Dispatches from the wilds of Proseambique – Bios

The hall of biographies is a great and terrible thing. It exists outside of time and space, never and forever. All its works written at the dawn of time, and yet there on the shelf sits your own life; complete in two-hundred slightly dusty pages. The hall receives few visitors; your life fewer still – but there it is in your hands; laid out a chapter at a time.

Not all of it of course – but all of it that matters. You skim through, finding incidents from your past you are surprised to see included. Surprised, that is, until you see the way the future unfolds – then the narrative arcs of your life become clear. Those seemingly meaningless moments stand as portents, foundations for the significances to come.

And you know, then, what you are supposed to do, what you are supposed to become, what is supposed to be. And you live your life with this knowledge, and it colours your every action, your every choice. And not once do you stop to consider that the flow your biography was dictated not by importance, or significance, but by the rules of narrative that have stood largely unchanged for thousands of years. You discard sub-plots and complexities that could not fit in 200 pages, without ever really knowing why.

And you never question how it could be that your story was already written before it even began.

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Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dispatches from the wilds of Proseambique – Deck

People only buy tarot cards if they are serious about mysticism, or if they think it’s all just a laugh. Or if they think they’d make an interesting decoration –  but they’re not relevant to this, and so are summarily disregarded. There is no middle-ground. You fall into the latter. Quite by accident you discover a set online, with an intriguing design, and before you know it they’re sitting in your letterbox. You decide it might be interesting to learn about, a fun trick for parties, even though you are entirely unconvinced by the superstitious nonsense that surrounds them. But it turns out there’s a lot to learn. There are 78 cards, after all, each with multiple meanings. And then there are multiple ways you can lay the cards on the table, each with different significances applied to each position. It may be nonsense, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

You notice, however, that the deck has for suits, just like a standard deck of cards – Swords, Cups, Wands and Pentacles. These suits have ten number cards, and four court cards – King Queen and Knight, like a usual deck, and then the Page, in addition. On top of this are the 22 Major Arcana cards, each unique. It isn’t long before you’ve invented a game to play with them. Fundamentally, it’s quite like poker, except that the Major Arcana cards each grant a special ability to the holder – anything from seeing an opponent’s cards, to making everyone take a shot. The rules are fluid, and entirely contextual. It proves a hit at all the parties you attend.

As the only one who fully understands the rules, you are always the dealer. In so doing, you become Lachesis, the apportioner of lots. Each hand is a fate, one you dole out unknowingly, bestowing triumph or heartbreak to your peers without a moment’s thought. You become the mindless agent of their fortunes. The cards would have told you, had you ever read them. But you did not. You never do. For the dealer never takes a hand.

Published in: on July 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm  Comments (4)  
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