Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Strange Crucibles

The introduction to this volume of Paracelsus is bizarre and charmingly old-fashioned and amusingly translated: "Quaint alchemic kitchens in which he is said to have worked are still to be found at various places; with their strange crucibles, retorts, and other vessels, they are awesomely shown to the curious traveler... A man's true personality is always more than his biographical development... The essence of a personality is its living core, which draws its sustenance from the fertile womb of the soul's depths; in these primordial depths of the soul there lies hidden the treasure of the eternal images which are the fountainhead of everything creative... It is said that Wilhelm [Paracelsus's father] was born out of wedlock in an impoverished family of knights, and that throughout his life the circumstances of his birth were a source of unhappiness to him... Thus we find at the cradle of Paracelsus medieval chivalrous virtue and aspiration to higher culture on the side of the father, healthy earthiness and deep piety on the side of the mother. This widely divergent heritage no doubt explains to some extent how it came about that his rather weak and fragile body harboured such a profusion of tensions." Okay! Hey, while looking for an image with which to illustrate this "post" (that's not Paracelsus but who cares? dig that tiny lion with his tongue hanging out) I ran across a "link" referring to Paracelsus as the "stormy petrel of medicine." Ha ha ha! I don't know what it means but I like it. This "link" seems likewise lively and amusingly translated: "Along with his taste for medicine he seems also to have acquired an appetite for alcoholic beverages - an appetite often to bring him reproach in later life... Paracelsus became a traveling doctor, going from town to town, sometimes in dirty rags, and at other times in flamboyant finery. Constant companion was his large sword, in the handle of which he did [hid? - J.P.] his most precious medicines." Ha ha, hmm.