Tarot: The Infinite Book
Compiled from knowledge, the Tarot teaches a symbolic way of looking at reality.
In one way or another, during the “Gutenberg era”, many authors have tried to consign in the ideal of the “total book” an entire vision of the world and of reality: from Hegel to the “Great American Novel”, passing by the costumbrist catalogues of the 18th century and the encyclopaedia, total books – meaning books that are able to encompass everything that is, was and will be — continues to be an elusive project, or to be more accurate, a partial one.
But the cards compiled by the Tarot deck (in its different varieties, figures and mythologies) assume this partiality and incompleteness as a base, carrying in their mobile unit and symbolic system the seed of that improbable total book where —potentially at least— all stories lie in waiting.
The origin of the deck and its author are unknown. Who, for example, could claim to have created in the solitude of their workshop the English language? Tarot, both as a language and the practice of language, exists in the same dimension as the great anonymous works of man, the Mayan pyramids or gothic cathedrals. There are plenty of speculations surrounding its name: some say it comes from Tao, the totality of Confucianism; others seek its etymology in Toth, the Egyptian god of writing and magic, assimilated to the Roman Hermes for centuries. There are even those who see in the word “Tarot” an echo of “Torah”, meaning law in Hebrew.
If the origin of its name is hard to define, defining its symbolism is not an easier task: the most ancient Tarot and one which has no subsequent variations (this does not mean there is an ideal or original “model” behind the Tarot), is the Tarot of Marseille, which has been dated to the early fifteenth century in northern Italy; this is constituted by 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. In the major arcana we find archetypal images of characters, functions or structures of human coexistence latched in Judeo-Christian myths and in the socio-political tradition of Medieval Europe; thus, its 22 stances (that symbolize the initiated path from the Fool’s outdoors, to the realization of the World), show kings, queens, magicians, demons and celestial bodies, such as the Sun, the Moon and the Star.
In terms of its reading, it is commonly believed that the Tarot can be used to predict the future of the querent, so that they can be better prepared to face their upcoming circumstances. Modern techniques of the reading (such as that promoted by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Marianne Costa, Jean Claude Fornoy or Philipe Camoin) perceive the Tarot as a projective method of signification: the symbols work as mirrors in which the querent and the reader create a tale with therapeutic ends, seeking advice or analyzing anguishing and long forgotten situations, in the fashion of psychoanalytic therapy, but with tools that have been sharpened and used for centuries.
We say that Tarot “does not know”, but that it is in fact the querent gains access to “knowledge” of himself and of the world by consulting it. Seen as objects, the cards of Tarot are merely colored impressions on cardboard; as a tool of learning, Tarot teaches us to adopt a symbolic gaze over the world and over reality; a gaze that has nothing to do with supra-terrestrial powers, but with the capacity of observation and the self-knowledge we possess.
Tarot is an infinite book because every single situation can be drawn with its images: the gaze learns to recognize itself in the combinatory arts, to identify with the situations and to disidentify in order to find the being that lies beneath the layers of human history that every single one of must cross sooner or later to be born effectively, to then occupy the chapter that belongs to only us in the infinite book of life.
When ancient rituals became religion
The emergence of religions irreversibly changed the history of humanity. It’s therefore essential to ask when and how did ancient peoples’ rituals become organized systems of thought, each with their
Seven ancient maps of the Americas
A map is not the territory. —Alfred Korzybski Maps are never merely maps. They’re human projections, metaphors in which we find both the geographical and the imaginary. The cases of ghost islands
An artist crochets a perfect skeleton and internal organs
Shanell Papp is a skilled textile and crochet artist. She spent four long months crocheting a life-size skeleton in wool. She then filled it in with the organs of the human body in an act as patient
A musical tribute to maps
A sequence of sounds, rhythms, melodies and silences: music is a most primitive art, the most essential, and the most powerful of all languages. Its capacity is not limited to the (hardly trivial)
The enchantment of 17th-century optics
The sense of sight is perhaps one the imagination’s most prolific masters. That is why humankind has been fascinated and bewitched by optics and their possibilities for centuries. Like the heart, the
Would you found your own micro-nation? These eccentric examples show how easy it can be
Founding a country is, in some ways, a simple task. It is enough to manifest its existence and the motives for creating a new political entity. At least that is what has been demonstrated by the
Wondrous crossings: the galaxy caves of New Zealand
Often, the most extraordinary phenomena are “jealous of themselves” ––and they happen where the human eye cannot enjoy them. However, they can be discovered, and when we do find them we experience a
Think you have strange reading habits? Wait until you've seen how Mcluhan reads
We often forget or neglect to think about the infinite circumstances that are condensed in the acts that we consider habitual. Using a fork to eat, for example, or walking down the street and being
The sky is calling us, a love letter to the cosmos (video)
We once dreamt of open sails and Open seas We once dreamt of new frontiers and New lands Are we still a brave people? We must not forget that the very stars we see nowadays are the same stars and
The sister you always wanted (but made into a crystal chandelier)
Lucas Maassen always wanted to have a sister. And after 36 years he finally procured one, except, as strange as it may sound, in the shape of a chandelier. Maassen, a Dutch designer, asked the