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Get Alchemical Mercury: A Theory of Ambivalence PDF

By Karen Pinkus

How do we account, in a rigorous manner, for alchemy's ubiquity? we predict of alchemy because the transformation of a base fabric (usually lead) into gold, yet "alchemy" is a observe in huge movement in daily life, known as upon to meet a metaphoric responsibility because the magical transformation of fabrics. virtually each tradition and time has had a few kind of alchemy. This e-book seems to be at alchemy, no longer at anyone specific example alongside the ancient timeline, now not as a tradition or concept, no longer as a method of redemption, yet as a theoretical challenge, associated with actual gold and actual construction on the planet. What emerges because the least universal denominator or "intensive estate" of alchemy is ambivalence, the most unlikely and paradoxical coexistence of 2 incompatible components. Alchemical Mercury strikes from antiquity, throughout the golden age of alchemy within the Dutch 17th century, to conceptual artwork, to substitute fuels, preventing to imagine with writers equivalent to Dante, Goethe, Hoffmann, the Grimm Brothers, George Eliot, and Marx. Eclectic and wide-ranging, this is often the 1st examine to contemplate alchemy relating to literary and visible conception in a entire approach.

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Extra resources for Alchemical Mercury: A Theory of Ambivalence

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The doctor is busy with another patient’s urine when the maid enters the room. Ter Borch has introduced narrative and serialization into what might otherwise be a fairly theatrical and static pose. Perhaps the doctor will have to pour the urine from the maid’s bowl into a clear vessel in order to make his diagnosis. Various possibilities present themselves in what appears to be a rather mysterious interaction. The maid, we should note, is reflected in the urine glass, along with the window itself—as a white dollop—which provides the light for the doctor.

We normally consider the insertion of emblematic codes in paintings of everyday life or genre scenes as nonnarrative. But perhaps it is already incorrect to speak of “insertion” as if the scene existed in some real spatiotemporal dimension, onto which the emblems are merely stuck (or better, etched) like so many appliqués. Could one say that the moral content associated with emblematics is always already inherent in the very conception of the everyday? The assumption that the foreground scene represents “life” and the framed background scene represents a static, lifeless moral, may indeed appear obvious given what we know of generic conventions surrounding depictions of alchemy; that is, it is an assumption that could achieve wide consensus among interpreters.

12 In contemporary culture, ads for gold bullion tend to feature spokespeople who look into the camera, dressed in highly conservative clothing, urging an investment in something that never loses its value. From a broader historical perspective, a standard is something that is held to be invariable. Thus, inasmuch as alchemy has been about the production of gold, it has been about the production of a kind of stability following a great deal of turmoil. The same cannot be said of woman. In their essential book on the gold standard, Maria Cristina Marcuzzo and Annalisa Rosselli show that David Ricardo’s contribution to economic theory was distinguishing between variation in the value of money and variation in price.

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