Monday, May 5, 2014

Fools Head Inn

Francesco Piscina, in 1565, explained Matto and Bagatto. He explained them badly, albeit creatively.

I do not want to leave out unmentioned another explanation, even if it will seem to be a joke. In order to make it clear, you must know that it can be read, in a very pleasant and acute comedy written by the very learned Intronati, of the famous Academy in Siena, not devoid of seriousness, of the amusing controversy between two very tight-fisted innkeepers: all people of any kind, when they had to travel, used to go to the Inn of the Mirror, but for a long time they have preferred to go to that of the Fool, more appropriate to their will and their actions. This is why, with great mystery, we see the Fool in the game of Tarot being represented in such a way that he looks behind towards a mirror, making fun of the fame of the Mirror, that is lost among all people, who once used to go to that inn. This is why his face is so joyful; he rejoices and glories in the credit he receives, so that all men run behind him. He is followed by the one that is called the Bagat, dressed as an innkeeper, not without subtlety, because as the signs of the Inns are seen by travellers in search of lodging before they see the innkeepers, as the signs used to give good reputation to the inns, as we see in those of the Lilies, Eagles, Falcons, Crowns and Kings, that in all good and famous cities show good lodging, in the same way the Fool, being the figure of the inn, has been put before the Bagat, who is the Innkeeper, meaning that famous inn in which most people prefer to stay.

... where Angels fear to tread. (Alexander Pope)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Patron Saint of Reason

From the ancient Greek philosophers to the leading edge of 21st-century physics, there has been no more insightful and iconic example of reason than Charles Darwin (February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882). From ignorance to enlightenment, he took mankind farther than any other person in our quest for self knowledge: γνῶθι σεαυτόν, gnōthi seauton, nosce te ipsum, temet nosce. If knowing who we are and and our place in the universe is the essence of religion, then Darwin was our greatest theologian. Reading aloud from the Book of Nature, he taught us that we are a part of the natural world, created not by mythical gods but by the planet itself. Though the question remains the same, the childish answers of religion give way to the grown-up answers of reason: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection tells the real story of Genesis.

Love That, Not Man Apart from That
Robinson Jeffers

Then what is the answer?— Not to be deluded by dreams.
To know that great civilizations have broken down into violence,
and their tyrants come, many times before.
When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose
the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted
and not wish for evil; and not be duped
By dreams of universal justice or happiness.
These dreams will not be fulfilled.
To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear
the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand
Is an ugly thing and man dissevered from the earth and stars
and his history... for contemplation or in fact...
Often appears atrociously ugly.
Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things,
the divine beauty of the universe.
Love that, not man apart from that,
or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions,
or drown in despair when his days darken.

There are, of course, much more popular views of man and nature. In 2013, only 2/5ths of Republicans polled admitted to belief in human evolution.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Methods of the Moderately Resourceful

In her 1992 survey of the world of Tarot, Cynthia Giles wrote:

Certainly the synthetic process is not in itself a bad thing. But it’s all too easy to create seemingly rich and significant explanations of occult systems by building up layers of reference and allusion without actually having sorted the worthwhile information from the worthless, and without ever showing whether the bits and pieces really do fit together in a meaningful way. … Tarot is particularly afflicted by such “synthesism” because it can be related, by even the moderately resourceful, to practically everything under the sun.
The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore

There are thousands of such moderately resourceful people who become attracted to Tarot, and who then amaze themselves with fatuous confections of facts and fiction.