Download e-book for iPad: Alchemical mercury : a theory of ambivalence by Karen Pinkus

By Karen Pinkus

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 observe in broad movement in daily life, known as upon to meet a metaphoric responsibility because the magical transformation of fabrics. nearly each tradition and time has had a few type of alchemy. This publication seems to be at alchemy, now not at anybody specific example alongside the ancient timeline, now not as a tradition or conception, now not as a style of redemption, yet as a theoretical challenge, associated with actual gold and actual creation on this planet. What emerges because the least universal denominator or "intensive estate" of alchemy is ambivalence, the most unlikely and paradoxical coexistence of 2 incompatible parts. Alchemical Mercury strikes from antiquity, during the golden age of alchemy within the Dutch 17th century, to conceptual paintings, to substitute fuels, preventing to imagine with writers akin to Dante, Goethe, Hoffmann, the Grimm Brothers, George Eliot, and Marx. Eclectic and wide-ranging, this is often the 1st learn to contemplate alchemy on the subject of literary and visible idea in a finished way.

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Extra resources for Alchemical mercury : a theory of ambivalence

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So either I am the intended reader of this (that is, a reader who is not chosen), or I am not the intended reader of this text, and my failure is inscribed in the text itself. The text is impossible and infinite. Once again, Agamben’s writings on language illuminate the paradox: The thing itself is not a simple hypostasis of the name, something ineffable that must remain unsaid, and hence sheltered, as a name, in the language of men. . The thing itself is not a quid that might be sought as an extreme hypothesis beyond all hypotheses, as a final and absolute subject beyond all subjects, horribly or beautifully unreachable in its obscurity.

15 In Dutch painting light is of paramount importance. 16 The transformation is not something hidden or suppressed. Rather, it seems to be a key theme that is being worked out—alchemically, if we wish—in the interplay between paint, canvas, and perception. Visibilia 49 Goethe must have had the alchemist’s laboratory in mind when he wrote the lines cited at the beginning of this chapter, and he chose one of Rembrandt’s scholars (referred to either as Faustus or an alchemist in the eighteenth century) for the title page of Faust (Figure 6).

In 1514, the year of his “master engravings,” Dürer also began experimenting with new techniques. In this regard, etching, the wearing away of a plate by toxic liquid to yield (golden) images, stands as a compromise between the desire of the father that the son should continue in his tradition (working with gold) and the deviation chosen by the son (working with images, exchanged for capital). The Clear Vas A similar duality—nonnarrative emblems/narrative—may be said to underlie what is perhaps the most famous, albeit idiosyncratic, example of the urine-analysis genre, The Quack Doctor by Gerrit Dou (Figure 9).

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