bd40bc7c7a The ninth- and tenth-century texts attributed to Jabir considered the creature demonic, but themselves describe another technique by which the adept can make wholly new species, including, for instance, a girl with the face of a boy or even, with luck, a being with prophetic powers. The apparatus for this nondemonic production places the vessel inside a large metal rotating sphere designed to simulate the effects of the crystalline spheres that rotate about the earth itself. Medieval Latin writers were mostly unimpressed: the alchemists stuck to empirick work with metals, and theologians like William of Auvergne inveighed against the pseudo-Plato and anything that smacked of the intervention of incubi and succubi. But a fourteenth-century work by a pseudo-Thomas argues that the homunculus of the alchemist Zakariya al-Razi proves experimentally that female seed does not contribute to generation, and the late thirteenth-century Catalan physician Arnold of Villanova was widely believed to have succeeded in creating a homunculus himself. As the rejection of transubstantiation swept through northern Christendom, so too did the rejection of mists and metaphors through a developing scientific discourse of mechanical philosophy and for that matter rhetoric itself; as Paracelsian medicine acquired the pejorative label of chymistry and stories of golem-making became more fatalistic, exactly contemporaneous were the turns among both Christian and Jewish magi toward the production of artificial life, and the Tridentine consolidation of Catholic doctrine officially raised the metaphor of the words of Institution to the status of a fundamentally magical performative. 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They busied themselves with it, and at the end of three years a man was created to them, on whose forehead stood emeth [truth], as on Adams forehead. We see also, with especially shocking clarity in the late text of Paracelsus, the mythical desire to erase the specific difference between male and female with respect to Gebaerung, that biological power that has in every Western culture threatened the ideological basis of the political and social supremacy of male persons: at some distance from the literature of alchemy, we might remember that the English ur-monster, Grendel, has only a mother. 15, p. The phenomena I have just listed, looked at from the perspective of a history of metaphor, amount more to a turbulence than to a narrative of thrust and counterthrust. The created man said to them: Reverse the combinations of letters [by which he was created] and erase the aleph of the word emeth from my foreheadand immediately he fell into dust. Other versions of the story do not include the speaking of the golem, who is mute but grows ever more gigantic, until the rabbi hits upon the idea himself of erasing the alephin this version unfortunately the fall of the huge golem crushes the rabbi and kills him.
One could disapprove of this simply on Christian grounds: as I said before, the Incarnationthe central tenet of Christian doctrine depends on full human participation in the generation of Jesus Christ, and the human in question here was female: the necessity of female seed in the making of a rational animal was logically, if not always in practice, an article of belief. So also if shee looke upon a wound, or an ulcer, shee infects that in a like manner, and hinders the cure thereof: so also with her breath, as well as sight, shee infects divers things, corrupts, and weakens them; and so also with her touch.  Grafton and Siraisi, Natural Particulars, 331.  Ibid. The allegorical image of the human production of a homunculus, or at least of parthenogenic males, stems from late antiquity and depends in part on Aristotelian ideas of the superior power of sperm to the female contribution of menstrual blood, as well as on the so-called bougonia, the technical production of bees from a dead cow described vividly in Book IV of Virgils Georgics (29 B.C.E.).  See Newmans detailed commentary on the relevant section of Alfonso Tosatados Eximium ac nunc satis laudatum opus . For this is a miracle, and one of the great wonders of God, and secret above all secrets, and deservedly it ought to be kept amongst the secrets until the last times, when nothing shall be hid [the apocalypse], but all things made manifest. In pointing out the editorial attributions of spuriousness to this text I am not suggesting any heretofore unnoticed feminist tendencies in the long and multidisciplinary tradition of Paracelsian commentary. M. He went to his father Jeremiah.