Cards or Dice (Lyon IV)

Cut, shuffle

Rattle, roll

Which is better?

I don’t know.

When asking for a sign

Throw the jacks


n.b. Fate does not lay out our fortune, but the interpreter of fortunes does. We hear what we want to hear, believe what we choose and act out our lives accordingly.

King James VI of Scotland, James I of England, assessed the character of men by the way they played cards. This is quite an interesting way to assess someone’s character. Since I read this in Antonia Fraser’s book about the Gun Powder Plot, I have considered how I play cards and how that is reflected in the life I have lived. Is this what I have lived, or a romanticised perspective brought on by the idea of character played out at the table?


I would describe my card playing as optimistic to the point of reckless. However, I would say that one can tell a person’s character better by the way they play cricket, or football as these involve not only intellectual and emotional character, but physicality too – the whole person.


Are cards but a parlour game? The above picture is from Lyon’s exhibition of Resistance and Deportation. Even in the death camps of the Nazis the deportees found ways to pass the time before their execution in play. What would King James (a man who wrote about hunting and prosecuting witches) have said about the resourcefulness and resilience of the incarcerated in these appalling circumstances


Would different characteristics between players emerged? Probably. Yet to even subscribe to play at such a place shows the enormous depth of human spirit.


The Romans who built Lugdunum, (now Lyon), thought that how the jacks fell most accurately foretold the path of future events – not that they could do much about the projected outcomes.


CLP 24/11/2019

Published by

Christopher Perry

Liberté, Equalité, Humanité