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A Failure of Insight
"[Failure] was in the 'insight' position of a spread i did, and i don't like to think that all that will come of this situation is failure."—Aeclectic Tarot Forum Citizen complaining about the defects of Crowley's Thoth Tarot.
Now, some of you may know that my relationship to Aeclectic Tarot and its forum, tarotforum.net, is hardly genteel or without hostile opinions on various sides. They have banned the mention of my website, even by their own members wishing to point to something on my site they feel is relevant. Solandia, the site owner, claims when questioned about this that she is attempting to prevent SPAM, which she accuses me and my alleged followers (which is apparently anyone who thinks I might have said something worthwhile about Tarot) of posting on her site. Of course truth is not an aim of the suppliers of the Aeclectic Tarot soporific. Rather they are selling an addictive experience, which is to have one's shortcomings praised as successes.
That is the case even when they address a topic like:
—and truth-evasion is especially their concern when the question-pleading that starts the thread asks for release from the obvious and literal implications of the card and its gloom and its title especially. Nobody after all wishes to be a failure, nor to be involved in a failure, nor to ponder that all that will come of one's situation will be failure. That's just too—real—for Tarotmaniacs to suffer.
Now, let us be clear here, this is not just a garden-variety failure, like bungling the Iraq war (by starting it in the first place), but Thoth Failure they are talking about. In other words, the title of the card likely means something more than the bucket of amalgamated ill feelings the Aeclectics are inclined to produce when they opine tarotical about the ickier parts of Tarot. Nevertheless, Aleister Crowley's card still plainly means what it says, just like Death always means death.
As we shall see, Aeclectics are people who seem unfit to even successfully fail for all their fumbling failing.
And no, that doesn't wind up meaning that they succeed for being lousy failures.
It means they exist below the possibility of either failure—or success—or any helpful reflection upon the meaning of either condition. They don't play the game of Life, which offers Failure as one of its principal features, and you might say its only just desert. They play the game of LIEf, which we are told is a word anciently connected to what we might call in this context the will (which is to say the profound feeling of entitlement) to be pleased with oneself. And if Life were truly only that, forcing the world to kowtow to one's inner toddler, perhaps there would be success in saying everything is always coming up roses, instead of the inevitable plastic petals on one's grave.
LIEf is good—Life is bad
LIEf is a better place than silly old failing, dying Life. LIEf is a very big puddle of posturing, posing pretense, where flattering, flattening notions of failure and success are bought and sold and possessed like the cheap carnival trinkets one grabs up in the toy crane machine. The thing is, that machine is designed to punish both failure AND success. For, by the time a player has plugged enough coins into the silly thing to finally grab his prize, the machine has made off with well enough profit to pay for a whole case of replacements. And what has the crane operator acquired? Oh, the exquisite pride in being able to win occasionally at a game which, if he has paid much attention at all, he should know is fixed against him.
If it weren't at a carnival, where one ought to expect to be cheated as a form of entertainment—thus the universal disclaimer on fortunetelling sites "for entertainment purposes only"—the person might feel quite foolish. Yet, read the comments of these always perturbable Aeclectic failures, and see if they are not also operating the self-esteem crane, and with the brazen expectation that their prize should have legitimate currency:
"[I] can't get past the negativity of some of the cards in [Thoth Tarot]."—Yes, they call that a veil, my dear. Enjoy your stay on the blissful side of it.
"You can't learn without screwing up once in a while."—OK, this one I will admit is almost anti-Aeclectic, and the person even manages to confess his wonder at how the negative (he's still struck by its prevalence in Thoth) can nevertheless be beautiful. Oh good, he pulls out the silver lining like any good Aeclectical Pangloss.
Just a reminder before this next one that this is an alleged Thoth Tarot discussion section the Aeclectics are scribbling in.
"I don't really see the 7 of pentacles as failing."—So rebelliously opines a creature called celticnoodle. Yes, I mean, why should you see those Thothian pentacles, well Disks, as failing? None of the symbolism would seem to suggest that in the least, huh? Oh wait a second—DEAD fucking branches and leaves, leaden coins of Saturnine hue, and of course there is that title, right? Let's see, what is it? Oh right—FAILURE! Yes, that must be something else then, like, oh celticnoodle has an idea: "I see it as needing patience, and not to rush through something, and stay in control of a situation."
Oh, yes, the aspiring narcissist won't get much self-esteem by being out of control of a situation, will he?
That raises a really interesting question, which should inspire someone, likely outside the wretched world of Tarotmania, to explore some interesting answers to it: how often is the use of Tarot a manifestation of a narcissistic need to control situations—and people of course?
"If this card is supposed to represent something insightful, I would say it's the warning beforehand that there is no such thing as easy money. And that a fool and his money will soon part. Watch out for quick money schemes. In the event of loans, don't expect to get paid back, because the person's money is no good."—Let's see, what other banal adage could we append to this list of bloodless platitudes? Actually, I think they've got them pretty much covered, but not unfortunately covered over, like the cat turds they certainly are. Is that reading Thoth Tarot cards? Well, it is on Aeclectic Tarot Forum.
"I, personally, don't care for the one word descriptions on the cards"
Bolstered by the Mary K. Greer or Newspeak solution to troublesome words, and the ideas they might engender:
"I highly recomend [sic] the white out!! Without the words, you are free to interpret what you see and experience from the art on the day and context that you pick the card."
Or, as George Orwell explained: "Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words [you know like Death and Failure], reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to DIMMINISH the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum."
Of course you may object that the white-outer wants instead to free himself from Crowley's limiting, specific, vocabulary by inviting in all possible interpretations of what the word-hater sees in the art (something he apparently thinks is irrelevant to whatever may have been Crowley's ideas about it). And I would argue back that one achieves just that kind of effect with a Two-Minutes Hate, which also exploits the human desire for novelty and brevity (they do vary the program every day) by using wordless, acontextual, images, presented of course in a robust (well, if rot is robust) context promoting a very particular ideology.
When one cuts, or whitewashes, Crowley's words, he is not getting a better "experience from the art" or seeking to liberate "the day and context", any more than he would be doing so if he used whiteout on the dictionary to free himself from all those terribly repressive and hurtful words. What he is doing is seeking refuge and solace from a semantical (meaningful) context he does not like, and which I would argue he very likely does not understand. He therefore is not seeking the meaning of a "day and context", but rather seeking to diminish the meaning of a deck and context. And in doing this, the day and its context shall not fare very well either I suspect.
"LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES."
—yeah, this is the great one, screamed no less in (upper) case you might not take it seriously enough. Don't you just love LIEf! Once you white out all the bad words, and make all the nasty dead old men of Tarot shut up and leave you alone, it's all just a learning experience—about the incredibly interesting and wise things YOU have to say.
How exactly do you count that as a learning experience? Unless you mean learning how to better shut up the contradictory world and its rude factual "SPAM", so you can better hear yourself blather about your day and your context and your feelings about what you mean—to you.
For those of you actually interested in contexts outside of your Green Zone, you might bother yourself to contemplate what Thoth "Failure" is really about, apart from reassuring Newspeak about the grace and efficacy of whitewashing heretical words.