Monday, February 21, 2005

The Castle of Crossed Destinies, by Italo Calvino

An intriguing idea; telling stories based on draws of tarot cards. But they're simple stories - 4-5 pages each - so its not much of a feat to wrap one around a draw of the cards, especially given the amazingly generous interpretations of the cards we get here. What does make it clever is the fact that Calvino crosses the paths of the different stories, using the same cards in a matrix, and drawing all the possible paths through it... which I thought was quite cool.

But then he gives up on the idea as too hard, and starts telling known stories (Hamlet, Macbeth, Oedipus) through totally random collections of tarot cards, which don't form straight lines or any obvious patterns in the mesh of cards. Whats hard about that? Yes, the cards have some very common symbols in them. Yes, you can find a tenuous reference to one of those symbols at various points in most stories. So? Like most things to do with tarot, it might be impressive if you could tell the story from the cards, but if you're simply matching cards to the story then any idiot could do it.


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