Etiquette of Literary Cards

Elkhound

I have seen cards based on characters from a book or series of books, or books by a particular author. They are interesting and can be in ways useful. However, I am a bit nervous about using them, particularly when they are taken from authors who almost certainly would not have approved of that use of their works. I'm not talking about copyright violations, although that is an issue; I'm talking about authors who almost certainly would have had religious or moral objections to Tarot. Would it be right to appropriate an author's creations for something he would have disapproved of? At best it seems impolite.
 

Lady Eclipse

Elkhound said:
I have seen cards based on characters from a book or series of books, or books by a particular author. They are interesting and can be in ways useful. However, I am a bit nervous about using them, particularly when they are taken from authors who almost certainly would not have approved of that use of their works. I'm not talking about copyright violations, although that is an issue; I'm talking about authors who almost certainly would have had religious or moral objections to Tarot. Would it be right to appropriate an author's creations for something he would have disapproved of? At best it seems impolite.

Hi Elkhound,

Well for the copyright issues, talk to a lawyer first who specializes in copyright law. You'll find out just what you can and cannot do.

As for the main situation you presented: I feel that it is a judgement call. I can definitely see how it could be perceived as impolite to make use of something that the author created and would not have approved of you using it for tarot. However, if this person had already crossed over, perhaps they'd have a change of heart? It's difficult to say...the best advice I can give is to meditate on it and the appropriate answer will be given. I hope this helps.

Joy to you,
Maralee
 

Baneemy

I ran into this same ethical dilemma when I was working on my Watson-Crick Tarot, based on the life and work of the Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologists. I wrote Francis Crick asking if he had any objections, and I got a reply to the effect that he and Dr. Watson had devoted their lives to science and that perhaps a Tarot deck, traditionally thought of as a tool of psuedoscience and superstition, would not be the most appropriate way to pay homage to them. I respected Dr. Crick's opinion and scrapped the project.

In the case of a deceased author, I think you have to use your judgment and respect the person's memory. If the author's famous enough to have become part of our cultural iconography, though, I think their work is fair game -- for instance, a deck based on the Commedia would be okay, even though Dante himself probably wouldn't have approved.

Just my opinion. You have to take these things on a case by case basis.
 

Astra

Whoof! A GREAT question. What it brought to mind was the Lord of the Rings, which now has, I believe, a companion Oracle deck. Would J.R.R. Tolkien have approved? From the little I know of the man, I'm not at all sure, but since his son has authorized its publication (or at least signed off on his rights to prevent it), it's a moot point.

He, and a number of his fellow authors, most notably C.S. Lewis, were strong Christians who wrote fantasy more as a perspective on the Christian ethos than as fantasy for its own sake, and there's no real hint in their works whether they would approve of a "real" divinatory use for their characters and concepts. Still, they were writers, and writers are generally more open to odd concepts than the main mundane world, even if they don't show up in their books.

I suspect that if you pick up a deck and it says "Read Me!", then the worst emotion the shade of the original writer would show would be tolerant amusement.
 

Chronata

I had a discussion along very similar lines with some friends recently.
There is this idea of very solid religious and moral values that certain authors have, and I too have wondered if someone who was, for instance, seen very much as a conservative Christian, would really want a tarot deck to exist that was based on his or her work.
I suppose, even if the deck was well planned, and well executed, there would still be some objections. If not from the author, then from the estate (who often doesn't feel quite the same way that the author did...)

That's why I believe that there is no CS Lewis/Narnia tarot.

But I do also believe that the Rev. Dodgeson would actually be amused at the Wonderland tarot.

I guess one would have to look at more than just the body of work, but also at the lifestyle of the author in question.

And I would agree with you Elkhound...it does seem somewhat impolite.