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022
After making such a fuss and going to such weird expository lengths with #8 - I was pretty pleased to have a clean, easy, and unambiguous idea for #9. In the traditional Tarot 9 is the Hermit. Now, the hermit means a few things, like Enlightenment,Guidance, Reflection - and oh yeah, loneliness. See, the Hermit is like the Yoda of Tarot. But I had already done some solitary figure with #6 - Satisfaction. I realized that if I just paint a lot of weird loners - I'm not going to get much of anywhere with this project. But this idea came to me pretty easily.

I'm not utterly content with Commonwealth, #8- but that's perhaps a useful guide to the journey you make through the Arcana. The Hermit means a sense of guidance that comes from the strength of Justice - which I've pointed out - tenuous. But here, I didn't have to illustrate some under-defined philosophical concept - but a person. So I flipped the expectation, I made a solitary Lovers card, and two together for the Hermit. And then I put them in wedding clothes and then I called it Loneliness. Now. I'm not above an amount of irony, but I am not throwing out irony for its own sake understand. This is all... Something. Something I mean to be a little profound.

So look at the journey so far - from Satisfaction --> Infrastructure --> Commonwealth --> Loneliness. So there is a road you travel into communion. But here, that concept is betrayed, somewhat. Why do you seek that union? Is it out of your own fear? Out of your own worries about being lonesome? That's the question posed here. Are the couple marrying out of love or desperation? Are they motivated by their affection? Where does their affection come from? I knew a guy, he was alone for so long, and then he loved a woman, the one he met, and what he loved about her was that she had saved him from loneliness. So I have them - together but lonely. That's the concept at the core of this card, this sense.

024
The I-Ching was helpful again too. Hexagram 9 - The Taming Power of the Small. Now I've been married before, I can't disguise or try to suggest that that experience doesn't inform my choice here. But I didn't pair-bond out of loneliness, this is another idea - this is a sense of the power of something small, that nagging voice that warns you that you will be alone - this is the little thing in your mind that governs and terrorizes you, this is what tames you. Loneliness. You are bound and submit to binding because of this fear. This little fear that tames you. That is the essential idea.

023
I didn't want them to be sad, not sad at all, but they can't look at each other, they are apart - still alone, because they are ashamed. Or they are afraid still, their union hasn't abolished loneliness, it has changed the tone of it. They have not been true, they are not true, so they are ashamed, they can't share anything, not even their fear, because Loneliness makes you a liar, makes you untrue, in your heart. So I wanted that sense to be included. This idea of the defeat, that Communion, that the Commonwealth, could be subverted by disingenuous participants.

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003
In the end I think I'm better at painting that photography, or maybe my camera is poor, or maybe my lighting is crummy, anyway, this one is (and take my word for it) nicer than it looks. But it's also pretty complicated and hard to explain. It was hard to think about too.

Here's the image I was going off of. You notice that it's #11 in the Waite deck - but that's to do with Astrology and I honestly haven't included any astrological themes so far, I don't know if I will. Astrology is cool and all, I won't speak against it exactly - but this is my deck and it's all about the Wasteland and my experience and I don't see a lot of stars in my city. When I do - I don't recognize them, so Astrology is out. But Justice is often enough and traditionally the 8th card. So I started thinking about Justice.

This wasn't awesome for me - it turns out that I don't really value justice as a virtue. True fact, I think of Justice as being fairly regressive as a quality - right up there with Honor. It is altogether worse to have Justice than it is to have something else, that Justice, conceptually, negates. This was just a feeling I had, a sense, but I wanted to understand it so I did a little studying. What is Justice? I looked into it and thought about it a lot. In the end I concluded that Justice is a concept in the West that is based on principles of Natural Law - which I do not condone. Life-Liberty-Property - okay? Sure you have these rights? Except that no. No, that's a purely western and I think, reckless construction. Now in that state where you have those natural rights, then Justice is a significant concept because you're constantly going to be in conflict with other people. Your liberties and properties, maybe even your life is always getting on the toes of everyone else's life liberty and property. So you have to have a system of justice to figure things out within the paradigm. You with me so far? So I thought and thought about what that all means - and I couldn't get anywhere. Locke is, fine I guess, Tabula Rasa.... hey man, if you say so. But people who know me know I tend to hold with Hobbes, a little more. And after looking into Utilitarianism etc... I found that I liked Hobbes a little better in terms of his ideas about Justice.

So this image was very informative for me. The Leviathan, the state, the power of the overwhelming giant-king. See? I put it in there too. Giant menacing kings.

At this point though - the symbolism kind of spoke to me. The sword- my sword is the Sharpie Pen - the pen being the sign of political stakeholders (i.e.: Legislators) and intellectualism (i.e.: Me and you). So a pen, he's got that big pen? Sure, I get it. And the little village, heck I like that little village, that speaks to me.

But what's my idea here? What's my thought? What is the concept I'm trying to convey that will eventually have a mythic and mystic connotation when removed from this (overwrought) context?

So I consult the I-Ching, and it's showing me Hexagram #8 - Holding Together - Union So I had it. The union of people. From there some of the imagery came. Now - I'm kind of happy that I paint these things without a plan or special insight, and maybe I'm doing a lot of after-the fact rationalizing. but look.
009
Here's the little village in the valley with the wall of bricks in a ring. The Bricks. Unity - apart, alone? What's a brick? Together they make the strong wall that holds the predatory giant king at bay. More than that they're a ring, it's a ring - the union of lovers, the sanctioned, unbreakable union. Together - together and united the little village in the valley is not menaced by the king, he may prey upon them, but together they resist his overwhelming strength, force him to reconcile, to wait. His pen, the law, his official strength, it looms over the village but the walls are strong. The roads - the roads join together, all unity of the hill. There are the terraced little farms on the hillsides
015 in the image of hexagram #8 - they're common, together, the road leads to the safety of the village where they are joined together into the one road.

But what about this guy?
018
This shirtless little weirdo? Well, this came about. Honestly this was a hard painting to paint. I had ideas, but couldn't make them come together, I actually erased and repainted it a few times. But I kept having this other hill. And I thought - it's got to mean something, and the menacing king. Look - Justice, conceptually - is delivered by an overwhelming power - in our society justice is handed down from the court, it is decided by the bureaucracy. There is an element of inequality inherent in systems of justice - of all vs. all within the concept of Natural Law. So this shirtless little madman represents that - the idea of the individual claiming his rights, challenging the power of the king. He stands atop the other peak and is not effectual, not against the power of the giants. He carries his own pen, trying to go to the battle, thinking that it is a swordfight. See, he's undone already, he has contended according to a lopsided system that automatically doesn't favor him. He is aggrieved and considers Justice to be something he deserves, but that he must fight for. Because Justice has within it that quality of inequity. So there is the little village, that is untroubled by the predation of the great, because in communion the many have the power to resist. So... Commonwealth.

I suppose I should note that these cards, these ideas flow out of one another, into one another - there's an organism being made. $6 Satisfaction leads to a journey - the journey requires the #7 Infrastructure, which suggests the unity of action, but is also a destination for the querent - #8 the Commonwealth.
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005
So right away you can tell I will never-ever be a civil engineer. Or a traffic-engineer,or a car designer or an aeronautics-designer. You can tell, and I concede. Someone tries to offer me those licenses and diplomas and I scatter them on the ground and say: "Nasty old Fishes."

So! The Chariot. This one was a little tricky, to think about. I was debating my processes a little today and i mentioned to an interested party that I don't actually plan these out. The meditative painting-act is fairly sublime and I kind of make what wants to be made. Without being too gross or mysterious - that's what I do. I start painting and try to have a fugue state or something. Then I step back and fix everything that's gone wrong whilst I was fugueing. The Chariot itself isn't easy to interpret. It has a meaning of war and strength - probably lost on contemporary generations - something filthy, something there is that doesn't love a war, or strength. Romantics you know? They have a faith in the more sensual conflicts - can't see the muscle on muscle violence for their fixation on the glorious dead. The Chariot - to me - implies victory. It's... Antique. More than the other cards so far, they're rooted in their time - the Chariot bespeaks an elder age, of martial cruelty, of danger and an intimate conflict. That's a strange strength.

But too, I wanted to move away and out of the personal. I'd tackled that, the personal and the innate, the Self - I did that. So I wanted a step out of there. The Duke of Zhou was helpful with that - the 6th Hexagram being THE ARMY. See there. Public works, the strength of the united public, of the polity, or the social order - all pulling together to exert a profound and effective influence.
010
The Army - a good start. I went to the Infrastructure, and I've painted up a highway or... Something suggesting a highway - and that bespeaks the power of the many. Denies the significance of the few or the one. There are cars on it, trucks, buses - and those don't arise from a vacuum you know - there's a profound potency in the world - that allows these things to come to be - that then demands that they exist, that builds roads and bridges and a whole unseen, forgotten world to house them.

I had thought that my Chariot might end up being a fighter plane, or some kind of racecar. I thought about it. But Power, a strange and hard to define or understand strength - to me this speaks of the unity of society, of that strength - which is fearful and beautiful and altogether the best part of being all together. I'm writing this to you on the internet and McCluhan was right- the medium is the message. We make the world together and the world is made for us. My Chariot -the Infrastructure - it's meant to suggest that. To imply us all being in this together, to accomplish amazing things, and then to regard those things as commonplace.

013
Of course the infrastructure gets rusty, it gets graffitied upon, it gets used in novel ways and ignored in depressing ones. This power requires maintenance and unity to hold together. Energy, Success, Wealth, Bravery, Command, Discipline. These are identities that go with the old Charioteer -but I see them in the highway and the bridge and the structure of the world that we inhabit. In the best version of the world, no doubt these things are constantly refreshed -but in the meantime they're made so powerfully that they'll last through the ages.

021
The chariot is traditionally pulled by a black and a white Sphinx - and they've got abstract and unfamiliar provenance. I went with the airplanes - because they provoke a sense of dread - menace - they could bomb the whole thing to pieces, they could. They could erase it all - but if they do, that's the conquest of one infrastructure over another. The plane builders who had the iterative capacity, built over and over and developed through development to overwhelm the underdeveloped. But they are reassuring too - these images of mastery, of a strength over the nations - of motion and speed - we have those, we have it within us to make those. To exert that might. Which is a great thing, a great mastery that sprouts from the shoulders of all the generations before.

So continuity and the threat of ruin, of motion and unity, of the recklessness of disunion and the folly of individuality, and self-seeking. That is The Infrastructure.
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001
So all the way to #5! Nice work. Actually, I ran out of the canvas-paper that I've been using so I bought some biggish boards to paint on - so #5 the Television is the biggest painting I've ever painted. Nice, I know. It's also, now, the only television in my house.

The cable-girl, who came to sell us upgrades and so on - she was shocked, I think authentically shocked, when we said we don't have a TV. We sure don't. That is how I am able to talk about it in the way that I am about to. The old Cathode God is pretty entrenched -and when it came time to paint my version of the Pope -the Hierophant - I didn't take too many minutes to realize that I'd paint a Television. Here's the story. First of all - the hierophant is meant to indicate the Orthodoxy, connection to faith, communal identity, and - significantly - to connect the material with the celestial. If you look at the old cards you'll see the pope giving that two-fingered blessing. 2 up 2 down - the bridge between the heavens and the earth. Well the Pope of the world that I live in is the TV. Dig it - the American Orthodoxy relies on the TV. If you, like me, don't have fluency about contemporary programming, if you don't follow television sports (football and basketball) then you're out- you are in the out crowd. People will think you can't talk and they won't talk to you, they'll suppose you've nothing going on or if you do that you're strange.

002
I'm painting my own tarot deck for the purposes of amusement and metaphysical awakening - so I probably count as pretty weird. In this respect the TV is easily compared to the Pope - cause Religion and TV are things I've dallied with and both of them are things I've tried to get away from, and both of them exert a tremendous influence over my interactions with people and the social world that I exist within. The TV is the contemporary orthodoxy, and participation with TV is a vital sacrament in the social circle. Channels, Cable, that kind of thing - it's like denominations, pastoral or monastic callings. The television also connects you with the unreal - the world of imagination, the heady heaven of thought and shared drama, the myths of the time, the socializing power of the collective imagination. I won't deny, I won't hate, or be hostile, but I'll resist, just me personally, with my life, I'm too busy and too generative to absorb religions or imaginary ideas. I make my own man.

003
I gave the TV some acolytes. And kind of pillars. The Antenna point up, the screen is the connection to the earth.

005
The Vicar of Christ carries the keys - and I thought it would be alright to put some keys in this- and where else, you rest them on the boob-tube.

I know this an old-timey TV and I know that there's the internet. I know about these things. The internet, it's community but still an outlier, the TV is orthodox - look at how the internet is used - Netflix man, it's all watch and commune, and be part of the community. People come to the faith, called to the temple, it is a conversion experience.

More than that, I mean - I first used the internet on a TV like that - C128 baby, Amiga and the VGA graphics on an old staticy TV. Atari? All of that the old CRT Television is an awesome icon and I don't care that wood-paneled - no remote control - bunny ears TVs are out of the world now, the image and identity of the Television goes to here, to this.
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001
And... Continuing. I am not feeling awesome today - I was saying that I think the daily weather that lately encompasses all of the seasons every 24 hours is a monumental test. The Sky has gotten bored of just freezing us out every year and now we're being tested to see if we can bear the whole world's cycle every day - and if we can we'll deserve a spring. As it is, kinda sick today. Still, I have things to do, so I do them, sickness being a slight inconvenience and no object to the tasks at hand.

Today I get up to the Major Arcana #3 - which in my construction is the Schoolteacher. So here's my explanation.

The Empress is supposed to be universal fecundity, female ripeness, the mother of all. I kind of hate this idea. The whole cult of the mother - as it has been redefined by the Victorians and their followers - it's just grotesque and patriarchal. Don't get me wrong - I think it can come from a right place. I think the paleolithic humans who had no concept that sex was the origin of people - I think that they might have had an authentic cult of the mother. But in the modern context - I think it is gross. Motherhood is fine, but it's not emblematic of nurturing and care - just ask my mother - Or yours (Your Mom). And uh... tasteless jokes aside - I thought about a figure of constancy and nurturing, that brings you into the world. Really into the world. Sure - life. Life we won't denigrate and we won't speak against motherhood here. But who trains you to be in the world? Who gives you that life in society? In the world of thought? I went with the Schoolteacher as an emblem of this idea. That you are born, but not a person, that you are trained into the patterns of the world and that is you becoming a person. Because I want my #3 to be more terrestrial, more rooted in the Mundus. That's suggested by other interpretations - and heck - in the old form the Universal Mother gives physical form to souls - it's the translation of the ephemeral into the physical.

004
Since I almost default to materialism I put the Schoolteacher as the one who translates you from the physical to the intellectual - the self of knowledge. But this knowledge is kind of rigid - in the way that physicality is rigid. You die if you don't eat, you die if you don't breath - there are boundaries of life. So too in the intellectual training you get at school. You are bounded.

Abandoning the idea of universal motherhood - I was as well allowed to play fast and loose with gender - I guess I went all ambiguous - but to me the Schoolteacher is a lady - but I'm satisfied that it can be interpreted any way you want. She carries the ruler - which demonstrates the rigidity of ideas, an inch a meter -these are concepts that have a physical reality that is arbitrarily decided, but decided, defined and (insofar as is possible) absolute. The Schoolteacher doesn't make the rules, she teaches you the rules so you know. Attendant to the Ruler is the feather of Ma'at - the ancient ruler/measure/weight against which your character is judged. The Schoolteacher - the Schoolteacher judges you. Not whether you are bad or good - not what kind of person you are -but rather whether you are ready to begin the next phase of being a person. Whether you are ready to move forward. She has a lot going on - gatekeeper for the many. Nurturer and trainer of the world.

A couple of other things about the Schoolteacher that I've painted. Rider-Waite gives the Empress an ugly frock covered in Pomegranates (again! Again with the pomegranates!) They are meant to evoke, in his illustration, the goddess Persephone. This is an idea about seasons - which was the first thing to suggest the Schoolteacher to me. Aside from farmers and snow-plow operators I guess that Teachers are probably the most affected by the seasons - so incorporating ideas about seasons suggested the schoolteacher as an image. Still -the ugly pomegranate dress doesn't really refer to anything except mythology - it's just a goony costume that the Empress wears in a kind of fandom of greek myth. So true to form I made my schoolteacher goony and fannish and gave her Mr. Spock's jersey.

002
And right the Schoolteacher is giving you a system for understanding things. The Schoolteacher prepares you to exist in the world, not to be correct, exactly, but to understand the System, and to take a place in it. Another cue I had for choosing the schoolteacher was the 3rd Hexagram that the Duke of Zhou decided on - Difficulty at the Beginning - which I have sadly cast too often and never been happy to see -but which is also very suggestive of school, a beginning, a difficult one. For me anyway.

The empress is also supposed to be crowned with 12 stars - and that's... 12. Okay - tribes of Israel? Months? The Zodiac? I'm just going to put the stars up there - they probably mean months. But the Schoolteacher isn't wearing a crown. No.

005
I'm putting in Malkuth in there - because I like the idea - hermetic and kabbalistic - just to have them as referents.

And I include the Rivers - that appear in a few versions of the Empress card because I thought there should be a reference to Water - which the Empress is not closely associated with but there's an indication that the Schoolteacher has governance, or at least manifests the governance of the waters according to System.
003

So altogether this has been kind of a departure - but I like the 3rd and the difficult beginning as the place where momentum shifts, and the new begins. I learned a lot from teachers -but I learned also to go on my own and not thoughtlessly obey the common system.

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Tarot Girlfriend
That's right! While you slept and watched football and did whatever else it is that people do - I continued painting. Here's my second Tarot image. #2 The Girlfriend. Now this one was a little simpler - there's not a lot of complicated metaphorical imagery in the old version. Evidently in ancient and continental versions of the deck this was the Popette. Lady Popes are sure interesting sure, but who even knows what it would mean that there's a Popette? I'm not catholic or even religious. If the Pope was a lady? It doesn't mean anything to me - he might even be a lady or be smooth down in his genitals - doesn't matter a bit to me, the Pope is the King of a bunch of people that I don't know or deal with too much. Like the King of England or Siam - I never held too much with Kings. Gods either - so the Popess doesn't pop for me, it's untranslatable.

Now - those tatty victorians they took the idea of the Popette and turned it to their purposes - and made her the High Priestess. Priestesses smoke a lot of grass yo. All day long, high as hell. Hah, but I kid. Really the High Priestess is about sexual license. She's a pagan! She's with all those Pomegranates! The Moon! There's gross victorian metaphor all throughout the Rider-Waite that suggests the high priestess is a lady who will do sex with you! Before you are married to her even! So... abandoning the clumsy-ugly suggestions of Victoriana (I'm looking at your creepy ass Brahm Stoker) - you end up with a nice girl, who embodies compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness and the beginning of an adventure - so I make this, in my life, and in the world of today - to mean The Girlfriend.
Tarot Girlfriend detail 2
Hey! Yeah, check her out, but not too close, I'm only just learning how to paint people - this is only the 2nd or 3rd person I've ever painted in fact. Not too shabby. Protip - Couches are way harder to paint than a lady. So here she is. She's got her nice blue dress on, her hair all done up, she's compassionate and thoughtful, she's sitting there saying- "well, hey, if you want to go out we should go out and do something, but if you want to stay here and make out on this couch and eat pomegranates - that's cool baby." Because the Girlfriend Rules. She's up for adventure but nice times too. I kept the pomegranates - not to suggest the lady-genitals (as filthy Rider-Waite does) but because I know a lot of girls that like Pomegranates. She's got that one, she'll share it with you. Or is it a weird-gross intimation on my part that the Girlfriend wants you to do oral on her? Nah - these are current times - if the Girlfriend wants you to do oral to her she will say so. Probably in a nice way. But hey, while you think about it - have a pomegranate.

She's got her pocketbook too (not too hard to paint at all) and sticking out of it is the Opera playbill. Are you at the Opera? Did you go there together? Did you meet there and she just keeps it as a memento? See the old timey Tarot wants the High Priestess to carry a scroll that says TORA on it - but if it comes to magic words - there's one I like best and that's the Alchemist's term for the unity of all arts - OPERA. So there.

On the Pillars it says B&J which I always find to be kind of comical - the High Priestess is stoned as fuck and offers Blowjobs. Nice work Rider-Waite! Nice work. Really the B&J has a masonic/kabalistic element to it - something to do with Solomon's Temple. Fine. I'll keep the B&J but just because it's also a joke - one the Girlfriend laughs at as well. She's pretty cool about stuff.
Tarot girlfriend detail 1
And just check out those Pomegranates will you? Perfect, I know, I can barely contain my constant success and correctness. I started adding in the I-Ching Hexagrams because of how I do what I want. It's interesting that the first hexagram is all boy and the second is all girl - and the first of the Tarot is the idiomatic Masculine and the second is the Hyperreal feminine. Not that either of these or the Hexagrams really reflect my experience of Man/Woman - but making the distinction - as in- that's the obvious and first distinction people make - Mom v. Dad - who is who? Maybe going forward I'll mess around with these roles and stuff - to be true to the times I live in - but for the first two - I'm content with the time-honored baseline. I also wanted to show the ancient symbol being overgrown - as in - it's old and why are you looking at that anyway? You're girlfriend is right there! You guys should go someplace together. Take her someplace nice.

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