top of page

Systems = Alchemy

By Red the Philosopher

Alchemy refers to the process of transforming energy and matter into new forms. Ancient esoterics attempted to convert bronze metal into gold. The correct process for doing this was elusive. People attempted various methods employing the scientific techniques available to them at that time and ideological conceptualizations befitting their contemporary zeitgeist. A conception of the philosopher’s stone was imagined as a key ingredient to executing alchemy. Some alchemists even attempted incorporating bodily fluids such as blood and urine to achieve transformation.

The significance of this and all history is that it empowers posterity to learn from it. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel because that was already accomplished. History confers knowledge onto future generations and implores them to push the bounds of knowledge and advancement further than their predecessors. Alchemy as a scientific endeavor was not so much achieved as it was realized to be operating at all times and in all energy.

The law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed. And in that definition, alchemy hid in plain sight. Without any manipulation by man, energy transforms naturally. Recent advances suggest that matter is energy. Skeptical readers can research string theory and quantum physics.

Alchemy has always been ubiquitous. Man’s efforts to employ this process for material ends bore fruit in ways they had not originally intended, or possibly yielding the same original end goal (socioeconomic empowerment) via different means. That is to say, they did not transform bronze into gold but they transformed many other things just as valuable.

Let us consider the ice cube. Transforming liquid water into solid water is alchemy. Since that process is well known, humans began to develop and conceptualize ways to execute the process with minimal effort and maximum control. Regarding minimal effort, ice forms naturally in cold environments. Humans likely saw ice outside in nature before they decided to learn to produce it themselves. Nature’s ice required minimal effort to produce but also yielded minimal control because the shape was organic, it may have been inconvenient to handle or manipulate for culinary and medicinal purposes, and it may have been impure - containing insects, fecal matter, dirt, etc. In order to tame the idea of ice and its reputation for its degree of manipulability, humans decided to “grow their own” ice. By studying how ice formed, the collective consciousness of humanity came to realize some things about ice - that ice is simply frozen water, it takes the shape of its container, and it can melt. What they learned about ice is transferable to other matter and energy because, as the Black saying goes, “everything is everything.” All knowledge is transferable and analogous - knowledge of one thing confers knowledge of all things because all things exist in one thing. Less cryptically stated, understanding water and ice was a sample of how to understand the shared essential elements of water, ice, and all matter and energy. Humans learned that water freezes but most liquids freeze and even solids can freeze if put in the appropriate circumstance.

The understanding of how to make ice in a way that it was more manipulable than wild ice bore fruit. Humans developed machines called freezers that created cold conditions that could freeze anything placed inside of it. The creation of machines that could execute alchemical processes of transforming energy and matter into new forms signaled elevation of the collective consciousness but cast a long shadow over the masses who would know how to use the machine but not how it worked. In this way, the alchemy became so ubiquitous that people became noseblind to it and it remained hidden in plain sight.

A system is an alchemical process, typically standardized to yield consistent results. When ice formation was first discovered as manipulable by humans, many efforts to figure out the best way to do so likely arose. Look at how many different types of ice exist today. Each type of ice has its own alchemical process, or system, by which it is produced. The emergence of branded alchemical processes represented a natural culling of the less socially desirable systems - survival of the fittest. The ability to transform liquid water into solid ice is alchemy. The ability of a business to transform labor into money is alchemy. Both are systems. Both can be combined in ways that create larger systems and infrastructures, culminating in the formation of an economy and ecology. Economy refers to how the various alchemical processes influence one another within a given space. The sequence of events, rituals, and steps in systems vary. These steps can be codified into a series of actions similar to how computer systems and algorithms use a series of binaries to produce outcomes.

For example, American history included the following system - Feelings of inferiority and lack in Europeans > force and oppression toward indigenous cultures > free labor > plant, maintain, and yield crops > transport, prepare, market, and sell crops > get cash > buy status symbols, mansions, weapons, more enslaved persons. Their system yielded many offshoots at each step like a main river having tributaries.

As times change, so does language. In modern days, the term alchemy is hardly used in common parlance. Systems is the preferred term. Systems transform matter and energy into new forms. Systems are difficult to change because they are insulated by the vested interest in each step. Think of a system like highway 95 in the US. The steps are the tolls and exists along the way. Shutting down 95 won’t happen if only a single exit or toll booth is closed because there are checks and balances involved in the setup of the system and each exit or toll booth has maintenance workers, local residents, and other interested parties who may not care about 95 as a gestalt but will fight tooth and nail for the sustenance of their respective territory. Smallmindedness, unrootedness, and ignorance in general maintain systems because people will fight for their own oppression if they don’t see the alchemical process in its entirety- they only see their part. Consider instead of using the example of making ice, we look at making a cake - transforming base materials such as eggs, milk, and flour, into a gestalt cake. If the cake is the maintenance of White Supremacy, some Black people will fight for egg production because they don’t know or care how their eggs contribute to the cake so long as they get paid. Entertainers get the most scrutiny for selling out but are they even aware of how their music is the eggs for the White Supremacy cake? Even if they are aware, their lack of participation in it won’t stop it anymore than their involvement. Moral questions are relevant here.

Even organs in the body function as machines executing alchemical processes. These amalgamate into bodily systems such as digestion, immunity, reproduction, and the nervous system. At every level, transformations occur - cognitively and affectively, people transform negative thoughts and feelings into positive thoughts, feelings, and actions. At the organ level, the brain transforms neurotransmitters into one another. At the chemical level, alpha and beta decay of atoms allow carbon atoms to transform into oxygen or other atoms. All of these levels operate concurrently and it is in the eye of the beholder that scientific disciplines are used as lenses to partition the complexity of life into bite sized pieces. In this way, it is clear that subjects should only be understood for the purpose of education about the object. And the object is the gestalt of all subjects. Disciplinary lines are as imaginary as geometric shapes and the organic truth is that “everything is everything.”


bottom of page