Download Alchemical Mercury: A Theory of Ambivalence by Karen Pinkus PDF

By Karen Pinkus

How will we account, in a rigorous means, for alchemy's ubiquity? we expect of alchemy because the transformation of a base fabric (usually lead) into gold, yet "alchemy" is a observe in extensive movement in daily life, known as upon to meet a metaphoric accountability because the magical transformation of fabrics. virtually each tradition and time has had a few kind of alchemy. This booklet appears at alchemy, no longer at anyone specific example alongside the historic timeline, now not as a tradition or concept, no longer as a style of redemption, yet as a theoretical challenge, associated with genuine gold and genuine creation on this planet. What emerges because the least universal denominator or "intensive estate" of alchemy is ambivalence, the very unlikely and paradoxical coexistence of 2 incompatible components. Alchemical Mercury strikes from antiquity, in the course of the golden age of alchemy within the Dutch 17th century, to conceptual paintings, to substitute fuels, preventing to imagine with writers comparable to Dante, Goethe, Hoffmann, the Grimm Brothers, George Eliot, and Marx. Eclectic and wide-ranging, this is often the 1st examine to think about alchemy relating to literary and visible conception in a accomplished means.

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In a third arena, an emblematic crowning of painting occurs in a roundel, surrounded by palettes, brushes, and other attributes. Convention teaches us that whatever appears front and center is most important, most “present” in a temporal sense. Hollander explains: “Lairesse’s concept of the bywerk is clearly exemplified by the ancillary views in seventeenth-century paintings. The associative, explanatory function of the ancillary view reflects its heritage in medieval and Renaissance narrative expansion” (46).

Photo credit: Kavaler / Art Resource, NY. 10 A dog sniffs at the ground. The figures also seem to be different sizes, as if something is amiss here. Although the sky is cloudy, the sun breaks through somewhere on the left-hand side of the composition, since the figures are in light, and a glimmer of light hits the glass vessel. In such a context the painter’s ability to depict a clear vessel in an illusionary manner stands as the positive analogue to the deception of the quack doctor. The vessel is a masterful chimera.

Alchemy as a Dual or Ambi-valent Discourse A typical alchemical treatise (this one from the early eighteenth century, but a revised version of a work from 1698) by a Dutch pharmacist and physician notes that iatrochemistry (medical alchemy) is divided into theory and praxis. The author acknowledges that Theory holds a higher place in his own writing. Yet Theory alone is useless unless married with Praxis. 20 Introduction: Lead into Gold (“As things stand, some have argued that Theory in chemistry is of no use.

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