We can compare a tarot card to a page from an atlas. Each card represents a part of the map of the world.
A map, to a certain extent, is a universal projection of space/time condensed on to a portable support.
For this purpose, a map has to be precise, and to provide as many details as possible on what we are going to meet in the direction that we are going to take.
The tarot is a map of the world, and as a representation of the real world, is swarming with details of infinite variety.
In this small selection, we can compare the same card from a series of minors from different ages.
From left to right we have the Viéville tarot (cira 1650), the Dodal (circa 1700) the Madenié tarot ( circa 1709) and the Conver tarot (circa 1760). In the last series, we can also find the Marseille Grimaud contemporary tarot.
We would like to draw the attention of the reader to the importance of quantifying on each card the number of details which can represent so much information : it is a little like comparing two different editions of a road map .
It is not so much the esthetics that are important here – in fact the symmetry is misleading – but the overall coherence from which we obtain a general concrete sense. So in the Seven of denier of Viéville and of Dodal, we can see that the central plant looks vaguely like a person. This is the anthropomorphic plant which we find also on other cards.
With the Three of cup, we see in the Viéville and the Dodal that not only is the card polarized, but also the plant in the Viéville is sexual !
With the Viéville Eight of baton, we see that the card is not symmetrical – it has a top and a bottom – and also that the frame provides us with information.
With the Nine of sword, the handle of the Viéville sword is broken – which would make it difficult to use! – whereas the tip of the blade of the Dodal is “electrified”.
The handle of the Madenié sword is not aligned and the red colour spreads outside the blade.
The Conver blade is visible through the woven cloth.
Only on the Grimaud edition can we see what appears to be the beginning of a split on the blade, to trouble the uniformity of this arcane.
This small panorama allows us to understand that it is not the symmetry and uniformity which are the prerogative of the tarot, but rather the detail – and so the information- which reveals the sense.