Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#161
Phaeded wrote:Are we to believe that in each of these instances the decks were for the spiritual betterment of soldier-princes whose stemmi are littered throughout?
Hello Phaeded,
I don't think that we are necessarily to believe the same thing. Anyway, in your previous post your wrote that 'moral allegory' is not mutually exclusive of 'political propaganda', now you imply the contrary. I am confused. This is not a "fool's trumpet". A trumpet cannot be a club and vice-versa, but these might be compatible points of view on the subject (I agree with Steve).

The meaning of these gifts for Renaissance lords can be interpreted similarly to the card game described by Martiano da Tortona (Ross's translation):
Seeing that it is inevitable for virtuous toil to be weakened by fatigue, if the time be excessive, it might be asked whether it be fitting for a man to find recreation from the weariness of virtue in some kind of game. For while playing, nothing tiresome or difficult is encountered which obliges him to dwell in any way upon human concerns. But whenever any game is seen by many to be childish and not to have sufficient maturity, nor to be conducive to happiness (to which our wishes in everything should be directed), it is by this firm reasoning to be supposed that a serious man should abstain from playing. Certainly, the virtuous man, who happens to be ruled by right reason, should be able to remain firm in ethical conduct and in honourable reasoning during these activities. Thus I settled upon that sort of game, which would be accommodated to the place and person, of such character that it somehow shows its powers, and would also be enjoyable, and that it be fitted to the serious man wearied of virtue, and that without much difficulty the use of it will be free of circumstances of debts, and that it will be conducive to happiness; as I am truly persuaded that the noble working of the intellect of he who was fatigued would thereby be restored to excellence.
Consider therefore this game, most illustrious Duke, following a fourfold order, by which you may give attention to serious and important things, if you play at it. Sometimes it is pleasing to be thus diverted, and you will be delighted therein. And it is more pleasing, since through the keeness of your own acumen you dedicated several to be noted and celebrated Heroes, renowned models of virtue, whom mighty greatness made gods, as well as to ensure their remembrance by posterity. Thus by observation of them, be ready to be aroused to virtue.
Moral content was seen as something adding value to a game.

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#162
SteveM wrote:It doesn't seem to me to be inappropriate or anachronistic at all to discuss the propagandist elements of the V-S cards, such an element is clearly present, and I don't think it necessarily negates any other values it may possess. How the intrusion of propaganda may affect the overall interpretation of the cycle (of those decks in which it is an element)* is a matter of debate. It may for example affect how the World card is to be interpreted, for example as a representation of the 'ideal' city or state that can be shown to have taken a role in inter-city state political propaganda at the time (much of which was inspired by and modeled after Plato's Republic).

SteveM
*Putting aside the general idea that any art with a message could be considered propaganda, one might describe the cycle as Christian propaganda after all, and i don't consider its artistic value negated because of that.
Hello Steve,
I agree with your point. I used the term "reductive anachronism" because Phaeded is proposing that the Visconti-Sforza deck was only political propaganda and the trumps are meaningless as a sequence. I think this is reductive: there is more than that. I also think that "political propaganda" is a modern wording, that makes me think of modern politics. It feels as an anachronism to me. Maybe a different expression ("celebration of the patron"?) could better describe this aspect of Renaissance works of art. It could well be a matter of my personal taste.

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#163
marco wrote: I used the term "reductive anachronism" because Phaeded is proposing that the Visconti-Sforza deck was only political propaganda and the trumps are meaningless as a sequence. I think this is reductive: there is more than that. I also think that "political propaganda" is a modern wording, that makes me think of modern politics. It feels as an anachronism to me. Maybe a different expression ("celebration of the patron"?) could better describe this aspect of Renaissance works of art. It could well be a matter of my personal taste.
Actually what I said: "I also find the notion of the trumps as primarily spiritual problematic because those explicitly “spiritual” cards can simply be viewed as vignettes of the late medieval worldview..."

The Aristotelian/Platonic/Ptolemaic (choose your emphasis) cosmos is always shot through with Christian notions of sin and redemption, when appearing in any late medieval European work of art that takes on an encyclopaedic scope in representing the world as they understood it.

Hurst sees the trumps as moral allegory. No politics. Period. I acknowledge that the trumps are inclusive of the Christian sin/redemption escataology but that they also contain elements that are not explicitly Christian (e.g., the Hanged Man) unless a moralizing filter applied, generally by someone associated with the church (e.g., Steele sermon). The trumps do not appear to me to primarily be some sort of supplemental tool that was otherwise lacking in the Church.

For me the pivotal significance of the earliest tarot is not in reading an exact meaning of the trumps (how can they not be read in any number of ways?) but in the social exchange of the decks as gifts, explicitly encoded as such via the stemmi on them. From there I do believe the peculiarities of individual decks can be further explored in terms of the time and place of their production, with additional meanings ferreted out in that manner for the deck in question (not denying that generic meanings for most of the trumps were maintained, but some were almost entirely changed; e.g., PMB Time becomes a Hermit in later decks). The trumps depict the world and how it operates, to a very similar degree that the speculum/mirror of princes literature had already established, but in a novel and graphic manner; the giver associates himself as a knowing participant and mirror-controller of that worldview and invites the deck’s recipient to join him in the sharing of that power (via marriage, a condotte, alliance, etc.). Of course these rulers are all good Christians in their own eyes, but all of them were engaged in power politics and shifting alliances. So yes, that is where I find the social meaning of the early tarot decks. This is not to deny the ludic (where cards came from in the first palce), didactic or even spiritual use of tarot, but none of these uses seems to explain the production of expensive, gilt, hand-painted tarot given by powerful lords, almost always, to lords less powerful themselves. The gifts were meant to bind – the trumps a virtual chain, vinculis. In this last regard I am very much thinking of this work: Ioan P. Culianu, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance (University of Chicago Press 1987).

Phaeded

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#164
Phaeded wrote
Actually what I said: "I also find the notion of the trumps as primarily spiritual problematic because those explicitly “spiritual” cards can simply be viewed as vignettes of the late medieval worldview..."
But the renaissance thinkers reinterpreted the late medieval worldview in new terms, stemming from Platonic/Middle Platonic/Neoplatonic/Kabbalist documents that came to them in the 15th century as well as older documents (i.e. Aesclepius, the Golden Ass, other writings attributed to Apuleius). That is not very simple and for people who identified with that movement a very important reivisioning of old symbolism. I am only disagreeing with your denigration of the spiritual, not with there being other meaning there. And the late medieval worldview is also there, as a kind of lowest common denominator, the "surface meaning" as opposed to hidden allegorical meanings, in which--according to everyone until the 18th century--one thing stands for another and there is more than one possibility.

In this regard I have some issues with Marco, as usual. He writes:
Michael talks of the “trump cycle”. It is a cycle because its meaning is in the sequence of the images. As stated by Dummett (quoted by Michael): “The search for a hidden meaning may be a unicorn hunt; but if there is a meaning to be found, only a correct basis of fact will lead us to it. The hidden meaning, if any, lies in the sequential arrangement of the trump cards”.
I am not sure I totally agree with the quote from Dummett, as the order, in its variations, might be a patchwork of original cards plus additions, subtractions, transformations, and interpolations (in particular, between Death and Angel or World). But I assume you agree with Dummett. If so, then your analysis of the Cary Sheet and Vieville Sun cards (viewtopic.php?f=23&t=402&start=70#p15576, viewtopic.php?f=23&t=402&start=70#p15585) should also make sense in terms of the preceding cards in the sequence relating to "end times". If you are going to use the bottom parts of one card as evidence, you should also consider the bottom parts of the preceding cards. It is easy to do that for the Cary Sheet and Vieville Tower cards. The falling circles are also seen in a French/Norman manuscript of the end times. No allegory, just actual depiction.

So likewise in the Sun card, although I question whether the child with the flag, and maybe a hobby horse, is "the generic human soul". We are always "children of God", not just at the end times. Also, I am not sure about the appropriateness of the hobby-horse to the end times. In the illustration you took it from, it is an attribute of Christ, with the planets in awe of a child. But that seems like something of a joke in the context of the fearful imagery of the Apocalypse. So I prefer Pollett, but the child still as Christ, the child born of the virgin clothed with the sun, proclaiming victory (over the crustacean?)--and also, allegorically, the "generic soul" in a sense, proclaiming its own victory as it returns home.

I can see the Vieville rider more easily as the rider on the "white horse" of Rev. 19:11, the child of the Virgin now old enough to ride a horse:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and with justice doth he judge and fight.
The only trouble is that Christ is not usually portrayed as a child that age, riding a horse or not. So would he be recognized? I'd like to know your perspective.

Most importantly, what do the other Cary Sheet images have to do with the Apocalypse? What do you make of the figure pouring out liquids into a lake? Is he or she pouring out fire and flood at the Apocalypse? And the crustacean in the pool? Is that one of those monsters that appear in the Apocalypse? I am not objecting, just asking. There is a methodological point involved. Allegories aren't literal depictions of what is represented; they involve interpretation, some of it loose. That's why I can accept an "end times" interpretation here, of crustaceans, Aquariuses, etc.

Then there is the issue of how to interpret the "end times" allegorically. It isn't just a prediction of future events, rapturists to the contrary. As I think Augustine emphasized, it applies to the present time as well, our own "end times" in this life, and our own New Jerusalem. Here is where I think pseudo-Dionysius's works and the Chaldean Oracles come in, both of which appeared suddenly in 1438 Florence, the one in an elegant new translation by a principal player in the conclave, the other, it seems reasonable to me, in the hands of Gemistos Plethon, whose spoken Greek the the other would have translated to Cosimo. The Oracles were published in a new Latin translation in Vieville's time, 1597, (https://www.worldcat.org/search?q=ti%3A ... dblist=638); so a deck alluding to them would have been of great interest to esotericists then (I think this is true even if they were also of interest to the Golden Dawn later).

Ps. Dionysius says, in "Celestial Hierarchies", http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/areop ... chy.htm#36 (my emphasis):
We shall find the Mystic Theologians enfolding these things not only around the illustrations of the Heavenly ]Orders, but also, sometimes, around the supremely Divine Revelations Themselves. At one time, indeed, they extol It under exalted imagery as Sun of Righteousness, as Morning Star rising divinely in the mind, and as Light illuming without veil and for contemplation; and at other times, through things in our midst, as Fire, shedding its innocuous light; furnishing a fulness of life, and, to speak symbolically, flowing into a belly, and bubbling forth rivers flowing irresistibly; and at other times, from things most remote, as sweet-smelling ointment, as Head Corner-stone. But they also clothe it in forms of wild beasts, and attach to It identity with a Lion, and Panther, and say it shall be a Leopard and a rushing Bear.
No horse here, just "wild beasts" such as the lion of the Fortitude card, of which the giant crustacean of the Moon card might be an example. There is also the "bubbling forth rivers", perhaps having something to do with the Star card, and of course the Morning Star and the Sun are there, both shining bright. The "rivers" are "rivers of flame", as ps.-Dionysius says later:
..creatures of fire, and men, flashing, as it were, like lightning, and placing around the Heavenly Beings themselves heaps of coals of fire, and rivers of flame flowing with irresistible force...
It seems to me that the "men flashing like lightning" is a reference to the Dioscuri, i.e. the Gemini, described in similar terms by Plutarch in On the apparent face in the orb of the moon .

The Chaldean Oracles say, in Plethon's version (lines 13-16, p. 49 of Woodhouse, Gemistos Plethon):
You must hasten towards the light and rays of the Father,
Whence your soul was sent out, clothed in abundant intellect.
The earth mourns them continually unto their children:
Those who thrust out the soul and inhale are easy to loose.
Perhaps this is a breathing exercise, among other things. And later,
Draw tight from all sides the reins of the fire with an untouched soul.
"Reins" suggest a horse, with the explicit reference somehow edited out. "Children" suggests the child that was already on the PMB. (That card must also be taken into account, when interpreting the Cary Sheet, because one is descended from the other.) But the child on the Cary Sheet might also be the soul that "was sent out, clothed in abundant intellect"--the generic soul, now returning home.

As for the PMB child, another passage in Plethon (I think from his Commentary on the Oracles) is relevant, paraphrased by Woodhouse (p. 56):
The soul uses a heavenly body as its vehicle, and that vehicle itself possesses soul of an irrational kind (called by philosophers the 'image' of the rational soul), but equipped with imagination and sensation. Through the power of imagination the rational is permanently united with such a body, and through such a body the human soul is united with the mortal body. The souls of daemons have superior, immortal vehicles, and the souls of stars have still more superior vehicles. 'These are the theories of the soul which appear to have been held from an even earlier date by the Magi following Zoroaster.

So the child on the PMB could also be the soul of the Sun, aiding the human soul.

Apart from Plethon, two centuries later, the version that corresponds to what Vieville would have had (from Proclus, then accessible, as far as I know, only to Filelfo, in 1438 not in Florence but not yet in Milan):
Having spoken these things, you will behold
either a fire leaping skittishly like a child over the aery waves;
or an unformed fire from which a voice emerges;
or a rich light that whirs around the field in a spiral.
But [it is also possible] that you will see a horse flashing more brightly than light,
either also a fiery child mounted on the swift back of the horse,
covered with gold or naked;
or even a child shooting arrows, upright upon the horse's back.
This is fragment 146, as quoted at http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=56819. I think Johnston, at least in her book Hekate soteira, used the Majercik translation, 1989, A translation closer to Vieville's time has
But also to see a Horse more glittering than Light.
Or a Boy on [thy] shoulders riding on a Horse,
Fiery or adorned with Gold, or devested,
Or shooting and standing on [thy] shoulders.
(http://www.esotericarchives.com/oracle/oraclesj.htm). In any case, we again get the explicit addition of the horse, without reference to hobby-horses.

This seems to me a valid allegorical interpretation quite in line with that of the medieval "end times" imagery, but an example of Renaissance reinterpretation in the light of new texts. Similar interpretation also works for the other "end times" cards, as I show at http://tarotandchaldean.blogspot.com/20 ... -form.html. In fact, all the sequence, not just the the ones at the end, might, interpreted allegorically, relate to this text, the Chaldean Oracles, although not, of course, determining the surface content or precise order of the sequence, for which other considerations apply.

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#165
We've a putto on a sun card in the PMB from the second painter, a sort of putto with hobby horse on the Cary Sheet wouldn't be very far from it.

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The Vievielle deck remake by Flornoy is also not very far. As Marco already noted.

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Marco : "An interesting image from a XV century German astrological manuscript (BNF allem 106). To be compared with Vieville and Cary-Sheet Sun cards."
*******

We've even a child with horse at the Rider-Waite sun.

*******

Well, the PMB putto is winged. Makes this a big difference?
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#166
Huck wrote
Well, the PMB putto is winged. Makes this a big difference?
I find the cruciform layout of the radiate flames and the fact that the sun is a mask equally significant.
I offered the following on 27 Nov 2013, 20:02:
the putto holding the PMB Sun mask does have a relationship to Revelations but it is based on a Visconti tradition that has appropriated that imagery for their own personal “apotheosis” and does not address the events of the End Times per se; Kirsch on the relevant Visconti illuminations:
The attributes of the Madonna on folio 109v in Lat. 757 (Fig 26)...The sun behind the Christ child in this miniature is associated not only with the infant Savior but also, in conjunction with the silver crescent moon on the step of the throne, with the Virgin as the Woman of the Apocalypse, "clothed with the sun" and with the moon "under her feet" (Revelation 12:1). Petrus de Castelletto, the Augustinian friar who composed Giangaleazzo's eulogy, constructed it around yet another attribute of the Woman of the Apocalypse. The Duke of Milan and Count of Virtues, whose ensign in life had been the rays of the sun, said Petrus, would in death receive a radiant crown terminating in twelve stars, each representing one of his virtues; the crown, moreover, would be none other than that described in Revelations 12:1 as belonging to the Woman of the Apocalypse.” (Edith W. Kirsch. Five Illuminated Manuscripts of Giangaleazzo Visconti 1991: 29).
I wrote elsewhere in regard to Kirsch’s insights: “ Finally, its not too much of a reach to see the PMB Sun card as Giangaleazzo’s post-mortem radiant solar crown (conjoined with death mask) held aloft by a putto (but now signifying the apotheosis of Filippo?).“ viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917&p=13644&hilit= ... ead#p13644

Filelfo provides the precise reasoning for such a belated “apotheosis” of Filippo Visconti in his Odes, II.2. First he speaks of Filippo’s hoped for successor, Sforza, and then the need to rectify matters with his father-in-law:
Just as one god alone rules heaven with eternal governance, so may one pious prince who can bring peace to this ruined state preside over the city.
O God, enough penalty has been paid if we have perpetrated a profane wrong, we who recently neglected the funeral rites of the noble Duke Filippo. For we did not celebrate the great prince with proper honors. Pardon us at last and kindly bring help to those who tearfully confess that a crime has been committed (II.2.45-55, tr. Robin, ).
The PMB Sun card is this expiation of guilt/fulfilment of obligation while at the same time follows the Giangaleazzo Visconti precedent of showing the deceased prince in radiate sun. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=983&p=14572&hilit= ... nti#p14572
Dummett inexplicably describes the card as "a putto, without wings"( VS Tarot, 1986: 134). The wings simply underscore that something is being lifted up to heaven; that something is an idealized death mask, which were a common enough item , especially for princes, so I don’t see how the subject of postmortem/apotheosis can be avoided when examining the PMB sun (especially with the rays emphasized in a cruciform pattern – the soul seems to be alluded to here).

The death masks of Dante and Lorenzo de Medici are fairly well known; here’s one of Brunelleschi:
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Phaeded

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#167
mikeh wrote:Phaeded wrote
Actually what I said: "I also find the notion of the trumps as primarily spiritual problematic because those explicitly “spiritual” cards can simply be viewed as vignettes of the late medieval worldview..."
But the renaissance thinkers reinterpreted the late medieval worldview in new terms, stemming from Platonic/Middle Platonic/Neoplatonic/Kabbalist documents that came to them in the 15th century as well as older documents (i.e. Aesclepius, the Golden Ass, other writings attributed to Apuleius). That is not very simple and for people who identified with that movement a very important reivisioning of old symbolism. I am only disagreeing with your denigration of the spiritual, not with there being other meaning there. And the late medieval worldview is also there, as a kind of lowest common denominator, the "surface meaning" as opposed to hidden allegorical meanings, in which--according to everyone until the 18th century--one thing stands for another and there is more than one possibility.
Mike,
Perhaps I'm not the right person to discuss this as my tarot interest is almost exclusively those decks and references before c. 1460, especially the PMB, but I don't see Neoplatonic/Kabbalist ideas in the earliest tarot (although "Neoplatonic" is a broad subject - specifically what are you referencing in the PMB?). I do posit Filelfo as the humanist behind the PMB and he certainly was exposed as much as anyone to Greek "magical" literature, but his stated interest was in the general revival of classical learning while maintaing a Christian worldview, as well as a fairly pronounced interest in astrology that usually goes unrecognized (I do see astrology in the PMB, but that's the only esoteric system I see referenced). Filelfo's own symbol on certain manuscripts features Hermes, but that is perhaps as a stand-in for the humanist as the go between of the Gods/lost pagan literature and the contemporary times; certainly not as Hermes Trismegistus. He does refer to himself as a vates, but again that is in his role in seeing into the forgotten past and how that could inform the transformation of his present and future culture.

Phaeded

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#168
Phaeded: As I said, I was referring to the Chaldean Oracles in Plethon's version and also the Pseudo-Dionysian corpus, the latter certainly prominent in 1438 Florence and the former probably so. I don't see these works as affecting the tarot imagery, as it seems to me that the type of imagery in the tarot sequence was already established by then; I see them merely affecting the interpretation and perhaps the order and selection of subjects--spiritualizing the cards as a whole, for which see part 3 of my blog athttp://tarotandchaldean.blogspot.com/--except ambiguously in the PMB second artist cards (see part 5 of my blog) and, along with Plutarch (On the Apparent Face in the Orb of the Moon, for which see my essay at http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=454), the Milan-based cards after that, e.g. the Cary Sheet, Vieville, and Tarot de Marseille.

This is a basic methodological issue. It seems to me valid to look outside the imagery on the cards, but still within the time-frame of the cards, for interpretations; allegory is a matter of one thing standing for another--in a fitting way, to be sure, but not straightforward depiction. See my posts at viewtopic.php?f=23&t=385&start=90#p14231, viewtopic.php?f=11&t=975&p=14390&hilit= ... eid#p14390, and viewtopic.php?f=11&t=975&p=14410&hilit= ... eid#p14410. It's what M J Hurst calls "sloppy copy", but perfectly acceptable in the 15th century. Explanation and interpretation are two different but overlapping things. Explanation has to do with causes. Interpretation has to do with understanding.

Added Sept. 4: I use the principles of association, a common technique in the "art of memory". Hurst does the same thing in justifying the Sun card by the reference to "no Sun" in the New Jerusalem. In this regard, the hobby-horse, referring to Christ, is better, although still different from the real horse of the Apocalypse. A sloppiness on their part is their choosing to ignore inconvenient details on the cards, like the lady with the jugs. And finally, when I refer to Platonic imagery, it is still in the context of a "last days" scenario, but one turned into a this-worldly mystical ascent, as it would have been at that time. I am still paying strict attention to the subjects and their order, and in fact in a way that includes more cards and in that way explains more, although explaining less in other regards, which for interpretive purposes don't need explaining with reference to the same text.

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#169
Phaeded wrote,
Perhaps I'm not the right person to discuss this as my tarot interest is almost exclusively those decks and references before c. 1460, especially the PMB...
In this regard it is worth studying the Marcello letter of 1449 again. First, he assumes that Isabella is familiar with the ordinary game of triumphs, since he gives background information only for the "new" game he has aquired, the one painted by Michelino. So however old the game is, it has had time to travel to Northwestern France (Angers, specifically). She could have picked up the game, perhaps, in Naples of 1435-1441, but then we have to allow time for it to have gotten to Naples.

More importantly for present purposes, is what Marcello says about the ordinary game. I highlight the part of interest (http://trionfi.com/jacopo-marcello-letter-1449):
By some chance the conversation turned to this game, which is called “Triumph”, certain cards that had been offered to me and which I give as they were given.
When Scipio had seen them, being a thoughtful and diligent man, he said your Majesty would be very much pleased by them: and he urged exceedingly and immediately that they should be sent to you at the first opportunity. Thus indeed he affirmed that with them you might give considerations to divine things, as such great things are the business of royalty. Yours are of this kind; they are accustomed to being conducted any time you are unoccupied with many and various thoughts and subjects by means of these pastimes, that you might restore and revive in some measure the wearied mind.
By "divine things" he means things pertaining to the divine, i.e. God. I don't think he means celestial things or astrology. Already the game was seen in religious terms.

Re: Dummett and methodology [was Re: The Sun]

#170
mikeh wrote:Phaeded wrote,
Perhaps I'm not the right person to discuss this as my tarot interest is almost exclusively those decks and references before c. 1460, especially the PMB...
In this regard it is worth studying the Marcello letter of 1449 again. First, he assumes that Isabella is familiar with the ordinary game of triumphs, since he gives background information only for the "new" game he has aquired, the one painted by Michelino. So however old the game is, it has had time to travel to Northwestern France (Angers, specifically). She could have picked up the game, perhaps, in Naples of 1435-1441, but then we have to allow time for it to have gotten to Naples.
I read it differently, Mike. Marcello had only just learned the game, and he showed it to Scipio. Scipio, knowing Isabelle, suggested she would like such a game. It wasn't the quality of the cards for playing a game she already knew that make him suggest sending it to her, since we know Marcello didn't consider them very good, it was the very fact of its novelty and, implicitly, her love of games, and probably all things Italian.

He didn't spell out the rules because he sent them with Cossa, who could teach her anything she couldn't figure out for herself. But the imagery on the cards was worth having and playing with for the very reason you cite (and Marziano notes as well), that they could elevate the mind in a way that ordinary cards couldn't.
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