Yesterday I wrote wildly about chemistry, searching for a unifying fantastical theorem, and Eric left a fairly reasonable comment positing that titanium would do for a stand-in for mithril, while some sort of steel would do as a stand-in for adamantium. He used my own words in his argument. I love when people do that.
Alas, it is not nearly enough. If all fantasy vs. reality needed were create and switch solutions, I wouldn't have needed to write the post as I did. Unfortunately, we need magical "chemistry" to be so much more. It needs to be alchemy.
While modern reality, based in quantum physics, is weird enough to be defined as Clarksian "magic," it isn't nearly romantic enough for fanciful creationism. Not by a long shot. The packages for magical chemistry have strange, strange markings indeed. The labels do not only describe the substances in the bottles; they describe with equal abundance conjectures without substance, like emotionalism, fate, spirituality and morality. Yes, true, it's fine to measure by the oz. something as simple as a philosopher's stone; where is the measure that defines whether your chemical compound successfully attacks "evil"?
Consider, if you will, the principles of hermeticism, and how they were conceived to apply to the alchemical postulations of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Most of our modern concepts of immortality, the soul, prophecy, daemonism, kabbalic introspection - indeed the word "magic" itself - derives mostly from the utter bullshit spewed by a long line of imaginative philosophers, many of them quite probably high on a number of psychotropic substances - and many, many of them possessing a pretty loose conception of reason. Reason, the gentle reader will hopefully understand, was not central to the goal for most hermeticists, who were much more concerned with rising out of the body physical into the realm of the body not-yet-realized-but-filled-with-sincere-wish-fulfillment.
Still, the kookiness of the writings were a spectacularly rich source for fiction authors and storytellers of every design and every culture, who could spin magic into tales of whole cloth, giving us the same stories forming the solid foundation for D&D - which must, in turn, leads to the only possible proposition:
If magic is true, then the hermeticists - and by association, the "science" of alchemy - must also be true. And if there is to be a magical chemistry, it cannot be solved with the mere insertion of titanium for mithril (with all due respect, Eric - I did not describe the whole frame in my last post). I dare the chemist to reproduce "evil" upon the periodic table (don't say, lacking in electrons, else you will define poisonous chlorine and flourine gas as "good"); or select out the isotopes most useful in foretelling the future, or if luck is something that obtained from the lanthanides, the actinides or the halogens.
It is a big, big question. If I were not such a geographer and economist, with my time spent crunching maps and costs, perhaps I might have a massive spreadsheet and graphs defining the nature of matter - in its magical identity, that is.
Ah well. Someone might get interested yet.