Traditional Tarot

Desultory Notes on the Tarot

Marcel Lecomte: Tarot Vertigo

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Translator’s Introduction

The Belgian writer and Surrealist, Marcel Lecomte (1900-1966), like many of his contemporaries, had an abiding interest in the Tarot, an interest reflected in his writings. In addition to a volume of Tarotic poems, illustrated by Pierre Alechinsky, Le Sens des Tarots,  Lecomte wrote – and rewrote – a number of texts on the subject, including a book review of Paul Marteau’s Le Tarot de Marseille, an overview of Surrealism and the Tarot, and a couple of other brief texts, often recycling his thoughts and formulations. This piece, published in the first post-war Surrealist journal, is one of the earliest of such writings, and gives a succinct view of his poetic and insightful take on the Tarot.

Le Sens des Tarots, illustration by Pierre Alechinsky, 1948.

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Tarot Vertigo

Marcel Lecomte

When the Tarot cards form the outline of a personal destiny, they are, for me, like a sort of grid placed on top of Reality, on all the infinite complexity of Reality. This Reality reacts, responds to the provocation of the cards in the secret measure of the outline of the grid.

The problem of individual destiny is a mathematical mystery, for the nuance of interpretation of each card and of the cards connected to each other is such that it is no longer a question of knowing if the cards tell a truth, but rather, to what extent they tell that truth.

We also come to think that it is not enough to name a truth in order to say it.

By establishing an attentive examination of a destiny, we very often perceive that the consultant’s consciousness once freely held information which daily automatism, or some personal project linked to shadows hiding delicate zones, has destroyed, without it having been possible for the interested party or someone else to take notice.

The observation of certain Tarot cards brings the initiate to meditate on a secret dialectic of development and the succession of layers of consciousness within him where his inner recreation, his magical recreation occurs, which allows him to welcome the signs of a World in the image of his First Morning.

– Marcel Lecomte, “Le Vertige des Tarots,” Néon, n° 2, 1948.

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