Tarot Spat: 2

Welcome back to Tarot Spat, where we investigate and better understand a literary or art world “spat” using the power of Tarot.

The last Tarot Spat left me a bit troubled, for it seemed that the Oracle was saying art trumps humanity. I really hate it when the Oracle disagrees with me. So this time I’m going to look into a spat that touches on some of the same issues and doesn’t involve me directly. That way I can be totally unbiased.

Today actor, comedian, author and poetry lover, Patton Oswalt, tweeted this:

This seemed a little strange considering it came from someone who is well known to voice his own personal outrage and ire regarding things he considers to be fucked-up and wrong. But perhaps this is a resolution is directed to himself? Perhaps this is his own personal resolution and he’s inviting everyone to join in with him?

Or perhaps not. It doesn’t appear to have been taken that way by others. While some people got behind Oswalt’s “Make Chuckles Not Outrage” message, others took issue with it. Below are responses by writers, Ijeoma Oluo and Anne Thériault, that best sum up this position:


So what do we make of this? Is the best offense a hilarious one? Mock the oppression away? If more people made more pithy jokes could we finally triumph over violence and brutality and rape and racism and homophobia and sexism and abuse and . . .? Or should we voice our outrage even when it annoys, offends or inconveniences others? Is there a time for outrage and time for jokes? If so, who decides when? Or is it simply one or the other?

I don’t have the answers, that’s why I turn to the Tarot.

Card 1/Oswalt’s Position – 6 of Wands: This is about passion and shared enthusiasm. Oswalt uses his confidence and optimism to inspire others. He’s the wreath-wearing man on the horse surrounded and celebrated by his many followers. They love him. Must be a nice position to find oneself in. A person in this position holds a great deal of influence and dare I say, privilege.





Card 2/Opposing Position (as articulated by Oluo and Thériault) -The Lovers: But Oswalt’s position is not the only position coming from a place of love and harmony. Often people connect outrage to anger which then gets incorrectly linked with hate. If you’re outraged about something, isn’t it because you feel very passionately about someone or something? That passion can stem from a number of places, most prominently love. Shouldn’t we welcome love, even if it doesn’t stride into town wearing laurels like a boss? Additionally, the Lovers are about making a choice. We all have a choice in how we respond to something which leads to the next card.



Card 3/The “True” Issue at Stake (as perceived by the Oracle) – 5 Cups: When it comes down to it, the issue is about sadness and what’s left after a loss and how we deal with it and move on. Our feelings don’t always stay the same. Things change. Sometimes we’re going to want to laugh and sometimes we’re going to want to say something really loud until we’re heard. Perhaps humor is one tool to be used and outrage another. And making art and voting are two more. We have a shed full of tools for how to deal with pain and injustice. Why limit ourselves? Or dictate to others? Different tools for different jobs, for different folks, for different situations.



Card 4/The Oracle’s Proposed Solution – The Hanged Man (Reversed): If the Hanged Man means being stuck, reversed is about getting unstuck. Rachel Pollack writes, “For me, it tends to mean conformity, allowing other people’s opinions, or society’s attitudes, to take over from your own.” Conformity as a solution? Well that sounds sketchy. Could the solution simply be look at it from another person’s perspective, one other than your own? You don’t have to permanently adopt someone else’s opinion, but perhaps long enough so you don’t end up being so snarkily dismissive of how others express their feelings and pain.




What an obvious solution! Thank you Oracle who lives in my Tarot Deck.

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