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last updated July 15th, 2006 and
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philosophers' stone also
philosopher's stone (fî-lòs´e-ferz stÖn)
A substance that was believed to have the power of transmuting base metal into gold. Also called elixir.
During the Middle Ages (500-1500), many people sought to fabricate or discover a substance, called the philosopher's stone, so much more perfect than gold that it could bring the baser metals to the perfection of gold.
The most famous alchemist was 16th-century Philippus Paracelsus of Switzerland, who held that the elements of compound bodies were salt, sulfur, and mercury, representing, respectively, earth, air, and water; fire he regarded as nonmaterial. He believed that one undiscovered element existed from which the other elements came. He called this prime element alkahest, maintaining that if it were found, it would be the philosopher's stone.
It was while he was examining urine, seeking the philosopher's stone (the magic elixir needed to change base metals into gold), that the German chemist Hennig Brand discover phosphorus.
" When the famous 'Higgs boson' had been found in a high-energy physics lab, one physicist exlaimed loudly: "We've found our Philospher's Stone!"
- Steve Mizrach aka Seeker1
AD 1541 Paracelsus dies. During his life, he discovered zinc, and was the first to identify hydrogen. His fame as an alchemist was so great that his tomb in Salzberg was opened because of rumors of great treasures and alchemical secrets buried with him. However nothing was found in the coffin. His famous sword, whose hilt contained the so-called 'Philosopher's Stone', also had vanished without a trace.
So, image for a moment an object, a material, which can literally do anything. It can move across categorical boundaries with no difficulty whatsoever. So what do I mean? I mean that if you possess the philosopher's stone and you were hungry, you could eat it. If you needed to go somewhere you could spread it out and sit on it and it would take you there. If you needed a piece of information, it would become the equivalent of a computer screen and it would tell you things. If you needed a companion, it would talk to you. If you needed to take a shower you could hold it over your head and water would pour out. Now, you see, this is an impossibility. That's right, it's a coincidencia apositorum. It is something that behaves like imagination and matter without ever doing damage to the ontological status of one or the other. This sounds like pure pathology in the context of modern thinking because we expect things to stay still and be what they are and undergo the growth and degradation hat is inimical to them, but no, the redemption of spirit and matter means the exteriorization of the human soul and the interiorization of the human body so that it is an image freely commanded in the imagination.
Monolith comes from the Greek Mon and Lith. "Mon" means 'one' and "lith" means 'stone'. So the monolith is a direct reference to 'one stone'. This film then, is about the one stone, or the single stone. And in this case, Stanley Kubrick has made sure that the stone is black. In alchemy all things that exist come from the black stone, or the 'prima materia'. The black stone is the stone of transformation, and even more important to this argument the stone of projection. This is the Philosopher's Stone. This is the object that can change, or transmute mankind, according to alchemical lore. It is rare and, when it makes an appearance, it transforms the seeker. There is little doubt that the black monolith in _2001_ (DVD)(1968) is the Philosopher's Stone.
What is it that the Philosopher's
Stone promises? The two main gifts of the stone are total gnosis, or knowledge
of the seeker and the immortality
of the soul. Does the monolith deliver on these great promises? We shall see
that it completes both promises before the film finally ends. In fact the two
promises of the Philosopher's Stone are what is actually accomplished by the
monolith through the course of the movie. There is also little doubt that Kubrick
knew this all the time
and it isn't accidental in anyway. This is a movie about the black stone, the
prima materia, and the powder of projection.
The stone has given Bowman the gifts that the Philosopher's Stone has always promised. Bowman has achieved complete gnosis, or knowledge, and now he has become immortal by overcoming physical death and being reborn. In that moment, he passes through the monolith one last time. The earth is ahead of him now and he will be reborn on that planet. Bowman will be a new human, just as different from Homo Sapiens as Homo Sapiens are different from that apeman who picked up that bone all that time ago. Nietzche's ape to man to superman theme, from his _Thus Spoke Zarathustra_ essays, is mirrored perfectly by Strauss' music and Kubrick's movie. Kubrick has evoked the spiritual and physical evolution of our race as it has been transformed by this magical black stone.
- _Alchemical Kubrick - 2001: The Great Work On Film_ by Jay Weidner
The philosopher's stone is a mythical stone or elixir that was supposed to turn inexpensive metals into gold and also make humans immortal. Producing such a material was for a long time the main goal of alchemy, but as alchemy evolved into science, the idea went out of favour, and modern scientists do not believe that such a thing has ever existed. The word elixir is derived from the Arabic for philosopher's stone, al iksir.
The philosopher's stone has appeared in works of fiction, most famously in J. K. Rowling's novel _Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone_. This book appeared in the United States under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, since the publishers felt that a title referring to the "philosopher's stone" would be too esoteric and dull-sounding to appeal to an audience of American youth.
Philosopher's Stone is one name for the fungus Psilocybe mexicana. It is a hallucinogen, like the more well-known Psilocybe cubensis