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X: History

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Oct. 8th, 2008 | 06:03 pm
music: KMFDM's Nihil : Trust
posted by: shatterstripes in silicon_dawn

While I'm thinking about the extras, let me discuss my extra Major Arcana, History.

The major theme of this card is narrative. It was the last one I did, before the show; it sums up a lot of my feelings on what Tarot is for.

We are stories we tell ourselves. We define our past by these stories; we constrain or open up our future by these stories. From When I grow up, I'm going to be the President of the United States of America! to I can't do that because I'll fail, just like everything else I've ever done, the stories we tell about our past and present define our future. Change the story, change your possible futures. Tarot decks? A tool for giving yourself a seed crystal to grow a story about yourself around. Who's this Court card in my life? How's the cards next to them mean they relate to me? Draw out the things you hide from yourself by weaving a story.

The figure on the card has a ribbon coming out of her mouth, wrapping around her: she's binding herself by her words. But on the other hand, she's also warping up out of the checkered ground plane like a visualization of a black hole's effect on the fabric of space-time; she's distorting and dragging the pillars up along with her. She is altering the universe by her stories. And if her stories stopped - maybe she'd just snap back into nothingness, the flatness of the checkered ground reasserting itself.

How much of the universe exists because we are there to observe it, for that matter? How deeply knotted is space-time around itself?

This is an image that's been lingering with me for a while; it first appeared in March 2005, then later in April 2007. It may also be reappearing at some point in the future. The third, unfinished version was done after contemplating some writing around the Saphir-Whorf hypothesis that (in short) "language shapes thoughts".

The same imagery also found itself appearing as Fortune. Which is 10. This card is intimately related to Dame Fortune: 10 is a personification of the uncaring randomness of the universe, offering success or failure with no real pattern, while X is your own influence on the randomness. You are the X-factor that shapes your own fate to your own agenda, if you choose to. If you can work out the right stories to tell the world, and yourself. And keep in mind that as you shape the world with your stories, you're also shaping yourself - look out for writing yourself into a corner!

As ceruleanst pointed out when I originally posted this card, it's also worth noting another coupling this card's involved in: X against O. Script against no script; definition against potential. Order and chaos.

As a transwoman, grabbing ahold of my own narrative was very important. There was a point where I saw two likely stories for the rest of my life: a grey, depressed, lonely one if I didn't change, that would probably end in 'accidental' death, or one full of new risks, that might be cut short by fag-bashing or by side-effects of a second puberty, that also had a hope of me being someone I could like. I chose the latter and it worked out amazingly well after some rocky years. If I'd let the default story keep going, I might be dead already; I certainly wouldn't be sitting here writing an essay like this. You're going to be tied up in someone's narrative knots no matter what you do - tie your own, and tie them well, before other people tie them for you.

I don't know why she's in a foggy, pillared space that recalls a cathedral with its vaulted ceilings. Make your own connections there. I've got a few that I'll probably talk about when I discuss the 0 of (VOID) as they're more applicable there. (All the cards are linked, and all of my additions have their own particular incestuous set of links.)

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Comments {5}

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Peggy

Re: "We are the stories we tell ourselves."

from: shatterstripes
date: Oct. 8th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
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The message of History is one that took me a long time to work out - the first image that would lead to this idea popped up two and a half years ago, sitting in a café in the suburbs of San Francisco. It took me a few more years of chaos and crises to begin to make sense of that sketch, and its multiple labels. "Don't Wake Up", the first one said. "Pretty Lies", the second one said. Maybe the stories other people tell us about us defend themselves; I dunno.

It's also a distillation of various readings I've done on the subject of magic - brush aside the trappings of deity, ritual, and deliberate obfuscation, and you find techniques for changing the story down at the bottom of a lot of things, with all kinds of awkward (to me, at least) phrases dancing around the core idea.

Own your story and you own yourself.

You're welcome.

(I'm still not sure if I actually care about Tarot or not, for what it's worth
.)

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Yup. :)

from: rax
date: Oct. 9th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
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I totally dig all of this (unsurprisingly). If you or someone else is interested in reading theory-heavy literature on language shaping thoughts, Marshall McLuhan's _The Gutenberg Galaxy_ and Walter Ong's _Orality and Literacy_ are two fascinating, if a little dated, books that deal with how writing and later print changed the shape of thoughts, and between the citations in both you could fill your life with language shaping thoughts. When it comes to trans narrative as a self-shaping force, check out Jay Prosser's _Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality_ as well as some of the historical work by Pat Califia or Joanne Meyerowitz; it's a dense field. (Boston people, I can lend you any of these books; the rest of you are on your own.)

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Peggy

Re: Yup. :)

from: shatterstripes
date: Oct. 25th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
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Remind me of these the next time we're at your place - I'd like to glance over them and see if they're in the realm of what my not-so-theory-heavy brain can carry.

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Peter

(no subject)

from: foibos
date: Nov. 16th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
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I met this woman today.

Our old vicar was in town together with his common-law husband. He was showing watercolors at the local museum, and History was there too (or at least someone who looked very much like her).

The problem is that I can't be 100% sure of it, because I've had six ECT sessions during the last week and a half, and some of my recent experiences have been a lot larger than life (like how Freddy Mercury and Paul Simon are singing a mixture of "A Kind of Magic" and "Still Crazy After All These Years" in my head right now).

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