the pack, from Kings on down.

The place of invention and person who invented it must therefore have been a place where and a person for whom this kind of depiction of a balance of power would have been appreciated, which I consider to have been Bologna or Milan (which was then under Milanese control anyway), and the person well-apprised of contemporary events.
Image

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#24
Hi Marco,
marco wrote:The middle section starts with Love and "goes down" to Death.

Although I understand what you mean, I don’t know if I would characterize Death as a ‘low’ moment. From a narrative point of view Death is the climax of the second act on the story, corresponding also with what Linda Seger* defines as the second turning point in the story.

The Linda Seger Three-Act Structure.
(Yes, I know, Aristotle did it first!)

Image


Seger describes the second turning point as the one that changes the story around, moving it into Act Three. As with the first turning point, the second turning point accomplishes the following:

- It turns the action around in new directions

- It raises the central question again and make us wonder about the answer

- It is often a moment of decision or commitment on the part of the main character

- It raises the stakes

- It pushes the story into the next act

- It takes us into a new arena and give us a sense of a different focus for the action

- It speeds up the action


In the chapter devoted to the Death card of Jean-Michel’s on-line course, he pointed out something I find fascinating: Death cuts the trump sequence in its golden mean. Either if we see the tarot trump’s cycle as a summa of salvation or as a memento mori, Death is the most important notion in the story. Death is in fact the main reason why we have need for religion in the first place. As the climax of mortal life, Death accomplishes the same things Seger notices about the second turning point on the story: by relocating the action from the material into the heavenly world it gives the action a new direction. This pushes the story, from the allegory of life we see in the second act into the third act, the after-life. As the moment of truth, it ask for the main character’s resolution about god and the afterlife. Death prompts the biggest questions. In other words, Death separates the believer from the non-believer, which makes it a moment of decision or commitment on the part of the main character. Death certainly raises the stakes of the story: not only the immanence of Death redefines how do we live our life, but for the believer the actual event of death transforms existence into a whole new level. After Death, life is no more. The timing, sense and purpose of the story changes. Death takes the main character into a new arena, clearly giving us a sense of a different focus for the action. Finally, Death certainly speeds up the action. Consistently with Seger’s scheme the longest, more complex act in the trump’s narrative is the second one, which builds up quite slowly by showing a more deliberate rhythm alternating challenges and virtues. After Death ‘cuts’ the sequence the imagery becomes more frantic, more extreme.

I would say that Death is a peak in the action, and it is only after the skeleton swings its scythe that we reach a low moment in the soothing sight of temperance and even lower in the stagnation of The Devil.


Best,


EE




* Linda Seger’s ‘Making a Good Script Great’ is a classic of screenwriting which provides a very useful, practical, understanding of the Aristotelian three-act scheme.
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#25
That's great, Enrique! Seger really does make Aristotle's three-act scheme very clear. I almost feel like I could write a story/script of about 120 pages just looking at it.

I also rebel at the notion that death is "bad fortune", or a low point. Bad fortune is premature or unexpected death, but as the inevitable fate of everyone, death is ultimately a power beyond Fortune.

I think seeing death as a "low point" is a modern, secular view - but as the turning point to the third act, it is perfectly appropriate for the heaven-aspiring Christian, for whom Death is the entrance into the eschatological otherworld.
Image

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#26
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:That's great, Enrique! Seger really does make Aristotle's three-act scheme very clear. I almost feel like I could write a story/script of about 120 pages just looking at it.

I also rebel at the notion that death is "bad fortune", or a low point. Bad fortune is premature or unexpected death, but as the inevitable fate of everyone, death is ultimately a power beyond Fortune.

I think seeing death as a "low point" is a modern, secular view - but as the turning point to the third act, it is perfectly appropriate for the heaven-aspiring Christian, for whom Death is the entrance into the eschatological otherworld.
I agree that Death is "good" since it takes people away from this world which is "bad". But I doubt that death was seen as an high point, with the possible exception of funerary art and a few very fervent mystiques. I think that death has always been hard to accept, and for sure in the case of premature death it fits in the lowest place in the wheel of fortune. I am not familiar with Linda Seger, but I don't see why a "low point", a moment of dramatic difficulty, could not be a good turning point. BTW, Seger's graph is really great and the correspondence with the structure of tarot looks significant indeed!

I found this one in the Wikipedia page about the Wheel of Fortune:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wheel_of_Fortune

O noble Peter, Cyprus' lord and king,
Which Alexander won by mastery,
To many a heathen ruin did'st thou bring;
For this thy lords had so much jealousy,
That, for no crime save thy high chivalry,
All in thy bed they slew thee on a morrow.
And thus does Fortune's wheel turn treacherously
And out of happiness bring men to sorrow.

~ Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, The Monk's Tale


In the Gospel of Mark, the last words of Jesus on the cross are:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Marco

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#27
Hi Marco,

I was speaking from a narrative point of view and noticing how this coincide with a religious view of death as the threshold to the afterlife.

After writing that post I thought that we were in fact discussing a metaphor, and from a metaphorical point of view your perception of death being ‘down’ is valid, since most metaphors are body-related and they respond to the orientation of our body in space. So, being ‘up’ is a metaphor from having our body in an upright/vertical position, while being ‘down’ is a metaphor for having our body in a horizontal position. We usually understand ‘up’ as ‘good’ and ‘down’ as bad because the upright position is linked to being alive, healthy or triumphal, while the horizontal position is related to being defeated, ill or dead, as you suggested.


Best,


EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#28
Speaking of metaphors, today I stumbled upon this article just by chance:

http://edge.org/3rd_culture/boroditsky0 ... index.html

The author shows some experimental data suggesting that the way we think is indeed defined by our language (I like to think of the tarot as an useful tool to expand the semantic field of those concepts that represent our problems). Following on what I wrote about the ‘up’ and ‘down’ metaphors, I found this paragraph from the above article very interesting (specially if we wonder why -or IF- is that a person will always arrange the tarot sequence from left to right):

“People's ideas of time differ across languages in other ways. For example, English speakers tend to talk about time using horizontal spatial metaphors (e.g., "The best is ahead of us," "The worst is behind us"), whereas Mandarin speakers have a vertical metaphor for time (e.g., the next month is the "down month" and the last month is the "up month"). Mandarin speakers talk about time vertically more often than English speakers do, so do Mandarin speakers think about time vertically more often than English speakers do? Imagine this simple experiment. I stand next to you, point to a spot in space directly in front of you, and tell you, "This spot, here, is today. Where would you put yesterday? And where would you put tomorrow?" When English speakers are asked to do this, they nearly always point horizontally. But Mandarin speakers often point vertically, about seven or eight times more often than do English speakers”.4


Best,


EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#29
Thank you EE. I am sure that much of the confusion derives from the fact that I did not specify what I mean by high and low. Actually, I am not sure I can clarify this point, since my ideas are not perfectly clear :)

Maybe one could say that "high" is "desirable" and "low" is "undesirable":
1. Section one: it is better to be the Pope, the more powerful and respected person on earth, than to be a fool;
2. Section two: it is preferable to be in love and to triumph on our enemies than to be betrayed and to die;
3. Section three: heaven is preferable to hell.

But the function of act 3 is indeed to upturn the negative interpretation of death. In act 2, death looks bad, the last and most evil trick of Fortune. In act 3 we discover that, behind that appearance, death is indeed the gate to a better world, were souls receive the rewards of their merits (and the evil are punished according to godly justice).

A meaning that can be compared to the moral of Folengo's sonnet:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=225
Death looks horrible and powerful, it is the Empress of bodies, but in the end it is only a trifle (like the Bagat).

BTW, I am glad we seem to agree on the significance of splitting the sequence into these three sections (6/9/7). I think that Steve is right: the theory cannot be said to have been proven (my choice of words has been unsuitable also in that case). Still those three sections seem to me to be quite helpful in reasoning about the meaning of the overall sequence.

Marco

Re: The ordering of the trumps

#30
marco wrote:BTW, I am glad we seem to agree on the significance of splitting the sequence into these three sections (6/9/7).
Three section probably, 6/9/7 possibly, but not convinced myself.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

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