Alchemical Traditions, 15-16




Alchemical Horticulture of Chadwick

Rod Blackhirst


pp. 536-9 in the Old World

p. 536

"ALAN CHADWICK was born ... on 27 July 1909 in the town of Leonard's-by-the-Sea. ... Alan wa the oldest son of an illustrious and ancient family with a

p. 537

heritage going back to at least the 1300s. ... He spent his childhood on

the family's ... manor ... .

[fn. 2 "Pudleston Court, Herefordshire ... was built by Elias Chadwick who was ... a coal baron ... ."]

His mother Elizabeth ... became a member of the Theosophical Society and then, when a split occurred in the Society in 1913, the Anthroposophical Society under the leadership and inspiration of the Austrian philosopher and pedagogue Rudolph Steiner ... . When Steiner went to England to teach and give lectures, she enlisted him as a personal tutor for her son. This was to be a decisive event in Alan's life. ... Turning his back on in inheritance, he took to ... a career as a Shakespearean actor ...

p. 538

with small itinerant theatre companies. It was a career that he ... pursued for over thirty years. .... Importantly, he also learnt ... gardening ... with Steiner's methods ... . The outbreak of World War Two brought profound disruption ... . ... At the close of the war he wanted to flee Europe and never return. He headed for South Africa ... . ... It was in South Africa ... that he met ...

p. 539

Coluntess Freya von Moltke, the widow of Helmuth Moltke, a German army general who had been executed by the Nazis in 1945 for plotting to assassinate Hitler. ... Through her, most likely, Chadwick secured a job redesigning the Admiralty Gardens in Capetown ... ."

pp. 539-41 in the New World

p. 539

"Later, ... Chadwick had moved to the Bahamas ... . Freya von Moltke urged him to go to Santa Cruz. ... He arrived in California ... a strange visitation upon a California then in the grip of psychedelia and 'Flower Power'.

The University garden project ... was promoted by Dr Paul Lee, a champion of the vitalist tradition ... . Lee relates that Chadwick arrived one day, accepted the job, ... and went to work ... . ... At this time Alan Chadwick was fifty-eight years old. ..

{"In 1967, Alan Chadwick dug his spade into the hardpan of the University of California, Santa Cruz campus on a slope below Merrill College. Thus began the Garden Project, introducing the Biodynamic and French Intensive method of organic food and flower production." ("ACh&ChG")}

p. 540

Soon people arrived in his garden wanting him to explain his philosophy and methods. ... . ... he took on apprentices and started giving regular talks to an eager audience ... . In these talks he explained 'biodynamic / French intensive' gardening ... in terms of his own distinct cosmology that he described as 'alchemistic'. For Chadwick, horticulture was a spiritual endeavor, an encounter with the secrets .. and wisdom of God. He took inspiraion from Steiner, and adopted some of Steiner's terminology ... . Largely eclectic, Chadwick wove together a philosophy of gardening ..., drawing upon Plato, Xenophon, Pliny, Ptolemy, Paracelsus and others. ... He was a maestro."

p. 541

[A quotation of Chadwick, cited in Crimi : Performance in the Garden, p. 255] "We are living links in a life force that moves and plays around and through us, binding the deepest soils with the farthest stars."

"Recordings of some 270 or so of his 'talks' survive today, and constitute his legacy ... .

[fn. 15 "The recordings now reside in the Alan Chadwick Archive in the care of Stephen Crimi."]

He died .. in May 1980. ... He {or rather, his cadavre} was buried at the rural property of the Zen Centre in San Francisco and a stupa was erected over his grave."

"ACh&ChG" = "Alan Chadwick and the Chadwick Garden".

pp. 542-7 philosophy & methods of contemplation

p. 542

"Chadwick himself ... was ... setting out to ... bring beauty to the world, a Platonic [fn. 20 : Timaios 30A sq] enterprise arising out of an adoration of Beauty from which abundance is merely an overflow. ... He ... had achieved, he once said, a huge marriage of spirit and practice'.[fn. 21 "Quoted, Paul LEE, Ectopia {sic!}. ... There is ... almost crystalline perfection in ... Chadwick's ... vision. ... eccentric, he was not half-baked." {How-be-it, Blackhirst's distortion of \Ecotopia\ into \Ectopia\ (meaning 'out of place') is (if not "half-baked") even more eccentric.}]

He means the alchemical marriage of spirit and matter. ...

{Taken quite litterally, this would have the meaning 'the wedding of a subtle-bodied spirit to a material-bodied mortal'.

His main contention, alchemically speaking, is that life can be drawn endlessly from the 'invisible' ... .

p. 543

... The pedigree of Chadwick's approach ... goes through Steiner to Goethe to Paracelsus and the alchemical science of Germanticism ... . ... He explains ... a threefold model : ... reality ... consists of a visible

and an invisible world,

{Though invisible to any mortal while awake, it is very much visible to the same (i.e., to every) mortal while dreaming.}

with an intermediate realm in between. ... This intermediate realm is of utmost importance. ...

It is also the realm of elemental beings : gnomes, sylphs and fairies ... . ...

{The elemental spirits praeside over the state of inanimate matter, especially in the material waking-universe. They are significant in Rosicrucian cosmology,}

In one of his talks he said of this : [quoted :] Of course there are elves and fairies and undines! They are ... for what? For the magic that ... bring about ...

the perpetual marriage of the invisible into the visible.

{A deity (invisible to mortals while they are in the waking-state) may become espoused to a mortal shaman while that shaman is visiting that deity's divine world in a dream : thereafter the divine spouse will accompany the same mortal shaman in every dream entred by thenceforth during the shaman's life, and perhaps also beyond death.}

... He refers to the archetypal realm as 'ide'e' {French spelling of "idea"}, which man approaches through the exercise of 'image' {"imagination", in the sense (as per Henri Corbin) of mental imagery received , via thought-transference, as supernatural revelation from a divine entity}. ... he speaks of a phenomenon

p. 544

he calls 'e'leve'' {another French spelling}, a spiritual uplift {\elation\, in ordinary English} (or increase in vibration) ... . ...

At the head of his stellar cosmology is the 'revolutionibus' {a plural, in Latin ablative case} consisting of

the 'prima {plural of \primum\} mobile' and the 'secundus {masculine of \secundum\} mobile'.

{These two concentric sphaires enclosing the planetary system in the Ptolemaic scheme could be taken as aequivalents to the Pauran.ik "mahat" and "a-vyakta" (which are likewise two concentric sphaires enclosing the planetary system).}

p. 545

His vision was Aracadian {sic!}

{Proprely \Arkadian\ (central Apia); Blackhirst's "Aracadian" may be derived from mixing together two distinct names : \Arakan\ (province in Burma) and \Akkad\ (praeHellenistic name of Babylonia).}

and Edenic. ... .

{referring to so-called "South Yemen", rather than to Edinburgh.}

... drawing upon Xenophon's Socratic dialogue 'Economy' (oikos-nomia)

he envisaged a Ghandian {sic!}

{Proprely \Gandhian\ (Bharatiya). Blackhirst's "Ghandian" may be derived from mixing together two distinct names : \Ghana\ (a country in Africa) and \U-Ganda\ (also a country in Africa).}

... part of the alchemical tradition in which he saw himself [Ecotopia, p. 103] 'Paracelsus said that the destiny ... is to place

p. 546

... in Paradise'. ...

In one of his recorded talks, after Chadwick had exponded with Shakespearean flourish about his vision of an enchanted world ..., ... Chadwick ... exclaimed :

'I am an incredible lunatic of the future!'"

{This would seem to describe "the bearer of news from the future" (JC:"NF"), such as "in Edward Bellamy’s influential futurist utopian tract Looking Backward (1888)".}

p. 547

"I am an incredible lunatic of the future.

A pomegranate {treated as sacred in the litterature of the Qabbalah, e.g., the book Pardes Rimmonim by Mos^eh Cordovero (JE"RMC")}, it's all made of emeralds and rubies. But that is a secret {secretly hidden underground}. It will reveal itself {along with the magical lamp}."

{This is reminiscent of the living fruit miraculously composed of jewels, as described in the 1001 Nights (in the tale of how the magical lamp was obtained from underground : "AWL"), and as described in the Amitayus-dhyana Vaipulya-sutra wherein "fruits made of the seven kinds of jewels spontaneously appear"(ADhS"4V").}

JC:"NF" = "The Next Future".

JE"RMC" = Jewish Encyclopedia article "Remak. (Moses ben Jacob Cordovero)".

"AWL" = "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp".

ADhS ("Fourth Visualization") and similarly




"Checkmate" in Beckett & in Eliot

Dan Mellamphy


p. 550 superfoetation

"a 'polyphiloprogenitive ... superf[o]etation' in the words of T. S. Eliot -- was ... the preindividual protagonist of Beckett's and Eliot's work ..., for instance, of Beckett's first novel Murphy, and ... of Eliot's final set of poems, the Four Quartets ...; the last one provides ... the impersonal metaphysico-mathemathical conduit ..., which conducts and thereby conjoins a set of dramatis personae ... . In a sense the ... formulations (such as ... of Beckett's Unnameable) ..., just as ... sketched out by Gilbert Simondon -- Simondon's revision and rearticulation of the mathesis universalis ... -- ... sets up ... ."

p. 551 larva in desert

"Just as Eliot attempted [Brooker 1994, p. 173] ... of Beckett's first published poem [1930] ... they uncover the 'larva subject' ... . The Beckettian and Eliotic 'larval subject' can only be ... pre-individual and indeed prior to the distinction between object and subject, to escape every effort to identify it or, in the words of J. Alfred Pufrock [Eliot 1996], to 'fix [it] in a formulated phrase' ... . ...

Under the rock-like fac,ade of Prufrock-like personae [Knowlson & Pilling 1980, p. xiii] ... those accustomed to desert[ed] environments discern ... al-kemi in al-deshret, 'roots that clutch, ... branches [that] grow ... '."

Brooker 1994 = Jewel Spears Brooker : Mastery and Escape : T. S. and the Dialectic of Modenism. Amherst : Univ of MA Pr.

Beckett 1930 = Samuel Beckett : Whoroscope. Paris : The Hours Pr.

Eliot 1996 = T. S. Eliot : Prufrock and Other Observations. NY : Bartleby Library.

Knowlson & Pilling 1980 - James Knowlson & John Pilling : Frescoes of the Skull : the Later Prose and Drama of Samuel Beckett. NY : Grove Pr.

pp. 552-3 transductive wordsmithery

p. 552

"The work of these wordsmiths (T. S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett) ... as it proceeds is according to Simondon a 'transductive' mathesis : in their works, Eliot and Beckett are thus conducted toward ...

an operation 'which bases its propagation on a gradual [re]structuring' [Simondon 2007, p. 32] of its operative milieu (and hence the conditions or context of its operation) as its process unfolds;

{"we must view the individual as individuating or becoming within a mileux. That is, an individual must be thought as both emerging from a mileux and acting in a mileux." ("S&I")}

'each restructured region served as ["structural foundation or"] constitutive principle for the following region' such that differences -- different individuations, different individual realisations or structural manifestations -- come

p. 553

about within (with and in) this structuring operation.

'All these Murphys, Molloys and Malones ...,' states the Unnameable in Beckett's Unnameable; ... are all of them ... manifestations/realisations, of an ongoing transduction, and the Unnameable is a transductive {viz., transduction-inducing in other persons} being. The same is true of Tiresias {Teiresias} in The Waste Land : Tiresias too is transductive ... ."

Simondon 2007 = Gilbert Simondon : L' individuation psychique et collective : à la lumière des notions de forme, information, potentiel et métastabilité. Paris : Aubier.

"S&I" = "Simondon and Individuation".

pp. 554-5 violet hour

p. 554

"Tiresias 'at the violet hour ...', in The Waste Land ... intones, unheard, ... the poem, 'I who have sat by Thebes {Thebai} below the wall / And walked among the lowest of the dead, ... / ... foretold ... ' ... ."

"archbishop Thomas a` Beckett of Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral discerns, like Tiresias at the violet hour in the middle of the The Waste Land, like Murphy ... at the Magdalen Mental Mercyseat in Murphy, ...

p. 555

the reality of his condition, which is in sum impersonal and trans-individual."

p. 555 chess

"the present paper sets out to study ... that game ... known as chess ...

formerly called

{It is, of course, as yet still called by the same names in the countries of its original provenience.}

shatrang or chatur[-]anga (respectively the Persian and the Sanskrit words for the four-part or the four-fold {litterally, "four-limbed"})

encase and showcase four fundamental Pre-Platonic principles ... ."

{ABSURD! Surely, if the game was created in Iran and in Bharata, any "fundamental ... principles" which it was intended to "encase and showcase" cannot be anything European, but would most likely be indicated in the Shah-Nameh and in the Maha-bharata.}

pp. 555-6 sustained parallelism (between writings by Beckett and by Eliot)

p. 555

"In their Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett, Stan Gontarski and Chris Ackerley note the surprising yet sustained parallelism between the works of Samuel Beckett and T. S. Eliot. 'Such sustained parallelism ... testifies to Eliot's significance as one who ... set his lands in order in a way that Beckett could not'. [Ackerley & Gontarski 2004, p. 168]

They ... call our attention to the fact that Beckett explicitly echoed Eliot both in the structure of his firs published poem (Whoroscope, published in 1930) and in the title

p. 556

of his subsequent collection, Echo's Bones and Other Precipitates (published in 1935). 'The notes for Whoroscope imitate The Waste Land, and Echo's Bones and Other Precipitates echoes Prufrock and Other Observations', they write [Ibid.]."

Ackerley & Gontarski 2004 = Chris Ackerley & Stan Gontarski : The Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett. NY : Grove Pr.

pp. 557-8 Hippasos as instructor of Hera-kleitos

p. 557

"In the first book of his Metaphysics, Aristotle took note of the common principle shared by Pythagoras's most notorious student

Hippasus of

{founder of the Mathematikoi (OCD, s.v. "Hippasus")}

Metapontum ...

{an Akhaian colony (OCD, s.v. "Metapontum")}

and Heraclitus ... .


{As reckoned in modern physics, "Fire is a genuine plasma. ... Even small and relatively cool fires, like candle flames, respond strongly to electric fields and are even pretty conductive." ("IFP?")}

is the material principle

{That is to say, electric fields and electrical conductivity are the main factors in physics. (They are major factors in modern electronics.)}

according to Hippasus and Heraclitus', he says [Metaphysika 1:987A:7] straightforwardly.

The tenth century Byzantine encyclopedia known as the Suda {Souda} further suggests [ETA @ 472] that Heraclitus 'was a pupil of Xenophanes and of Hippasus the Pythagorean' ... .

p. 558

'There is an ancient tradition that Heraclitus had been a pupil of the Pythagorean philosopher Hippasus' who 'like Heraclitus believed that the universe is in a state of incessant change ...', Wheelwright reiterates [1964, p. 9]".

OCD = Hammond & Scullard (edd.) : The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford : Clarendon Pr, 1970.

"IFP?" = "Is Fire A Plasma?"

Wheelwright 1964 = Philip Wheelwright : Heraclitus. NY : Atheneum Pr.

p. 558 Eliot's and Beckett's use of the term "speleology" (literally, 'study of caverns') as a designation of search for understanding of underground/subterranean (metaphor for 'instinctual') praedilections {They both may, however, have directly borrowed the cavern-outlook from the description in TL-MRJ New-Kingdom royal tombs (dating from the New Kingom and later) of postmortem voyages through caverns of the Netherworld.}

"the works of Eliot and of Beckett remain ... fundamentally Hippasian in orientation, and ... their 'orientation' is ... directed toward

a search for the self : an auto-speleology or

in the words of Samuel Beckett an onto-speleology."

p. 559 alienation from one's true self (i.e., from one natural instincts)

"'How can I be the object of my own search?' asks translator Charles Kahn with respect to this Heraclitean undertaking." {With regard to all the aphorisms praesented by Hera-kleitos, they were deliberately intended to be paradoxical, to be considered as irresoluble paradoxes.} ...

{There are different traditional resolutions : the Astika determination that the atman ('self') is a portion of brahman ('universal consciousness'); or otherwise, the simpler Bauddha determination that because there is nothing particularly distinctive about any specific person, therefore it is not metaphysically meaningful to speak of any atman.}

'We are surprisingly close here to the ... Christian idea that a person may be alienated from his own (true) self', Kahn [1979, p. 116] concludes."

Kahn 1979 = Charles Kahn : The Art and Thought of Heraclitus. Cambridge Univ Pr.

{Christians deliberately endeavour to produce extreme alienation from one's natural instincts (comprising one's divinely-ordained true self) by arbitrarily deriding all such instincts (the natural instinct for nourishment of the material body, which Christians vilify by designating \gluttony\; the natural instinct for sexual relations, which Christians vilify by designating \lust\; etc. etc.). In its violent hostility against against our divinely-provided natural instincts, that unnatural system of perversion known as "Christianity" is vilely flaunting itself as a most pernicious evil.}

pp. 561-2 madness-inducing transfinites

"that 'infinite mathematics'

that drove Cantor and Go:del literally mad {Did author D.M. confound Go:del with Nietzsche, who lost his mind to a sort of catatonic trance?} --

{FALSE! Go:del, who never dealt with transfinites, never became mad. Only Cantor (who indeed dealt with transfinites) was driven mad by contemplating them.}

functions for ... the ... ultimately infinite truth."

{WRONG! Because transfinites cannot exist, they cannot really be described as true nor as false.}

{Transfinites are maddening because they cannot exist : no sort of completed infinitude can in any way, nor manner, nor means exist; certainly no "infinite truth" : for, actual truth can relate only to that which doth, can, or could exist, therefore only to finitudes.}

p. 562 a parallelism between the doctrine of Giordano Bruno, and the doctrine of Alain Badiou

"Where Bruno lists [Yates 1964, p. 324] mathesis, magic, art and love as his four parallel paths (his procedural quad or quartet),

[fn. 121 "under the inspiration of Apollo, Dionysus, the three ... Muses (Aoide, Melete and Mneme : Song, Practice and Memory) and the Phoenician Aphrodite otherwise known as the Egyptian Hathor" (Yates 1964, p. 281).]

Badiou lists his four procedural paths as being scientific, political, artistic and amorous."

[fn. 118 "There are four types of generic procedure : artistic, scientific, political, and amorous. These are the four sources of truth" (Badiou 2005, p. 510)]

Yates 1964 = Frances Yates : Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. Univ of Chicago Pr.

Badiou 2005 = Alain Badiou (transl. by Oliver Feltham) : Being and Event. London : Continuum Bks.

pp. 565-8 secret writings by Descartes

p. 565

"in Descartes's unpublished [in his own lifetime] notes -- explicitly in his ... early treatise on ... (Rules forthe Direction of the Mind) and implicitly in both ... (his 'Private Cogitations', specifically the so-called 'Mathematical Treasure-Trove of Polybus the Cosmopolitan' ...) and in the so-called 'Secret Notebook' [fn. 153 "See Aczel".] ..., both of which were transcribed after Descartes's death by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz. ... . ... Descartes ... 'advanced masked' (larvatus prodeo) onto the stage of 'world theatre' (theatrum mundi) ...

p. 566

larvally hidden under the mask of his public personam, like a proverbial

skeleton in the closet.

{\Larva\ (LD, q.v.) "ante class. as trisyl. larua" [with long \-a-\ indicating possible cognateness with \laser\ 'assafoetida'] is primarily 'ghost', secondarily 'mask' or 'skeleton'.}

... wrote Descartes in his notebook : 'Just as actors are counseled ... to ... put on a mask, likewise now that I am about to mount the stage of the world {"All the world's a stage".} ..., I come forward masked'."

p. 567

"in order to let the preconditions of and for the Cartesian cogito come to the fore and/or floor ..., every cogito as such ... in a sense 'enthrones' the ... post- and proto-, 'Descartes' of Beckett's Whoroscope ... . ...

p. 568

In the [W]horoscope ... the ... 'intuitions of the hierophant-poet as typified in ... Vedic India' 'fuse' according to Stein [1975, p. 125]".

Aczel = Amir Aczel : Descartes' Secret Notebook : a True Tale of ... Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand theUniverse. NY : Broadway Bks, 2005.

LD = Lewis & Short : A Latin Dictionary. Oxford : Clarendon Pr.

Stein 1975 = William Bysshe Stein : "Beckett's Whoroscope". ENGLISH LITERARY HISTORY 42.1 (Spring 1975):125-55.

pp. 568-9 occult lore by Malfatti

p. 568

"as 'the fundamental hieroglyph' ... of mathesis in ... Deleuze's introduction to Christien Ostrowski's translation of Giovanni Malfatti de Montereggio's Studies on the Anarchy and Hierarchy of Knowledge [fn. 174 "Studien u:ber Anarchie und Hierarchie des Wissens ... (Leipzig : F. A. Brockhaus, 1845)"] : 'The Mathesis as Hieroglyph and

p. 569

Symbolism of the Universe's Threefold Life, or the Mystical Organon of the Ancient Hindus'."

"Just as Descartes's early work on mathesis ..., so too was Deleuze's early work on mathesis, and yet in many respects these thinkers never left this context ... throughout their lives, as Pierre Costabel and Jean-Luc Marion suggest with respect to Descartes and as Christian Kerslake [2007] suggests with respect to Deleuze."

Kerslake 2007 = Christian Kerslake : Deleuze and the Unconscious. London : Continuum Bks.


Aaron Cheak (ed.) : Alchemical Traditions from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde. Numen Bks MMXIII, Melbourne (Victoria), 2013.