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mjhurst 
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Join Date: 24 Jul 2003
Location: California, U.S.A.
Posts: 316

Hi, Robert,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
Let me explain: "History", to most non-academics like myself simply means that it happened in the past. I had not spent the time investigating the nature of the history forum, and was not familiar with your requirements or expectations for a certain level of "proof" before being an accepted topic for discussion.
You continue to "explain" things which you simultaneously admit not knowing, and which others already understand better than you do. Here, you "explain" that you didn't know what "history" means when you wrote a history book. You don't need to explain that -- it is not news at this point, but is in fact something which others have been trying to explain to you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
It appears to me now that you may have assumed that, by presenting information into this forum, which has been evolving in a certain way for you in the last how-many years, I was also presenting myself as a tarot scholar (which I have never claimed), as was prepared to "argue" the idea soley based upon your methods of examimation.
You wrote a book, Robert, about Tarot history and the history of Cathars. It does not seem unreasonable to "assume" that someone who writes a history book about Cathars and Tarot would be familiar with the history of Cathars and Tarot. Naive and ignorant noobs usually read books rather than write them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
In the first place, (as I have stated in my book) I understand that no real "proof" of this theory can be given.
It has been pointed out to you repeatedly that no one has asked for proof. Go back through the posts if you don't believe me -- NO ONE has asked for proof. Words have meanings. Different words have different meanings. In the context of "demanding proof" versus "asking for evidence", proof means something different than evidence. Evidence is simply some factual reason to believe a claim. Proof is unrefutable, overwhelming, completely persuasive evidence. No one has asked for that, nor expected that.

To demand proof from you, when none of us can prove our own conclusions, would be a double standard. A double standard is exemplified by what you do, for example, when you dismiss good arguments and evidence without consideration and offer in their place mere opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
Is there evidence that this was done? No. Case closed. We don't need to beat a dead horse.
Quite right. Unless we have a great deal of time on our hands and nothing more productive to do with our adult lives. It was an implausible hunch from the start, mocked by its originator. It has been examined time and time again, and found to be without merit. Unless and until someone finds something NEW, which you have not, it is a waste of time to run around in circles, forever trying to salvage some of the worst ideas rather than building on the best. You say nothing new or interesting, except perhaps as background notes for a future novel.

One of the main reasons why online Tarot forums are generally worthless, why so little progress is made in the subject, is because most of the participants have little or no actual interest in history. They are interested in fantasies that have been concocted by generations of fools and charlatans, and this folklore is recycled endlessly. This universe of intriguing folklore is what draws most of them to Tarot. Many Tarot enthusiasts display an emotional attachment, spiritual involvement, divinatory practice, or other personal interest in esoteric Tarot that strongly colors how they read and what they write on the subject. More than a few are "recovering Catholics", neo-Pagans, and others who have passionate anti-Catholic sentiments. Some of them have their own crackpot theories which they promote year after year, theories which with which they personally identify and will embrace 'till they die. All these things, and more, make online Tarot forums a lousy place to learn about Tarot history, because the vast majority of posts are not historically defensible.

They are, in fact, the perfect place for your book. That is why there are dozens and dozens of fora to choose from which will embrace such unfounded ramblings, without being too concerned about nasty questions of evidence. As far as I know there are only two where someone will repeatedly ask you for evidence, and this is one of those two. Oops. Here, you have been asked repeatedly for evidence -- that's all. Even here, however, the question began very gently and with genuine interest, even hope, that you had something new and valuable to say. When it became clear that you knew very little about Tarot history, people offered suggestions about where you might begin to learn. When you refused to seriously consider the possibility that there was a world of actual historical fact and insight out there, instead merely restating your naive positions, you were asked more pointedly for supporting evidence. You sometimes take this as a personal attack, and you have now concluded that it is some weird cult phenomenon resulting from years of us not knowing what we're talking about.

You might try reading a few books on historiography before writing your next history book. Historical research may be a forbidden topic on this "historical research" forum, but nonetheless I'll recommend the one author I'm familiar with, Christopher Behan McCullagh. He may be a Christian apologist, but he is also a reasonably clear writer on historical method, and he directly addresses the bane of contemporary historiography, Postmodern relativism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
As part of this process, the basic question of whether the cards should even be considered to be seen in this way, or in any way other than its straight-forward, traditionally accepted manner, comes into play.
Again, you clearly don't have the first clue what you're talking about. The closest thing to a traditional view is probably something like the story you try to tell in your book. People believe, as you say in the title, that there is a great secret concealed in the Tarot cards. As you suggest throughout, it is a heretical secret about noble underdogs, a rag-tag group of devout spiritual rebels who were hunted down like dogs and destroyed by the Evil Empire, the despicable Church. This is tale of romantic fiction. If you want to know how popular this approach is, look where you got it: Dan Brown!

Lots of people on these fora like to call themselves "seekers", but most of them have in fact already found their "truth", and seek only to impose it on Tarot. Among the more historically inclined there is no traditional view, and certainly no generally accepted view. We are genuinely seeking to discover rather than impose. That is why something like the essays presented in Explaining the Tarot are so important and interesting. They are genuinely "period appropriate" narratives for the images and their sequence. The fact that we are seeking a still-unknown grail is precisely why wasting time rehashing nonsense like Cathars and Tarot is so counter-productive. It was never a good idea: it was a lame hunch when it was originated, which is why it was put forth as a joke about how gullible some people are. It was never plausible, there was never any evidence to support it, and it was thoroughly investigated long ago. This thread started months ago and has 240 posts. It has been a pastime, a way to get some laughs, an opportunity to post some facts, and so on. But at the end of the day the subject of Tarot history is just where it was. Such discussions, reviewing the failed but still popular ideas of the past 230 years, are the main reason why online Tarot forums fail to move the subject forward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
Not to rehash the arguments already presented, but in my defense to this question, I feel that 1) the Cathars had a different way of seeing the "resurrection" as depicted in Judgment than the standard orthodox way.
Yes they did. In fact, that is an understatement of the differences, but... so what? Does anyone dispute your brave assertion of the bleeding obvious? The question is, what does this have to do with Tarot? What is there about the depiction of Judgment in Tarot that is unique to Cathar depictions of Judgment, and how do you know that? Have you seen or read about any Cathar depictions of Judgment? Even one? Or are you just making stuff up?

Doesn't it make more sense that a reasonably conventional depiction of Judgment in a popular card game, made by and for Roman Catholics to play cards with, and later made by and for Protestants to play cards with, means what it shows? That it represents exactly what countless hundreds of other illustrations depict? You are offering a wildly far-fetched alternative, with absolutely zero evidence, and you have yet to even acknowledge that fact. Instead, you simply ignore the facts, apparently just because you like the romantic fiction better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
2) The Cathars had a different concept of the Devil, which was an important part of their dualist theology.
Great. What about it? Show us pictures of how they depicted the Devil. Oh wait -- they didn't. Tell us what there is about the Devil in Tarot that rules out an orthodox interpretation. Oh wait -- there isn't anything distinctive about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
3) the Cathars - and the "hetero-heretics" who followed - had a different sense of the Pope. To the Cathars, the pope was not the leader of the Christian world who took his authority from God, but was rather the enemy, in charge of persecution and oppression. (To the Beguins of early 14th century Languedoc, the pope was the "mystical antichrist.")
Again, as time and time before, so what? "Amongst the eschatologically minded in the later Middle Ages the idea was already a commonplace. Even such a champion of the Church as St. Bernard could come to believe, in his tense expectation of the final drama, that many of the clergy belonged to the hosts of Antichrist.... Any Millenarian movement was in fact almost compelled by the situation in which it found itself to see the clergy as a demonic fraternity." This is not in any sense a distinctively Cathar belief and, worse yet, you have made no case whatsoever that any particular Tarot deck reflected some heterodox belief.

All you do is state unsubstantiated opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
Therefore, why would it be unreasonable to think that the other cards could not also be seen from the heretic's viewpoint?
As has been pointed out to you, time and again, anything -- absolutely anything -- can be connected with the Tarot trump cards. This is especially true if we reject the obvious and freely impose alternatives without a shred of evidence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
In addition, since some of the people in the tarot were apparently meant to represent historical figures (Visconti and Sforza in The Lovers and Manfreda in The Popess), would it be unreasonable to think that the heretic sympathizer mentioned above would not try to introduce his own characters in order to help tell the story? After all, some of the cards in the TdM were changed from the Italian deck (still using traditional imagery of course), and not just adopted as-is.
You are making assumptions here which are may or may not be sound. First, it is perfectly plausible that the French added nothing but names and numbers to the cards they got from Milan. There is no persuasive evidence that TdM was not essentially the same deck as the 15th-century Milanese standard pattern, and parsimony argues that it was. Second, within Italy, changes to both the iconography and order of the trumps was the norm. As far as we know,every locale changed the cards a bit and changed the order a bit. So the answer to the question of "why would they change the deck" must be expanded to include every deck variant we know about, and the question becomes, "why did everyone want their own version of Tarot?" Third, the assumption that figures in one particular hand-painted luxury deck have been positively identified is false. None of those things you assume are actually known to be true, so none of them constitute a basis for further speculation. You can't pile one guess on top of another and call it history -- again, this is fiction writing.

But most importantly, even if those assumptions were established as definitive conclusions, they would add nothing to your thesis. You suggest that a hypothetical heretic would introduce heretical characters in order to help tell a heretical story. Your heresy thesis may be true regardless of whether your assumptions are or not, and it may be false in either case. So your argument is a non-sequitur. To support your conclusion, only one thing is required: there needs to be something identifiably heretical in the trump cards. You haven't offered anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiryn
This is the crux of what Part II is about. Does it assume alot of "if this, then that"? Of course. Getting back to an older post, this may be likened to the theory of aliens landing on earth. I just watched a couple of episodes of "Ancient Aliens" (I believe this might have actually been on The History channel -gasp!). I thought it was a very fascinating series. They interviewed all kinds of "experts" and presented many bits of "evidence" which probably raised more questions than answers. You could always come up with some idea to debunk their interpretation of the evidence, given our traditional, scientific way of looking at things. The point here is that (just like the heretic looking at orthodox imagery), these same bits of evidence are seen differently from the viewpoint of those who believe in the alien theory. In the end, they were unable to proove their case. But it still made for an interesting idea, and many of the "facts" being presented were somewhat intellegent.
First, when the best analogy you can come up with is synonymous with "crackpot theory" and "lunatic fringe", that is tragic. Apparently you expected that everyone interested in Tarot was naively credulous, and that no one would feel that you were insulting their intelligence with the Tarot equivalent of alien encounters. That may be true of many, including some prominent posters. Some of us, however, are interested in the actual history of the subject rather than traditional fantasies.

Your argument, however, is even worse than you suggest; worse than "little green men" and UFOs. The case for UFOs, as the name implies, is based on ignorance. We don't know what a particular "unidentified" flying object might be. Space aliens are an extremely far-fetched hypothesis for unidentified visual phenomenon, (many turn out to not even be "flying objects"), particularly given what physicists know about the possibilities for space travel and the likely cost and utility of such journeys. Nonetheless, in at least some cases the unidentified visual phenomenon remain unidentified. That isn't the case with the Tarot trump subjects.

I'll outline that in the next post.

Best regards,
Michael



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Old 12-01-2011     Top   #236