By Elvia Rosa Castro
Nobody is perhaps aware of the fact that Nicholas Flamel, the famous French alchemist who affirms having discovered the Philosophal Stone in 1382, kept a manuscript, at the time of his death, revealing the antecedents of his alchemist practices as well as those of his book Hieroglyphica.
Flamel, wise man who could even read Latin, had received from his wife Perenela -not a clue of where she found it- a piece of work titled De Veritate… I do know something about its origins though.
Its author studied in Normandy, at the Bec monastery by the end of the XI century, he enjoyed manual arts and everything seems to confirm that he was a condiscipulus of the mystic Anselmo de Aosta.
Only one name, with an alias, appears at the -bright-gold- cover of the enigmatic manuscript: Baruch, the Atlantid.
De Veritate could not be a more impious and egocentric book: it quoted Arabs and Greeks, and Egyptians. And amongst them all, the one it quoted the most was Heraclitos, the one who initiated Philosophy -according to Hegel-; the one from the river which is never the same. But, above all, what fascinated Baruch was the conception of fire stated by the Jonian: “This world-order, the same of all, no god nor man did create, but it ever was and is and will be: everliving fire, kindling in measures and being quenched in measures”.
Would fire be the substance and the substance the Logos? Being so, fire would be Logos and therefore, incorporeous.
Pure symbol? As a matter of fact, if fire is Logos, it does not escape us or, more exactly, we are everliving fire.
The only thing left for Baruch to wonder about, in order to reach an enviable pantheism, was the being of its meditations, and laugh flooded the monastery right at a time when monks were not allowed to laugh: himself – man, human being, extension and thought- had been the object of his luminous insomnia:
God is the man and so the fire, substance allowing its purification, regeneration and transcendence.
This was the idea that, three centuries later, bewildered and seduced Nicholas Flamel.
Human existence, as a conceptual support, was tacking its lucubrations. What was really important for him was to be within the man; a factic man, placed in space and time, an Ioist man in anti-generic sense but, with aspirations of being present in all – pantheism returns-; and, the most important, moved by certain norms and ethical precepts that conjugate his will, vocation and perfectionist yearnings.
Now well, everything was under dictation of austerity and, in many cases, of abstinence. Of course!
This was one of the points of attraction for the French alchemist, of whom it is said, donated gold to public and benefic causes. Even when we will never know what really happened.
However, -and this can not be refuted- we will always find the fright of man when facing his own rational constructions, as well as his tools – arts perhaps – to be released from pavidity.
 “It is not possible to submerge twice in the same river or, to touch a deadly substance in the same state; according to the speed of movement, everything disperses and re-composes, everything comes and goes”,
 When Translated to Spanish, Baruch is Benito. There is a funny coincidence: Benítez belongs to the same family than Baruch or Benito; and Benítez is the Surname of a Cuban artist with exactly the same concerns than those of the Atlantid.
 This idea is present at the Cabala and then, at Spinoza’s work.
Published in the book El Observatorio de Línea. Repasos al Arte Cubano. UNIÓN Edit, Havana, 2008, Pp. 86-89.
Published at the catalogue of the exhibition One and a Thousand Eyes, Museum of Rum/ Habana Club Gallery, Havana.