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Originally posted by silent thunder
I would have come out of the store and tried to engage him in an actual conversation about medieval alchemy and/or esoterica. If he knew his s**t to any extent then I'd sit down on the curb with him, pass him a few beers, and brown-bag it while we talked about stuff like the validity of the ideas of Zosimos of Panopolis and otherts that alchemy is primarily a psychospiritual transformational technique couched in the metaphor of the actual transmutation of base materials, rather than a literal physical transformation. I'd ask his opinion about Chinese alchemy as well, such as his idea of the gradual transformation of Taoist alchemal theories along similar lines. I'd be curious to know what he thought of the distinction the middle-aged Chinese alchemists drew between "yang" and "true yang," or "lead" and "true lead" - a position I've always found troubling yet alluring. Of course, we'd have to at least touch on the great Islamic alchemists, like Jabir ibn Hayyanare, the Mandeans, and so on. Last, as a kind of counterpoint to the more theoretical stuff we'd have been slinging, I'd probably try to get his ideas on the fact that the Au (gold) and a few other precious metals have rather unusual particle spin characteristics, suggesting to some academic physicists and chemists that actual and physical transmutation might, in the end, be a possibility. Then I'd tip my hat to him, wish him the very best of luck with the Great Work, and be on my way.