Alchemical mercury : a theory of ambivalence - download pdf or read online

By Karen Pinkus

ISBN-10: 0804760322

ISBN-13: 9780804760324

ISBN-10: 0804772878

ISBN-13: 9780804772877

How do we account, in a rigorous manner, for alchemy's ubiquity? we expect of alchemy because the transformation of a base fabric (usually lead) into gold, yet "alchemy" is a notice in extensive circulate in daily life, known as upon to satisfy a metaphoric accountability because the magical transformation of fabrics. virtually each tradition and time has had a few type of alchemy. This ebook appears at alchemy, now not at anyone specific example alongside the ancient timeline, now not as a convention or thought, now not as a method of redemption, yet as a theoretical challenge, associated with genuine gold and genuine creation on the earth. What emerges because the least universal denominator or "intensive estate" of alchemy is ambivalence, the very unlikely and paradoxical coexistence of 2 incompatible parts. Alchemical Mercury strikes from antiquity, in the course of the golden age of alchemy within the Dutch 17th century, to conceptual artwork, to substitute fuels, preventing to imagine with writers corresponding to Dante, Goethe, Hoffmann, the Grimm Brothers, George Eliot, and Marx. Eclectic and wide-ranging, this can be the 1st learn to think about alchemy on the subject of literary and visible conception in a finished way.

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Extra info for Alchemical mercury : a theory of ambivalence

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An early modern courtier like J. J. Becher will argue that alchemy should (and indeed, does) serve to produce a product for consumption. Similarly, an alchemist explains: Even so it is with Gold, as long as it is in the form of a ring, a vessel or Money, ’tis the vulgar Gold, as concerning its being cast in our water, ’tis Philosophical; In the former respect it is called Dead, because it would remain unchanged even to the Worlds end; in the latter respect it is said to be living, because it is so potentially; which power is capable of being brought into Art in a few daies, but then Gold will no longer be Gold, but the Chaos of the Sophi; therefore well may Philosophers say, That their philosophical Gold differeth from the vulgar Gold, Which difference consisteth in the Composition.

For the sake of an analogy with the monetary state of exception, we can say that alchemy involves production (of gold), but it is anomic production because little or no motion, action, or labor is expended in the process of its acquisition. Alchemy speeds up the natural processes of maturation of ores in the earth, and in that, it seems analogous to the stupefying narcotic that Beccaria writes about in his Elementi. Not all thinkers of the early modern found alchemy to be morally suspect or anomic in this sense.

J. Becher, who endeared himself to various courts of Europe, believed that good government depends, in part, on the ability of the sovereign to sustain the population and expand trade. Some say alchemy is a bad word, Becher notes, but worse are the following: 30 Introduction: Lead into Gold “contributions, taxes, seizures, interest, tolls, usury, the state treasury” (Becher 694). Alchemy is both natural and virtuous because it can improve the salus publici. As long as the prince is pure in his intentions, alchemy is good for society.

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Alchemical mercury : a theory of ambivalence by Karen Pinkus


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