By Karen Pinkus
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Extra resources for Alchemical mercury : a theory of ambivalence
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).