Crypsis and Mimesis

#1
Camouflage doesn't work by making its wearer invisible. It works by creating visual confusion. People have used camouflage, of one sort or another, since prehistoric times. The practice of camouflage has adaptations that allows (usually animals) to blend in with their environments. Tarot, to me uses a particular type of Crypsis called Boundary
Disruption. Like Zebras do.
Each zebra's stripes blend with the stripes of the other zebras around it. This kind of camouflage confuses predators, which tend to see only a large, striped mass instead of many individual animals.
This is exactly what happened when the mystical schools in the 18th century saw Tarot.
I think they mistook what was been camouflaged. They saw a herd of spiritual animals instead of a game animals. To my mind it works as a herd of spiritual animals, but it is forgotten that it is a game.

I was reading an answer to a post in the very enjoyable thread Plato and the Virtues…
The upshot is that while Virtue is all-mighty in the philosophers' world, she has no power at all in the world controlled by Fortune, i.e. the "real" world. The gods won't come to her aid. The moral virtues are up in the clouds. The only one who will defend Virtue is Prudence, i.e. one's wits. That's who, or what, Isabella must rely on, be an Athena.
Now you have a game that seems to have slipped under the radar of censure, because we presume that it was seen as educational and spiritual as in ‘the mystical staircase’ or Jacobs scala dream or in my musings Vices and Virtues (the fantasy of opposites).
Now just how would one visually explain using one’s wits in the real world of gaming in the 14th century? How would one visually explain winning a game or the most points?
It seems to me that the images in Tarot whilst appearing to be in the “all-mighty philosophers’ world” are actually down in the gaming room world with a wink and a nod. That is why it could be adapted to personal stories like the PBM Visconti or other Heroes and Villains trump cards, Turtle Doves and Eagles etc etc. but keep it’s basic form of 4 numerical suits + plus one visually numerical suit of images.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Crypsis and Mimesis

#2
There is a thread on AT asking if Tarot is Pagan. The thread got somewhat derailed from it’s intent, but it went to my belief in the possibility of Tarot been a series of images from classical antiquity wearing Renaissance dress. In other words -not Christian at all. Not an attempt to reconcile the philosophy of Aristotle/Plato and the Christian Church fathers. Because of neo platonic thought current at that time the images have been mistaken for Christian ones.
One example would be Polytheism and all the attendant deities……Death/Mother/Political/Trickster/Craftsman etc.
Or the Mitelli deck.
I often wonder why Sigismundo Pandolfo Malatesta would want a Christian based deck in 1440.
Maybe he did not and that trumpeting Angel was really Eos.
Although the Church of Rome vilified Malatesta far more than he was guilty of and the murders of his wives was apparently not true; nevertheless he was not a Christian.

In Gardener’s Art Through The Ages there is this..
At San Francesco in Rimini, Alberti (Leon Battista) again modernised a Gothic Church- in this case, at the behest of one of the more sensational figures of the early Renaissance. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini. Malatesta wanted a ‘temple’ in which to enshrine the bones of great Humanist scholars like Gemistus Pletho, who dreamed of a Neopagan religion that would supersede Christianity and whose remains Malatesta had brought from Greece. He intended his Temple also to memorialise his mistress, Isotta. Alberti’s thoroughly Roman design is a monument both to Malatesta’s
love of classical learning and to his arrant paganism.
Of course he well may have been sucking up to Sforza the year before he married Sforza’s daughter, and
The deck he saw may well have been the Visconti PBM or one of those hand painted sets.
The art one chooses and the playthings one uses has a way of describing ones belief. Malatesta saw himself as a type of Emperor Augustus.

In the Tarot de Marseille type cards I can not see Christian- I see the Church of Life and Gambling.

(I have put my Crash Test Dummy Helmet on)

~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Crypsis and Mimesis

#3
Lorredan, about Plethon and the Malatesta Temple, I would suggest that neither was pagan. That's just narrow-minded propaganda. Pagan imagery doesn't exclude Christian faith. (And similarly, I think, gaming doesn't exclude philosophizing.) I hope you can read Hankins' Plato and the Renaissance; unfortunately there are too many pages missing in the Google version, at least as it appears in the US, to make it useful for this purpose. (I once made copies of all the missing pages and was tempted to post them somewhere!) If you can't read Hankins, at least read the Plethon thread on Aeclectic, in which I think the ones you need to see are there.

Re: Crypsis and Mimesis

#4
Thank you, I will obtain Hankin's Plato and the Renaissance I will also read the thread on Aeclectic.
As to Malatesta's Christianity or Paganism- I am not yet certain either way; maybe I never will be.
It is a bit like Emperor Constantine a worshipper of Sol who became a Christian on his deathbed or so it is said.
That sounds like propaganda to me. Malatesta wanted a Romanesque building and he found a site- it was a church and he had to get special permission to build what he did, from the Pope. What got built did not appear to be Christian and of course there was politics and spite from the Pope.What made one Christian and what made one pagan beck in 1450? I accept the edges got blurred- but Malatesta is very, very blurred around his edges.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Crypsis and Mimesis

#5
I would assume that since Malatesta reburied Plethon in the Templo that he was the kind of Christian that Plethon was. That is, not a Christian that would deny the good aspects of Graeco-Roman religion and other religions of the ancient world, especially the mystery cults. He was probably a believer in the "ancient theology," of which Christianity was in some ways the highest expression, but not the only expression, and in some ways needed supplementing; if pagan Rome was the thesis, and Christianity the antithesis (defining itself in opposition to others), there was need for a synthesis. Plethon was such a believer in a new synthesis, even early in his career (when he apparently did his edition of the Oracles), and the Greek delegation in 1437 thought enough of the octogenarian to invite him to Italy with them. Some later denounced him as a pagan, the most vociferous of whom managed to burn the only copy of the book he devoted his later years to. So we'll never know wht Plethon really thought.

Here is Hankins on Plethon (p. 200, in Google Books):
We do not hear of Pletho and his followers sacrificing milk-white bullocks within the citadel of Mistra. His polytheism is the polytheism of late ancient Neoplatonism, and especially of Proclus, wherein the gods, arranged hierarchically from the high god Zeus, stand for transcendental principles or causes of substances and changes in the phenomenal world. Zeus is thus a sign for the principle of being, Poseidon (identified also with Neoplatonic Nous) is the principle of activity, Pluto of the human soul and so forth. The pagan myths and biblical stories, insofar as they have not been corrupted by poets and “sophists”, are not historical events, but shadowy representations in linguistic form of metaphysical (or divine) truths, which may only be grasped truly in contemplative noesis. The myths of Orpheus, the rape of Persephone, and Adam and Eve are thus at root the same story; both of them contain hidden truths about the fixity of human destiny, truths which, though visible to hidden powers of intuition within the soul, are strictly beyond the ability of language to communicate.

I would imagine that Filelfo, with his expressed admiration for Plethon, was similar. There is room for Christianity in such a system. The Templo is somewhat extreme, yes, especially for a church. But if you read for example Ficino's Three Books on Life, all you see is invocations of the pagan gods, as metaphors. Yes, we'll never know for sure what Malatesta thought. Judging from his propensity to excommunication, he probably didn't believe that the only road to salvation was through the Church. No doubt many didn't consider him a Christian. That happened to others at that time, who after arrest and torture on behalf of the Pope (Paul II), were quietly let go and allowed to resume their lives, including teaching the young (I am thinking of the Roman Academy of the 1460s).

Re: Crypsis and Mimesis

#6
Lorredan wrote: ... I was reading an answer to a post in the very enjoyable thread Plato and the Virtues…
The upshot is that while Virtue is all-mighty in the philosophers' world, she has no power at all in the world controlled by Fortune, ..
Now you have a game that seems to have slipped under the radar of censure, because we presume that it was seen as educational and spiritual ... It seems to me that the images in Tarot whilst appearing to be in the “all-mighty philosophers’ world” are actually down in the gaming room world with a wink and a nod.
There are lots of cases were religious and cultural camouflage is applied to disreputable things and activities. But wouldn't this be more like a speakeasy or a late 19th century buxom nude dressed up as high art? Would there be any need for courtiers or even urban card players to resort to such a disguise?

In bridge, there are a wide variety of occasions for its play. In a tournament, quiet concentration reigns, and players who chit chat will be ejected (nowadays even the bidding is done via a bidbox, rather than vocally). When playing rubber bridge for money, there is lots of talk, but it is tactical, like at a poker table. But at party bridge, people chat, and the turns of the game are not taken too seriously. It is only in this last setting that the decorative elements of the cards (i.e. everything other than what is needed in terms of the game play) would become relevant.

How would tarot images function in such a "cards and conversation" setting? The tarot verses from the 16th century give us a clue that the card play was coupled to conversation. Could such conversation have been about the virtues and vices? Or would that have been an absurdly boring and inappropriate choice of topic for such an occasion?

Medieval virtues and vices, even in a devoutly Christian setting, were not like some contemporary backwoods Sunday sermon on temperance as sexual hygiene. They were still related to their ancient etymology as the powers and excellences needed for the successful accomplishment of life's tasks. In the classic Stoic conception of the virtues, for instance, which in this period was more influential than the various Platonic ones, they are disciplines for the continuous control of perception, judgment and action that when mastered create an imperturbable and joyous state of mind.

In essence, talking about the virtues in those days would have occurred in the same settings as talk of diet and exercise today. Just as perfect adherence to a good diet and exercise regimen is impossible now, so was adherence to a perfect virtue regimen then. Despite the difficulty, People would have regarded trying to adhere to such regimens as perfectly reasonable, and would have traded tips on how to succeed.

However, I do not know if this would have justified illustrating cards with the temptations that disturbed their peace of mind, and the remedies for restoring it. Would we ever be so silly as to intersperse our entertainments with such messages?

Re: Crypsis and Mimesis

#7
In essence, talking about the virtues in those days would have occurred in the same settings as talk of diet and exercise today. Just as perfect adherence to a good diet and exercise regimen is impossible now, so was adherence to a perfect virtue regimen then. Despite the difficulty, People would have regarded trying to adhere to such regimens as perfectly reasonable, and would have traded tips on how to succeed.

However, I do not know if this would have justified illustrating cards with the temptations that disturbed their peace of mind, and the remedies for restoring it. Would we ever be so silly as to intersperse our entertainments with such messages?
I have come to a tentative decision that there was a decision to have a game- not the co-joining of two disparate things- playing card suits and 22 images from something else- but the idea of a whole game right from the start.
I think therefore that we mistake the Virtues as moral lessons, when they may well have been qualities of character.
He is Foolish, she is Chaste,He is strong, she is moderate,she is just etc. Much like those German cards that show- he is a baker.knight,brewer etc. That is what I mean by the thread name. We constantly mistake the visual suit for something that it is not. (WE is probably a presumption) I take the 20 cards of the Visconti PMB, because when all is said and done - that is what we have to start with and try and see what they are persuading me to believe they are.We also have a hint as to what people thought they were some 60 years maybe more, later with the sermon.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Crypsis and Mimesis

#8
Lorredan wrote:I think therefore that we mistake the Virtues as moral lessons, when they may well have been qualities of character. He is Foolish, she is Chaste,He is strong, she is moderate,she is just etc. Much like those German cards that show- he is a baker.knight,brewer etc.
No argument from me; virtues and vices were never seen as information or lessons, but as habits and practices that set into character. And it makes excellent sense to say that if the trumps are types of people, then they are being largely identified by their characters rather than their trades or social position. Also, there is no evidence that the trumps were originally some sort of pictorial encyclopedia like the Mantegna cards that later get conjoined to regular playing cards. The Cary Yale deck has extra court cards and odd trumps; so what distinguishes a court card from a trump in these early decks other than hindsight? Maybe the trumps are court cards that got promoted.

Re: Crypsis and Mimesis

#9
mikeH wrote several posts back...
I would imagine that Filelfo, with his expressed admiration for Plethon, was similar. There is room for Christianity in such a system.
ahhhh he is quite right. Now I understand. I was reading some Catholic history, in particular about the greatest rhetoric of the time. The Mass. What I did not understand was that Humanists, when they attempted to 'embellish' the words of the Mass into classical Latin following the precepts of Cicero for example; they insisted on calling God 'Jupiter' and the Churches 'Temples'. It was never going to work really, but they tried- right up till the Reformation. The classical Latin (or what I now call Church latin) was really smooth and silky compared to coarse Latin which had prevailed. Even in translation to English it sounds lovely.
Now I understand the camoflague of Malatesta's Temple and the arguments about it at the time. Thank you.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

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