Re: Bolognese sequence

#32
Huck wrote:
You're missing my point with that paragraph - the dating within 5 years has nothing at all to do with Bologna, or any other center. It is an inference based on the pattern of evidence when it is charted chronologically.
I don't really miss it.
The real object behaves like a river, the observable number of "existing + once existing decks" can only be increased with the time. The factor of increase is variable, depending on new productions, which sometimes happen and sometimes not. The "news about the object, that reach us" is another value, much less controllable. It somehow presents a mirror of the development, but naturally it tells also lies about it. Few decks can be presented by more news than many, for instance. Their interpretation is more dependent on clever interpretation, for instance if a document is more valuable than others.

In your calculation one (probably more) information is missing: The poem of Meisner about Karnöffel. I try to fill it at least a little bit.
I'm glad you brought up Meissner, and it has its own place now. I said before and always say, I think Karnöffel is Imperatori, and that Filippo Maria's probibitions in 1419-1420 are indirect references to this game, since he says that "card games must follow the old and proper system, court card following court card, and suit card suit card, in order." (or something like that, I'm quoting from memory).

I'll address Meissner more in his own place. As far as influencing my calculations for dating, I don't think he is relevant at all, just as ronfa or any card game isn't. I'm looking for evidence of the game of Triumphs. I don't think it could have had a long existence under another name, and then only when it was called triumphs did it start to get noticed. I don't think games with "inner" trumps (suit cards with a trump function, like Karnöffel), or a wild card, are triumphs. The name triumphs appears to describe many of the cards in the trump sequence; the name fits the subject matter of the cards. It is unlike tarocchi or tarot, which does not "explain" the imagery or the game. Tarocchi is more like a nonsense name, like ronfa, or a nickname that supplanted the real name. The trumps retain their name triumphs (trionfi) in some places anyway, but the game is universally known by the tarocchi-derivatives.

In other words, I think the name and the thing were invented together, whatever the precursors may have been. Even if the Papi were a separate part originally, which I think is plausible (although my theory does not depend on it), perhaps inspired by Karnöffel (maybe a Devil too? - and is the Karnöffel a Jack-Fool?), the conception of the trump sequence in Trionfi is self-contained and complete, and much more moralistic and complex.

The survival of information by historical accident is a very important aspect of my dating method. There is no reason that tarot cards from the 20s and 30s, documents mentioning them and art depicting them, should not have survived just as our information from the 40s and 50s did. This is why I found Cristina Fiorini's dating of the Rothschild cards to 1420 so implausible - look how isolated it is. But comparison of Giovanni dal Ponzo's art with the cards showed a different hand anyway, at least to my eye and those people I showed it to, so the basis of the comparison is gone anyway - and there is no historical/documentary reason to think they are that early. The plotting of the evidence showed a trend, and that trend - like the mouth of your "river" - must end up somewhere in the second half of the 1430s. Tracing everything backwards from its tributaries, following the river downstream, the river of Tarot disappears into the sea (of ideas and influences, from whence it was born) somewhere within 5 years of 1442. That's my prediction from the evidence anyway.
Image

Re: Bolognese sequence

#33
I've edited various parts of the Mysner (actually this form is the original name of Meisner in the 15th verse, perhaps we should use this one to be accurate) article to get it to the form, I desired, perhaps you read it again.
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
I'm glad you brought up Meissner, and it has its own place now. I said before and always say, I think Karnöffel is Imperatori, and that Filippo Maria's probibitions in 1419-1420 are indirect references to this game, since he says that "card games must follow the old and proper system, court card following court card, and suit card suit card, in order." (or something like that, I'm quoting from memory).
Hm ... something like "court card following court card, and suit card suit card, in order." is not in your article.

"1420: Filippo Maria forbids anyone to play cards, if not according to the correct and ancient system [Nel 1420 vietò qualsiasi giuoco delle carte, quando non fosse secondo il retto e antico sistema](F. Malaguzzi Valeri, "La corte di Ludovico il Moro" (Milano, Hoepli, 1913-1917) vol. I, p. 268)."

If it appears in the source, it would be quite interesting to know.
I'll address Meissner more in his own place. As far as influencing my calculations for dating, I don't think he is relevant at all, just as ronfa or any card game isn't. I'm looking for evidence of the game of Triumphs.
... .-) ... shall I attest a form of blindness? .. :-)
We're searching for the origin of Tarot and it's not expected to have dropped from heaven. You also accept, that the Tarot sequence incorporated other earlier combination like cardinal virtues or sun-moon-star groups and you have no problem with them, if they appeared earlier as book painting, frescoes or whatever form. Will you now close the eyes, if you meet other earlier use of groups, as it appears "only" on playing cards and in actual games? The research is about playing cards, isn't it? And there is no doubt, that playing cards had been older than the Trionfi cards, there is a general strong suspicion, that the sequence developed from cards and not from an outside order with no relation to playing cards.
What do you understand as "THE game of triumphs" ? How do you use this?
I don't think it could have had a long existence under another name, and then only when it was called triumphs did it start to get noticed.
Will you state, that the Michelino deck isn't a form of "game of Triumphs"? It existed long before your proposed 1439.
I don't think games with "inner" trumps (suit cards with a trump function, like Karnöffel), or a wild card, are triumphs.
Well, read the Mysner text again (after my reediting) and you'll find reason to assume, that the Karnöffel game from Mysner probably used special cards.
Naturally, for the Michelino deck and the Mysner-Karnöffel (both seem to use special cards) you may argue, that that the trumps are "inner trumps" (incorporated in the suits). You wish that the trumps have an order (or suit) of themselves ... well, Ingolds description (1432) of the 4 suits gives reason to assume, that one suit had the preference before the other 3, and probably was used (at least occasionally) as a predefined trump suit. And this rule is so usual between the card games (for instance in Germany "Herzblättchen", in English "Spades"), that it is very difficult to assume, that it didn't exist already in the very early time of playing card development.
Or do you wish to limit your research to the feature, when the order of the trumps is a predefined "outside" order and the number of the trumps is different to the number of inside the suit, so to card decks with "NO-Matrix-Character"?
Well, then .. you have no evidence, that the early Trionfi cards (known by this name and used in documents) had NO-Matrix character.
The name triumphs appears to describe many of the cards in the trump sequence; the name fits the subject matter of the cards. It is unlike tarocchi or tarot, which does not "explain" the imagery or the game. Tarocchi is more like a nonsense name, like ronfa, or a nickname that supplanted the real name. The trumps retain their name triumphs (trionfi) in some places anyway, but the game is universally known by the tarocchi-derivatives.
Actually Triumph games existed, which didn't use any special cards. And these games form the base for your games which "retain the Triumph name" - a not solidly based hypothesis, it seems, and only presentable in detailed discussion, I would say.
In other words, I think the name and the thing were invented together, whatever the precursors may have been. Even if the Papi were a separate part originally, which I think is plausible (although my theory does not depend on it), perhaps inspired by Karnöffel (maybe a Devil too? - and is the Karnöffel a Jack-Fool?), the conception of the trump sequence in Trionfi is self-contained and complete, and much more moralistic and complex.
Well ... you present your argument, as if you are drowned in the assumption, that whenever "Trionfi" as word appeared, that history spoke then of the "Trionfi deck", of which you are thinking of, and this you do although you know enough examples, in which this haven't been the case (Michelino deck, 70-cards note, Boiardo Tarocchi, Sola Busca Tarocchi).

The survival of information by historical accident is a very important aspect of my dating method. There is no reason that tarot cards from the 20s and 30s, documents mentioning them and art depicting them, should not have survived just as our information from the 40s and 50s did. This is why I found Cristina Fiorini's dating of the Rothschild cards to 1420 so implausible - look how isolated it is. But comparison of Giovanni dal Ponzo's art with the cards showed a different hand anyway, at least to my eye and those people I showed it to, so the basis of the comparison is gone anyway - and there is no historical/documentary reason to think they are that early. The plotting of the evidence showed a trend, and that trend - like the mouth of your "river" - must end up somewhere in the second half of the 1430s. Tracing everything backwards from its tributaries, following the river downstream, the river of Tarot disappears into the sea (of ideas and influences, from whence it was born) somewhere within 5 years of 1442. That's my prediction from the evidence anyway.
... :-) .. Well, your statement somehow seems to have religious dimensions, and about religion it is difficult to discuss. You believe, that "it" was there, whatever sort of real evidence existed?

How had it been with the 4 accepted texts of NT? There were about 50 of them in ca. 140 AD. Then a certain group of people decided, that 4 were the right ones and the other wrong. And now we have a research situation with great difficulties to decide, what really happened.

Or do I misunderstand something? You only discuss about the "use of the name" and you are not discussing the "fixed content" of the later time? Or a "fixed 4x14+22" scheme?


If you only discuss the "name" ... it's plausible, that the name use appeared around 1441 or short before, although I don't think, that by your statistical method you can exclude earlier appearances.
About the real structure of these early Trionfi decks we have the Cary-Yale Tarocchi, the 14 paintings in Ferrara and the Michelino deck, none of them speaks of a 4x14+22 form. We see, that the Cary-Yale Tarocchi partly fulfills the later standard and partly not. So "something like Tarot motifs" was there without doubt, but not in a precise manner. Anything else is hypothesis. No reason to close the eyes and to say, that "it" was there.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Bolognese sequence

#34
Huck wrote:I've edited various parts of the Mysner (actually this form is the original name of Meisner in the 15th verse, perhaps we should use this one to be accurate) article to get it to the form, I desired, perhaps you read it again.
Yes, thanks, Mysner it is.
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
I'm glad you brought up Meissner, and it has its own place now. I said before and always say, I think Karnöffel is Imperatori, and that Filippo Maria's probibitions in 1419-1420 are indirect references to this game, since he says that "card games must follow the old and proper system, court card following court card, and suit card suit card, in order." (or something like that, I'm quoting from memory).
Hm ... something like "court card following court card, and suit card suit card, in order." is not in your article.

"1420: Filippo Maria forbids anyone to play cards, if not according to the correct and ancient system [Nel 1420 vietò qualsiasi giuoco delle carte, quando non fosse secondo il retto e antico sistema](F. Malaguzzi Valeri, "La corte di Ludovico il Moro" (Milano, Hoepli, 1913-1917) vol. I, p. 268)."

If it appears in the source, it would be quite interesting to know.
This is something we discussed on LTarot in 2007, Michael was part of it.

Here are the relevant posts -

(Ross 2/4/2007)

I have received Giordano Berti's new book "Storia dei tarocchi"
subtitled "Verità e leggende sulle carte più misteriose del mondo."
(Mondadori, 2007).

He notes the same 1420 prohibition of Filippo Maria forbidding the
game of cards when not played "according to the old and correct system"
(see e.g. http://trionfi.com/0/p/08/t1.php ), but he also quotes a
detail not noted by Buti et al. in 1925 which explains what that "old
and correct system" (I think it is better translated now "old and
correct method") was -

"iactando foras figuras et alia signa pro tali signo et tali figura."

Literally,

"throwing forth the figures and other signs according to such a sign
and such a figure."

This clearly refers to the principle of following suit in a card game.
Berti explains it this was as well "that is to say, following the suit
played by the adversary, so as to limit the role of chance." (p. 8)

(BTW, Berti does not mention Buti et al.'s edition of Decembrio's
_Vita_ of Filippo Maria, but Alberto Milano in 1980 citing C. Santoro
(ed.) _Giochi e passatempi dei secoli passati_ (Milano, 1957))

The first thing I note is that the law was (logically enough) in
Latin - something not clear in Buti et al.

The second interesting thing (besides the explanation of the principle
itself) is that it consistently distinguishes "figuras" from "signa".
That seems to be "court cards" from "pips." Why? Did this "old and
correct method" mean that a king had to be played for a king, a valet
for a valet, etc., regardless of suit? It doesn't make any sense.

And surely, the court cards had their suit indices on them, and so
were "signa" as well. Is it just an aesthetic observation?

We can note that the earliest record (1442) of "cartexelle da trionfi"
doesn't seem to distinguish either court cards from their suits, or
perhaps court cards from trumps, but it *does* distinguish "figures"
from "suits" - "...the cups and swords and coins and batons and all
the figures of four pairs of triumph cards."
http://trionfi.com/0/e/00/

If the "signa" in the 1420 law are the same as the four suits of the
1442 triumph card reference (i.e. including court cards), what are
the "figuras" of the 1420 law? Do they indicated the existence already
of an additional suit by 1420 in Milan - maybe triumphs? (making
sense, since in tarot games one has to play a trump to a led trump if
possible).

I find it hard to believe that triumph cards were around that early,
and in a popular form, but what on earth is the 1420 rule referring to
then when it says that the old and correct method is "throwing out
figures... according to the figure"?

(Michael on LTarot 4/4/2007)

Although I sent this offlist, I thought it might be worth posting.

> [Berti] notes the same 1420 prohibition of Filippo Maria forbidding
> the game of cards when not played "according to the old and
> correct system" (see e.g. http://trionfi.com/0/p/08/t1.php ),
> but he also quotes a detail not noted by Buti et al. in 1925
> which explains what that "old and correct system" (I think it
> is better translated now "old and correct method") was -
>
> "iactando foras figuras et alia signa pro tali signo
> et tali figura."
>
> Literally,
>
> "throwing forth the figures and other signs according to such a
> sign and such a figure."
>
> This clearly refers to the principle of following suit in a card
> game. Berti explains it this was as well "that is to say,
> following the suit played by the adversary, so as to limit the
> role of chance." (p. 8)

I disagree. My guess is that it refers to ranking rather than
following suit. Pip cards are ranked by the number of pips shown,
according to their signa, while picture cards are ranked by their
pictured subjects, according to their figura. I think that the passage
is affirming the traditional ranking of court cards and pip cards.

> The second interesting thing (besides the explanation of the
> principle itself) is that it consistently distinguishes
> "figuras" from "signa". That seems to be "court cards" from
> "pips." Why? Did this "old and correct method" mean that a king
> had to be played for a king, a valet for a valet, etc.,
> regardless of suit? It doesn't make any sense.
>
> And surely, the court cards had their suit indices on them, and
> so were "signa" as well. Is it just an aesthetic observation?

If the point was about following suit, the passage makes no apparent
sense. If the point was about ranking, the distinction makes perfect
sense. But why would he feel the need to insist on this apparently
jejune point?

If Phil (Filippo Maria) forbade playing cards except according to the
"correct and ancient system", the obvious implication is that new
games were being invented. Following suit is one assumed rule, and
ranking is another. Novel games might violate either or both. We know
that one early game, (from another region but probably invented about
the same time this passage was written), violates the ranking rule in
dramatic and peculiar fashion. So the passage may refer to playing the
cards according to their depicted rank rather than according to an
arbitrary rank imposed by the new game. And, as noted, court cards and
pips need to be specified individually because the ranking is
different in the two kinds of cards.

Cards were a relatively new game at this time, (only about 40 years
old), and many new things were being tried: different decks and suit
signs, different games, different allegorizations. Phil was attempting
to put his foot down and claim that these things are ancient and
correct -- don't mess with the traditional and "correct" rules!
SOMETHING set him off. There was something he didn't like, something
that seemed like cheating, something that ruined the game for him,
that just seemed wrong. My guess is that someone screwed around with
the ranking; probably someone who had played an uncouth German game
and brought it to Italy.

Ludus Caesaris probably would have been an offensive game for Phil,
and the Emperors Game, which was later documented in Italy, may well
have been a version of it. Bishop Geiler explicitly compared the order
of cards in ludus Caesaris to the social order, which was little more
than acknowledging the obvious. (Such a reading was also in accord
with Brother John's early moralization.) According to Parlett, Geiler
"begins by remarking that in (ordinary) card games, there is a fixed
order... 'but now a game has been invented which is called Kaiserspiel
or Karnoffel in which everything is turned upside down... and there
occurs a wonderful transformation (vicissitudo) of Kaisers, as in this
game the Kaiser is made by chance now from this set (cetu), now from
another'." (A reference to the fact that the suit chosen for the
trumps is not fixed, but varies from one hand to the next.)

Parlett agrees with Geiler's interpretation of Karnoffel's social
inversion: "Karnoffel was evidently enjoyed as a substitute for
anarchy, and whether it was forbidden or permitted in various
fifteenth-century ordinances obviously hinged more on political
perceptions than on the ethics of gambling." I'm thinking that Phil
would have found that offensive, and would have felt obligated to
uphold the ancient and correct system of ranking, both in pips and in
court cards.
---------------------------------------------

Ross
Image

Re: Bolognese sequence

#35
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
This is something we discussed on LTarot in 2007, Michael was part of it.

Here are the relevant posts -

(Ross 2/4/2007)

I have received Giordano Berti's new book "Storia dei tarocchi"
subtitled "Verità e leggende sulle carte più misteriose del mondo."
(Mondadori, 2007).

He notes the same 1420 prohibition of Filippo Maria forbidding the
game of cards when not played "according to the old and correct system"
(see e.g. http://trionfi.com/0/p/08/t1.php ), but he also quotes a
detail not noted by Buti et al. in 1925 which explains what that "old
and correct system" (I think it is better translated now "old and
correct method") was -

"iactando foras figuras et alia signa pro tali signo et tali figura."

Literally,

"throwing forth the figures and other signs according to such a sign
and such a figure."

This clearly refers to the principle of following suit in a card game.
Berti explains it this was as well "that is to say, following the suit
played by the adversary, so as to limit the role of chance." (p. 8)

(BTW, Berti does not mention Buti et al.'s edition of Decembrio's
_Vita_ of Filippo Maria, but Alberto Milano in 1980 citing C. Santoro
(ed.) _Giochi e passatempi dei secoli passati_ (Milano, 1957))

The first thing I note is that the law was (logically enough) in
Latin - something not clear in Buti et al.

The second interesting thing (besides the explanation of the principle
itself) is that it consistently distinguishes "figuras" from "signa".
That seems to be "court cards" from "pips." Why? Did this "old and
correct method" mean that a king had to be played for a king, a valet
for a valet, etc., regardless of suit? It doesn't make any sense.
So there is a text of Buti with the life of Filippo. Italian text, I assume. Does much text refer to this specific theme?

I don't consider it strange ...

I think, that the old way to play with trumps had been, that figuras (but not Kings, which probably were addressed also as figuras) were trumps, and pips presented the normal folk. This is the traditional rule of the Schafkopf-family (Ober and Unter - or Queen and Jack - can trump, but not the Kings), which existed as "name of a game" since 1700, but as rule probably is much older. Schafkopf is played in the regions near the border of old Bohemia and in Bohemia probably is the origin of some European card playing, more or less.

This form of trumping was expressed as iconographic detail in the old decks in the way, that the kings had their marshalls and the job of the marshalls was to fight ... which in card game would mean, that they could trump. Possibly the detail existed in the rules, that kings couldn't be trumped by the marshalls, but this is only additional hypothesis. In the state of the Michelino deck it seems obvious, that the "unusual court cards" (the gods) could trump the kings.

So, if trumps were lead as first, the others had to follow. If suit was played, the others had to follow suit, if the other hadn't suit, they EITHER had to trump OR could trump by own decision.
This are rather common playing card rules.
And surely, the court cards had their suit indices on them, and so
were "signa" as well. Is it just an aesthetic observation?
Naturally the trumps should have had suit signs, as games with trump function were not the only games, for which cards were made - but inside trump games trumps are a own category outside of the suits.

We can note that the earliest record (1442) of "cartexelle da trionfi"
doesn't seem to distinguish either court cards from their suits, or
perhaps court cards from trumps, but it *does* distinguish "figures"
from "suits" - "...the cups and swords and coins and batons and all
the figures of four pairs of triumph cards."
http://trionfi.com/0/e/00/
"... for having colored and painted the cups and the swords and the coins and batons and all the figures of 4 packs of small triumph cards ..." ... http://trionfi.com/0/e/01/ ... Why is there a "small", I wonder ... cause "chartexele" ? ... "depento le chope e le spade e li dinari e li bastoni e tutte le figure de 4 para de chartexele da trionffi "

Well, it's 20 years ago since Visconti's statement and it is another writer. "the cups and the swords and the coins and batons" could include the courts, so that the special trumps were declared to be "figure" or figure could cover trumps + courts.
But if we would try to read it with "strong interpretation" it might be even ...

1. a deck without any trumps outside the 4 suits
2. a deck similar to the Michelino deck, where the trumps are courts
3. a deck with trumps but without courts.

We know the Cary-Yale Tarocchi and it has trumps, courts and numbers and it's probably earlier.
... although, chartexele perhaps is interpretable as "shortened". Who knows? As long we've no better information, we can keep the date "with small insecurities about it's deck form".
If the "signa" in the 1420 law are the same as the four suits of the
1442 triumph card reference (i.e. including court cards), what are
the "figuras" of the 1420 law? Do they indicated the existence already
of an additional suit by 1420 in Milan - maybe triumphs? (making
sense, since in tarot games one has to play a trump to a led trump if
possible).
We've short after 1420 "indications" of unusual decks and we've one unusual deck described, the Michelino deck. The Michelino deck is in it's structural form "only" a variation of the deck, which Johannes of Rheinfelden already knew 1377, his 60-card-deck with the artificial change of the 4 lower courts into Greek/Roman gods.

We've in 1415 an "international meeting" in Constance, which caused, that Italian learned about German ways to play with cards. We have a "high-prices-for-cards" phase around 1423/25 with two observations, one the Gabella deck in Ferrara and the Michelino deck. The "high prices" should indicate "radical improvement" short before.

We see around the same time the operation of the counter-revolution, that is the activities of San Bernardino. So the innovation (and possibly increasing popularity of playing cards) was not welcomed by everybody.
As accompanying factor we have large income (so= wealth) in Venice/Milan cause of cooperative conditions, which is spoiled with the opening of hostile activities in late 1425. This hostile factor is active till 1441, and the dominant war could have hindered culture to develop, for instance playing card culture.
So the Trionfi movement of 1441 could have been actually a revival of a creative phase ca. 1420-25, with the probably "true detail", that these experiments were not called "Trionfi cards".
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Bolognese sequence

#36
Huck wrote:
I'll address Meissner more in his own place. As far as influencing my calculations for dating, I don't think he is relevant at all, just as ronfa or any card game isn't. I'm looking for evidence of the game of Triumphs.
... .-) ... shall I attest a form of blindness? .. :-)
We're searching for the origin of Tarot and it's not expected to have dropped from heaven.
I am working under the hypothesis that it did "drop from heaven" - or rather, came out of the mind of an inventor at a particular place and time, in Bologna. This is my theory, it doesn't contradict any facts, but it demands a particular interpretation of the Bolognese iconography. It could be wrong, I'm not claiming it's proved, but so far I like it.

The fact that there are precursors doesn't contradict the idea that the "ludus triumphorum", in a fixed form, with the standard subjects in a particular order, was a singular invention. Every invention has precursors, there are sources for everything, nearly.

You see it as "Tarot was the winner out of countless experiments that died out". I see it as one of very few experiments with extra trumps, perhaps only the second after Marziano, which could not have been widely known.
You also accept, that the Tarot sequence incorporated other earlier combination like cardinal virtues or sun-moon-star groups and you have no problem with them, if they appeared earlier as book painting, frescoes or whatever form. Will you now close the eyes, if you meet other earlier use of groups, as it appears "only" on playing cards and in actual games? The research is about playing cards, isn't it? And there is no doubt, that playing cards had been older than the Trionfi cards, there is a general strong suspicion, that the sequence developed from cards and not from an outside order with no relation to playing cards.
What do you understand as "THE game of triumphs" ? How do you use this?
I don't know that there were earlier combinations of cardinal virtues or the star-moon-sun grouping, independent of Triumph cards. I don't posit those. I don't need them either, but of course I cannot say they are impossible. But if the evidence doesn't demand them, and a theory doesn't need them, why worry about thinking about them?

Lots of the symbols, maybe all, can be found isolated or in some kinds of groups - along with other things not in the Triumphs - in other forms, be it books, frescoes or whatever. This is because many of the Triumph subjects are among the most common things found in art. It is absurd to consider them as a source for Triumphs just because they exist. At best, they might help interpret the *meaning* of the sequence, but they say nothing about the dating or place of origin, unless you can show a real or hypothetically solid connection (like Andrea Vitali tries to argue with the Traitors in Hell by Giovanni da Modena in the Bolognini chapel in San Petronio).

I don't really know what you're getting at in this paragraph.

By THE Game of Triumphs, I mean the 22 standard subjects added to a 56-card standard pack. The only things I feel might have had an existence outside of those standard triumphs are the Fool and Bagato, as wild cards. This is only because I strongly suspect that additional wild cards are an old invention (which the Chinese independently (apparently )invented) - but I don't see a need to speculate further on that. The trump sequence, as in Bologna, makes sense to me as it is. It doesn't need to posit anything else.

What is the point of multiplying needless speculations? So far I have not received any discussion of my theory at all - no review, no critique, nothing except an out-of-hand rejection from Michael, you, and others. So, without helpful input or contrary facts to challenge me, I can only go on developing it on my own.

On the dating issue I have won you (for the name "trionfi", which is all I am arguing, although we don't agree on what that name signifies) and Michael, and at one point it seemed Thierry, but he refuses to really commit. So, again, there has been no discussion of my position, nor any coherent critique explaining why it should be rejected.

But it is new, and like 5x14 may take some time to get debated properly.
I don't think it could have had a long existence under another name, and then only when it was called triumphs did it start to get noticed.
Will you state, that the Michelino deck isn't a form of "game of Triumphs"? It existed long before your proposed 1439.
I think it is very much a game of triumphs. But it is not called that, and it does not resemble the standard sequence and subjects, nor even the suits. Remember I said, the name and the thing came together, in my opinion. I didn't say that the "concept" of triumph-function or special cards was invented in 1439.

I think we agree more than you realize, but you're not making the effort to understand me. There was an evolution of card-play and the shape of the pack that made Triumphs possible - this includes the idea of trumping itself, the addition of the Queen to the court cards, maybe wild cards, and possibly (if invented in Milan) the idea of strict hierarchy of trumps in an extra suit. Some or all of these (and others) may have contributed to the idea to invent what became the "standard" sequence. It didn't happen by accident - it was promoted.

By the way, you know the earliest (certain) mention of printed playing cards comes from Palermo in 1422, don't you? Florence and Ferrara both know printed cards before Triumphs were invented, so it is not terribly unlikely that the game was originally printed.
Image

Re: Bolognese sequence

#37
I am working under the hypothesis that it did "drop from heaven" - or rather, came out of the mind of an inventor at a particular place and time, in Bologna. This is my theory, it doesn't contradict any facts, but it demands a particular interpretation of the Bolognese iconography. It could be wrong, I'm not claiming it's proved, but so far I like it.
Well, I'll like to reconstruct "the old reality" from that, what is "more or less" contemporary known. Dragging facts from the later state of information I regard with suspicion, although I respect, that this naturally also must be done occasionally, cause the "field of the unknown (and its extensions in time and space)" is simply unknown, but nonetheless "it also had been, if it had been".

What particular interpretation of the Bolognese iconography makes it necessary, that it happened 1439 or around this time? The Papi or anything else?
The fact that there are precursors doesn't contradict the idea that the "ludus triumphorum", in a fixed form, with the standard subjects in a particular order, was a singular invention. Every invention has precursors, there are sources for everything, nearly.
Perhaps we could agree to name it in a specific signifying way, maybe "assumed Bolognese prototype Trionfi" or as you like it (better not such a long term), but "ludus triumphorum in a fixed form" is not very precise and confusing and somehow you claim, that if the Trionfi term was used in 15th century, that it was spoken of this development. But there were not only Bolognese decks.
You see it as "Tarot was the winner out of countless experiments that died out". I see it as one of very few experiments with extra trumps, perhaps only the second after Marziano, which could not have been widely known.
When we look at the only comparable contemporary situation with enough deck examples - the German decks - one detects there also a lot of creativity and experiments. So I assume creativity and partly I can point to it. If I request further the factor of the "unknown" I've to assume more strange developments.
You also accept, that the Tarot sequence incorporated other earlier combination like cardinal virtues or sun-moon-star groups and you have no problem with them, if they appeared earlier as book painting, frescoes or whatever form. Will you now close the eyes, if you meet other earlier use of groups, as it appears "only" on playing cards and in actual games? The research is about playing cards, isn't it? And there is no doubt, that playing cards had been older than the Trionfi cards, there is a general strong suspicion, that the sequence developed from cards and not from an outside order with no relation to playing cards.
What do you understand as "THE game of triumphs" ? How do you use this?
I don't know that there were earlier combination of cardinal virtues or the star-moon-sun grouping, independent of Triumph cards. I don't posit those. I don't need them either, but of course I cannot say they are impossible. But if the evidence doesn't demand them, and a theory doesn't need them, why worry about thinking about them?
Maybe a misunderstanding. I pointed out in the Mysner-thread (now post 1), that specific elements of the Mysner-Karnoeffel-scheme refer to the triumph numbers 0-7, so their meaning is similar to cardinal virtues and sun-moon-star, which also appear in other contexts and reappear in Tarot and are then identified as "imported units" without doubt.

Adapting this step would result in a game development like

Karnöffel brought 0-7 ...
was further developed with the Bembo cards to a 5x14-structure ...
6 cards were added ...
later the 22-form developed

Perhaps you overlooked this, as I've developed the Mysner articles in reediting steps.
...

By THE Game of Triumphs, I mean the 22 standard subjects added to a 56-card standard pack. The only things I feel might have had an existence outside of those standard triumphs are the Fool and Bagato, as wild cards. This is only because I strongly suspect that additional wild cards are an old invention (which the Chinese independently (apparently )invented) - but I don't see a need to speculate further on that. The trump sequence, as in Bologna, makes sense to me as it is. It doesn't need to posit anything else.

What is the point of multiplying needless speculations? So far I have not received any discussion of my theory at all - no review, no critique, nothing except an out-of-hand rejection from Michael, you, and others. So, without helpful input or contrary facts to challenge me, I can only go on developing it on my own.

On the dating issue I have won you (for the name "trionfi", which is all I am arguing, although we don't agree on what that name signifies) and Michael, and at one point it seemed Thierry, but he refuses to really commit. So, again, there has been no discussion of my position, nor any coherent critique explaining why it should be rejected.

But it is new, and like 5x14 may take some time to get debated properly.
I personally missed a solid representation of that, what you mean and what you not mean. So I'm asking for it, just to understand you. For the dating of the name I've no problem, not that I think 1439, but I would suggest, that it developed probably 1441 with the marriage of Bianca Maria and Francesco. At 1.1.1441 the term was not used, but in February 1442.
For the general Trionfi-as-festivity I know of 3 larger festivities in Florence in 1439 accompanying the council and these seem to have stimulated further festivities (and the whole council might have a stimulating effect on many activities, for instance the library development). If it could have had an effect on playing cards, is doubtful, as Eugen is deep suspected to have been against playing cards - and that what I've read about the Florence festivities, didn't sound as if there were made some. Not, that Eugen have had in 1439 the same controlling power as in 1445, so maybe a Florentine found it a pious work. The two emperors (Western + Eastern in Minchiate) might have been a remind of the council situation, either realized in 1450 (Trionfi allowance) or even earlier.

Generally we have occasionally at various locations an allowance for card playing only at specific days and for festivities. This might have caused the name Trionfi cards.
Generally we have later the tradition of festival books (as for Camilla Aragon and Costanzo Sforza). Maybe this started with cards or larger papers in a more humble form. Generally also theater shows might have had some paper productions around them.
So it would be of interest to understand the sacra rapresentatione of Bologna - perhaps one of the shows explains something.
Generally we have the factor of Alberti, an "inventor" in his character with many ideas. He was well known in Ferrara ... and had been in Bologna and was near to Cesarini, who possibly brought up the theater ideas there. And Cesarini was a dominant cardinal in Ferrara and Florence ... and in 1439 probably still related to Bologna.

Occasionally we meet the fact, that playing cards were forbidden and Trionfi cards were allowed. So Trionfi cards probably were part of "accepted education", perhaps cause its pious content.
I don't think it could have had a long existence under another name, and then only when it was called triumphs did it start to get noticed.
{quote]
Will you state, that the Michelino deck isn't a form of "game of Triumphs"? It existed long before your proposed 1439.
I think it is very much a game of triumphs. But it is not called that, and it does not resemble the standard sequence and subjects, nor even the suits. Remember I said, the name and the thing came together, in my opinion.
We have a deck with 70 cards called Trionfi. We have the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, we have the Sola Busca Tarocchi. We have 50 Mantegna Tarocchi Triumphs. We have Marcello claiming the Michelino deck a Trionfi deck. The Bembo has two painters, surely not without reason. We have variants in all major cities.
I didn't say that the "concept" of triumph-function or special cards was invented in 1439.

I think we agree more than you realize, but you're not making the effort to understand me. There was an evolution of card-play and the shape of the pack that made Triumphs possible - this includes the idea of trumping itself, the addition of the Queen to the court cards, maybe wild cards, and possibly (if invented in Milan) the idea of strict hierarchy of trumps in an extra suit. Some or all of these (and others) may have contributed to the idea to invent what became the "standard" sequence. It didn't happen by accident - it was promoted.

By the way, you know the earliest (certain) mention of printed playing cards comes from Palermo in 1422, don't you? Florence and Ferrara both know printed cards before Triumphs were invented, so it is not terribly unlikely that the game was originally printed.

We don't have too much confirmation, that processing the printing technology made quick advances in Italy. It had quick progress in Germany and Burgundy. A large number of the printers in Italy were Germans.
Venice seems to have woodcut very early, but dropped back - as stated in 1441. Well, it was not impossible, that printing was used. But is it likely? And how much? Schreiber found it difficult to get names of card producers in Italy. And he had lots of names in Germany and France. This might be due to the condition, that Italy was in 19th century far behind the Northern countries ... and so had not so much energy to study old documents for not so very interesting matters like playing card research. Germany as the country of printing had more impetus for studies in the industry of paper and printing.
The Florence card maker is an anonymous ... why? Did he not like to be publicly known? Too much prohibition?
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Bolognese sequence

#38
I am working under the hypothesis that it did "drop from heaven" - or rather, came out of the mind of an inventor at a particular place and time, in Bologna. This is my theory, it doesn't contradict any facts, but it demands a particular interpretation of the Bolognese iconography. It could be wrong, I'm not claiming it's proved, but so far I like it.
Well, I'll like to reconstruct "the old reality" from that, what is "more or less" contemporary known. Dragging facts from the later state of information I regard with suspicion, although I respect, that this naturally also must be done occasionally, cause the "field of the unknown (and its extensions in time and space)" is simply unknown, but nonetheless "it also had been, if it had been".

What particular interpretation of the Bolognese iconography makes it necessary, that it happened 1439 or around this time? The Papi or anything else?
The fact that there are precursors doesn't contradict the idea that the "ludus triumphorum", in a fixed form, with the standard subjects in a particular order, was a singular invention. Every invention has precursors, there are sources for everything, nearly.
Perhaps we could agree to name it in a specific signifying way, maybe "assumed Bolognese prototype Trionfi" or as you like it (better not such a long term), but "ludus triumphorum in a fixed form" is not very precise and confusing and somehow you claim, that if the Trionfi term was used in 15th century, that it was spoken of this development. But there were not only Bolognese decks.
You see it as "Tarot was the winner out of countless experiments that died out". I see it as one of very few experiments with extra trumps, perhaps only the second after Marziano, which could not have been widely known.
When we look at the only comparable contemporary situation with enough deck examples - the German decks - one detects there also a lot of creativity and experiments. So I assume creativity and partly I can point to it. If I request further the factor of the "unknown" I've to assume more strange developments.
You also accept, that the Tarot sequence incorporated other earlier combination like cardinal virtues or sun-moon-star groups and you have no problem with them, if they appeared earlier as book painting, frescoes or whatever form. Will you now close the eyes, if you meet other earlier use of groups, as it appears "only" on playing cards and in actual games? The research is about playing cards, isn't it? And there is no doubt, that playing cards had been older than the Trionfi cards, there is a general strong suspicion, that the sequence developed from cards and not from an outside order with no relation to playing cards.
What do you understand as "THE game of triumphs" ? How do you use this?
I don't know that there were earlier combination of cardinal virtues or the star-moon-sun grouping, independent of Triumph cards. I don't posit those. I don't need them either, but of course I cannot say they are impossible. But if the evidence doesn't demand them, and a theory doesn't need them, why worry about thinking about them?
Maybe a misunderstanding. I pointed out in the Mysner-thread (now post 1), that specific elements of the Mysner-Karnoeffel-scheme refer to the triumph numbers 0-7, so their meaning is similar to cardinal virtues and sun-moon-star, which also appear in other contexts and reappear in Tarot and are then identified as "imported units" without doubt.

Adapting this step would result in a game development like

Karnöffel brought 0-7 ...
was further developed with the Bembo cards to a 5x14-structure ...
6 cards were added ...
later the 22-form developed

Perhaps you overlooked this, as I've developed the Mysner articles in reediting steps.
...

By THE Game of Triumphs, I mean the 22 standard subjects added to a 56-card standard pack. The only things I feel might have had an existence outside of those standard triumphs are the Fool and Bagato, as wild cards. This is only because I strongly suspect that additional wild cards are an old invention (which the Chinese independently (apparently )invented) - but I don't see a need to speculate further on that. The trump sequence, as in Bologna, makes sense to me as it is. It doesn't need to posit anything else.

What is the point of multiplying needless speculations? So far I have not received any discussion of my theory at all - no review, no critique, nothing except an out-of-hand rejection from Michael, you, and others. So, without helpful input or contrary facts to challenge me, I can only go on developing it on my own.

On the dating issue I have won you (for the name "trionfi", which is all I am arguing, although we don't agree on what that name signifies) and Michael, and at one point it seemed Thierry, but he refuses to really commit. So, again, there has been no discussion of my position, nor any coherent critique explaining why it should be rejected.

But it is new, and like 5x14 may take some time to get debated properly.
I personally missed a solid representation of that, what you mean and what you not mean. So I'm asking for it, just to understand you. For the dating of the name I've no problem, not that I think 1439, but I would suggest, that it developed probably 1441 with the marriage of Bianca Maria and Francesco. At 1.1.1441 the term was not used, but in February 1442.
For the general Trionfi-as-festivity I know of 3 larger festivities in Florence in 1439 accompanying the council and these seem to have stimulated further festivities (and the whole council might have a stimulating effect on many activities, for instance the library development). If it could have had an effect on playing cards, is doubtful, as Eugen is deep suspected to have been against playing cards - and that what I've read about the Florence festivities, didn't sound as if there were made some. Not, that Eugen have had in 1439 the same controlling power as in 1445, so maybe a Florentine found it a pious work. The two emperors (Western + Eastern in Minchiate) might have been a remind of the council situation, either realized in 1450 (Trionfi allowance) or even earlier.

Generally we have occasionally at various locations an allowance for card playing only at specific days and for festivities. This might have caused the name Trionfi cards.
Generally we have later the tradition of festival books (as for Camilla Aragon and Costanzo Sforza). Maybe this started with cards or larger papers in a more humble form. Generally also theater shows might have had some paper productions around them.
So it would be of interest to understand the sacra rapresentatione of Bologna - perhaps one of the shows explains something.
Generally we have the factor of Alberti, an "inventor" in his character with many ideas. He was well known in Ferrara ... and had been in Bologna and was near to Cesarini, who possibly brought up the theater ideas there. And Cesarini was a dominant cardinal in Ferrara and Florence ... and in 1439 probably still related to Bologna.

Occasionally we meet the fact, that playing cards were forbidden and Trionfi cards were allowed. So Trionfi cards probably were part of "accepted education", perhaps cause its pious content.
I don't think it could have had a long existence under another name, and then only when it was called triumphs did it start to get noticed.
Huck wrote: Will you state, that the Michelino deck isn't a form of "game of Triumphs"? It existed long before your proposed 1439.
I think it is very much a game of triumphs. But it is not called that, and it does not resemble the standard sequence and subjects, nor even the suits. Remember I said, the name and the thing came together, in my opinion.
We have a deck with 70 cards called Trionfi. We have the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, we have the Sola Busca Tarocchi. We have 50 Mantegna Tarocchi Triumphs. We have Marcello claiming the Michelino deck a Trionfi deck. The Bembo has two painters, surely not without reason. We have variants in all major cities.
I didn't say that the "concept" of triumph-function or special cards was invented in 1439.

I think we agree more than you realize, but you're not making the effort to understand me. There was an evolution of card-play and the shape of the pack that made Triumphs possible - this includes the idea of trumping itself, the addition of the Queen to the court cards, maybe wild cards, and possibly (if invented in Milan) the idea of strict hierarchy of trumps in an extra suit. Some or all of these (and others) may have contributed to the idea to invent what became the "standard" sequence. It didn't happen by accident - it was promoted.

By the way, you know the earliest (certain) mention of printed playing cards comes from Palermo in 1422, don't you? Florence and Ferrara both know printed cards before Triumphs were invented, so it is not terribly unlikely that the game was originally printed.

We don't have too much confirmation, that processing the printing technology made quick advances in Italy. It had quick progress in Germany and Burgundy. A large number of the printers in Italy were Germans.
Venice seems to have woodcut very early, but dropped back - as stated in 1441. Well, it was not impossible, that printing was used. But is it likely? And how much? Schreiber found it difficult to get names of card producers in Italy. And he had lots of names in Germany and France. This might be due to the condition, that Italy was in 19th century far behind the Northern countries ... and so had not so much energy to study old documents for not so very interesting matters like playing card research. Germany as the country of printing had more impetus for studies in the industry of paper and printing.
The Florence card maker is an anonymous ... why? Did he not like to be publicly known? Too much prohibition?
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Bolognese sequence

#39
Sorry, it's not Cesarini, who was in Bologna, but Albergati. I mixed the names.

http://books.google.com/books?id=9zcCCs ... na&f=false

This is the passage what I talked about (building of a St. Jerome community). The info about the sacra rappresentatione is also there.

http://www.fiu.edu/~mirandas/bios1426.htm#Albergati
biography

Albergati met Filippo Maria in 1427 for peace talking. Alberti possibly accompanied Albergati on a journey to the north (insecure).

Ugolino Pisani is a playwright with a comedy success in Bologna in ca. 1435.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Ross' Bolognese-origin Theory

#40
Hi, Ross,

Well, you already know everything I'm going to say, and you will apparently deny it all anyway, so I guess I'll address the others.

I have been asked (politely) offlist about my "out-of-hand rejection" of Ross's "Bolognese Theory". Shame on me!

This struck me as quite odd, as I didn't know I'd made any rejection of his theory, much less an "out of hand" dismissal. So I took a look at some recent posts here. Apparently what prompted the question was this comment from Ross in the Bolognese Sequence thread:
Ross wrote:So far I have not received any discussion of my theory at all - no review, no critique, nothing except an out-of-hand rejection from Michael, you, and others.

On the dating issue I have won you (for the name "trionfi", which is all I am arguing, although we don't agree on what that name signifies) and Michael, and at one point it seemed Thierry, but he refuses to really commit. So, again, there has been no discussion of my position, nor any coherent critique explaining why it should be rejected.
This statement seems worth responding to publicly. First, let me say that this appears to refer to Ross' Bologna-origin Theory, broadly conceived in terms of both the historical and iconographic perspectives. Above those quotes in the same post was this:
Ross wrote:I am working under the hypothesis that it did "drop from heaven" - or rather, came out of the mind of an inventor at a particular place and time, in Bologna. This is my theory, it doesn't contradict any facts, but it demands a particular interpretation of the Bolognese iconography. It could be wrong, I'm not claiming it's proved, but so far I like it.
Sure enough, that sounds like a reference to the overall Bologna-origin theory, (rather than the infinitely narrower question which was being beaten to death in much of the thread, and which he treated separately in that quote). That Bolognese-origin theory is something I've wanted to talk about for nearly three years now, since January 3rd, 2007 when I first learned about it, so this is as good a time as any.

Let me start by saying that I've just skimmed a bunch of recent posts here, and I find that I agree with most all of Ross' positions and arguments. A number of them are positions I've taken for many years, such as Marcello's deck emphatically NOT being Tarot, the Emperor's Game almost certainly being some relative of Karnoffel, and so on. That includes the point mentioned in the quote above, the narrower question of...

DATING THE INVENTION OF TAROT

With regard to dating the origin of Tarot, Ross has neither convinced me of anything nor dissuaded me. He has assembled a beautiful and persuasive presentation of the data, and drawn what appears to be the obvious conclusion, that Tarot was invented around 1440, give or take a bit. The findings Dummett assembled and published in 1980 made that conclusion the obvious one. Anything much earlier than the late 1430s requires new evidence, different dating of existing evidence, or unsubstantiated speculation. I have always taken that for granted, never seriously entertaining the speculation about untold decades (or centuries) of secret development in whatever form they appeared. I loved Ross' collected evidence and argument and asked him for permission to post the corresponding graphics, but I never considered it an open question.

THE BOLOGNESE THEORY IN GENERAL

Regarding Ross' broader narrative of Bolognese origin (the history) and the design he has proposed for the trumps (the iconography), if by "out of hand rejection" (OHR) he means immediate and continuing enthusiastic support, feedback and criticism, encouragement and suggestions, provision of supplemental research materials, and fawning compliments for two and a half years, then okay -- I rejected his approach out of hand.

Sarcasm aside, I repeatedly referred to it as "Moakley 2.0", and said that when he got it written up it would be the best thing published about Tarot iconography in a half century... in fact, better than Moakley. That was the gist of my "out of hand rejection".

Clearly, Ross and I have a very different view of our discussions over the last three years. Given the fact that Ross has now gone insane, I assume that he will deny everything I'm reporting. In fact, he already has, both to me privately (which is why we had a falling out a few months ago) and now publicly, with this "OHR" business. Because I support his history and iconography so strongly I feel the need to correct his assertions, by repeating some of my support publicly.

THE HISTORICAL SIDE

I am a great fan of Ross' findings, analyses, and conclusions of the historical material regarding early Bolognese Tarot and related subjects including his incorporation of his ancillary studies like the dice sermons, his identification of Marchione Burdochio, Burdochio's connections and the implications of that, and so on. Most recently, when he began to go crazy and complain that I wouldn't ever accept his historical theories, I replied:
You are doing a great job in terms of the history, and I've said so repeatedly, and I noted that this current analysis and argument concerning historical reasons why Bologna is the best candidate for the origin of Tarot is the best argument of its kind that I've seen.
Terms like "great job", "best candidate", and "best argument" are not counted as rejection by sane people, hence my conclusion that Ross has completely lost his grip on reality.

Back in July Ross summarized for me some of his constellation of evidence and argument re Bologna, including the political climate relative to other locales, the earliest surviving cards and records, assessing probabilities about who was playig Tarot in Florence and Bologna versus Ferrara and Milan, painted vs. printed cards, and the argument (which I've supported in a different context for many years) that the game would be more likely to have originated as a popular pastime picked up by nobles than the other way around. He concluded that Bologna was the most likely place of origin, with Milan as a second choice. Again, I sent my encouragement and general agreement.
I really like your assessments above, as a probabilistic approach to guessing at likely origins.
I have enjoyed and applauded each of the many historical elements of this theory for many years, enthusiastically encouraging Ross regarding both his historical findings and, usually, his conclusions as well. Given that reality, this "out of hand rejection" noise is not only the exact opposite of the truth concerning my years of support for his work, but it is also a huge distortion of my own position regarding many individual facts and positions. I take issue with Ross' historical findings and conclusions to about the same degree that I take issue with the findings and conclusions of other playing-card historians like Dummett and Depaulis -- virtually never.

THE ICONOGRAPHIC SIDE -- INITIAL (2007) RESPONSE

In terms of iconography I have my own ideas. That does not, however, mean that I reject everything else that is put forward. In particular, I have told Ross repeatedly, starting on January 3, 2007, that he has what may be the best interpretation of the trump cycle yet proposed. Note that 1/3/07 is nearly three years ago, three years we have been discussing this, (rather than no discussion at all, no review or critique), and the assessment "best ever" is not usually deemed a rejection.

But let's start at the start, that day in January when Ross sent me a note first mentioning the term "speculum principis". We had been discussing a lot of the historical ideas before that, pieces of what he had in mind as his overall Bologna-origin Theory, but I wasn't yet aware of the big picture. In discussing the Kendall/Caldwell hypothesis (dice theory) about the number of trumps, he dropped that key term, speculum principis. Not having his permission I won't quote him, but the gist was that all these pieces fit into a single overarching theory, and he added that the trumps were to be interpreted in terms of the Mirror for Princes genre. Suddenly I figured it out, and wrote back immediately.
I hadn't put the pieces together, but obviously all these areas you've been working on, the Bolognese origin and ordering, the sermons, the iconographic study of the composition of the trumps, and so on, all fit together as pieces of the same overall picture. Not noticing that is more than merely silly, it was stupid. You are working on the second really serious iconographic study of Tarot, a real Moakley 2.0. I'm more-than-usually impressed.
That was my initial response, on DAY ONE of learning about the Bologna-origin Theory. He added a bit more detail, to which my repeated replies were "Excellent." (It must be tough to deal with such a harsh response, especially on the very first day you present a broad and deep theory to someone. No wonder he holds a grudge.) Here is one of those replies:
Excellent. Moakley offered a beginning at that, but there is so much more to draw from.
Damn me for being so negative!

And how did I conclude that dismissive email? Well, I was heading to the University library the next day, where I could access JSTOR as well as the stacks, so I asked if I could help.
I'll have to look up some of these things. Are there any journal articles that you really want to see? I'd be happy to print out a few and I'm sure that with some practice I'll get better at scanning them. Let me know. I really LOVE the way your interpretation is turning out, and all the supporting elements that I consider ancillary -- like the number of trumps -- as well.
Note that on Day One I understood that his interpretation was intimately connected with a constellation of other elements he had been working on as an overall Bolognese origin theory. It was obviously going to be based on the Bolognese ordering and iconography, in one of several possible versions. That's a big part of what makes it so appealing, and I was emphatically clear about my view of it -- "I really [emphatic adverb] LOVE [emphatic verb in CAPS] the way your interpretation is turning out, and all the supporting elements that I consider ancillary...."

It's certainly true that my own conclusions about Tarot's place of invention, the nature of the Ur Tarot, and the proper interpretation are quite different than Ross'. Nonetheless, I am a huge fan of his theory, and have been since Day One. The ways in which his analysis differs from my own were among the things that I repeatedly stated were highly appreciated. (Why would I want him to parrot my views? I can do a better job presenting that narrative than someone else can.)

The very next day I scanned and sent him an article by Jens Wollesen, "A Pictorial Speculum Principis: The Image of Henry II". It seemed like a parallel he might find useful. The following day, January 5, 2007, I was so smitten with his approach and general concept for explaining the trumps that I wrote an email with the term "fan letter" in the subject line, recounting how I came to be interested in Tarot and the path I had followed.
I just wanted to know what the trumps meant. That was it -- that fucking simple. I assumed that the original meaning was something well known, at least to some folks, and that it could be found in books. It would be an art history question, and naturally someone would have answered it.
Why those subjects, in that order? I concluded that fan letter, two days after he first mentioned the speculum principis idea:
Anyway, here's where you come in: you appear to be doing exactly what I had hoped someone would do, all on your own. Based on the notes you've sent in the last few days, you are writing Moakley 2.0 -- a comprehensive iconographic and historical analysis of the trumps. Naturally, you're not coming up with quite the same conclusions I did, but I didn't need someone to duplicate what I'd found. You're walking the same general paths, and doing a much better job of it in many ways. If I had encountered what you are just now getting written up, back before 2000, I would probably have been content that I'd found a reasonable answer. So, when I say that I REALLY appreciate what you're doing, I ain't kidding!
That was only two days after I understood what he seemed to be working on, as soon as I had a general idea of his basic analysis.

That sort of exchange went on and on, with repeated comparisons to Moakley, the current gold standard in terms of scholarly Tarot iconography. Along the way I sent Ross some findings and thoughts, images and articles that might be useful. By May of 2007 my repetitious enthusiasm had already become a running joke in my emails: "Did I mention recently that I like the speculum principis idea? ... It could even be true." Ross acknowledged that this was high praise. I replied:
If you were to collate, organize, and present all the assorted pieces of evidence from the various angles you've discussed into a coherent whole, it would be the most impressive monograph on Tarot iconography ever written. LOL -- admittedly, that simply means "better than Moakley", but it would be *much* more impressive than Moakley's interpretation. I would LOVE to see such a thing published, or even presented online. That's the self-serving part of adding bits and pieces to your already striking collection and reminding you that this is a very valuable thing you are working on. I don't know if you *need* any encouragement, but just in case... I really like the speculum principis idea.
That gives an indication of the first phase of 2-1/2 years of correspondence, which Ross terms "out of hand rejection" of his theory.

THE ICONOGRAPHIC SIDE -- ONGOING RESPONSE

For most of the period I didn't say much about his theory online because Ross hadn't gone public with it. Being a careful researcher, he was keeping his cards pretty close to the vest, discussing parts of it with people privately. I was privliged to be one of those people. So even when I included him on a list of my favorite Tarot iconographers, I didn't mention many details.

Unicorn Hunters: My Top Ten
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2008/03 ... nters.html

On March 3, 2008 in an Aeclectic post, I offered some suggestions of supporting arguments for his interpretation, and a source for more, but again it wasn't yet an open topic for discussion. Ross sent a draft introduction to what was to be his presentation of the Bologna Theory. I replied with another heartless dismissal:
Great start. Of course, whether it comes to you in a dream or after years of observation, the proof is in the testing, and this insight is great not just because it has a rational basis but because it works so well in terms of the trump sequence.... THIS is the (start of the) monograph that I most want to see, even more than translations of the endless things (including more of Panormita) that I'd like to see you translate.
A few weeks later, Kwaw posted that Enter the King was (partly) available online. I had wanted to read that book for a long time, and was immediately blown away by its implications for Ross' theory. I stopped reading mid-page to write to him, on 4/8/08:
Well, I've only read the first few pages of Chapter 4, "Third Advent", and I'm already thinking that you are going to end up with a better interpretation of the trump cycle than mine. This chapter seems to have been written specifically for you... well, for me too. I love this stuff, and I might have to switch sides before even getting my own site updated. This is massively cool. I'm not giving up yet, of course..., but by the time I get done reading this chapter I just may have to start writing a concession speech.
Ross thanked me for my enthusiasm, saying that it encouraged him to read more of Kipling, and he agreed that it answered my primary criticism of his interpretation. It's worth nothing that in this single incident we have 1) an example of my having had a serious criticism (revolving around the role of Death in the trump cycle), 2) an example of my providing the answer to a weakness in his theory, and 3) my accepting that answer as more than adequate. These argue against Ross' claim that he received no criticisms, received no help, and the implication that I'm incorrigible. I replied:
...now that we're getting deeper into this triumphal stuff, and especially with Kipling's Third Advent stuff, well... if I were selling one or the other hypothesis, I'd rather be selling yours. This is great stuff.
Earlier this year, May 20th, I was still encouraging him to pull it all together and publish it, at least online. It was at this point that he started to sound... loony. Again, I don't have permission to quote him, but the gist was that he was in no hurry to write up and present the Bologna-origin theory because it couldn't be proven to ME! (How weird is that?!) Keep in mind that this was more than two years after I began telling him it was the greatest idea since sliced bread, or at least since travestied Petrarch, and more than a year after I told him that Kipling had turned my greatest objection into a point of support for his interpretation. Here is part of my reply:
Because you are not the arrogant obnoxious SOB that I am, because you have done a lot of very cool historical background work, and because your interpretation requires a lot less commitment to a specific, detailed, obscure (looney fringe) kind of reading, I am certain that you will be more successful than I have been at making an impact. IMO, you will be Moakley 2.0.
[...]

My view is that, in lieu of some definitive text like Marcello's transcription of Marziano, it's always going to be highly speculative. As such, different readings are a certainty, and there is room for more than one good one.
[...]

As for my criticisms, you've already seen them and they will almost certainly remain the same. If I were a door-to-door salesman hawking Tarot interpretations, I'd be selling a version of yours. I'd still be using my own at home, but IMO it is much easier to make a good case for yours. Mine only makes sense after you've gone through multiple layers of meaning (a bitch to even get someone to play along with that exercise) and in the context of the overall evolution of deck designs, comparing various decks.
So... two points here.

#1. Ross is not quite accurate when he suggests that I rejected his ideas without comment. The idea that he has not had any "helpful input or contrary facts to challenge" him might be a bit of an exaggeration. It may be true that all my comments, suggestions, cognate art, quotes, citations, and other leads were worthless, that all my criticisms were unhelpful, and that all my encouragement was in vain. But if so, it was not for lack of effort, literally from Day One. And Ross' comment about my rejection of his Bologna-origin theory is grossly overstated, which brings us to point #2:

#2. Ross' Bologna-origin theory is certainly the best iconographically oriented Tarot analysis since Moakley, and IMO better. I don't know why he has decided that I never took an interest in it and rejected it without comment, but for anyone who might value my actual opinion, I have been an enthusiastic supporter of this constellation of ideas since I first got a glimpse.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

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