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 predict of alchemy because the transformation of a base fabric (usually lead) into gold, yet "alchemy" is a observe in large movement in lifestyle, referred to as upon to satisfy a metaphoric responsibility because the magical transformation of fabrics. nearly each tradition and time has had a few type of alchemy. This e-book seems to be at alchemy, now not at anybody specific example alongside the ancient timeline, now not as a convention or concept, no longer as a method of redemption, yet as a theoretical challenge, associated with actual gold and genuine creation on the earth. 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, 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 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 thought in a finished means.

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Alchemical Mercury: A Theory of Ambivalence

How do we account, in a rigorous means, for alchemy's ubiquity? we predict of alchemy because the transformation of a base fabric (usually lead) into gold, yet "alchemy" is a note in large movement in way of life, known as upon to meet a metaphoric responsibility because the magical transformation of fabrics.

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In modern, abstract terms the sovereign would seem to be he who protects us from the crash of the market by upholding the standards of monetary value by his very exceptionality. But wait. As Marx outlines with great care in Grundrisse, money as a medium of circulation—that is, as coin—has lost its value as such. In order to be money, it has to be melted down, or demonetized—it has to shed its merely symbolic value. Coins have national or local characters, but not universal ones. In Marx’s terms, “a coin acquires a political title, and talks, as it were, a different language in different countries” (1857, 226).

Any investigation of premodern iconology through a modern advertisement must refer itself in some measure to Aby Warburg. 2 His concept of pathosformel, or emotive formula, can certainly be understood as duality. In its embrace of form and content, of rational idea and irrational emotion, of ethos (interiorized self-control) and pathos (unbridled self-loss) it is filled with a life force. 3 The vodka advertisement is most certainly inspired—even if indirectly—by any number of early modern genre paintings, especially from the Lowlands of the seventeenth century, the most intense temporal and spatial confluence of alchemical visibilia.

But before it does so, it undergoes a process of historical change that witnesses its excision (its castration, in the case of the phallus that Goux posits as analogous to gold in the realm of the symbolic) from a larger group as general equivalent. It is possible, perhaps even necessary, to assume that for gold to finally achieve its sovereign status, it must shed its hermaphroditic and ambivalent qualities, those very qualities that define alchemy. Goux’s Symbolic Economies is not about alchemy per se, but we cannot simply say that the difference between gold in Goux’s vision and in alchemy lies in the fact that he is emphasizing product rather than (alchemical) process, since embedded in the very fabric of alchemical transmutation is ambivalence about product.

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