The Internet, The Philosopher’s Stone, and the Surveillance State.

Dear Reader,

As I have oft reflected here, the emergence of modern technology seems to fulfill the hopes of ancient magicians. One of the goals of alchemists was the obtain the philosopher’s stone, which would provide various types of magical power.

There were, however, four philosophers stones in the alchemical tradition, each providing different powers.

The third philosopher’s stone, the “Magicall or Prospective Stone,” provide the gift of seeing anywhere in the world. This stone often appears in folk tales as a mirror or crystal ball that enables the viewer to see into other parts of the world.  Seventeenth century alchemist Elias Ashmole describes its abilities:

“It is possible to discover any Person in what part of the World soever, although never so secretly concealed or hid; in chambers, Closets, or Caverns of the Earth…It a Word, it fairly presents to your view even the whole World, where to hold heare, or see your Desire…[and] to convey a Spirit into an Image, which by observing the influence of Heavenly Bodies, shall become a true Oracle.”

This sounds remarkably like the internet, which, using, GPS, webcams, smart phones, and other means, has created the ability to survey pretty much everyone on the planet.




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