Re: Cosmology and the last trumps

#42
Phaeded wrote:What boggles the mind here is that all of the earliest Italian explanations for this card call it SAGITTA - including the two tracts you translated(!)
Phaeded wrote:
marco wrote: By the way, you have not answered my question: when you say that "all of the earliest Italian explanations for this card call it SAGITTA" (or saetta?) which sources are you referring to?
Mea culpa on my stating sagitta for saetta on the two c. 1560 treatises that Ross translated [edit, actually Fuoco and Cielo; finally dug up my copy of Ross's translation].
Excellent, Phaeded! I am glad to know that you are not boggled any more.

The Anonymous discourse has:
La contemplation del quale ci dimostra per l’opere sue maravigliose, et belle dottamente l’Auttore nelle sette figure seguenti, accioche conoscendolo l’amiamo. Onde egli per sua infinita bontà, et misericordia nel fine della vita nostra dalle mani del Diavolo ci sottragga, et ci faccia seco coheredi della vera sua gloria, et felicità del Cielo, et quindi accrescendo et con gli occhi et con l’intelletto ai Cieli, la Stella, la Luna, et il Sole, le sopranaturali fatture de Dio

His contemplation [i.e. the contemplation of God] is wisely presented by the Author [of Tarot] in the following seven figures by means of his marvellous and beautiful works, so that, knowing him, we love him. So that, for his infinite goodness and mercy, he delivers us from the Devil at the end of our lives, making us co-heirs with him of his true glory, and the happiness of Heaven. Therefore we rise with our eyes and intellects to the Heavens, the Star, the Moon and the Sun, the supernatural creatures of God
Francesco Piscina:
Dietro i Demoni viene il Fuoco per debito mezo fra le stelle cose celesti, et le mondane per esser si come i Naturali o Filosofi affermano elemento che prima si trovi della Luna, Sole, e d’ogni altra Stella

After the Demons, comes Fire, as the due mean between the stars, which are celestial, and mundane things: it is, as affirmed by naturalists or philosophers, the element that is found before the Moon, the Sun and any other Star
The Anonymous interprets the card as “the heavens” or “heaven”, both as Paradise (the home of the blessed) and as a cosmological entity. Piscina interprets it specifically as the fiery heaven, the highest of the four elemental spheres.



Regarding the “hierarchy of light” we are discussing, I noticed that the beginning of Psalm 148 has some resemblance with the ending of the trump sequence:
1 Laudate Dominum de caelis: laudate eum in excelsis.
2  Laudate eum, omnes Angeli ejus: laudate eum, omnes virtutes ejus.
3  Laudate eum, sol et luna: laudate eum, omnes stellae et lumen.


1 O praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the height.
2  Praise him, all ye Angels of his: praise him, all his host.
3  Praise ye him, O sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light.
A commentary by Ludolf von Sachsen (1300-1378 ca) explicitly describes the hierarchy:
2 laudate eum omnes angel¡ eius: laudate eum omnes virtutes eius.

"Laudate eum omnes angeli eius" id est nuncij Divine voluntatis ad annunciandum eam a Deo deputati. Et eosdem sub alio nomine exhortans dicit "laudate eum omnes virtutes" et exercitus "eius" id est ipsi angeli ad exercendas operationes mirabiles constituti. Virtutes quamdoque pro uno ordine ponit, sed hic generale nomen est omnium celestium spirituum: qui etiam angeli dicuntur dum in ministerium mittuntur. Hucusque de invisibilibus egit: a quibus tamquam a dignoribus incepit. Deinde transit ad visibilia que minus sunt digna dicens.

3 laudate eum sol et luna laudate eum omnes stelle et lumen.

"Laudate eum sol" silicet luminare maius "et luna" luminare minus. "laudate eum omnes stelle" scilicet luminaria minores in apparentia. Sol et luna et stelle Deum laudant in eo quo a suo officio et servicio non recedunt. Servicio enim ipso laus Dei est. "Et lumen" id est effectus corporum luminosorum q.d. illa laudent non solum in se sed etiam in effectu. Vel per lumen generaliter accipit omne quod lucet et omnia lumen habentia que dinumerari non possunt.


2  Praise him, all you Angels of his: praise him, all his host.

“Praise him, all you Angels of his”, i.e. the messengers of divine will, assigned by God to annunciate it. Exhorting them under a different name, [the psalmist] says “praise him, all Virtues [Virtutes]” and his host, i.e. the same angels which have been created to accomplish marvelous works. He mentions the Virtues, a specific order [of angels]: but here it is a generic name for all heavenly spirits, which are also called “angels”, when they are ordered to their ministry. Up until this point, he spoke of invisible things, from which he started because they are more worthy. Then he passes to visible things, speaking of them that are less worthy.

3  Praise him, O sun and moon: praise him, all you stars and light.

“Praise him sun” or the great luminary, “and moon” or the small luminary. “Praise him all you stars” or the luminaries that look smaller. The sun, the moon and the stars praise God by not leaving their function and their service. Indeed also service is a praise of God. “And light” i.e. the effect of the luminous bodies, meaning that they praise not only by what they are but also by their effects. Or by “light” he generically means all things that shine and all things that have light, which cannot be enumerated.

Re: Cosmology and the last trumps

#43
Marco,
You are reaching in both of your references.
The Anonymous interprets the card as “the heavens” or “heaven”, both as Paradise (the home of the blessed) and as a cosmological entity. Piscina interprets it specifically as the fiery heaven, the highest of the four elemental spheres.
What are you talking about? Piscina equates the Celestial Paradise with the Angel (26). According to your “hierarchy of light” scheme “lightning/fire” is beneath the moon; but heaven is beyond the elements. Heaven has zero place in your hierarchy of light – it is beyond it in the “hypercosmos” of the Empyrean. Heaven isn’t visible light to mankind.

The reference to Ludolf von Sachsen is just as off base: “…’light’ he generically means all things that shine and all things that have light, which cannot be enumerated.” Light here clearly means a plenary effect of all celestial lights, not the sublunar lightning.

Sagitta is still the oldest (by far) description of this card and Latin was the common language of all humansists and the scholiast culture they crawled out of. Ross’s attempt to explain away sagitta/saetta is equally off base: “When they said ‘saetta’ to mean ‘thunderbolt’, they no more had to think of Jove/God's bolts thrown in divine wrath than we do when we say the "-bolt" in "thunderbolt". It's just a word, however artists and players and later interpreters might have imagined it.” Actually no one had to “think” about the word or “imagine” anything – the lightning striking the tower was right in front of them to look at on the card. Your hierarchy requires imagining…that the tower is not there.

Phaeded

Re: Cosmology and the last trumps

#44
Ross,
After having reread Piscina it is clear to me that is where you are taking your cue for the “celestials” from, especially this statement of his: “After the Demons, comes Fire (il Fuoco), as the due mean between stars, which are celestial, and mundane things: it is affirmed by naturalists or philosophers, the element that is found before the Moon, the Sun and any other Star (2010: 23).”

But what was the author’s knowledge of the original intent of the tarot? The author admits he was only drawn to this subject by a “sudden caprice” and the context was that it was dedicated to the rector of his university. He takes the four aforementioned cards out of context of the deck and likens it to uncited “affirmations” of natural philosophers as if it were a popularly understood sequence. Capricious indeed.

One thing Piscina does point us toward is the social context of the use of the cards, for, besides the impetus of seeing noble woman playing the game that caught his eye (dear ol’ Eros at work), the first metaphor for the entire order of the deck that comes to his mind is this: “For the captain of an army, it is enough, in order to obtain the desired victory, to have found and chosen infantry soldiers and cavalry, artillery and other necessary things, if those are not deployed and used with a good order, according to the situation. So these figures would have given but little pleasure if he had not placed them following and using a beautiful and convenient order (13).” See my relevant post on Pratesi, soldiers and condottieri here:viewtopic.php?f=11&t=985

The “celestial” cards simply are not those four cards – to point to at least one other obvious celestial, “Time” is Saturn. And what is utterly ridiculous here is that his hourglass gets transformed into a lantern (which you could explain away as even weaker than lightning as the furthest away planet) but why does that not get forced into this “hierarchy of light/brightness”? Because it is out of sequence?

I will argue elsewhere that all seven of the planetary gods are present in the deck, reshuffled (perhaps with some caprice) due to the low or high social standing of the exemplar that represents said planet (and I have already explained why the moon and sun would be moved to the top, but these two along with Venus, genetrix of the Visconti dynsaty, are obviously not exemplars but allegories of these celestial bodies).

But back to the military context of tarot and their being commissioned for condottieri – not monks or rectors of universities. Monks and rectors did not hang men (the hanged man), engage in royal courting (Love card with belli of two houses), impose their wrath on rebel cities (the tower struck by lightning).

So getting back to the card in question, I have already supplied a contemporary use of sagitta=lighting-bolt-God’s wrath (Filelfo), but here is yet another medium underscoring the overwhelming preoccupation of condotterei with astrology and the planets, especially Jupiter-as-il fuoco-as–wrath: a medal of Montefeltro.
Image

Fire itself (a cannonball that will explode...into a towered city) is a symbol of Jupiter here in the Montefeltro medal, as described by Wind: “The wise Federigo da Montefeltro who, as a successful condottiere, delighted in cultivating the arts of peace, expressed his faith in harmoninous balance through the discordant symbol of a cannonball, which he placed under the protection of the thundering Jupiter. On his medal (fig. 71) the three stars in the sky form a constellation of Jupiter between Mars and Venus, and their symmetry is repeated in the group of emblems below; the sword and cuirass belonging to Mars, the whisk-broom [Sforza’s scopetta (brush) that refers to Federigo’s wife Battista Sforza, daughter of Alessandro Sforza] and myrtle to Venus, while the ball in the centre is dedicated to Jupiter tonans, whose flying eagle carries the unusual still-life on its wings (Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissnace, 1958/1968: 95-96).

The cannonball imprese was also picked up in Ferrara: "In all earnestness, the duke of Ferrara, Alfonso d’Este, like Federigo da Monefeltrro befor him, had used a bomb shell as a heroic emblem, a symbol of concealed power propitiously released: A Lieu Temps (Wind, 108).
Image


The cannonball performed the same wrath on cities conquered by condottieri as God’s wrathful lightning did on Sodom and Gemorrah (see again the SHS Floretine manuscript). There is not mere “celestial fire” depicted in any Tower card, but fire brought to bear on erring humanity so as to detroy them.

Phaeded

Re: Cosmology and the last trumps

#45
Phaeded wrote:Actually no one had to “think” about the word or “imagine” anything – the lightning striking the tower was right in front of them to look at on the card. Your hierarchy requires imagining…that the tower is not there.
Indeed - they looked at a card with a dramatic image of a tower being struck by lightning, and called it... saetta, fulmen, fuoco, and foudre. They didn't call it torre, turris, or tour. The name is stronger evidence of the meaning than the iconography, the prop, which is thereby proven incidental.

Yes - they looked at the card, committed it to memory, and played with it. Just as the designer intended. Nobody questioned the order, because it made sense to them. Lightning strikes towers, just as it strikes trees, it causes fires, it is stunning whatever it hits. But it is the lightning, not what it hits, that is the subject of the card.

Imagining that the tower is "not there" is a necessary abstraction for us to theorize what the designer meant, just as it is necessary to imagine that the three Magi are not there under the star, or the woman pouring water, or a woman holding the star, or that a couple of astronomers aren't there looking at the Moon, or that two dogs, a river, a couple of towers and a crayfish, aren't there, or that two kids aren't playing under the Sun, or a woman spinning yarn, or a couple making out... we do have to imagine that these "aren't there" in the abstract meaning of the sequence, or we have to tell a story involving all of those iconographies, which quickly makes our choices arbitrary, or nonsense.

In my imagining, the skeleton of the idea is Lightning-Star-Moon-Sun, a simple hierarchy of lights in the sky; the flesh of the iconography underneath these subjects is incidental, something that can be cut away. It may be appropriate to the subject (as the Magi are, as a stricken tower is), but it is ultimately decorative.

So what is your story, not ignoring the iconography underneath all the other lights?
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Re: Cosmology and the last trumps

#46
Phaeded wrote:Ross,
After having reread Piscina it is clear to me that is where you are taking your cue for the “celestials” from, especially this statement of his: “After the Demons, comes Fire (il Fuoco), as the due mean between stars, which are celestial, and mundane things: it is affirmed by naturalists or philosophers, the element that is found before the Moon, the Sun and any other Star (2010: 23).”
Actually no, I didn't take a cue from Piscina. At best, he might have agreed with me, but his explanation is not mine. I don't think it is the "element" of fire, whatever the theoretical relationship between the element and the phenomenon of lightning. It is - just - lightning. No theory is involved in why it is in the sequence.

I actually agree with the anonymous author, who simply says that we now are to look up "with the eyes and with the intellect to the Heavens...", etc. as Marco quoted. I like it so much I use it as my signature - "con gli occhi et con l’intelletto ai Cieli, la Stella, la Luna, et il Sole, le sopranaturali fatture de Dio". It means more than just this to me, but knowing how much it would upset people to rob them of The Tower gave it more urgency and weight than it would have had for any other reason alone.

It was quite a shock when it struck me, but in a good way. Obviously it doesn't work that way for everyone.
But what was the author’s knowledge of the original intent of the tarot?
Ahem... what do you know about the original intent of the tarot?. Let' see... It was his language, his culture, only a century removed from the original context, almost within living memory, and certainly within the same conceptual universe... you, a different language, a very different culture, more than five centuries removed from the context, a lot of water under the bridge, and major, fundamental conceptual paradigm shifts, a huge chunk of history in between... Who are you going to take more seriously as an interpreter?

You may not know much about the game of Poker during the period of the American civil war, but if you wrote something about it in the 1980s (so roughly at about the same age as his and with the same amount of time in between you and the events that Piscina had between the invention of the game of Tarot and his time), you can bet that a Malay-speaking scholar of antique card games in Kuala Lumpur in 2430 is going to take what you wrote a lot more seriously than he does the theories of his contemporary compatriots. What you wrote will be pure gold, however off the cuff. It will say more than you can imagine.
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Re: Cosmology and the last trumps

#47
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:It was his language, his culture, only a century removed from the original context, almost within living memory, and certainly within the same conceptual universe...

You may not know much about the game of Poker during the period of the American civil war, but if you wrote something about it in the 1980s (so roughly at about the same age as his and with the same amount of time in between you and the events that Piscina had between the invention of the game of Tarot and his time), you can bet that a Malay-speaking scholar of antique card games in Kuala Lumpur in 2430 is going to take what you wrote a lot more seriously than he does the theories of his contemporary compatriots. What you wrote will be pure gold, however off the cuff. It will say more than you can imagine.
Here's another way to look at it:

You say you just turned 50 on December 8 (Happy belated Birthday!), so let's say for convenience your father was born in 1940, and your grandfather in 1915 (the old "25 year per generation" rule, for men at least; for women I prefer to use 20 as a round number for historical approximations of physical generations; for "intellectual generation" I use 75 years). Your grandfather could well have known some civil war veterans and heard some stories about card games, maybe even learned some; he could have even taught you what he knew (for the sake of argument, I mean, it is simply chronologically plausible, if the argument had to be made) - so, if the 2430 card game historian had other reasons to think your 20th century witness were valuable, he could add that your witness is only at two removes from the original events (0 for the vet, 1 for your grandfather, 2 for you); if your father were your teacher, then you are three. But in any case, it is close - the bare fact of "a century's difference" can be misleading when you take the overlapping human lives, and common culture, into account.

For Francesco Piscina, he was born around 1540, so let's give his father 1515, and his grandfather 1490. If the Tarot inventor were born 1410-1420, and if he lived to be 75 or 80, then the very inventor of the game could still have been alive when Piscina's grandfather was born. Even if he were not, a lot of the players of the original game certainly were. Francesco's grandfather could, in principle, have learned to play Tarot from an original player. Even if he doesn't say so, what Francesco says could have been influenced by impressions he got from his grandfather, who got them from an original player.

Just as your grandfather could, in principle, have learned Civil War Poker from an original player, and why the historian of 2430 will be very interested in what you have to say about it, according it more intrinsic weight than the more abstract and far-removed theories of his friends.
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Re: Cosmology and the last trumps

#48
I'd say (again) the arrow is not one of God's wrath, but rather the Augustine 'arrow of God's Judgement', which begins with the house of God (and is thus reflected the later Tarot de Marseille name of the card), when death is given power of mankind, and thus begins mutable time (star, moon, sun), and ends with the death of death, when the dead rise for Judgment. (In Augustinian terms, God's Judgement is not an aspect of divine wrath, although it may appear as such, but rather of Divine Caritas, through which Mankind is able to find redemption/salvation.) The arrow is extended from the beginning to the end of time/death, well... to give Mankind time for redemption (through hope, faith and love - star, moon and sun, perhaps). As well as alluding to the exile from Eden, this aspect of Judgment beginning with the House of God is also reflected in Revelation, which begins with Judgment on the seven churches, and what they must do to achieve salvation.

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: Cosmology and the last trumps

#49
But who was this highly schematic, and sometimes cryptic, depiction of man's fall and the plan of salvation for, Steve? Do you believe that the trumps were a "pauper's bible" that somehow ended up as a game? Did the players sit down and think to themselves "This is what I must do to be saved... can't forget that Faith, Hope and Love disguised here as the Star, Moon and Sun! Or was it Hope, Faith and Love as Star, Moon and Sun? I should have paid more attention in church, or to that preacher who equated them all... I'll have to ask my partner..."?
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Re: Cosmology and the last trumps

#50
Ross wrote:
Imagining that the tower is "not there" is a necessary abstraction for us to theorize what the designer meant, just as it is necessary to imagine that the three Magi are not there under the star, or the woman pouring water, or a woman holding the star, or that a couple of astronomers aren't there looking at the Moon, or that two dogs, a river, a couple of towers and a crayfish, aren't there, or that two kids aren't playing under the Sun, or a woman spinning yarn, or a couple making out... we do have to imagine that these "aren't there" in the abstract meaning of the sequence, or we have to tell a story involving all of those iconographies, which quickly makes our choices arbitrary, or nonsense.

In my imagining, the skeleton of the idea is Lightning-Star-Moon-Sun, a simple hierarchy of lights in the sky; the flesh of the iconography underneath these subjects is incidental, something that can be cut away. It may be appropriate to the subject (as the Magi are, as a stricken tower is), but it is ultimately decorative.

So what is your story, not ignoring the iconography underneath all the other lights?
If a picture puts three Magi under a star, then it is reasonable to assume that the designer intended those Magi to be there. If another picture has a lady grabbing a star, it is reasonable to assume that that designer intended that lady to be there and not three Magi. It is not reasonable to assume that the two designers had the same intention. They are different takes on the theme, just as, for example, there were different versions of "Spring" (La Primavera). Each has a different range of interpretations in the context of its own sequence, place, time, etc.

Ross wrote,
For Francesco Piscina, he was born around 1540, so let's give his father 1515, and his grandfather 1490. If the Tarot inventor were born 1410-1420, and if he lived to be 75 or 80, then the very inventor of the game could still have been alive when Piscina's grandfather was born. Even if he were not, a lot of the players of the original game certainly were. Francesco's grandfather could, in principle, have learned to play Tarot from an original player. Even if he doesn't say so, what Francesco says could have been influenced by impressions he got from his grandfather, who got them from an original player.

Just as your grandfather could, in principle, have learned Civil War Poker from an original player, and why the historian of 2430 will be very interested in what you have to say about it, according it more intrinsic weight than the more abstract and far-removed theories of his friends.
This is not a valid comparison. It is the interpretation and causation of the sequence of images, i.e. miniatures, that is at issue, not how to play the game. Hardly anybody wrote about the interpretation of art objects at the time, not until Vasari, who published c. 1550. And at any time, interpretations are as much a reflection of the person and his or her context as about how it was conceived originally. For example, my nephew might reminisce about the intricacies of playing "Star Wars" video games and theorize about the relation of the movies to video games generally, without knowing or caring about Lucas and Spielberg's (well-documented) relationship to the works of Joseph Campbell. With regard to works of art that became popular shortly after their creators' times, historians are often in a better position to understand the circumstances of their creation than people nearer those works in time. The works often relate to particular humanist writings in manuscript that were never published but got filed away in archives, if they were saved at all. The "Studiola" paintings of the Estensi are examples.

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