Okay... you want to play, I'll play a bit, but only briefly.
Let me first emphasize that several of the people here are obsessed with something that I am not particularly concerned with, the Ur Tarot. I am not talking about Tarot de Marseille because I insist that it, or something like it was probably the Ur Tarot. I have attempted to explain EVERY known ordering of the trumps. This confuses the hell out of people like Ross, with whom I've tried to explain the point repeatedly over the years. Each change in ordering and icongraphy was a change in meaning. The occultist view that every Tarot deck is essentially the same, conveying as they supposedly do "universals", is nonsense, and would be recognized as such in any other area of art history. So when I say something about one deck I am most emphatically NOT insinuating that about other decks.
RLG wrote:Part of the thrust of your overall approach seems to be a desire for patterns to emerge, patterns that will give us a clue to what the original designer was thinking. Having found a few things that look like patterns,
At this point you are making a couple of what appear to be calculated rhetorical moves. Whether you are deceiving yourself or attempting to deceive others, you frame the topic of discussion as my personal bias, a "desire" on my part, and refer to "things that look like patterns" rather than acknowledging the facts. Yeah, I find that kind of bullshit offensive. If you actually fail to see that every third card in the lowest section of Tarot de Marseille is a religious figure and that every third trump in the middle section is a virtue, then you must have done very poorly on those tests where children put square pegs in square holes and so on. But you don't actually fail to see those things -- you pretend that it's a figment of my imagination for rhetorical effect. That is gamesmanship, and after 11 years of it, I'm just really tired of anonymous twits like you and the passive-aggressive games.
RLG wrote:you continue looking for them throughout the trump sequence, and find them with more or less success. For example, you have the pair of cards Fortune and the Hermit/Time, and you see these as a pair of reversals which are triumphed by Fortitude. On the face of it, this seems to be a reasonable interpretation, and so you treat the other virtues similarly, as the culmination of a triptych.
Time and Fortune are deeply related in the philosophy and symbolism of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and Fortitude is a traditional virtue for dealing with Fortune. There are books you might want to read.
RLG wrote:But these triptychs only work very loosely, and are not completely convincing.
LOL! Indeed, as I emphatically
pointed out, it's much worse than "not completely convincing". Up until a year ago, after years of promotion, there was still NO ONE who thought that even the most basic of these ideas were right. That is one of the most important criteria for being a crackpot -- nobody else "gets it". I am farther "out there" than 9/11 Conspiracy theorists or Birthers or Holocaust deniers or astrologers...
LOL -- "not completely convincing" doesn't begin to cover it. Have I ever suggested otherwise?
RLG wrote:For example, I would think Fortitude would be much more appropriate to the Triumphal Chariot, representing as it does victory in war.
It is certainly possible that one might put Fortitude before the Chariot to suggest the meaning you have in mind. A person's great Fortitude (maybe even a man named Sforza) might indeed lead to a triumph. And I've made precisely that argument, but for a different deck -- an appropriate
deck. You might want to look at other orderings of the trumps, where you find different things done that can very well be explained in such a manner. Some of the so-called Southern orderings, where youthful Love is the lowest card in the middle section, followed by the Moral Virtues and then a mature Triumph, the Chariot, seems to be consistent with this interpretation, which is why that is my interpretation of those decks
. But it makes nonesense out of Tarot de Marseille, which we were discussing with that whole "pattern" thing.
Tarot is not just one thing.
You may have noticed in my first reply, (and repeatedly since), when I pointed out that your pyramid did violence to the apparent design of Tarot de Marseille, I ALSO pointed out that there were OTHER orderings where that kind of design might be much more appropriately descriptive. The main constraint in my approach is that you accept what was actually done. You don't get to impose different ordering on the trumps, and you try to find that meaning which makes the best sense of a given ordering.
Tarot de Marseille has the subjects it has, in the order it has. Your task is not to rearrange it, or suggest what they should have done, but to explain what they did do. People like Moakley, Shephard, Betts, and many others, including me, have tried this exercise with different decks and orderings, and none of us has found a simple explanation that makes good sense of the subjects and their sequence -- for any known deck. Nor has anyone found a source work which explains the subjects and their sequence for any known deck. IMO, that "mystery of Tarot" is a direct result of it having originally been both subtle and complicated, and having thereafter been simplified in a variety of ways, none of which were particularly successful. It may, however, be the case that there never was any systematic original design. Those are the two main possibilities. At this late date it is not the least bit believable that there is a simple and clear explanation for the trump cycle.
RLG wrote:Also, Temperance might be better matched with the asceticism of the Hermit, while Justice is easily the response to the Traitor, who gets his just rewards and meets his Death. None of these associations works for you, because it upsets the triptych idea,
You're close to being right here... they don't work for me because they fail to make sense of the subjects and their sequence. The triptych structure can be thrown out, just as soon as someone else finds something better. But if the equally-spaced Popess/Pope/Virtue/Virtue/Virtue order of the cards is not meaningful
and indicative of some systematic design, then it would seem extremely likely that there is no coherent meaning in Tarot de Marseille. Either that pattern has meaning, or Tarot de Marseille is a random mashup that just happened to result in that pattern. That seems absurd on its face, despite the fact that you doubt that there is any pattern there. Or now you don't doubt it. Or maybe you want to take both positions?
RLG wrote:but if the virtues don't resonate well with the pair of cards that precede them in the Tarot de Marseille order, then why is it okay to look for variora in their meanings?
It's not just okay, it's the entire project. Iconography identifies the subject matter of didactic art, and it isn't always easy. Whenever an image is obscure, ambiguous, or otherwise not easily identified, looking for variora -- cool word BTW -- is the whole point.
Find many; discard many; select the best. Best in what way? Making sense of the series.
RLG wrote:If the connections that you claim are in the tarot images were easily understood,
I said that the big picture was universally understood. This is attested to by that crucial fact that Dummett discovered three decades ago, that changes in the ordering took place within rather than between the three segments of the trump series. I also said that the details were probably not understood perfectly by anyone other than the original designer, and were only vaguely understood by most. That's just the nature of things subtle and complex.
RLG wrote:then why are there so many different orders, (perhaps that's a question for a different thread?).
It's a question to which I gave a reasonably detailed answer. You may find it if you search for "civic pride".
RLG wrote:If the Tarot de Marseille order made such perfect sense,
As I've reconstructed it, it makes great sense in many ways, but the different ways conflict, because there is no way to make a multi-layered allegory perfect. If it were simply explained with one layer of meaning, then the others would be superfluous, and excluded by parsimony. That is, they would have no explanatory value. Conflation of meanings results in compromises, which are all messy. Remember reading some of those words, especially the word "messy"?
Here you are flagrantly lying about me, about what I wrote.
I said that it is very complex and difficult to understand, and you suggest I said the opposite. And why would I object to such misrepresentation? Precisely because I don't
have a simple and clear explanation for the trumps, and have never claimed to. No one does. The only explanation I've been able to offer is a difficult and confusing mess, which makes it challenging to present even when not misrepresented.
RLG wrote:and was really intended as a linear narrative,
The "linear" or, more properly, hierarchical design of the trump cycle is a fact. That's how trumps work.
RLG wrote:then why would other regions tamper with subsections of it?
They would change the depictions and ordering to change the meaning. I've offered a two-fold explanation for their desire to change the decks. One part is precisely because the original design, whatever it was, was messy and people wanted to make parts of it simpler; the second part was a desire for novelty, which is expressed in minor ways in some decks and in dramatic ways in others. This gets back to the basic fact that it's a card game, and novelty decks are fun, and also to the "civic pride" theory about standard pattern decks in Italy during Tarot's first century.
By pretending that I did not answer that question, in some detail, you are again playing games. If you didn't read what I wrote before, why should I write again; and if you did read what I wrote before and are intentionally ignoring it, rather than rebutting it or even acknowledging it, then you're just an asshole. A decade of this kind of crap is a long time.
RLG wrote:This would suggest to me that there was no easily recognizable narrative in that order, or whichever was the original order, or else it would not have been changed.
Two problems there. First, as I constantly emphasize, there is no simple and clear reading of any known Tarot trump cycle. Seriously. If you find one, let all of us retards in on the secret, 'cause we've been trying for decades. So you are telling me -- NEWS FLASH! FILM AT 11! -- something dead obvious that, despite being dead obvious, I have taken pains to emphasize. Wake up.
Second, your implicit suggestion that depictions normally stay the same is simply false. Pick an historical genre, even a fairly canonical one like Last Supper depictions, and look at how people changed them over and over and over. Look at a dozen different Annunciations. Sometimes things were copied very closely, while other times they were varied wildly.
RLG wrote:From an outsider's perspective, it appears that you at times are over-complicating the story of the sequence, because parts of it are inscrutable to you.
LOL! Those of us who are pursuing the iconographic questions are trying to explain the choice of subject matter and the arrangement of those subjects into a sequential composition. Those are the facts to be explained. When simple and obvious explanations fail, then more complex and subtle ones are attempted. (This runs very directly into the quicksands of occultism and crackpot theories.) However, it is not OVER-complicating the explanation, unless someone finds a simple one.
If you've got one, why not share?
At this point in time, a decade into the 21st century, the only simple explanation worth spit is that of Michael Dummett, that there is no detailed systematic design but only a vaguely hierarchical series of commonplace subjects chosen to use as essentially meaningless trumps in a game, divided into three segments but with no systematic meaning to any of them, or overall. That is the null hypothesis which would-be iconographers contest.
RLG wrote:But perhaps you're correct, and the original designer really was making multiple layers of meaning work together in a very elaborate scheme; so elaborate that most people didn't get it, and rearranged the cards as they saw fit.
That's my view of one particular deck
RLG wrote:But the undeniable fact that there are three main sequences and many variants not only argues for their being no definitive sequence at all, but also argues for the 'true' or 'original' sequence to be so obscure as to have gone over everyone's heads. That's rather convenient for a theorist, but how much is too much, and when does the theory run out of steam?
Here you are again working on that Ur Tarot obsession. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a shit.
I'm not looking at Tarot as an occultist, searching for the True Tarot, the "definitive" Ur Tarot. I'm looking at each deck as an art historian, attempt to see what was there. That's why I originally suggested to you other orderings, a suggestion which you ignored. I don't know what you are looking for, other than an argument, and I'm just about out of those.
Note that your preamble to that question is a repetition of my own statements. You have the tone of correcting me, but your comments are little different than my own. I've been emphasizing the fact of a dozen early orderings for many years now, and you want to school me with "undeniable facts"? Piss down someone else's boot and tell 'em it's raining.
I said that PERHAPS there was such deep meaning, probably only in one deck, but I emphasized that was a working hypothesis
. Do you understand that term? That was the first thing on my list, and I took time and effort to emphasize it and you still pretend I didn't say it? I have emphasized the different orderings. Whatever the original design might have been, it was certainly changed everywhere it went in Italy, and I offered an explanation for that fact generally, involving the complexity and subtlety of the original, whatever it may have been, and more importantly, the desire of each locale to have its own Tarot. I have also attempted to offer explanations for those variations specifically.
Then there's your "rather convenient for a theorist" comment -- I don't know that was intended to convey, but it seems... odd if not disingenuously snide. A rational person might think that the confirmation
of a theory would be "convenient for a theorist". A really messy historical artifact is going to generate endless theories, none of which can be well confirmed. So perhaps you meant, congenial for the development of many competing theories?
Your question," when is it better to give up?" is key. The balance is between explanatory power and parsimony, between Dummett's assessment on one extreme and people like Moakley, Shephard, Betts, and myself on the other. There aren't many people actually pursuing the iconography question, (if any), and even in the decade I've been part of the Tarot community it has been a rotating cast, with people coming on board and people falling away. I've been trying to STFU for a couple years now, but I've been waiting for some good news, a new interpretation that was supposedly "forthcoming".
So those are some examples of why I'm really tired of people like you, RLG, whomever you might be behind that mask. If you think you can do better, please give it a try. As for me, now that it appears that the good news I've waited 2-1/2 years for may NOT be forthcoming, I think I may finally be able to rest a while.
Wish me luck. I wish you well.
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.