Monday, December 8, 2008

More Alchemist....

Bambis' you should read up to pg 60 (5th period by Tuesday the 9th, 2nd/6th by Wed the 10th)

These are your last pre-reading assignments. They are to be defined in your notebook they are due by Thursday (5th) and Friday (2nd,6th)

Regional, Cultural or Spiritual Allusions and Terms:

Narcissus (Prologue) Esperanto (p.66) King Melchizedek (Genesis14, “King Most High”) Helvetius, Elias, Fulcanelli, Geber (p.82) Koran (p. 54) Scarab (p.161) Muslim Simum (p.148 Mecca Coptic (153,154) Allah (p. 71, 97) Tiberius (p.158) Levanter (p.27) hookah (p. 114) “Maktub” (p. 59)

The Alchemist’s Terms/Expressions:

The Soul of the World Philosopher’s Stone ((p.66) The Unspoken Language Elixir of Life (p. 66) The Language of the World Master Work (p.81) Personal Legend Emerald Tablet (p. 126) Principle of Favorability (p. 29) Urim and Thummin (p. 30)


scabbard (37) treasonous (129) conspire elixir (133) scimitar (112) contemplate (134) brandish (112) fixedly (136) dialect (106) flourish (145) prognostication (111) sirocco (146) monotony (124) tether (151) tracts (126) recount (153) agitated (128) disciple (153) centurion (158) avidly (159) scarab (161) sacristy (163) alchemy infidel (34)


Preliminary Notes About the Novel:

The Alchemist is written in a fable format. What is a fable, and why would Coelho use it to tell his story? Generally speaking, fables use recognizable, simple characters and settings in order to illustrate a simple truth about life or human nature. What is it that Coelho attempts to teach?

Even though you may not initially understand some of the unusual terminology in the story (Soul of the World, for example), its themes are ones which are probably familiar to you. Can you think of some old, familiar proverbs or songs that capture some of these ideas? For example, think about what ends up being more important for Santiago—the journey….or the destination??? Where is it that Santiago eventually finds happiness? People have been writing and singing about the answers to these questions for years!

The novel integrates ideas and philosophies of many faiths and historical periods. Many of these ideas concern the pursuit of truth, one’s intended destiny and the attainment of personal happiness. Coelho refers to these combined elements as one’s “Personal Legend.” He tells

the story of Santiago in order to teach us how we may find and live out our own Personal Legends. These ideas, though, have been explored since ancient times in one form or another by countless faiths and peoples. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, countless tribal cultures, in addition to ancient and modern philosophers, all attempt to define the idea of one’s Personal Legend (though they may call it by different names), and all subscribe paths to achieving personal fulfillment. Thus, although the legend is about no faith or philosophy in particular, it is about all faiths and philosophies.

Alchemy is the medieval “science” of transforming rocks into gold. Alchemy plays an important part in the plot (literal level) of the story, but it also becomes a symbol, or allegorical device, in the legend (figurative level). Coelho is really using characters, events and symbols as tools to show us how to achieve spiritual alchemy. In other words, how do we find or recognize the “gold,” -- our Personal Legend--in the “rocks” of the everyday, ordinary, simple details of our lives? As Santiago discovers, sometimes the “gold” is not faraway, not glittery, not exotic, and not complicated, but it may require a journey of courage, faith and perseverance to discover what it is and where it is hidden.

In an interview, Paulo Coelho talks about “Four Pillars of Alchemy– four important “tips” for finding one’s Personal Legend:
1 One must believe in “The Soul of the World.” The ancient Latin term for this concept is “anima mundi.” In short, this idea suggests that everything in the world is interconnected; that is, what one does affects everything else, from the smallest grain of sand to the largest whale, and vice versa. Writers and thinkers such as Plato, Walt Whitman and Khalil Ghibran have attempted to illustrate this interconnectedness in their works.
2 One must listen to the voice of the heart. Coelho suggests that sometimes we must follow our feelings and intuitions, even if we do not fully understand them. Through feeling one gains wisdom.
3 One must be faithful to one’s dreams, for they both test and reward us. In other words, the path to achieving one’s Personal Legend may not be an easy one, but we must endure the tests in order to gain the rewards.
4 One must “surrender oneself to the universe.” Coelho suggests that we must allow ourselves to be open to recognizing and learning from omens and signs which come our way.

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