“The Artistic Laboratory” from “Remembering Eternity”

“My laboratory was also that of an alchemist, and from my stored treasures I sought, as he once had, the materia prima, whose discovery would bring the Great Light to my being.  My alchemist worked with the physical elements of my body and the ideational vapors of my mind.  In his retorts and alembics could be found, in bubbling boil, the four humours: black, earthy, irritable, and melancholic bile and its xanthic cousin, fiery, angry, and choleric; sputum-clear phlegm, watery and calm, and red, aerated blood, amorous and sanguine.  Across many pages of rubricated and miniated manuscripts were written events and memories from the present and thousands of past lives.  From scriptures hoary and foreign, from poesy of the sojourners of kef, from stray secrets captured from the mouths of hermit saints, the alchemist worked.  From oiled visions of masters, from the stark dreams stolen from their wandering nights and carried back like pillage by a bloodied warrior, from woven multiverses and figures of gods and their consorts sculpted from aromatic woods, he sought in urgency, even desperation, for the required answers.  Wandering into tangled, clinging, sweating, howling jungles, and struggling to stroke over watery walls the height of buildings, swallowing briny mouthfuls, fearing circling fins as slimy forms slithered past his legs, he searched for the alkahest, that pure solvent able to dissolve every impurity in man and object, leaving only the pure, the true, the divine.  No aqua regia would satisfy him.  The search must yield perfection or must fail.  In his laboratory, my alchemist would discover the quintessence of life or die bent over rows of fuming elixirs, canisters of terrene matter, beakers of foaming solvents, carboys of corrosive agents, and crucibles of glittering powders.”