The Anti-Film Tarot Art Project

Last night I participated in The Tarot Nook’s Anti-Film Tarot Art Project with the mistress of ceremonies, Kelsey Lynore.This was not your average tarot reading. No mysticism. No bullshit. Kelsey begins every session by placing a ban on any and all discussions of truth. Truth, as she says, has nothing to do with tarot.* Meaning, this was not necessarily a prediction of the future so much as a deconstruction of the present. With a background in Comparative Literature, she approaches tarot using theory and analysis to unlock perception and elucidate possibilities that need churning, to be unearthed. It was everything that therapy should be. And it was all live on her Google+ and Youtube channels.

Though in the beginning I was nervous, fumbling my introduction as a writer and a “muddler,” which roughly translates to “a mother of a toddler” or “one who muddles introductions”. An apt Freudian slip, I’d say, an open expression of anxiety concerning the permanence of video, the conversation recorded, staying still, my appearance as I speak and gesticulate.

But Kelsey is calming, alluring. With a tranquilizing presence, you want to confide.

It was as though I’ve known her a very long time, when in reality, I’ve only known her since this blog’s inception. She’s then only known me through my writing. And yet despite my usual inclination toward neurosis, I was excited in the eyes of the unblinking lens.

I wished it were endless. I wished I were beside her somewhere on the bare earth, talking, absorbing, challenged, sated.

Afterwards I wanted a cigarette. Today I stole one of my mother’s and enveloped myself in an imaginary night, laying myself on the internet, for better or worse.

This project fascinates me. Watching her give other readings satisfies the voyeur, and not cheaply so. She calls this project “deeply humane” and it is. Her subjects are painfully human. They’re honest. They struggle. Their problems flick across their faces with every insight. Flashes they keep hidden. Now sewn onto their skin and forever caught, archived, are able to be studied. And for this I am immensely grateful. I want to relive these insights, peer further, deeper, go into them, transform and coddle them.

While the subjects know they’re being taped, the other is still ever-present but recedes into the relaxed and familiar landscapes of video communication. It’s not the same as speaking into the big black void of a lens. I was home. I was myself. Eventually forgetting the world outside of Kelsey and my pulsing life questions. I felt clear and charged, revealing possibly more than I should have on the internet, which is exactly what should have happened.

In other words, I couldn’t recommend this, her more.

*Just as truth has nothing to do with theory, with literature, or with life. To quote Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?”

About Cathy Borders

Writer. Book Midwife. The Republic of Letters. Waterline Writers. Omnia Vanitas Review.
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9 Responses to The Anti-Film Tarot Art Project

  1. Imagine an auto-fictionalized journal of these, after 4 years (160 videos), like “Brief Interviews…” but not skewed towards the criminally insane and misogynistic (and your hoarding website, haha). This is interesting as pertains to the chronicling of narrative — tiny little fragments of lives shared, generously. That’s something! And I don’t see such honesty in most of the media produced at the moment. I don’t know how, in what form, but I see this Project as the first step of something rather decent; with Tarot as the premise and Man, his/her imagination and vision and self-perception/judgment/critique/obsession/interest, as the subject. Who knows? Omnia Vanitas? And what does that mean? It feels so wide open…. it must be right.
    I want to be your Google Hangout/Skype buddy. I meant that when I said it. It feels to me as if much of the world is on a hinge — although I’m aware that every generation of humanity has struggled with “apocalypse” (one of my favorites is Baudelaire’s “Le Cygne/The Swan”) — but the potential rawness of this (maybe) recounting… I don’t know. There’s something there; the fact that I cannot fictionalize these videos. I like that.

    • Fiction is about the author, the creation process, and the connection from writer to reader. I will never be able to read a work of fiction again and simply “get lost in the story.” I see operation; I see work; I see choice. I see the text transcending the author. Those choices form patterns, some intended, many not. Many patterns are reflections of the psyche behind them, most mirror yourself, as reader. Reading is an active process. The text is a puzzle, a personal labyrinth that only you can navigate. This is why reading is awesome. Anyone can get lost in anything. When you read, you get lost in yourself.

      These tarot vignettes, slices, gems of guided exposure cannot be manipulated. You, the cards, maneuver the text of the confession, as a therapist would, but there is no heavy treading, nor anything heavy handed and forced. A suggestion, an idea is laid on the table, from what you’ve gathered, you give an interpretation, a Eucharistic offering, then it’s up to the interviewee to elaborate, and only then can this project work, and only then will the interviewee have done their part. It would be an insult to the project not to go as far as you can. This is a record. This is therapeutic tarot archived.

      It is often said, that reality always trumps fiction, this is only true where characters are concerned. At the moment, linear writing cannot truly mirror people because thoughts aren’t linear. They’re fragments and fractions overlaid on moods alongside desires. Whenever I watch “True Blood” (a guilty pleasure as this is the only show I know where it’s the men who are objectified) and Sookie reads someone’s mind, there’s always the sussurance (which is supposed to represent the complexities within), but then the thoughts are clear, linear, spoken like a line of dialogue. If she could truly hear people’s thoughts she’d commit suicide from the racket.

      Here, exploring a subject from all sides, laying out symbol after symbol, asking them to expand, to dissect, to deconstruct – this is closer to a full thought than writing a paragraph about the subject would be. When you say the word “Mom” EVERYTHING appears, but we condense, we narrow “Mom” down to the moment’s relevancy, but when we tarot “Mom” everything that’s pushed to the side arises. We move linearly through the reading, but the reading in its entirety is the automatic, instant thought, some of which was buried in the subconscious, but those are the juicy bits we watch for. We root for the interviewee. Have an epiphany! Tell me more! Allow yourself the jouissance of confession! We need it, and you need it! Why hide? Divulge everything.

      I think you’re moving closer to representing consciousness. And that is fucking cool. This is what I meant by alternative writing, or experimental writing. Writing that moves beyond traditional literary strictures and conveys more. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

      • I love your analysis of Tarot as a verb. It’s an odd tension during the act of reading, too. Always. Because I don’t do very much. It’s really the client that does the work. I felt this very strongly as a nanny, too. Sometimes, there were weeks when I didn’t interact that much with the kids and I would feel that I was redundant. I never watched TV or brought my computer or was “busy,” but they just didn’t need me! It turns out that that was the key to them, though. A substitute nanny drove the 5 year old crazy with her planned projects and games and endless attention. The 5 year old felt needed by the nanny! Just as you said: “Lead from behind. Make a nest & watch ’em thrive.” They needed less than many adults gave them (or forced on them), but they needed that “less” to be consistent and reliable. So I would watch them when they didn’t need me for play or protection or affection, and literally study them, as if I was at the zoo, all the while thinking about Hegel, Freud, and Marx. Female grad students thought I was crazy, like I was debasing my grand knowledge by being around kids. Unbelievable! How can anyone like Freud and think kids are a waste of time? I learned a huge amount about myself and the craftier animals watching them.
        Similarly, Tarot is a very limited vocabulary. Sometimes it feels like mere grunts and gesticulations, but I think that’s why it can do the work that it does. It asks the client to personalize the general, to identify and make it their own. It asks them what that means. It is the exact inversion of modern psychoanalysis — which goes from the personal minutia to the generalization that is the DSM. Tarot starts with the archetypal and asks you for the nuance and detail. But this totally strikes me as some species of phylogenetic fantasy, like if Freud had said right off the bat: “Look, I know you have an Oedipus Complex. So, what has been the story with yours so far? How has it been articulated?” This strikes me as substantially less narcissistic…Instead of me, me, me, I have a label and a prescription, it’s label, label, label, where are “you” in all of this?
        (I really wish Freud was still alive and I could talk to him. I’d have so much to say and so much to ask him.)

  2. Reblogged this on THE TAROT NOOK and commented:
    Catherine Borders is one of my favorite bloggers. I’m happy.

  3. grimgriz says:

    I tuned in for a moment during, and it felt so voyeuristic and intrusive I couldn’t say. Something about it being live and ongoing resulted in me feeling like an intruder – this despite having watched previously finished sessions and not feeling such an intensive level of discomfort.

    Ultimately, I am surprisingly grateful that it was recorded and cast into the public domain. It feels good to know that someone may view it and realize how empowering it is to be brave enough to be vulnerable.

    • The intrusion is partially what it’s all about. Especially when you watch it live. When it’s in the past, we do not know who the person has become. Sure, ostensibly, they’re the same, but they’ve evolved, through the reading alone! I love the perversion of this project. I love the exposure of the interviewees. I find it all terribly fascinating. The embarrassed revelations, the proud statements, the ellipses! It is empowered to be brave and vulnerable. Otherwise, you’ll never be understood. And while mind-melding is impossible, this is the closest we’re going to get. Like I said above, I’m excited to see where this project goes.

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