Re: Cary Sheet

#41
mikeh wrote:It seems to me that the tarot card is referring to fire in the heavens, lightning or from the sphere of fire, or sent by angels, as in the case of Job's son's house. That's what ps-Dionysius's image is, too, something from Divine Revelations. Alberti is only referring to fires that one can use to paint by, in lamps or fireplaces: http://books.google.com/books?id=K3bCI- ... es&f=false
Of course. Alberti is also not using them metaphorically, unlike Dionysius. My point in using him is just to show how natural it is to place lights in such a hierarchy, with fire at the bottom, whatever the source of the "fire".

But in Tarot, this hierarchy of lights isn't illustrating any particular text, or any particular doctrine. It's just a commonsense way to arrange those lights.

"But lightning is brighter than a star!" you might exclaim. But really it isn't, in the relative scheme of things. Sure, if lightning happens to strike a few feet from you, it's brighter than a star, even brighter than the Sun. But that's not normal. When you see a lightning storm in the distance, lightning isn't so bright. It's also brief, a flash, whereas a star shines steady and bright (it is also much further away, so it was clear to them that any star is intrinsically brighter than lightning). The commonsense hierarchy of lights in the trump sequence can even be seen, in certain conditions, where a storm in the distance is rumbling and flashing, while in the clear sky far above stars are glimmering, and the Moon sits even brighter among them. I've seen it personally, so there must be photographs of it out there.

So if you are going to put lightning in such a hierarchy of lights, the lowest place is the only place for it. A more pertinent question might be "Why did he need that subject at all? Why not just celestial objects?"

My answer is twofold: first, that space needed filling. Second, coherence and simplicity. "Sun, Moon and Stars" is a commonplace, proverbial, an expression in an order that requires no thought at all. So there is no room for another celestial object there, without becoming dragged into what might be called "erudition" or doctrine, like by portraying two "stars" (planets), which would necessitate distinguishing them, which requires learning, etc.. No, the game is simple, elegant, and coherent; that space needed filling, and the only lesser light in the sky that could go there, that is easily distinguished from the others, is lightning.
Also, Alberti is someone who might well have been involved in the early tarot or proto-tarot. 1434 is not too early, and his interests certainly fit its influences, as I see them. Perhaps you have somebody else, like a Dominican preacher, Bernardino, etc. Your point is not unreasonable. I just need examples, with fires from the heavens linked with star, moon, and sun, and also not otherwise suggesting borrowing from ps.-Dionysius.
I think the expression "Sun Moon and Stars" is too commonplace to require explicit textual borrowing, and the explanation for the lightning is that the designer wanted another light in the sky that wasn't a star. Since the Sun is the brightest, and the Star is the dimmest, in the expression "Sun, Moon and Stars", there is no room to cram a fourth among them, so it has to be lower. That is, a meteorological phenomenon, that is, fire in the clouds, that is, lightning.

I know you'll want to know why I think the author needed to have that "space" to fill at all, but I don't feel like explaining it here. If we're not on the same page with the game being designed in its standard form with 22 trumps at the beginning, then there is no point in writing up an explanation that assumes it.
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Re: Cary Sheet

#42
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
mikeh wrote: Also, Alberti is someone who might well have been involved in the early tarot or proto-tarot. 1434 is not too early, and his interests certainly fit its influences, as I see them. Perhaps you have somebody else, like a Dominican preacher, Bernardino, etc. Your point is not unreasonable. I just need examples, with fires from the heavens linked with star, moon, and sun, and also not otherwise suggesting borrowing from ps.-Dionysius.
(my emphasis - Ross)

I think the expression "Sun Moon and Stars" is too commonplace to require explicit textual borrowing, and the explanation for the lightning is that the designer wanted another light in the sky that wasn't a star. Since the Sun is the brightest, and the Star is the dimmest, in the expression "Sun, Moon and Stars", there is no room to cram a fourth among them, so it has to be lower. That is, a meteorological phenomenon, that is, fire in the clouds, that is, lightning.

The commonsense hierarchy of lights in the trump sequence can even be seen, in certain conditions, where a storm in the distance is rumbling and flashing, while in the clear sky far above stars are glimmering, and the Moon sits even brighter among them. I've seen it personally, so there must be photographs of it out there.
Here are some examples (search images under "lightning" "stars" "moon")

This one even has Venus (and Mars):


Taken by James Broscombe, 2010
http://jmbroscombe.blogspot.fr/2010/09/ ... great.html

Kris Kridler took this one over the sea on August 20, 2013 -



There is a short time-lapse video of the storm on his page as well -
http://skydiary.com/gallery/chase2013/082013/

Here is one taken by Mike Lewinski -


http://www.flickr.com/photos/ikewinski/8029827892/

One from Accuweather:


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/saet ... eather.jpg

Etc.

There are a lot out there actually showing why it is as it is in the trump sequence, rather than digging up a text and trying to relate it. It is common experience, intuitive, simple common sense. It really doesn't take much explaining, learning, theory, or historical contextualization, to understand it - unlike other groups in the sequence.
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Re: Cary Sheet

#43
Thanks for the nice pictures, Ross. However they don't address why someone would choose those subjects in the first place. And lightning is still unusual in this context (sky with other celestials visible), at least where I live, even if it might happen someplace. I don't know what common sense would put together. I don't think I would have thought of adding lightning, once I had a star, a moon, and a sun. I might have thought of an eclipse, or of putting a star next to the moon or something. If I'd been thinking about what was on the last cards in the sequence,Judgment and World, I might have thought of the process of getting closer to God; the divine was conceived in terms of light in just about every culture, and up in the sky. Then I might have thought of lightning--especially if I'd started thinking about those concentric circles depicting the universe. If those cards had prompted me to think of the Last Days, it's hard to say what would have occurred to me. Possibly something involving light, I don't know. There's a lot of interesting imagery there.

On another thread, I posted a link to an illumination that seems to have a lot of what is in the Vieville. The Cary Sheet has some elements: the cow, the hail, perhaps a tree along the left edge. Since it might be hard to find in the other post, I give the detail here.
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The full illumination with description is at http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/se ... 869?img=38. Or my scan, from the book: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LmujZWXeP9A/U ... age-01.JPG

The blurb for the left-hand part, from the book (The Cloisters Apocalypse vol. 2, p. 58), says:
Five bestial personifications of thunder roar beneath a drifting cloud. Hail and lightning fill the sky, recalling the sounding of the first trumpet. A frightened bull is caught in the midst of this; an earthquake suddenly unsettles the ground beneath him, sending a tree with its roots hurling through the sky.
With fire coming down from above, a tower, earthquake and trees but no hail or farm animal (just birds and a rabbit) , there is also:
http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/se ... 869?img=22

These are from Anglo-French illuminations of the 14th century. Given that an artist has the artistic license to put in animals even though none are in his text, it would seem that the Cary Sheet may not be referring to Job specifically; it is merely one disaster out of many that could have been mentioned. Whether such a reference is out place in the tarot sequence, I still have my doubts. It depends on what you think the "place" is. It might just wherever angels toss hail, rain, fire, etc. down from, since that's in the sky in God's direction. Not a fun place to pass through (assuming it doesn't go away on nice days, something I never understood about the "sphere of fire"), but if necessary, why not?

On the other hand, if I focused on the images at the bottom of the Sun and Moon cards, they might remind me of the Last Days; a giant lobster is kind of "beast"; and the flag-waving boy might be taken as the child of the woman clothed with the sun, happy that the lobster has been destroyed. Then, yes, Job would be out of place, except as an example of what God can arrange if he feels like it. Luke 17 does that with Sodom, in the context of the Last Days (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+17). But it wouldn't be the primary reference.

Re: Cary Sheet

#44
mikeh wrote:Thanks for the nice pictures, Ross. However they don't address why someone would choose those subjects in the first place.
An easily grasped hierarchy of lights. So easy you don't even have to think about it - when you look up, that's the order they come in.



As soon as you start thinking about it, arguing about it, like we are doing here, we start to second guess the designer and think he got it wrong. "The Star should be higher! If it's Mars or Mercury, it should be higher than the Moon! If it's any other planet or a fixed star, it should be higher than the Sun! Lightning is brighter than the Stars, and the Moon most of the time! Lightning should be higher!" etc.

But the purpose is not to teach anything, nor is it a reference to any doctrine or cosmological theory. It's just light, in the sky, when you look up. It's intuitive, common sense, and easy to play with. It's certainly not part of the sequence that any of the players had any trouble with, since that order never changes in the tradition, any tradition. We shouldn't even be arguing about it here, but here we are. This is just another example of why we can't get anywhere, gain a consensus, of what the sequence means, because everybody thinks it was trying to teach something, when actually it just takes for granted that people won't question the order because it is natural and intuitive. The purpose is to get on with play, not to argue about theology, philosophy, or cosmology.
And lightning is still unusual in this context (sky with other celestials visible), at least where I live, even if it might happen someplace.
It's just a striking visual demonstration of why the hierarchy of lights is natural and intuitive, Mike. It's your intellect that is getting in the way. It really isn't rare, by the way - just look at nightfall or dawn when you know an active thunderstorm is approaching from a distance. I came up with that example as I was writing to you, and knew there had to be photos of it because it is both interesting and not rare.

It's not like the designer went outside one night, saw a sight like this, and thought "I'm going to use this particular hierarchy of lights". I'm just using it as a far more direct proof of your demand for a text that has lightning, star and moon (and of course the sun, which can't be seen in a picture like this, which I suppose will make you object...). This is an actual picture of reality, not a text.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assert without qualification that many more people saw this than were reading Pseudo-Dionysius.
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Re: Cary Sheet

#45
mikeh wrote: On another thread, I posted a link to an illumination that seems to have a lot of what is in the Vieville. The Cary Sheet has some elements: the cow, the hail, perhaps a tree along the left edge. Since it might be hard to find in the other post, I give the detail here.
Image


The full illumination with description is at http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/se ... 869?img=38. Or my scan, from the book: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LmujZWXeP9A/U ... age-01.JPG

The blurb for the left-hand part, from the book (The Cloisters Apocalypse vol. 2, p. 58), says:
Five bestial personifications of thunder roar beneath a drifting cloud. Hail and lightning fill the sky, recalling the sounding of the first trumpet. A frightened bull is caught in the midst of this; an earthquake suddenly unsettles the ground beneath him, sending a tree with its roots hurling through the sky.
With fire coming down from above, a tower, earthquake and trees but no hail or farm animal (just birds and a rabbit) , there is also:
http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/se ... 869?img=22

These are from Anglo-French illuminations of the 14th century. Given that an artist has the artistic license to put in animals even though none are in his text, it would seem that the Cary Sheet may not be referring to Job specifically; it is merely one disaster out of many that could have been mentioned.
Hello Mike,
thank you for the beautiful illumination!
The quote from the book seems to suggest that the illustration is inspired by one of XV Signs before Doomsday described in the Golden Legend:
Jacobus de Voragine wrote: Octava fiet generalis terrae motus, qui adeo erit magnus, ut dicitur, quod nullus homo, nullum animal stare poterit, sed ad solum omnia prosternentur.

On the eighth day will come a worldwide earthquake, which will, we are told, be so great that neither man nor beast will be able to stand, and all will fall prostrate on the ground.
The 8th sign illustrated in Le Livre de la Vigne that Huck posted here.
vigne8.png
vigne8.png (527.23 KiB) Viewed 7530 times

Re: Cary Sheet

#46
Yes, I see the connection, Marco. Thanks for drawing our attention to the picture.

Ross: Thanks for your patience. Yes, hierarchy of light is the unifying theme to all the various decks. Yes, that's all that matters for the game. But I don't get at all why you dismiss everything else. Why a hierarchy of light? It has to be leading up, at least, to the Last Judgment and the New Jerusalem--or the Lamb, as we see in his human form on the Vieville, when these other lights aren't needed any more, and the light of the Lamb shines in an eternal day.

Re: Cary Sheet

#47
mikeh wrote: Ross: Thanks for your patience. Yes, hierarchy of light is the unifying theme to all the various decks. Yes, that's all that matters for the game. But I don't get at all why you dismiss everything else. Why a hierarchy of light? It has to be leading up, at least, to the Last Judgment and the New Jerusalem--or the Lamb, as we see in his human form on the Vieville, when these other lights aren't needed any more, and the light of the Lamb shines in an eternal day.
Mike - I dismiss everything else - or rather, argue against it - because I can't believe that Tarot was Sunday School, that the trump sequence was intended to teach anything. Understanding the hierarchy of the sequence assumes that certain conventions were clearly understood by the players using the cards, but the cards weren't there to teach these conventions (much less more obscure or erudite doctrines).

Why a hierarchy of lights, topped by the World (Mundus), topped by the End of Time? Because that's how the universe is structured; it's certainly easy to grasp, everybody understood it, and it is easy to play with. Obviously some players wanted a different narrative at the very end, and switched the Judgment with the World - perhaps it was even the "New World" - what else could it be, after the Resurrection and Judgment? And some players - in the Eastern orders - wanted yet a further refinement to the narrative - not only a Resurrection, but a Judgment after (Justice), and then the (New) World. The Virtues provided some verbs to move around to make a narrative out of what was otherwise a static, storyless set of groups. The desire to create a narrative in parts of the sequence explains the different families of orders; more specifically, it is the changes to (and within, in Florence) A in the B and C families that represent the tastes of players for different "narratives". They all use the same elements, the 22 standard subjects (even the Fool finally gets a place at the very top, as XXII), but tinker with them to produce a better "story" here and there.

But none of them are perfect, or throughgoing, they are all bandaid solutions to little "problems", like putting Temperance between the Pope and Love, or Justice after the Angel, or Temperance between Death and the Devil - these latter two are secondary usages of the Virtue's primary meaning. I think the original order is that preserved in Bologna (no doubt invented in Florence), and that it had no story to tell. The effort to "make" a story out of those elements is what causes the different orders. It is still going on today, of course.
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Re: Cary Sheet

#48
Ross wrote,
Why a hierarchy of lights, topped by the World (Mundus), topped by the End of Time? Because that's how the universe is structured; it's certainly easy to grasp, everybody understood it, and it is easy to play with.
When you say "universe is structured", do you mean temporally (i.e. End Times), spatially (i.e. a kind of theological cosmograph, with lesser lights further away from the source), or what? What did everyone understand about how the universe was structured?

Re: Cary Sheet

#49
mikeh wrote:Ross wrote,
Why a hierarchy of lights, topped by the World (Mundus), topped by the End of Time? Because that's how the universe is structured; it's certainly easy to grasp, everybody understood it, and it is easy to play with.
When you say "universe is structured", do you mean temporally (i.e. End Times), spatially (i.e. a kind of theological cosmograph, with lesser lights further away from the source), or what? What did everyone understand about how the universe was structured?
Clearly it's both; everybody knew (it's no different nowadays) that the world (space) existed in time - it had a beginning and will have an end (leaving aside those who believe the universe is eternal in time and infinite in extent, which was then a heresy and remains a minority opinion). The "end of time" is coincident with the end of the universe, mundus, mondo, world-system (and the beginning of a new "clean" one in Christian eschatology). Time and space are collapsed.

I don't need to rehearse the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic cosmos for you, and I wouldn't say that "everybody" understood it exactly, either, any more than most people can list the order of the planets in our solar system nowadays. It takes some work to get it straight, and most people really aren't that interested.

What "everybody understood" though, is that when you look up into sky past the atmosphere there are stars and a Moon and a Sun, and stars can't generally be seen during the day; the stars are dimmer than the Moon, which can be seen during the day, but nothing is brighter than the Sun, and all of it is contained in the big universe, the mondo, and it will come to an end, one day (hopefully not too soon, or Jesus might catch us playing cards). So there's your hierarchy.
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Re: Cary Sheet

#50
Yes, an unclear combination of Last Days and Ptolemaic cosmology. That's my view of how most people would have seen the final sequence, too. It does not have to be precisely accurate cosmologically, as the order is subordinate to the hierarchy of light, which is more practical in a card game. The sphere of fire is part of that. "Fire" is not an orphan, since it hooked to the hierarchy of light. As a cosmological sphere, it is not an orphan either, but this part is more subtle. Demons are in the air; even Piscina saw that. Death is earth, "dust to dust". There doesn't have to be a sphere of water, especially one between earth and air, since water is visibly below the earth of people's habitation; it is possible that the Temperance card served that role, wherever it was.

Holbronn makes the point that the word "Monde" (World, Cosmos) for the 21st trump derives from the "cosmograph" tradition (Recherches sur L'Histoire de l"astrologie et du Tarot p. 64):
La lame XXI du Tarot, Le "Monde", reprend un terme qu'on trouve dans les traites de "cosmographie".
I agree that the tarot that we see, including the orders and writings about it, is a patchwork of different attempts to make sense of something that was not obviously clear. That shows that our debates now are not irrelevant or anachronistic. They are natural, to some people. Whether the tarot was obviously unclear at the beginning is unknown, as it is not at all clear what the beginning looked like. People in and around the courts by mid century also thought there was virtue for an artist to make things appear unclear, to those without wisdom, and also to combine narratives with additional ones, so that the result was inconsistent with any one narrative in isolation. Such inconsistency would be thought to improve the design, not make it wrong. The tomb of the Archbishop of Portugal in Florence is an example (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=974&p=14328&hilit=portugal#p14328). There might also have been attempts to remove what sense there was in the tarot, too, if it was thought irreverent or nonconformist. That's a real possibility in Bologna once it was taken over by the Papacy, with the "four papi".

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