“All Eyes and No Sight”

Although I made my daily post for June 30 early this morning, I was sitting at my desk looking at a mug with amusing Shakespearean quotes on it given to me by my daughter-in-law when I spied the words “all eyes and no sight.” This was excerpted from the line in the play Troilus and Cressida where Alexander describes the Trojan hero Ajax to Cressida as “purblind Argus, all eyes and no sight.” Shakespeare seems to be referring to the giant from Greek mythology, Argus Panoptes (“all-seeing”), who was reputed to have many eyes (100 in some accounts) and who always kept a couple of them open even when asleep. He was charmed and slain by Hermes at the behest of Zeus (we won’t get into that story, but like many Greek myths it was about sex, betrayal and jealousy), and Hera had the 100 eyes placed on the tail of the peacock in his honor. The sightless eyes may in fact be those.

The point of this little side-trip into mythology is that it neatly summarizes my long-held opinion that trying to read the tarot cards solely via free-association from the images is a case of “all eyes and no sight” (well, to be fair, maybe a little but not nearly as much as can be gained from blending accumulated knowledge and experience seamlessly with  the fleeting impressions obtained by scanning the pictures through a wholly intuitive lens). Modern thinking seems to downplay learned skills and wisdom in favor of the purely imaginative (dare I saw “imagined?”) talents and observations of the psychic “parvenu-cum-fortune-teller.” I have no problem at all with psychism, but let’s call it what it is (or isn’t): it ain’t reading the cards, but rather the minds of the sitters (who often aren’t even present for the reading). The idea that we are all one Mind having separate bodily experiences is typically used to explain how this works, but I prefer the Jungian model by which the Collective Unconscious is channeled through the subconscious awareness of querents via the medium of the cards in their hands. Much of what currently passes for reading – especially of the on-line variety – strikes me as “psychism with props,” the fast-food version of occult pay-per-view that seems to have reached the epidemic stages of mass delusion.

I certainly realize that this opinion is dismissed as highly unfashionable (if not simply benighted or even treasonous) in this age of instantaneous electronic networking, and amounts to “shoveling against the tide” (or, in plainer language, “pissing into the wind”), but I just can’t shake the GEICO paradigm out of my head: “It’s so easy a caveman could do it,” with one of these here “learn tarot in three days” literary masterpieces of overblown optimism. If I were a paying customer, I would feel cheated by this blind-leading-the-blind misapplication of the tools. You can file this one under “Curmudgeon” if you like, I wear the mantle easily these days.

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