Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

by Gordon Dahlquist

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nebraska
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Re: Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:38 pm

Liz wrote:I have to confess that somehow the word alchemy had bypassed my radar all of these years until The Club Dumas. All I really knew was that it was related somehow to gold. Theresa, you should read The Alchemist. It will take on a whole different meaning for you. It is a very short book, BTW. :-O


I don't remember what alchemy had to do with the Club Dumas...... :dunce:

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Re: Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

Unread postby Liz » Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:18 am

Nebraska, here are some quotes from the book. It did not play a major role in the story, but I remembered the term when I read The Alchemist. And then here it was again in The Glass Books. I don’t remember this term ever coming up in my life before. Why now 3 times involving 3 different book club books—in a span of 6 months?

Pg. 11:
Dumas was a genius, and he understood this. Like an alchemist in his laboratory, he added a dash of this, a dash of that, and with his talent combined it all to create a drug that had many addicts.” I tapped my chest, not without pride, “That has them still.”

Pg. 58: Once, a client of mine who was fascinated by alchemy asked me to find him the bibliography quoted by Fulcanelli and one of his followers.

Pg. 154: He (Corso) knelt and read the titles printed on some of the spines and front edges. They were all ancient treatises on magic, alchemy, and demonology.

And the most interesting….Notice the correlation to art.

“I’m not sure.” She (Frieda Ungern) tapped the engraving lightly. “The hermit in the tarot, very similar to this one, is sometimes accompanied by a serpent, or by the stick that symbolizes it. In occult philosophy, the serpent and the dragon are the guardians of the wonderful enclosure, garden, or fleece, and they sleep with their eyes open. They are the Mirror of the Art.”

“Ars diavoli,” said Corso casually, and the baroness half smiled, nodding mysteriously, But he knew, from Fulcanelli and other ancient texts, that the term “Mirror of the Art” came not from demonology but from alchemy. He wondered how much charlatanism lay beneath the baroness’s display of erudition. He sighed to himself. He felt like a gold prospector standing up to his waist in the river, sieve in hand. After all, he thought, she had to find something to fill her five-hundred-page bestsellers.
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Re: Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:38 am

Thank you for the Dumas quotes, Liz. After this discussion they do have a slightly different meaning.

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Re: Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

Unread postby gemini » Tue Jan 20, 2009 6:11 pm

nebraska wrote:
Liz wrote:I have to confess that somehow the word alchemy had bypassed my radar all of these years until The Club Dumas. All I really knew was that it was related somehow to gold. Theresa, you should read The Alchemist. It will take on a whole different meaning for you. It is a very short book, BTW. :-O


I don't remember what alchemy had to do with the Club Dumas...... :dunce:

I see Liz gave a thorough answer but the most simple one came to my mind and that is alchemy seemed a form of the occult to religion. It beliefs where to them like witchcraft, because anything unknown at the time was not tolerated. That it turned into later day science I found very compelling. Like some of you mentioned these discussions get me side tracked with so many interesting things and off I go to the Internet to learn more. Club Dumas got me with the word alchemy, and off I went to google and everywhere it sent me. I soon realized it was considered a threat to religion and that is why so many alchemist ( specially those who were once priest) were put to death.
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Re: Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

Unread postby Liz » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:53 pm

Thanks for sharing that additional insight into alchemy, gemini. :-O We seem to have come full circle here….alchemy as a transformation or rebirth as via the process. And I liken the Comte to the Devil in that he tried to “take” Miss Temple and others who would give over their wills to him. So I guess that would make alchemy in this case on the order of the occult.
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Re: Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

Unread postby stroch » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:19 pm

I always had the understanding that the underlying metaphor of alchemy was spiritual. The concept of turning dross into gold -- the purification and elevation of a base metal into one which was incorruptible is by extension, the transformation of the human soul from original sin to redemption. At least that's what I remember from university courses in medieval philosophy in a liberal Catholic college.

In that light, I found the Compte's scheme a perversion of the original intent of the alchemists. Granted, I speak from a feminist perspective -- but I found the whole concept of the glass books degrading and and sexist.
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Re: Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

Unread postby Beatrix » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:23 pm

I had some difficulty answering this question.

I think art and alchemy compare to the process because they can be used to transform someone either physically or mentally. The process and alchemy also have high expectations followed by failure serious failures. Alchemy had benefits, like the discoveries that shaped modern chemistry.
Spoiler! :
I don't think there were any benefits from "the process". It seems to have left everyone in pieces, figuratively and literally.

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Re: Glass Books Question #14 ~ Alchemy

Unread postby Liz » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:39 pm

Beatrix wrote:I had some difficulty answering this question.

I think art and alchemy compare to the process because they can be used to transform someone either physically or mentally. The process and alchemy also have high expectations followed by failure serious failures. Alchemy had benefits, like the discoveries that shaped modern chemistry.
Spoiler! :
I don't think there were any benefits from "the process". It seems to have left everyone in pieces, figuratively and literally.

Good one! :lol:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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