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Alchemical MercuryA Theory of Ambivalence$
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Karen Pinkus

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804760324

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804760324.001.0001

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Reading Capital I Alchemically

Reading Capital I Alchemically

(p.141) § 6 Reading Capital I Alchemically
Alchemical Mercury
Stanford University Press

This chapter attempts to think about alchemy as the production of gold in the context of a larger discourse on “real” production, “real” money, and “real” consumption, and through Marx in particular. Marx posits a transition from the commodity in its plain, homely, bodily form—the base material—to exchange-value, and finally, to the development of the general equivalent, a passage that could be viewed as analogous to transmutation in alchemy. But the notion of a transition does not appear sufficient to warrant an alchemical reading of Capital. We need to seek out what, precisely, is alchemical in the book and read it in the key of alchemy.

Keywords:   alchemy, gold production, Marx, commodity, transmutation

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