sound alchemy

4

Went up Brum today, it was so ridiculously hot, and still is super muggy.
Picked up a new CD and 2 dresses, one summer dress and one for autumn.
I’ll get some better pictures at both once it cools down, way too sticky to do it today. The floaty dress is actually a skeletal marine theme, with undead mermaids and seahorses.

- Vic Mignogna’s English cover for the Fullmetal Alchemist OST, Brothers. (With lyrics)

moosemum replied to your post “do you ever think about how people in the series criticize ed’s…”

Well I mean he lucked out with the clapping transmutation thing then, since he never had to really draw a circle again.

That’s true! Although for a while there he couldn’t clap either ://////

My parents sent me a huge box of old stuff from my elementary school days, and while it took a long time to sort through everything, I found this tarot deck at the bottom of the box. It was my grandfather’s, judging by the fact that his last name is written on the lid of the box. I thought perhaps he’d bought them and tucked them away; the cards are in great shape, despite being probably sixty years old at least. (The box has begun to disintegrate, but I think it’s awesome, so I decided to patch it up with packing tape.) To my surprise, when I took the deck out of the box I found that it had been shuffled, and a few of the major arcana had been neatly and beautifully colored in. For a minute I felt like Grampa was in the room with me. <3

I’d never heard of Builders of the Adytum (BOTA), so I looked them up. Apparently Paul Foster Case founded them in 1922 as a splinter group from the Order of the Golden Dawn. They’ve offered mail-order courses on “Occult Psychology, Tarot, The Holy Qabalah, Color and Sound, and Spiritual Alchemy” from the beginning. The course includes this deck of tarot cards, which you’re apparently meant to color in yourself. I’m fascinated with it, and I’m going to pick up coloring it in where Grampa left off, I think.

Doc Benton, the Frankenstein, science, alchemy, witchcraft, Albertus Magnus

SAM

No, that’s the thing. It’s not black magic. There’s no blood sacrifice or anything. It’s just science, Dean. Very, very extremely weird science, but…

DEAN

Wait, wait, wait. What are…What are you saying? You think…

SAM

Dean, I think it might be doable. I mean, I know we’ve hit a lot of walls, but I…I think this formula, I think it might be it. This could save you.

DEAN

Okay, so, this formula…

SAM

Well, I mean, look, look, we’re not in the clear yet. There are still things that I don’t get…

(Time is on my side, 3x15)

Of course, when the Stynes were revealed to be the Frankenstein family, fans’ minds immediately went to Doc Benton, the ‘doctor’ that would harvest body parts from people and implant them on himself to live forever.

In this post, I wrote this:

I get the feeling that someone re-watched the earlier seasons and went ‘ooh look at how the show’s already established that you can use body parts of other people to enhance your body and also Sam wouldn’t mind doing any kind of messed-up stuff in order to save Dean from damnation, cool, let’s explore this again’

In fact many people have pointed out that the show could be finally fulfilling the storyline they couldn’t do in season 3 because of the writers’ strike, aka actually having Sam doing messed-up stuff in order to save Dean from damnation. Doc Benton was a very important step in showing us how Sam can go through a very dark path for his brother’s sake. The Frankenstein could be some sort of recollection of that storyline they had sketched out.

We can’t really know for sure, but Doc Benton’s ‘formula’ might have something to do with the Frankenstein family’s techniques, maybe it could be the same thing, though the Frankenstein would have developed a more sophisticated and ‘refined’ version over the centuries they’ve worked on it.

But there’s something that always bugged me about Doc Benton.

It can’t be science.

Now, our knowledge of the universe is extremely limited, but science is a human construct. It’s a social and historical construct that represents the means a certain society in a certain moment of history has to understand and manipulate the world.

A lone doctor in nineteenth century can’t develop the scientific means to achieve immortality. Science can’t achieve immortality. Not this science, not this current construct. Could science ever do that? Maybe. But it wouldn’t be science as we mean it. It would be the equivalent of science in a different society, in a different culture. Anyway.

Doc Benton’s ‘formula’ can’t be science. Sam himself uses the expression ‘very very extremely weird science’, which suggests that he realizes himself that it has very little to do with actual science.

What has been, historically, ‘very very extremely weird science’ (so extremely weird that people at some point decided it wasn’t science anymore?) and also had, among its objectives, reaching eternal life though the manipulation of matter?

Alchemy.

Alchemy was considered science for centuries. In fact, we could argue that alchemy and science during the late (so called) middle ages and the early modern history walked hand in hand, weren’t really separated, spoke the same language and studied the same things and found the same results (alchemy is often considered the precursor of the modern chemistry, in fact). Unless the finale completely, undoubtedly scraps out this possibility, I might expand the alchemy discourse when I have time, but I need to find old university notes and books first (no, I didn’t study alchemy, but i studied philosophy and my Medieval History professor was an expert of alchemy and science during the late middle ages).

The status of alchemy was incessantly discussed even in the centuries when it was in fashion. In fact, philosophers, scientists and alchemist (who were often the same people) during the middle ages would discuss a lot about the status of science, alchemy and philosophy (believe me, I had a whole university course on that). Some argued that alchemy was a branch of science, others argued that it wasn’t, others argued something else. Some argued science was a branch of alchemy. Long story short, alchemy and science went together. Even Newton, as bizarre as it sounds, was interested in alchemy studies.

But enough with weird scientists.

In the Supernatural universe, magic, aka witchcraft, is a thing that exists. It wouldn’t be strange if alchemy was some kind of middle ground between witchcraft and science, right?

Does alchemy exists in Supernatural? I’d say yes. Devil traps and other symbols and sigils look suspiciously like alchemic symbols. The magic that traps a demon could actually be alchemic. Alchemy could be something whose mechanisms permeate the whole universe, including the plane of existence of demons and angels and whatnot.

Now, if you’re interested in this stuff, I could expand these thoughts and analyze alchemy (historically and Supernatural-ly) when I have more time. For now, I throw this idea into the pit.

Guess who was one of the most famous and venerated philosopher and scientist of the late middle ages, who dedicated his life to the study of nature (and that would include chemistry, which at that time was pretty much alchemy, yep)… who was rumored to have studied alchemy (and to have created the Philosopher’s stone, among other things), and to whom written works about alchemy have been attributed, around whom legends have spread about his supposed magical powers?

Albertus Magnus.

Yep, him. Either whose name has been used as a pseudonym by Cuthbert Sinclair… or who indeed is Cuthbert Sinclair. If the show’s version of Albertus Magnus has indeed invented a way to prolong his life, then it’s possible. And if it is indeed the Albertus Magnus, then I’d expect that he would be clever enough to fake his death.

(Also: Albertus Magnus was German, his name was actually Albert)


While we’re talking about alchemy, I also want to mention this post where larinah argues that the Mark of Cain storyline is like an alchemic transformation for Dean, which I agree with (I’ve talked about the Mark-of-Cain-influenced Dean as ‘sandpaper’ to polish the old Dean and get a new better Dean, but the purification/distillation thing works very well). It would be interesting if the show explicitly mentioned alchemy - in fact the universe of alchemy would be a gold mine for a show like Supernatural and well for now I’ll link the wikipedia article in case someone wants to have a look.