The Poetics of Tarot
With: Enrique Enriquez
Film By: Chris Deleo and Kimberlie Naughton
A documentary is something that, to my knowledge, is very new to the Tarot world. As the Tarot is considered best viewed as a story, this documentary becomes an oral history of present day Tarot. No, it does not delve into Tarot history. What it does is explore the Tarot through the eyes of New York based Tarotist Enrique Enriquez. Why do I seem to be emphasizing Enriquez’ home base? Because New York is a very active, exciting city, where one finds a diversity of both people and ideas. We enter a new world as Enriquez takes us around the city, literally showing us the Tarot in real life.
The oral history aspect of this documentary is given even more depth through the inclusion of short interviews with various people in the present day Tarot world, including Rachel Pollack, Marcus Katz, Mary K. Greer, Robert Place, Carrie Paris, Shawn Nacol, Dan Pelletier, Wald Amberstone, Donnaleigh de LaRose, Paul Nagy, Sasha Graham, Thalassa, Camelia Elias, and many more. There are also contributions from non- Tarot individuals including Seb Leon, Kevin W. Haus, and Christian Scheidemann.
The documentary runs for approximately 90 minutes, with an additional two hours of bonus material featuring extended interviews and deleted scenes. From the main menu, you can choose to either watch the video (which I will be doing many times over!), or you can watch individual interviews, interviews done at the 2011 and 2012 Readers Studios, and an awe inspiring journey through the Marseilles Tarot physical postures with Enriquez.
I loved the Readers Studio interviews, as this is a wonderful way for those in the Tarot world to see and hear the people that they interact with on the Internet in a relatively “in person” manner. This alone is worth the price of admission! We are invited into Rachel Pollack’s home, to listen to her talk about the Tarot, and to actually get to see the paintings behind her “Shining Tribe” Tarot, and hear a bit of the background behind the cards.
Robert Place speaks just as expressively as Enriquez does – his hands never stop moving! And in the background … I sat there drooling, as there were literally stacks upon stacks of books on every surface behind him! Seventh heaven!
With Camilia Elias we get a bit of background into the work that Enriquez does, including an explanation of just what poetics is.
Where to begin with Enriquez and the main video. Just jump in, I think. I will ramble on for a few, babble a bit, and hope that some of my excitement will come through in a manner that is comprehensible! I have followed Enriquez’ work for some time now, and admire him greatly. If he were a different kind of person, his views (which are non-traditional, to say the least!) would cause either a minor riot, or a major schism within the Tarot community. I found it interesting that it was through Tarot that Enriquez was able to connect to New York City when he first moved there. To begin with, Enriquez sees the Tarot as a “fringe activity” in modern day life, as opposed to being a mainstream source of wisdom. He does not believe in divination, he does not pay any attention to Tarot’s esoteric background, or anything written about the cards.
The pasteboard masquerade for him is the images the cards hold. For him, the older Tarot decks act as cultural artifacts. His work is with the Marseilles Tarot – in this video he pays homage to the late French artisan Jean-Claude Flornoy, and two of the decks that Flornoy restored – the Jean Dodal Tarot and Jean Noblet Tarot. I am going to insert a link here that is not in the video, but I am going to include anyway. It is the link to Enriquez’ 2010 interview with Jean-Claude Flornoy - http://tarot-history.com/Enrique-Enriquez/pages/itw-EE-15-02-2010-eng.html
Enriquez feels that we can update what we say about the cards without updating the imagery. He feels that the most appropriate imagery is that of the decks that he regards as cultural artifacts – the older decks in the Marseilles tradition. He states that the Marseilles Tarot has a very specific language of its own. He is very much about the movement shown in the cards – paying attention to the hands, paying attention to the body posture. How this flows from card to card in a reading is incredible when you watch him do it!
I have to say this – Enriquez and the film makers (Chris Deleo and Kimberlie Naughton) did such a tremendous job in making this video not only shine as far as content go, but flow in a very unique manner. You do not want to move away from your screen when watching this video. It is not something that you can listen to while doing something else – you must watch every nano-second, or you will miss something important!
Enriquez has a timber to his voice, and a way of speaking, that makes you want to listen. Even when he is saying “Toss aside everything that you know, and try this” (and no, he did NOT say that, but he is asking that we open our minds to a different way of doing things), you want to listen!
We walk with him through one of the most expressive, vibrant cities in the U.S. – New York City. We watch as he draws on sidewalks and walls – draws with chalk, but also draws with his whole body. His focus is on the body posture in the images, and how it changes.
In different parts of the video he is walking around the city, pointing out the resemblance between signs and the images in the Tarot, and the structure of buildings and the Tarot. Once he points it out, you wonder why you never saw it before!
Before I forget, I am going to add something else here (I told you that I was going to ramble on!) – the background music was simply background music – it was appropriate, it was there, it helped hold things together, it helped to create mood – but it was never intrusive, it never wanted to take center stage.
At different points in the video Enriquez talks about letters – again, it was amazing! He was doing full scale drawings on the wall as he was talking – the letters really gained a life! Did you know that the letter “D” was a pregnant letter “I”? Did you know that the letter “C” was the letter “I” with its arms out around something? Poetics in action!
The action is sometimes inside (in a classroom, or in coffee shops), sometimes it is walking down the street, sometimes it is in lovely park settings. It is where it needs to be, and it is stunning! Watching Enriquez work is like watching a ballet dancer in his prime – incredible!
I personally want to thank Enriquez for including his family in this video (and to thank his family for being willing to be included!). We often see him walking with his young daughter – who is so lovely, so full of life and her very own wisdom!
As a final thought – and no, my thoughts are not in any particular order! – I share this with you: Enriquez sees the wisdom being passed on through the Tarot as craftsmanship. It is all about the early craftsman, all about the early Marseilles images.
A small sample of Enrique’s work can be seen here in the “Tarology – The Poetics of Tarot” trailer – http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi2918096153/ .
If this video touches you, and you want to learn more about the Language of the Birds, please visit Enrique’s blog – http://tarology.wordpress.com/ . You can also find him on his Face Book page – https://www.facebook.com/tarologyfilm .
© July 2012 Bonnie Cehovet