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The Alchemy web site on Levity.comWork in progress
From November 2003 I have decided to put up a weekly diary of the projects I have been working on during that period.
Sorry for the long hiatus March - December 2005 I was so very busy that I fell behind in keeping this diary up to date and once that was done it proved difficult to get started again. I have decided to try to keep this up to date in 2006 !
Feb 18 2006 This week I sent out my most recent newsletter. This included information about my new publication - the Mystical Heart Emblems of Paul Kaym and Nicolaus Haublin - an almost totally unknown though intense spiritual emblematic work. In the newsletter I also announced my new study course on the artwork of modern tarot. This will begin in March. The newsletter also pointed out to people that a number of my limited edition books are close to selling out. As a consequence I received a few orders for books so a lot of time this week had to be devoted to bookbinding. I had to work late every night to fulfil the book orders!
Feb 10 2006 This week I spent much of my time working on tarot imagery. I have taken a little sabbatical from my alchemical work, and have been researching and preparing material on tarot art. I set up my new webite devoted to the artwork of modern tarot - this is at http://www.alchemywebsite/tarot. This will take some time to develop but I have set up an initial few pages. I am now planning to issue four artwork tarots in March and spent some days this week setting up the images for printing.
Jan 27 2006 I spent a couple of days exploring the possibilities of being able to print, laminate and cut cards. This is not a totally straightforward printing job and there are a number of problems one has to solve. I set up my web page devoted to the artwork of modern tarot - just a few pages initially, though I hope this will grow over the next few months. I continued to work on developing my study courses. I also had the tedious chore of finalising my tax returns and managed to get this completed before the final deadline, though just by a few days! I had quite a lot of bookbinding to do this week, which has delayed my issuing the latest book on the Heart Emblems. Perhaps I will get this done in February. I spent some time looking at the facsimile edition of the Voynich manuscript - nothing to do with alchemy as such, but an interesting manuscript nevertheless.
Jan 20 2006 This week I managed to allocate only a little bit of time to my new artwork of tarot course. I had to spend quite a bit of time this week on bookbinding and sorting out various files and documents. I have also been working on a new project involving tarot imagery, and trying to make some long term strategic decisions about my publications. Lots of work under the surface and little to see on the outside.
Jan 13 2006 This week I had to get on with the rather unpleasant task of preparing my accounts and working out my tax liability for the past year. These have to be completed by the end of January or one gets fined, so I have spent nearly four solid days collating all the revlevant material and filling in the detailed forms. I should complete this next week in plenty of time for the deadline. This week I purchased a small printer that can print directly onto the surface of CD-Roms. My study courses, and emblem discs are issued on CD-Roms and I have noticed that the quality of these labels has degenerated and they do not always seem to stick correctly to the CD-Rom surface. So I decided to adopt a more satisfactory solution. It took quite a while to set up the printer and quite a few hours of work to design new labels. The printer is extremely slow at printing the labels, though it does a good job. So another day was spent printing out some batches of CD-Roms, so I now have a stock for the immediate future. In short, this week was sheer drudgery with almost no time for creative or research work. Hopefully, things will improve next week.
Jan 6 2006 The first week of the new year found me working on my new study course on the artwork of modern tarot. I hope to be able to issue this in the Spring. I also finished work on my latest book in my Hermetic Studies series. This is the Mystical Heart Emblems of Paul Kaym which I had coloured in December. I finalised the layout and have printed out a sample copy. Once I am sure there are no problems with the printing, I will announce it on my mailing list and hope that people want to buy copies! I had quite a backlog of bookbinding to do this week which took up two solid days. I also spent an afternoon being interviewed about my work and hope to be able to put the interview up on the web site after the weekend. I managed to spend a day in the University library looking at some items, and in particular the latest volume (number two of three) of the Brüning bibliography of alchemical books. I would very much like to have copy of these volumes myself, but as it costs nearly £500 ($900) I cannot justify spending that much on it at present.
Mar 4 2005 Spent more days this week working on the Metamorphosis of the Planets study course. I allocated a day to undertaking some research in the library, especially looking at Athanasius Kircher's Mundus Subterraneus, which has a substantial section devoted to alchemy. Kircher reflects in his chapters something of the problems faced by those pursuing alchemy in the mid 17th century. I also looked at the various versions of the Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine. It is really interesting to see the different ways in which the symbolic material of the twelve keys was depicted in the different engravings and woodcuts. As I received a largish order for books this week, I had to spend a few days binding these up for my customer. I now hold no stocks at all of books and instead bind them up on demand. As this is a hand process it does take up a great deal of my time, but as it is my only source of income, I just have to face up to this rather repetitive task.
Feb 25 2005 Continued working on my study course on the Metamorphosis of the Planets. I managed to complete about another third of the course. It is really interested working with such texts in depth. I expect, however, this course will be a bit challenging for many people who do not have much background in reading of original alchemical material. The text itself is difficult, and the allegory quite complex. Hopefully a few of my regular subscribers will take the course. I think this in-depth explanation of the text, section by section, paragraph by paragraph, is the best way for people to explore these important source alchemical texts. Few people seem to possess the ability to read and understand alchemical texts from within the text itself. Instead they cherry pick out the ideas which seem to mean something to them in terms of their own beliefs, which are often based on modern ideas that are entirely alien to original alchemical texts. Thus they miss out on what the original author was attempting to communicate. Hopefully this course will enable people to appreciate this interesting though obscure alchemical allegory. I prepared three of the coloured Hermetic Studies books which have been unavailable for some months for binding, so that I can offer these for sale again.
Feb 18 2005 I began work on a new study course. This is on the very obscure though very interesting alchemical allegory by Johannes de Monte-Snyder called the Metamorphosis of the Planets. This was published in 1663 in German. It is a complex many-layered allegory that has confounded many people. Most who have attemopted to understand this work have given up, some even claiming it was a barbarous and entirely confused piece of writing. My own approach to alchemical texts, symbolism and allegory has enabled me to penetrate a bit further perhaps into Monte-Snyder's work. Over ten years ago I had intended to issue this in a book form with a commentary, but now suddenly decided this week to push on and turn this into a study course of 12 lessons. This week I was able to write about one third of the course. Naturally, this meant I have had, temporarily to leave off my work on the Paracelsus painting. I hope I can return to this in a few week time.
Feb 11 2005 I began working on making a painted copy of the Portrait of Paracelsus by Gabriel Metsu (created in the mid 17th century). It is a delightful and evocative portrait. I decided, partly for my own interest and partly to show something of how a painting evolves while working on it, to document my work, and you can see a sequence of photographs in the link above. I managed to spend about the full week on it. I suspects it needs at least a further full week, and probably more, to finish the details and balance the colours. It was most enjoyable working on this portrait, which is rather different from anything I have worked on before. I also managed to find time to work on preparing some of the Magnum Opus books which have been unavailable for some months for binding, in order that I can offer these for sale again.
Feb 4 2005 Completed my study course on Early English Alchemical poetry and put this onto a CD-Rom. It took a while to create the cover material. Continued working on my painting of the Garden of Venus from a 15th century Italian illuminated manuscript. I especially worked on some of the details of the figures in the garden. It will require about another week of work to complete.
Jan 28 2005 [Entry covers a two week period]. I began making a copy in the form of an oil painting of the Garden of Venus from a 15th century Italian illuminated manuscript. Working on this took up about the full two weeks though I had various other minor things to do which continually interrupted my work on this task.
Jan 14 2005 Tedious week finishing off the accounts. I took some days off this boring task to undertake some research in the library into emblematic imagery in manuscripts and in paintings. I managed to find some information on the obscure 17th century painter Frans Francken and hope to be able to make a copy of one of his paintings later this year. Amongst his conventional output are a few amazing paintings of witches kitchens and meetings. These are like the Hieronymous Bosch paintings of a century and a half earlier. I also managed to locate a high quality photograph of one of the fresco's by Francesco de Cossa from La Sala dei Mesi (the Room of the Planetary months) in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Italy. Of course, few will have ever heard of these frescos, but they are amazing late 14th Century images of the planets and their associations. I am hoping to be able to find the time to make a painting based on the imagery from one of the remaining panels.
Jan 7 2005 Much of the early part of the week I devoted to painting, especially finishing the van der Goes work. I spent some time in the University Library looking at Gerhardt Dorn's Speculativa Philosophia, a work much quoted by Jung and unfortunately not translated out of Latin. I was trying to review Jung's assessment of Dorn's work, and see if I could confirm the perspective he adopts regarding Dorn. Jung seems to present Dorn almost as a late 16th century forerunner or proto-Jungian, who had some grasp of a psychological view of the structure of the human psyche, which harmonised with Jung's own philosophy and beliefs. The work is moderately long and difficult to skim read, but I failed to find the sort of quotations which Jung presents from this work. I think it would be really useful if someone, more skilled in Latin than me, were to make a complete translation of the text, in order that we could assess it. Von Franz selectively quotes from it in one of her books but she won't really let Dorn speak, instead she seems to put the snippets she chooses into her own Jungian context, so that book is difficult to rely on.
I was also very happy to find a good illustration of an amazing painting. I first came across this back in the 1970's in one of the Thames and Hudson Art and Imagination series, but the illustration there was too dark and not printed well enough to make out the details of this painting. It is a painted table top, made in 1533, which shows the planets, the seven liberal arts and the virtues in a beautiful allegorical painting. I was so happy to find a clear detailed illustration of it. To see an image of it click here. If I have time this year I would love to make a facsimile painting of this work, though I expect it might take me many months. Of course, there are so few people who would value this enough to commission me to do it, and as usual I will have to take a drop in income from book production or order to subsidise my painting. It is depressing that few people share my enthusiasm for such profound allegorical works.
Unfortunately this is the time of the year when I must get down to preparing my Income Tax accounts. It is dreary work indeed having to do all the accountancy, which takes about a week of my time. On the one hand I don't have too large a tax bill to pay, but this is because I don't have a significant income. If I did I would pay someone to do this sort of thing for me. But it has to be done and there is only me to do it.
Dec 30 2004 [Entry covers the whole month.] A considerable portion of my time this month was devoted to a non-alchemical project. For years, a diary kept by my grandfather during the First World War (late 1914 in fact), had lain unread. My family were unable to read more than a few words of the difficult handwriting. I, of course being well experienced in reading handwriting from alchemical manuscripts, decided to transcribe the whole piece for them. Although I set out on this as perhaps a bit of a chore, I quickly became engaged by his writing, and it was quite moving to read of his experiences during that terrible time. In a number of places even in the first few months of that war he came very close to being killed, and of course had that happened I would never have come into being. It is not the usual sort of war diary but rather is full of his insights and descriptions of how events impacted on him, a humble stretcher-bearer at that time. I came to realise that it could be an important record of that conflict and have decided to put it onto the internet so that the World War enthusiasts and historians can read it. It provides a more human perspective on how war affects people, than the accounts of Generals about the day to day manoeuvres. If anyone cares to read it click here.
Proceeded further with my paintings. Having gained a bit of money from November's book and print sales, I felt able to allocate a reasonable amount of my time to painting, so I made quite a bit of progress with these. I finished three of the works and was able to get quite far ahead in the Hugo van der Goes painting. Just to show how long things take, with the Hugo van der Goes it took me about four days just to do the tree! It required painting every leaf individually, in three layers, an underpainting in an earth colour (sienna and umber, then a whitened sap-green to give the highlights, and sap-green darkened with grey and earth colours for the shadows modelled on top. After the first few hours it becomes quite a tedious technical task and one needs some willpower to plough on and try and get as much done as possible. I made me realise just how much effort went into such paintings. This painting uses many layers of glazes, and in van der Goes time they must have waited many days for each layer to dry, but now with alkyd mediums these are dry overnight and even tacky dry in about 4 to 6 hours. I do wish I could devote more time to painting. I have decided not to sell the Hugo van der Goes for the meantime as I am so happy with the way the facsimile is proceeding. I feel quite confident I can make a painted copy of almost anything. I really want to have this on the wall of my apartment, as it has such a delightful charm about it. Hugo van der Goes was a remarkable painter, and I want to live with this work for a few years.
In the last week of December I had to spend a day making up the new version of the web site CD-Rom incorporating all the material added in 2004. There were also, surprisingly, a number of orders for my CD-Roms and books to deal with over the Christmas/New Year period.
Nov 30 2004 [Entry covers about a six week period.] During this time I had to devote myself primarily to the task of bookbinding and making up a number of orders for my books, CD-Roms and prints. A number of orders all arrived simultaneously and I just had to abandon most of my more creative work to sort out these incoming orders. I had to temporarily abandon my alchemy emblem exhibition project and will hope to allocate some time to this over the coming months. To counter the tedium of bookbinding I spent some of my evenings painting. I have been especially interested in Flemish 15th and 16th century manuscript illuminations and paintings, particularly those which have an allegorical component. Many of the painters of that period had to produce paintings and illuminated manuscripts with a conventional Christian sentiment. These can be rather tedious in content (though delightfully painted) but among these (in the late 15th and into the 16th century) were a number of allegorical works. I chose to make copies of an image of Pan, another of the Three Graces, one of a magnificent dragon being attacked by St Michael and his angels, a section from Hieronymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights and another charming image of the soul personified as a woman contemplating its heart. It is exacting and slow work but very satisfying to do. I also decided to undertake a more ambitious project and try to make a copy of a well known painting by Hugo van der Goes on the theme of the Fall. It is extremely detailed and at the boundaries of my technical abilities, but I am determined to see what kind of job I can make of it. I managed to obtain a supply of some extremely small brushes 0000's and with these I seem able to copy some of the details. It will take a couple of months at least to complete this. I have put some of these onto my web pages about my paintings.
Oct 16 2004 This week I had a sudden inspiration. While thinking about future study courses I was considering whether to construct a course on the history and context of alchemical emblems. I have received quite a number of questions about alchemical symbolism recently which made me realise that few people have any real understanding of this material. They constantly mix it up with other types of emblems which have no connection to alchemy, and they interpret alchemical emblems by placing them in a muddled chaos of 20th century ideas. I feel it is becoming more and more necessary to provide people with a means for seeing the historical unfolding of alchemical symbolism so that they can appreciate it for what it really is and not what they project onto it. I began to sketch out a study course on this and I rapidly realised that it would be probably be too difficult to encompass in a few lessons. Then I had this sudden inspiration to create a means for studying alchemical imagery through the format of an exhibition. Here the user can choose their own route through the material, learning by explorationm rather than having me lecture them on some point. I have begun creating this virtual exhibition, which will be issued on a CD-Rom. The amount of work required will be considerable, as I want to go into enormous detail and include up to thousand images. This complex exhibition will provide people with a substantial overview of alchemical symbolism, what it emerged from, and its particular strengths and qualities. I feel it is one of the most important projects that I have been involved in recently. It will take many months of concerted work, so expect the entries of this weekly diary to include the words "worked further on the alchemy emblem exhibition" for a few months ahead.
Oct 9 2004 A week devoted to painting, but with many interruptions. I had a number of orders for books and these always take up so much time to bind up. I managed to spend a day in the library researching imagery.
Oct 2 2004 I gave some thought to producing further study courses. I would like to do a further one on emblematic symbolism. Once the course on early English alchemical poems is finished in a few months time, I would like to consider working on another text based study course. I spent an afternoon this week being interviewed by a local contact who wants to help promote my work on a web site he organises. I made it a condition that he allows me to put the interview onto my web site. He is someone sympathetic to my work so it was an easy interview as I did not have to justify my interest in the ancient tradition of alchemy, as one usually has to do with people who have no previous knowledge of the subject. I found a couple of days to devote to painting, both colouring emblems and making oil paintings. I will put these onto the web site in a few weeks time.
Sep 25 2004 Worked further on oil paintings. I could not find a smooth surfaced board available commercially. The available boards all seem to have a canvas effect. So I have had to make up my own boards. I began working on a couple of alchemical images, one the hermaphrodite from the Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit manuscript. Unfortunately, I had a quite a lot of work to do on bookbinding this week, so I could only devote a very small amount of my time to painting. I spend a day in the library researching early Flemish painting.
Sep 18 2004 Started making some new oil paintings. I have decided to experiment working on a smooth surfaced board rather than canvas which I have been using up till own. This will enable me to create detailed images much easier as the grain of the canvas should not intrude on the painting. I intend to make copies of early paintings, not just alchemical material. I have a particular delight in early Flemish paintings, and would like to try to paint some of the more emblematic of these. I began working on an image of the God Pan from a Flemish illuminated manuscript and also on an image of the Three Fates in an astrological context.
Sep 11 2004 This week I became so aware that I was becoming totally immersed in piles of papers. Many of these were copies of interesting articles on alchemy from journals, and over the years they have just been heaped up in piles, awaiting my finding time to file them in some way. So I bought a massive load of hundreds of plastic folders to hold these articles, copies of images from manuscripts and other such short pieces and made a modest start in putting the articles into this new filing system. It certainly makes them easy to locate and read, however, it will take many months, I suspect, for me to reorganise this material. Unfortunately, when I come across something I have entirely forgotten I had a copy of, I am tempted to read it, which helps me become familiar with this material but tends to use up hours of my time. Some of these articles in my library are listed on a special page on the web site. This week I also formatted the now complete Trinosophia course and placed it onto a CD-Rom which makes it easy to distribute.
Sep 4 2004 This week I met a couple of people who have a high quality giclee printing business near to Glasgow. They produce large format high quality art prints, mostly of known Scottish artists. They have an interest in alchemical ideas and imagery so I began negotiating to see if they can produce some of my coloured alchemcial imagery as giclee prints. These would be very expensive but of exceptional quality. I asked them to make a sample copy of the Ripley Scroll as this would be an excellent project. I used to print my coloured version of the Ripley Scroll in half sized format, but my printing equipment was not really up to the task and I ceased doing this earlier this year, and instead printed the Ripley Scroll as four large prints, rather than on a long continuous length of paper. If the giclee version of the scroll prints satisfactorily it will unfortunately have to be sold at a rather high price as this is an expensive process, so I will probably issue it as a small edition and continue to provide the present printing in four separate panels as a budget format for those unable to afford the expensive full sized version.
Aug 28 2004 Completed writing my Study course on the Trinosophia. This allegory is a remarkable work and I think I have been able to clear up many of the distortions and errors which have been foisted on this little allegorical text over the past years. My course, I believe, teases out the meaning of the allegory and leads us towards appreciating its place in the tradition of alchemical allegories. Perhaps we should see it is the last alchemical allegory before the synthetic modern period. The beautiful clarity and alchemical focus of this text is a great delight.
I had to spend some time making up orders for my new Emblems CD-Rom volume 3. I sold about 20 copies in immediate response to the mailing list which was quite encouraging.
I am becoming aware that I must find a long term solution for preserving the mass of material I have collected over the past thirty years. It is now obvious that I may not always be able to continue working the long hours that I have been doing over the past years in order to raise the running costs to support my work. It is so difficult for me to find time to bind up books. I will probably have to increase the prices. I do need to be able to allocate more of my time to research and writing, rather than the ongoing struggle to keep my work financed. The last few months seem dominated by the difficulties of balancing creative work against work that produces sales. I probably have indulged in devoting too much of my time recently to producing coloured emblems and consequently have not been able to give any time over the past few months to producing books. I would like to be able to work on my coloured edition of the Crowning of Nature (which I began in November last year). We will see what happens over the next few months.
Aug 21 2004 I wrote and set up a set of pages for my web site documenting my work on alchemical emblems and structuring it as the Alchemical Emblems project which I hope might capture peoples imaginations and possibly their support. I am hoping that by making all this material available (the emblem galleries and the study courses) I might attract people to help me in this work, especially with funding. It is so difficult for me now to bear all the burden of the expenses and the massive amount of time I devote to this material, without any assistance or support. Indeed, people constantly expect me to provide them with material for free, and my study courses have been copied and passed on to various people. I even had someone writing to me this week asking me to explain in more detail a section from one of my study courses. Not immediately recognising his name, I looked back through my records and found he had not purchased the study course. When I approached him about this (as someone may after all have legitimately bought a copy for him) I was amazed that he openly acknowledged he had obtained a copy of my course from someone for free and he still wanted me to explain the point he had had difficulty in understanding! That was rather a depressing start to my day!
I made up the next issue of my mailing list. This is number 48, which made me realise how long I have been at this task. In it I brought to people's attention the new emblem disc, so I hope I will get a mass of orders over the next weeks.
Aug 14 2004 Spent most of this week converting the emblems I have been colouring into pdf files for my third disc of alchemical emblems which I will issue shortly. I also had to convert the images to a medium resolution printable form for this CD-Rom, and make up the packaging insert that goes with the disc. The three CD-Roms I have now produced provide 840 of my coloured emblems. This is the most substantial resource on alchemical emblems ever produced. I began to think about my alchemical emblems project, and to try and find ways to fund this for the future. I printed out a first batch of the CD-Roms and set up a page describing this on my alchemy web bookshop.
Aug 7 2004 Four full days were spent writing more lessons for the English alchemy course. This course is quite a demanding one for me as some of the lessons amount to 15 pages and it requires a lot of thought and research to discover the meaning of some of the more obscure words and phrases. I like the format of an almost line by line commentary, and would hope to be able to make more of these courses available in future, however there has been quite a poor takeup of the course after the initial bunch of people signed up when it was first announced. I still believe there is a body of people who wish in-depth explanations of important alchemical works. Surely it is only through a proper grasp of alchemical texts that understanding of alchemy can grow. Most people who write about alchemy today merely project their own uninformed opinions onto the work, rather than try and understand what the alchemist himself was trying to communicate. I have been looking at the writings of Thomas Vaughan and Eiraeneus Philalethes, two worthy candidates for future study courses.
July 30 2004 Spent two days this week in the library researching material. Also completed the Freher emblems. I had to redo two of these when I realised that my colouring scheme was not bringing out a key aspect of these diagrams. One day I would like to be able to explain in detail just how these diagrams work and what they mean. I doubt whether Freher's means of communicating mystical ideas through these strange geometrical/cosmological diagrams will be understood by anyone who has not tried to realise these again, say by colouring them as I have done. The process of colouring this series revealed to me the subtle structure of Freher's emblematising of mystical ideas.
July 23 2004 Most of this week and part of last week was spent working on colouring the Freher series. This is found in the William Law edition of Boehme. These diagrams are cosmological, reflecting Freher's and Boehme's emanationist cosmology in which the spiritual world precipitates the denser materiality. Freher represented this in these strange geometrical figures. I decided that colouring these could help to bring out the ideas with which he was working in these diagrams. It proved a considerable challenge and I had to spend much more time thinking and contemplating the colouring than on the actual act of painting the figures. I think I was able to achieve a valid colouring, which allows the ideas to emerge.
Also this week I was engaged by some mathematical ideas. I read, in a new book on alchemy, about a famous theorem in mathematics and logic, Goedel's Incompleteness theorem. This was a idea I had studied when I was young and suddenly I found myself drawn back to engage this again. I had written about this back in 1985 in my Hermetic Journal, but thanks to the power of the internet I was able to gain quick access to these ideas and I was now able to understand more deeply the significance of these ideas. So my week was devoted to the spiritual geometrical and mathematical figures of the 18th century Freher and to the philosophical significance of the abstruse mathematical ideas of the completeness of a mathematical system.
July 16 2004 This was one of those rather annoying weeks when little appeared to be achieved, but in fact I was working harder than ever. One of the problems I had to tackle this week was my computer system. Having bought a new computer a month ago I had been running this in tandem with the old computer but I decided the time had come to make the new computer the main focus and the old computer merely a backup system. I had great problems with setting up the internet and this week I decided to abandon the adsl modem and move to a router modem. This seemed to be easy to set up but in fact it proved extremely difficult to get the router to accept the configuration. I wasted a day on this, when suddenly it began to work. The absurdities of Windows operating system never cease to amaze me. So now I can turn off the old computer with its droning fans and I now have a much quieter working environment. I also had quite a few books to bind up this week. This does take up a great deal of my creative time but it all helps to pay for such things as routers. I began work on colouring the Freher series of thirteen emblems.
July 9 2004 This week I spent some time colouring the La Bugia series of ten drawings which occur as illustrations to an alchemical allegory in an almost unknown mid 17th century manuscript by the Italian Palombara. I would love to translate the text of this allegory and make it available in a book but unfortunatley I just do not have the time. I know few people value these old illustrations but it is my self-apppointed task to try and encourage people to see how valuable and significant this ocean of symbolism is. There are now over 750 coloured emblems in my galleries. One day perhaps this mass of work will be appreciated, but for now there is only silence and indifference to this work.
July 2 2004 More emblem painting and working on the study courses. Undertook some further research into the planetary series of Beham and its link to an earlier series of Baccio Baldini. Finished colouring the Maier Viatorium series and placed it onto the web site. A few orders for books came in, so had to spend quite a few evenings bookbinding. I have not been able to allocate any time to producing more books. I have a backlog of titles ready to go, but cannot do this and produce coloured emblems at the same time.
June 25 2004 Spent too much time colouring the Beham planetary series. It was taking me well over a day to colour one of these elaborate emblems. These are very beautiful and an obvious influence on the Splendor Solis series. It will probably take me a month to complete this task. The colouring really reveals all the various details of the elaborate woodcuts. In their original form it is not easy to work out all the details, and colouring them requires a considerable concentration in order to resolve the detail. I have set aside most of June to the task of colouring more emblems as I feel this is a most important task to undertake. I completed the Von Ecker series and place it onto the web site. I have now made over 700 emblems available. This is the most significant resource of alchemical symbolism ever created and will be the foundation on which much of my work over the next few years will be based. I don't think anyone else has ever made such a deep study of alchemical symbolism. Unfortunately few people seem to recognise its importance. Perhaps in ten years time people will catch up with me and want to explore this imagery. In the meantime I just have work on this with little support or seeming enthusiasm from others.
June 18 2004 A very unproductive week ! I received the new computer I had purchased and began the task of transferring my work to this new hardware. I decided to link the two computers together to form a network so that I could gradually transition from one to the other. Unfortunately I could not get the network set up and wasted over a day on this and even bought a new network card and cable thinking these were the source of the problem. Eventually I realised that my Windows setup on my old computer must have had the networking files damaged, so I had no alternative but the drastic step of reinstalling Windows on that computer. This went disasterously and meant my re-installed setup would not work properly and in particular I was locked out of using the internet for a day until I found a way to patch the operating system. Eventually I managed to make the thing work and now all is okay, but I wasted at least three days of my valuable creative time on trying to sort this computer problem out.
June 11 2004 Again this week was mostly devoted to emblems. I had to redraw the Von Ecker series which I only had in the form of poor photocopies. This took a couple of days. I coloured the series of woodcuts in Geber and put it onto the web site. I also had a large number of questions on email about alchemy this week. I wonder if some organisation or media outlet had given some publicity to the alchemy web site. It took me quite a bit of time to answer the questions, most of which seemed to arise from some misunderstanding of the nature of alchemy. I do try and make the time to answer reasonable questions that people ask, but there is no way I could afford the time to do this for as many questions as arrived this week. If large numbers of questions continue to come in, I may have to revise this policy. It is part of my work to assist people towards an understanding of alchemy, but I just cannot afford to give up my own creative work to do this for more than a few people a day.
June 4 2004 Another week mostly devoted to emblems. I spent a couple of days redrawing the Simon Baruch series which I only had as poor quality images, so I had to redraw large areas of some of these pictures. I undertook some further painting of emblems. I had also to work on the lessons for the Study Course on Early English Alchemy.
May 28 2004 This week I decided to devote as much time as possible to researching alchemical emblems and making some more coloured versions of these. I had not noticed before just how much time it requires to do this. I don't think I am slowing down particularly, but I found it was taking about three hours or so on average to colour each emblem. Some of these are very intricate and have lots of detailed components, but even relatively simple emblems require a lot of deep thought to assign a meaningful colouring to the symbols. On two of the days I only managed to colour a single emblem. I know that few people recognise the importance of the resource of alchemical emblems I have accumulated. Only one person has purchased prints of all these emblems. Though a few others have bought a few of the prints, it seems that few share my deep interest in these emblems. I will, however, continue with this project to document and restore interest in this forgotten material, even though it absorbs a considerable amount of my time, as it did this week !
May 21 2004 I worked further on my study course on English Alchemy. I also was able to make a few more paintings of emblems. I should find time to put these onto the website next week. I had to spend a bit of time this week trying to decide what to do about purchasing a new computer. My present computer is about 2 years old and is beginning to develop a few problems, both hardware and software related. It is very difficult to repair problems deep in the Windows operating system without doing a fresh install, which means I would have to reinstall all the setups for my complex mass of applications. My monitor is also degenerating and I can no longer run it at the highest resolution as the characters are beginning to go out of focus. So I had to decide what new computer system I could realistically afford. I sent out the first lesson in the Trinosophia course this week. 20 people have signed up for this. It is an advanced and specialist course but I expect to get a few more people over the next few months.
May 14 2004 This week I managed to complete my initial work on my study course on the Trinosophia. I still have some editing to do on the later lessons in the course but it is now ready. I added a note about this into my mailing list No 47, which I sent out later in the week. Because of all sorts of problems with ISP's and indivuidual's spam filters, I realised it was no longer possible to send out the mailing list using the BCC method, as the spam filters just trap these and do not pass them on to the individual's email box. So I decided I would have to write a short program that would enable me to create individual emails for everyone on the mailing list. After a bit of testing I managed to get this to work okay and things went very smoothly. I also created another version of this program to create individual emails for the postings to the Alchemy Academy discussion group. This now works okay and only a few postings go missing in the spam filters. It seems to me that aggressive spam filters are destroying email communication. So many people just do not receive emails from their contacts because their contact's domain has been blocked by spam filters. I get over 600 spams a day and I manage to find my way through this mess, but some people who only receive about 20 spams a day or so are putting up high barriers and are losing some of their incoming mail. It seem to me to be a stupid strategy.
May 7 2004 This entry covers a two week period. I spent five days attending a workshop on practical alchemy run by Guy Ogilvy in Devon. The workshop focussed around an alchemical experiment to make the alchemical Green Lion. It was of great interest for me to reconnect with some practical alchemy. I have not done any practical alchemical work since the 1980's, so it was a delight to reconnect with this way of working. Unfortunately, I always have to pay for taking even a little break from my work, and I came back to masses of emails and other matters to deal with. It took me almost a week to catch up with the backlog.
Apr 23 2004 Much of this week was taken up with writing further lessons for my study course on English alchemy. I am currently dealing with the well known Ordinal of alchemy by Thomas Norton, a work often referred to, but I suspect rarely understood. It is a long and in places quite complex work and requires much commentary to untangle its meaning. I suspect it will take at least another two or three weeks to complete the lessons on the Ordinal. I have been trying to decide whether I can afford to buy a copy of the new Bibliographie der alchimistischen Literatur, produced in three volumes to be issued over the next three years. This costs over £450 about $700 ! It is probably essential for my work but so expensive and one must pay in advance for the second and third volumes which will not be ready till 2006.
Apr 16 2004 Over the past few months I have been buying a quite a few books on alchemy, mostly in French, Italian and German. Some interesting items arrived this week in the post - I finally managed after many years to acquire a copy of Mino Gabriele's book Le don de Dieu and to find a reasonably priced copy of Jorge Camacho's book with his modern alchemical heraldic designs. I decided to reorganise the Galleries of alchemical emblems on my web site thematically, that is, to produce an index based on which emblems contained a particular symbol. Thus I have now produced listings under say, the lion, the hermaphrodite, keys, the phoenix, the toad, the dragon etc. See this page www.levity.com/alchemy/emb_index.html Of course, making this entirely comprehensive will take many weeks of concerted and tedious work. I spent two days so far on this. I think it provides a good method for people to explore the ways in which individual symbols appear in alchemical emblems. It is obviously a worthwhile project to do but rather time consuming. During this week my office/workshop reached a kind of crisis with too many precariously balanced piles of books and papers all over the place. I had to move one pile in order to make space on my desk to work, then have to move it back again. It was becoming a total mess and chaos was not too far away. So I had to buy some new bookcases to house all this material and make it more easy to find. So it took about three full days to reorganise things. Needless to say there was little creative work accomplished this week.
Apr 9 2004 Continued working on the Trinosophia. Also worked on further lessons for the English alchemy study course. A week mostly devoted to writing and research, though there was the usual requirement to spend time on bookbinding. I spend almost two days trying to reorganise and update the links on my web site. This was an extremely tedious task and I was glad to abandon it for a while. I will hopefully return to this sometime. It requires such a lot of work to keep the web site links updated. People who have never done this probably think it is a easy thing to do, just a couple of hours work on a rainy afternoon - but they just don't understand what is involved! Two people whom I asked to help with this gave up as soon after they began.
Apr 2 2004 This week I had the strong impulse to try to understand the Most Holy Trinosophia alchemical allegory. This is usually said to be by the mysterious Comte de Saint-Germain, though this is doubtless not the case, but it was certainly written in the late 18th century. I suspended most of my other work and focussed entirely on this complex piece. About a year ago I had translated this from the original French for my own interest, but as I began working more deeply with the symbolism I realised that I wanted to create a study course on the Trinosophia. I began to sketch some of the lessons and by the end of the week I had a quite clear idea of how to pursue this. I expect it will take some time to write up the course but I will probably issue it some time in May.
Mar 26 2004 This week I decided I had to do something about my study courses on CD-Roms. A number of computers are now being sold without floppy disc drives and I was using floppy discs to install the course reading software onto the users computer. I had to reprogram the reader software so that it worked directly off the CD-Rom. This meant that I was able to dispense with the floppy discs and supply the reader with everything on a CD-Rom. I also took this opportunity to move to the slimmer CD-Rom cases. These seem now to be becoming a new standard and I had noticed it was not so easy to get the classic CD-Rom cases from my suppliers. I also managed to do the same for the Hermetic Journal CD-Rom though this required a bit more complex programming. Amazingly this took about 3 full days of work. Much of the rest of the week was taken up with bookbinding and I managed to do a couple more emblem paintings. I also took an afternoon to go to the library and look at an interesting work by Sebastian Brandt, the Hexastichon, 1509. I had seen two of the wooodcuts from this some years ago in Jung's Psychology and alchemy but this was the first time I had seen all the woodcuts. It has nothing to do directly with alchemy, but the emblematic images are rather interesting.
Mar 19 2004 I spent quite a bit of time working on colouring the Coenders van Helpen series. It takes half a day to colour just one of these complex emblems. Managed to do four, and hopefully will try to find time over the next few weeks to complete it. I had to do more bookbinding this week which stopped me working further on this. I also had to spend a full day trying to sort out my computer which had slowed to a crawl over the past few weeks. It required major surgery to the registry, as well as clearing out masses of redundant files, reconfiguring my anti-virus software which was a major culprit and a final defragmentation of my main hard disc. Eventually it was working at a reasonable speed and I did not have to wait a minute for it to load a program. I managed had to find the time to resurrect my Alchemy Academy discussion group which had been compromised and overloaded with spam emails, so this is now back in action.
Mar 12 2004 The early part of the week was spent dealing with the orders generated from emailing out my latest Newsletter. I had a few more subscribers to the Study Course on Early English alchemy, bringing the numbers up to 40 since the beginning of February, so this has been very successful. The response to the Hermetic Research series CD-Rom was more disappointing. During my recent research visit to London I found a number of modern books on alchemy unfamiliar to me, and I have been trying to buy some of these through the internet. In so doing I serendipitously found some other books, and some of these began to arrive in the post this week. So I had the delight of accepting deliveries of these items most mornings this week. I was very lucky to obtain a copy of a work I have been trying to locate for about 10 years. It was rather expensive but well worth its cost. I also discovered an amazing alchemical engraving entirely unknown to me. The reproduction in the book was very poor but I am hoping to get a good quality photograph made of the original which is in a French Library. I spent much of the latter part of the week researching and trying to source alchemical imagery and also made some further coloured versions. Hopefully I will be able to continue with this next week. There is so much more to do in this area. Alchemical symbolism is so neglected and yet so full of delight and profundity. I am only too aware of the massive amount of work that I still need to do to try and revive interest in this material.
Early this week I received the sad news that Manfred Junius had died. He was one of the most respected teachers of practical alchemy, well known through his Practical handbook of plant alchemy, and the practical alchemy workshops which he had run over recent years. I had been looking forward to meeting him at one of these workshops planned in Britain at the end of April. I feel he has died before his time, when he still had so much to give to the alchemical community.
Mar 5 2004 I spent a great deal of time hand correcting and redrawing some images I had in poor quality photocopies of a series of alchemical woodcuts. This little series is completely unknown and I wanted to produce a coloured version of it. The original pages of the book were quite foxed and the resulting photocopies were unusable, so I had to substantially mask out the background and redraw these by comparing the two separate copies. This took about two full days work. Later I had the delight of painting these images. Often people do not realise the considerable investment of time I have to make to provide all this alchemical imagery. I managed to find the time one night to scan these in and set them up on the web site. Later in the week I had to decide what to do about sending out my latest email mailing list (number 46). I have become increasingly aware that the massive increase in spam mails (I myself get 500+ a day) has meant that people are turning to using spam filters. These unfortunately intercept many legitimate emails. I have noticed a number of people complaining that they never received a reply from me to some email, when I had in fact replied promptly. Of course, they have a strong spam filter that just accepts certain emails that it designates as not being spam. I realised that in sending out my mailing list using the BCC field has made these a definite candidate for people's spam filters, so I had to try and find a way of avoiding using BCC emails. It took more than a day to finally come to a manageable solution. It involved quite a bit of programming or manipulation to generate individual emails rather than bulk BCC. I began to send out these emails, staggering them over a few days. I will wait and see whether this strategy has been successful. I hope to sell sufficient of the new Hermetic Research Books on CD-Rom to recover the costs of converting the file and making up the CD-Rom.
Feb 28 2004 Earlier this week I spent a few days in London on a research visit. Nowadays I can only very rarely afford the time and expense for such research, so it has been at least three years since I was able to visit the London collections. I spent a day in the Warburg Institute, looking at modern books on alchemy that I have not already seen and was able to locate a number of interesting works that will repay further study. Another day was spent in the Wellcome Library. I looked at their three copies of the Solidonius manuscript as I am still very drawn to publishing an edition of this in English. I also took the opportunity to examine their five copies of the Crowning of Nature manuscript as I am still intending to issue my new edition of this. I originally published this back in 1980 so I need to update my introduction and commentary. I also was able to attend the 'Illuminating the Renaissance' exhibition in the Royal Academy - this was a magnificent exhibition of 15th and 16th century illuminated manuscript paintings. Among these were a considerable number by Simon Bening 1483-1561, an almost unknown though considerable artist. I noted how the style of the Spendor solis seems to parallel Bening's work. Back in Glasgow I had to spend a day or so just catching up with the work that came in while I was away, luckily no big orders for books ! I spent a day on designing the packaging material for the Hermetic Research Books CD-Rom, and editing the relevant pages on my alchemy web bookshop.
Feb 21 2004 I spent most of this week sorting out what to do about the paperback books in the Hermetic Research Series. I decided to publish these from now on only in hardback format, but to create pdf files of these and issue them on a CD-Rom. Thus I created eleven Ebooks from my original layouts. This was not entirely straightforward as in some cases I had to scan in the images again from the hardcopy. I think putting these onto a CD-Rom may solve some problems, as the sales of these paperback books was just so low as to be completely uneconomic. Over the past two years I have spent many hundreds of hours producing ten titles, transcriptions and translations of really important key alchemical works such as the Book of the Composition of Alchemy, the Rupescissa Quintessence, the Charnock Letter, Albertus Magnus' Compound of Compound among others and yet the sales were negligable. Those who bought these paperbacks will find that they will in future become very valuable as most sold only around 30 copies, so these are among the rarest of contemporary paperbacks ! I expect now I have stopped publishing these that people will hassle me to make them up copies. People always wait till there is none left to buy things. It is so discouraging that only a very small number of people seem to wish to support my publishing enterprises. These books excite me, as they are important alchemical documents which reveal the nature of alchemy, yet no one seems to want to buy them. I also spent a couple of days researching alchemical images and I hope to devote a part of March to making some more coloured images.
Feb 14 2004 This week was characterised by my having to deal with so many bits and pieces and not being able to concentrate on any one thing. Firstly my attention was re-drawn to the Solidonius series of alchemical manuscripts which are almost unknown except to a few alchemical specialists. I am now very keen to prepare an edition of this work, based on some manuscripts in Glasgow and London, and I also sent away for a microfilm of possibly the earliest manuscript which is in Estonia. There also came into my hands this week a copy of the text from an Italian manuscript of an interesting alchemical allegory by the 17th century Palombara. Of course, as soon as I see such interesting material, I want to publish a translation and make it available to people to read, study and enjoy. There are just insufficient hours in the day and days in the week for me to bring all such projects to completion. This week I also received the gold blocking press that I bought secondhand a few weeks ago. It required quite a bit of work with a few patch-ups and repairs to get it functioning. It will take a bit of experimenting with the heat and pressure settings to feel entirely comfortable with it, though I did use it to block the titles on some cover material for one of my books. I had quite a few orders for books this week and consequently had to spend a day and a half bookbinding.
Feb 7 2004 This week I decided to take a few days off from alchemy to try and understand some of the ideas at the forefront of fundamental physics, in particular the new ideas in string theory and m-branes. Back in the 1980's I had studied this a little and then found some parallels with alchemical philosophy. This I am not so sure of now, and I tend to study alchemy from inside its own domain rather than projecting external ideas upon alchemy. So though I no longer see the relevance of such proposed parallels to alchemy, I nevertheless find the ideas about the inner nature of matter explored by physicists today totally engaging, and I just had to make some time to acquaint myself, even a little, with what is being contemplated in superstring and m-brane theory. Much of the rest of the week was taken up by writing more lessons for the study course on early English alchemy. I also redesigned some of the packaging for some of the CD-Roms so I could use the new thin cases which seem to be becoming the standard. The older cases appear to be being phased out. As always I had some bookbinding to do.
Feb 1 2004 This week I posted out messages about my new study course on early English alchemy to people who have taken my other courses. The response was rather slow but I now have an initial group of twenty or so wishing to take this course. The first lesson was sent out on Sunday the 1st of February. Much of the last weeks have been taken up with the rather tedious task of bookbinding. I was extremely lucky to have received a large order for two copies of each of the books I have available. It took me almost two weeks to make up the order as it seems impossible for me to make up more than four books in a day. Indeed, I was a bit discouraged to find that my finger joints get rather sore if I do bookbinding continuously. I am struggling to find a longer term solution to this problem as I expect this will get worse as I get older. Nobody seems to want to purchase ebooks, but the task of handbinding books is not one I can sustain indefinitely. To make things a little bit easier, I managed to purchase a second hand gold blocking press through an Ebay auction. I have been struggling on with an old press I have had for years which I have had to adapt to my purposes, but it was frustrating and inconvenient to use. Hopefully this press will make things a bit easier. I hope that it will allow me to gold block onto the front cover of the book. I managed to find time to visit the library for some further research into alchemical emblems. After over 35 years investigating this material I still have so much to discover. I first visited the Ferguson Collection, here in Glasgow, in 1975, almost 30 years ago, and it always amazes me that I still find exciting material and images, that I have not yet seen.
Jan 13 2004 The New Year period seems to have impelled me to make some long term strategic decisions about my work. Earlier I decided not to hold an alchemy symbolism workshop this year. I have now decided that I can no longer accept commissions for oil paintings, except from friends or colleagues whom I feel appreciate my work for what it is. My past work can be seen on http://www.alchemywebsite.com/paintings. I will continue to paint for my own pleasure and wait until I retire to sell the paintings. Realistically, with my other commitments, I can only create about two or three paintings a year, so those who bought paintings from me over the past few years now have some rare items. I have also come to a decision about the future of my publishing titles in paperback editions. These are just not economically feasible with the small sales that I am currently attaining, however, have come to a positive solution which will enable me to continue publishing these titles. I will give the details in my next newsletter which I send out on my mailing list. This week has been dominated by bookbinding as I received a large book order. Most of my time has been diverted by binding up these books. Realistically I can only do about four books a day. I have also made considerable progress with the Study course on early English alchemy. It takes a minimum of full days to write each lesson, so as there are 24 in the course this will take up at least 50 days of this year. This is a massive investment of my time, so I hope that people will be interested in the course when I announce it later this month.
Jan 6 2004 In the last days of 2003 I managed to colour the remaining Beccafumi woodcuts, scan and place them onto the web site. I also coloured some other emblems but have not yet found time to set them up onto the website. Hopefully I should be able to do this in the next few days. I spent half a day updating the web site on CD-Rom to a new 2004 edition. This is now available through the alchemy web bookshop. Over the Christmas and New Year period I had an inspiration for a new study course. I have been struggling to construct a course on alchemical allegories, but the material requires so much explanation that the lessons became too lengthy and perhaps too dense. It might be best for me rather to devote a study course to a specific allegory, rather than trying to cover allegories in general. However, over the holiday period I was reading some of the texts from the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum and I suddenly realised that there was surely a need for a study course on the early English alchemical material contained in this book. This material is very important in the history of alchemy and also very interesting and allegorical, but almost no one can understand it nowadays. I have decided to take each text and analyse and explain it line by line, section by section. I immediately began planning the course and have devoted most of the first week of the new year to writing the initial lessons. I plan to announce the course later in January. I think it will provide people with a means for accessing and understanding some key alchemical texts. I decided that I would not run the Summer workshop on alchemical symbolism this year as organising this event took up so much of my time, and disrupted my work for almost a month. I may run workshops in future but will take a break in 2004. January is the time I have to present my accounts to the tax authorities, so I now have to face the struggle of preparing this material - devoting many days to something of no alchemical significance. I will lighten the gloom of tax accounting by painting some more emblems.
Dec 29 2003 The Christmas and New Year holiday period is one in which I find I cannot devote much time to concerted work. There are too many distractions. So this year I decided to abandon working on books and paint some emblems when I had a few spare hours. I managed to do about 15 images. One in particular, the title page from a work of Libavius, I had wanted to do for about a year. It was very intricate and difficult to colour, and it took me 8 hours in all to complete. I had tried to colour the famous Beccafumi woodcuts before, but I had found them difficult. I redrew these on the computer and decided to reduce them somewhat in size. This proved to be a rather good strategy and I found them relatively easy to colour in this smaller format. I will try and finish them early in January.
Dec 20 2003 After a longish period of having to do bookbinding I decided I just had to lay aside some time to paint some more emblems. So I spent three days this week painting emblems. Over the past years I have made about 600 coloured emblems and I find this to be an important project as it makes the old woodcuts and engravings somewhat more accessible. I wish I could devote more time to this, but as people don't seem to value these images very greatly and I just do not make any money from selling prints of these, I have to subsidise the cost of doing this out of the booksales. One day, I hope, people will value this emblematic work, but at the moment only a very few people seem to appreciate these, something I really do not understand, as these images are the very life blood of alchemical symbolism, and many of these completely unknown images are amazingly powerful and evocative. I put some of the recent work onto the web site galleries. I also began an initial proofreading of Luc Villeneuve's translation of Grassot's 'Light extracted out of Chaos' which I hope to publish early in 2004. I have been reading, with some difficulty, Barbara Obrist's book on alchemical symbolism especially the section on the Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit. This early 15th century manuscript is an amazing work and it seems essential that some way should be found to translate this into English.
Dec 13 2003 This week was dominated by bookbinding, so I was not able to undertake much original work. I did manage to spend a couple of days developing a program which will allow me to distribute my books on a CD-Rom. I am planning to issue in 2004 some of the Magnum Opus books in the form of ebooks. I am always aware that the limited edition printed books are so expensive that only a very small group of people are able to purchase these. I am hoping to develop a method for making these available in an inexpensive form on a CD-Rom. This will enable a wider readership to be able to access the alchemical and hermetic source material that I have spent much of my life trying to make available to people. There is, unfortunately, a lot of work involved in scanning in the original artwork for the books, correcting and adjusting these files, then converting them into the format of an ebook that I can distribute. I have not found time this week to work further on the Crowning of Nature.
Dec 6 2003 I had to devote quite a lot of time this week to the mundane task binding up books and also had a much larger number of email enquiries to deal with than usual. Some of these were easy to answer but a few others impelled me to undertake some research. From two separate correspondents I was drawn to ponder the question of whether scholars have sufficiently uncovered the ways in which later arabic material influenced the early period (14th 15th century) of the development of alchemy in Europe. I spent a day at the Ferguson Collection struggling to skim read the 'Liber Platonis quartorum' in the Theatrum Chemicum which is apparently a translation of an Arabic text entitled 'Rawabi' Aflatun.'
I spent some hours updating Nick Kollerstom's pages on the web site which are devoted to exploring the symbolism of the seven metals. I also have been investigating whether to improve my books by purchasing a better gold blocking press so that I can emboss an image on the middle of the front cover. I began working on proofreading and doing the layout of a new title in the Hermetic Studies series translated by Luc Villeneuve. This should need about a weeks work to bring to completion. I am aware of falling behind with my edition of the Crowning of Nature. I doubt whether this will be completed till January or even later. There is so much to do in reworking the commentary that I wrote back in 1980, and I need to ponder this in some depth. I read the excellent article by Barbara Obrist 'Visualization in Medieval Alchemy' in the 2003 Hyle, and spent some time in the library following up some of her ideas and references. She is an amazingly well read scholar of early European alchemy.
Nov 28 2003 A very frustrating, annoying and totally un-alchemical week ! I took delivery of a new expensive colour printer and it took a number of days to get this set up and configured. Although the output is of very high quality with the colours closely matching the original images, the printer is so incredibly slow. It takes up to 30 minutes (I do not joke !) to output one of my 600dpi scans in A3 size. This seriously undermines my use of this printer. I thought I could just set up the jobs and leave it to work on them, but this seems unlikely now. It will mean I have to spend a lot of my time nursing the printer. I may even have to buy another computer just to drive the printer. It is also incredibly expensive. It seems that I will only get about 100 or so A3 prints from one charge of toners. So the new large format prints will be more expensive than I estimated originally. I have put up a few of these for sale on http://www.alchemywebsite.com/bookshop/large_prints.html.
I also decided this week to try and implement a shopping cart on my alchemy web bookshop. This proved very difficult as it uses a perl script and configuring all the parameters has proved to be a tricky task. After a number of emails to the company and phone calls to my secure trading technical advisers, I made some progress but will have to spend a few more days this coming week on this before it is properly set up. As a one man business I have to do everything myself, including trying to fathom the intricacies of perl programming !
I was a considerably cheered up when in the middle of the week Luc Villeneuve sent me a translation of an interesting late 18th century French alchemical work which I will publish shortly. Luc has this year produced four translations for me, and he is undertaking an amazing task in making these works available for the first time in English. Two of his translations, the Albertus Magnus and the Jacques Tesson, are currently in the Hermetic Research series http://www.alchemywebsite.com/bookshop/hermetic_research.html.
I hope next week to at least find a few days to devote to alchemical work !
Nov 22 2003 Spent two full days scanning in and correcting my coloured versions of the Crowning of Nature series. I used up almost two days updating various pages on the Alchemy web site, in particular, setting up a Japanese section using translations kindly provided to me by Atsro Takasaki, making a new page listing interesting alchemical web sites, and together with other minor additions, putting thumbnails of the Crowning of Nature series into the galleries of alchemical emblems. After a couple of months deliberation, I decided to go ahead and purchase a new large format colour printer. As this cost over £3000 ($5000), a substantial part of the sales I make of my books, it was a very difficult decision to take. It is, however, necessary if I am to produce coloured books as my existing colour printer is getting old and is no longer up to the job. It took a day to install the printer and I expect it will take a few days of tinkering wih the colour settings till I find the right setup for the images I need to print. The first book I will print on this system will probably be the Crowning of Nature, so I have spent a day or so editing the text and commentary. Issuing the Crowning of Nature will entail a major investment of work on the text and layout. I spent some time reading the section in the Carbonelli book about the Ashburnham 1166 manuscript with its fascinating alchemical emblems. I came to feel that it will be important for me to produce an edition of this work.
Nov 14 2003 Spent four days colouring the 67 illustrations from the Crowning of Nature manuscript. I had to make another visit to the library to check the colouring in the various manuscripts. There are a number of problems with the colouring as the various manuscripts are inconsistent. There is a very difficult problem with images 20 to 25, as the various manuscripts have variations and inconsistencies. I decided after much contemplation to colour them in a way consistent with the symbolism. Next week I will begin scanning them in at 600dpi and correcting any errors. While in the library I read through an interesting short text of Rudolf Glauber which I consider well worth publishing, so I will try and transcribe it over the next few months. I also took a lengthy look at Gerhardt Dorn's 'Speculativa Philosophia' in the Theatrum Chemicum. This is an excellent work which I believe still speaks to our modern way of thinking and I will try and find someone to translate this from the Latin. I also had to spentd a couple of days this week bookbinding and making up a batch of CD-Roms.
Nov 6 2003 Printed and bound up a batch of 10 copies of the Lambspring Coloured book from the Hermetic Research series. Made up copies of the alchemical Emblems disc. Spent Tuesday in the library examining the seven copies of the Crowning of Nature manuscript and proofreading the text from my 1980 edition. I intend to prepare a new coloured version of this book. Scanned in and corrected the pages of the Khunrath Mystical Alchemy book so that I can print out and bind up copies of this. Corrected my original drawings of the 67 images of the Crowning of Nature in preparation for making new coloured versions of these.