Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bring Out Your Dead!

The 1665 London Plague
James Hulett, mid-18th Century

Bring out yer dead.
Bring out yer dead.
Here's one.
That'll be ninepence.
I'm not dead.
Nothing. There's your ninepence.
I'm not dead.
'Ere, he says he's not dead.
Yes he is.
I'm not.
He isn't.
Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
I'm getting better.
No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment.
Well, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
I don't want to go on the cart.
Oh, don't be such a baby.
I can't take him.
I feel fine.
Oh, do me a favor.
I can't.
Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes?
He won't be long.

I promised I'd be at the Robinsons'.
They've lost nine today.

Well, when's your next round?
I think I'll go for a walk.
You're not fooling anyone, you know.
I feel happy. I feel happy.

That scene didn't work out well for the soon-to-be deceased. And eventually, everything dies. When GeoCities died it took with it Michael's Tarot Notebook, my old website.

Tarot is a Triumph of Death, so it seems appropriate to let the dead rest in peace.

The Riddle of Tarot was the main page of my site, outlining the meaning of Tarot is some detail, and I'd always hoped that something better would be written in its place. So far, that hasn't happened. No one else has attempted to build on the foundations laid by Moakley and Dummett.

However, the Triumph of Death genre of pre-Modern Christian art was not only a triumph of Death but also a triumph over Death. And some old Web pages still live in the Limbo world of the Internet Archive. You can contact that world through the Wayback Machine, and find wraiths of the deceased pages. Given the general absence of sober alternatives to recycled New Age theories and empty-headed free association, it seems worthwhile to post a link to a couple old "not quite dead yet" files.

The Riddle of Tarot (archived 9/19/2004)

The Riddle of Tarot (archived 12/23/2007)

The Middle Trumps (archived 8/23/2005)

Happy All Souls Day!


  1. Are the documents linked on the Wayback Machine published elsewhere in printed or electronic version?

    1. No.

      There are fragments of that material, and related ideas, posted here and elsewhere, but their was never any "finished" presentation.

      Thanks for asking.

      Best regards,

  2. Are there meaningful differences between "The Riddle of Tarot" 2004 and 2007?
    Do you use tarot as a divination tool?

    IMHO the material in "The riddle of Tarot" deserves a "finishing" and publishing.
    I don't know your, ehm, academic credentials if any, and I'm not qualified to "peer review" the content.
    I think it deserves a printed publishing.
    In that way maybe there could be a qualified debate in the years to come...
    And after all, as you seem to know well, there is plenty of bullshit published anyway... ;-)

    Is your email address or a contact form available?


    1. Hi, FG,

      Thank you for the comments. I agree that the material deserves finishing and publication, but it should probably be done by someone other than me. My, ahem, "academic credentials" are non-existent, and it is a subject that could benefit GREATLY by an art historian or medievalist. LOL -- for example, after I understood the basic design of Tarot's middle trumps, it took me about two years to "discover" Boccaccio's De Casibus, which is an encyclopedic collection of parallels, and the ancient history of such writings about the rise and fall of great men. Understanding such historical context and being able to place the trump cycle into that history is what the subject needs.

      As for publication, it was never intended to go that direction. My reason for putting this stuff online was to tempt others to pursue the subject: "there may be a few Renaissance Faire folk or other medievalists interested in a remarkable work of fifteenth-century Christian art that was also a hugely popular game. Someday an art historian or medievalist will do scholarly justice to the iconographic genius of early Tarot—until then this Notebook can be thought of as a preview." That's from the home page.

      Michael's Tarot Notebook

      Regarding the two versions, there were some additions and changes. The 2004 version is probably over 20,000 words while the 2007 version might be... maybe 10% longer because of the revisions. (Judging by the button on the scroll bar, it is a little longer.)

      Feel free to write: my email is mjhurst22 at gmail.com.

      Best regards,