Crackpot theories

#1
I'd like to start a thread for compiling a list of titles and links to our favorite crackpot theories of Tarot.

I don't know the age or origin of the metaphor of a "cracked pot", but I like it - it resembles a pot, but when you put water into it, it spills out through the cracks. In other words, it doesn't hold water. Now every theory has cracks, but to truly be a crackpot theory there have to be major cracks, especially at the bottom - the pot holds NO water. Put in logical terms, this means there are fundamental errors of reason that invalidate the whole theory - even if there are solid parts (large chunks of pot), the logical mistakes (cracks) mean that even the large solid parts don't hold together as a pot. It is all just a jumbled mess held together in the mind of the crackpot presenting the theory, but cannot stand on its own against the force of gravity when someone else attempts to build it in the real world (i.e. understand it with common sense, knowledge, and logic).

Although this list - "The Crackpot Index" - was made to judge the level of crackpottery of theories in physics, a lot of them apply to crackpots in Tarot too -
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html
Most tarot crackpots will score in the several hundreds by this point-award scale. Maybe we can tailor the list to tarot crackpots.

The granddaddy of all crackpottery was of course Court de Gébelin, along with the Comte de Mellet, and then refined to the highest level by Etteilla. This led to all the occult theories, and the whole history has been recounted by Decker, Depaulis and Dummett in A Wicked Pack of Cards and (without Depaulis) in A History of the Occult Tarot. This lineage of crackpottery might be fun to discuss, but I'm more interested here in theories that while they indirectly owe their existence to ambient esotericism, are completely new.

I mean theories like Rom's, that the Abbot Suger invented Tarot in the 12th century, and that the titles and random squiggles in the woodcuts on some cards spell out a code (of which he's figured out about half) -
http://tarotchoco.quebecblogue.com/cate ... te-de-rom/
Rom also calls Michael Dummett "The Father of the Lombard Origin Theory", ignorant of the fact that for centuries the majority of playing card historians could see they were Italian, and some even pinpointed Lombardy as the place of origin. But mostly he just ignores 100% of the facts, which unanimously indicate northern Italy (if not technically just Lombardy), and suggest the 1430s as the time. The Lombard Theory of Origin, like the Theory of Evolution, is "just a theory" after all.

Or Christine Payne-Towler's oeuvre (start here, there is a lot of it)
http://noreah.typepad.com/about.html
"Tarot University"
http://www.tarotuniversity.com/

There are a lot of online tarotists with crackpot theories who don't have websites, but can only be appreciated by reading their posts on various lists and forums, like VeniceBard and Yggdrasilian on Aeclectic Tarot. VB (as VeniceBard is affectionately known) is particularly susceptible to the values of the Crackpot Index, as almost every post includes references to academic conspiracy, paradigm-shift, lone-voice in the wilderness, etc.

One thing a lot of crackpot theories have in common is that they claim compatiblity with all other crackpot theories (and even the most minimalist "consensus" theory - as long as it is understood that "the so-called historians" are just myopic), with a bit of tweaking sometimes. So for Christine Payne-Towler EVERYTHING that has ever been claimed about Tarot is true in one way or another.

The subtlest crackpot theory might be Autorbis' "5x14" theory, expounded in countless posts, and on Trionfi.com. I'm not sure I think it really qualifies as crackpot - I might better describe it as a bad theory. It is not explanatory enough, and it doesn't provide testability or prediction - which in history means that your theory will point you in a direction of research, and you will be rewarded with the predicted evidence, thus tending to confirm your theory.

Note - I'm not talking about single crackpot ideas or posts - everybody has those. I'm talking about whole theories, or critical chunks of theory, that are passionately defended.

Ross
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Re: Crackpot theories

#2
=))

Okay, this sounds like a good idea, Ross, but it seems like you have already gathered up all of the best theories...are there any left for us to supply?

And, I was wondering, does one create a theory like this on a crackpotter's wheel? And should they be stored in something like a ... crackpottery barn? =))
"...he wanted to illustrate with his figures many Moral teachings, and under some difficulty, to bite into bad and dangerous customs, & show how today many Actions are done without goodness and honesty, and are accomplished in ways that are contrary to duty and rightfulness."

Re: Crackpot theories

#3
Hi Ross,

Today I collected this little ‘pearl’ for you. I know, it is not a whole theory, just the crack in the pot:

“The fact that no authentic material is available concerning the tarots prior the Middle Ages and that they remained in complete obscurity until Court de Gébelin projected them into fame, further suggest the possibility of the prior concealment of their philosophical value for a definite purpose.”

In other words, the absence of proof can suggest the existence of something.

No. The author isn’t Groucho Marx.

That gem is from “The Tarot” and Essay by Manly P. Hall (1978). This is a booklet that -I guess- accompanied some sort of tarot deck that Hall ‘designed’ together with someone else. Hall’s essay is all over he place, but IF I understood correctly his main theory is that the tarot was brought by the Templars when they returned from the crusades. Being consistent with the above quote, he argues that the reason why the Persian cards doesn’t resemble the tarot is precisely because the tarot didn’t had an European origin.


On a similar note, yesterday someone sent me a link to a new book on the tarot’s origin whose thesis is that the tarot comes from the Sufi. I haven’t read it, and I don’t want to venture any further comment on it, but I wonder if anybody else has read it, or even if the author is a member here!

Finally, about a year ago I did a reading for a very pretty woman who told me she was a non-denominational minister. She was interested in the tarot because of a book that was inspired/illustrated by the jodo-camoin deck and whose author made his name -or ruin it- writing about alien abductions. I don’t remember the title of the book, but I do remember that the main thesis has to do with the tarot somehow coming from outer space.

So, sorry for the lack of detail, but that’s what comes to mind. I wonder if somebody can point out the title of that book.

Best


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

Re: Crackpot theories

#4
Of course there are further 'derivatives' from the De Gebelin-Etteilla 'tradition' - actually, calling that line of connection a 'tradition' is probably a crackpot theory as well.

For example, Paul Christian who claims that the trumps are arranged in pairs under the Egyptian sands in a Hall of Initiation.

Or, not that far removed, Paul Foster Case (of BOTA 'fame'), who considers tarot as the works of those who sought to maintain the deepest of esoteric secrets by designing a game in which such would be openly hidden and transmitted by the foolish masses.

Then, of course, there are those who seriously propose that the deck derives from ancient Atlantis. (Actually :D , I believe that Robert has not only discovered one of the 'original' cards that had been salvaged, but also re-created it O:-) #:-s )
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association.tarotstudies.org

Re: Crackpot theories

#5
jmd wrote:Then, of course, there are those who seriously propose that the deck derives from ancient Atlantis. (Actually :D , I believe that Robert has not only discovered one of the 'original' cards that had been salvaged, but also re-created it O:-) #:-s )
The problem with the Atlantis theory is that it holds too much water. There is no way these cards could have remained dry.


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

Re: Crackpot theories

#6
I sense danger here on the Unicorn Terrace.

That said. Many points for crackpottery are awarded to those who can't summarize their ideas in a few clear, logically connected statements. ("Tarot is the Key to the Mystery Behind the Veil" does not count as a clear statement.)

I put Diane OD's theory in this category. She seems overwhelmed by the facts and has difficulty distilling them down to the salient points. But tarot may well be something like a map.

The most basic skill is to express the main outline of your theory on the back of a napkin.
Then comes the evidence, which may be sketchy and incomplete. This is where the footnotes come in, and also the fistfights.

But no napkin...that's a bad sign.

Re: Crackpot theories

#8
I think Filipas abcdarium is a great idea, I liked it so much I did my own list...

...with different letter attributions;)
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:crackpot theories

#9
Hello all,

I informs you that Philippe "Camoin" will soon publish his thesis about Tarot origins. See his web site for more details.

He annonced his book for years and all his disciples are waiting with excitation :-w :ympray:

600 pages of revelations that for sure will cause large discussions and debates....
Plus another smaller book. This two books should in first instance being published as E Books only.

I will read his theories even if I knows aleady most of his ideas having assisted to three courses with him.

No doubt that many Historians will vote for him as to be menber of Crackpot Club; his declarations beeing very controversial isn' it ?

At this stage I prefer to wait and see :-??

Yves
Personne n'est au dessus de l'obligation de dire la vérité.
Nobody is above obligation to tell truth.

Re: Crackpot theories

#10
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: On a similar note, yesterday someone sent me a link to a new book on the tarot’s origin whose thesis is that the tarot comes from the Sufi. I haven’t read it, and I don’t want to venture any further comment on it, but I wonder if anybody else has read it, or even if the author is a member here!
Our fellow member Psykees (Dai Léon) perhaps?

Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=47#p343

The ‘East’: Ferrara, Venice, Alexandria, and Constantinople
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=56#p451

Earliest order of the triumphs
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=52&p=439#p408
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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