radical break, skeleton, existential vulnerability, mourning, transformation
In Bare we see a cicada popping into life, leaving its exo-skeleton behind in order to start a new cycle. This card marks the moment we are able to differentiate ourselves from our ‘outer skeleton’: the one that keeps us upright in the outside world, the one of norms, ideas and rules that have shaped and molded us into ‘good’ citizens, good daughters, fathers, children, partners, consumers, workers, etc…
The new body that appears is not supported by the regulations and rules we grew into through schooling and social correction. This one is stripped of its excesses and ornaments, and simply expresses the knowledge that comes with being alive, a basic ethics of being-there. Bare is the card that comes with, at least, the minimum violence of the pruning of ourselves to the root of our existence. Cutting the dead wood of convictions and platitudes, of common sense and conventional banalities. It is a tough stage of transformation, one that often harbors a lot of anger and possibly pain in leaving behind the things that once seemed so important to our self-understanding. After all the playful juggling and contemplation accomplished in Play and Bound, this is the moment to put our new-found convictions to work. To clear the space, skilfully break down conventions and open up to a true revolution of the soul.
On the Path of hope Bare is the moment when all bartering is left behind. Baring oneself to the world is an act of great vulnerability. Taking leave of our public persona also robs us of of our public ‘rights’: the recognized achievements that make us who we are in the eyes of other people and institutions. In a negative sense Bare is the situation of the homeless, of illegal immigrants, of people that fell through the grid of regulations and bureaucratized care-taking. When bare, you are stripped of your political and juridical rights, of social security, of government support.
In a society that produces more and more ‘bare’ lives, this is an important card in the sense of its huge transformational power. In response to the example of the stateless and rightless citizens that live in globalized economic transit zones, or the millions of citizens that can no longer afford proper housing and lose their right to public representation, Bare shows us the possibility of another kind of being in the world, a ‘third’ citizenship that appears in the grey areas of society, and almost invisibly starts to produce a shadow cabinet in its belly. The neo-global economy produces bare lives all the time as a side-product of its accumulative spurts. Governments condone this deregulation by turning a blind eye. Bare is life stripped of all that makes it ‘human’ in a cultural sense, and shows us a darker, more profound reality underneath. If taken up voluntarily Bare asks a lot of courage. But it also opens our eyes to a possible kinship with all the have-nots that make up a big part of the world’s population. When forced into bare life the protective skin of citizenship and legal protection is stripped away. People become invisible as a direct result of slipping out of the system of over-regulated and self-protective categorizations established in Ideal. As the mirror card of Ideal, Bare shows us what a society accomplishes that reduces people to juridico-political problems, as statistic inconveniences, or reducible quota. Or that conveniently manages to make whole parts of the population disappear from the public eye. In Bare, another kind of citizenship is taking shape. And voluntarily giving up on the false promise of protection and equality put to the fore in Ideal, can also open up a state of solidarity and critical vulnerability. Then this card becomes an exercise in bare ethics, that rather than denying it, affirms our basic humanness.
Bare is the card of existential truth as it appears in the moment of one becoming ‘nothing’ in the eyes of established society. In a reading this can mean that it is time to give up on the persona you have built up in your job, your family, or your relations. It is a time of possible mourning for what you are about to lose, but also a moment of reconnection to life and the world in a much more profound sense. It is a moment to recognize what might be possible if you were not harnessed into your habitual schemes as a mother, employee or consumer.
In a negative sense Bare can also point out the loss of a loved one, or the end of a professional engagement of situation. It could also speak of a time of financial difficulty or frugality to come. In that case the card warns you not to hibernate in this harness of mourning, but to take this as a starting point for a profound personal transformation.