A skilled dyer was in his laboratory busy with his profession tasks. A meticulous observer entered to the locale. He was a highly analytical reasoner. He begun discussing the dyes and their effects, intending nothing less than to convince the dyer that he was going to spoil the precious fabrics on which he would apply his compositions. In truth, the laboratory looked bad, and the critic was relying on misleading reflections.
Here you could see a series of kettles with blackish, ashy, brownish liquids, none of a good color, all of a bad smell. There are bits of sticky rubber, unpleasant to look at. Huge cauldrons were boiling, where pieces of rough wood were stirred, in which they were throwing some dry leaves, which, apparently, could only be used to throw into the street.
The dyer was crushing hundreds of materials in a mortar that he was taking out of a pot, a kettle, a sack. Stirring it all up, and moving it from one pot to another, and pouring here and there spoonfuls of liquids that stunk. He was preparing to empty the ingredients into different cauldrons and bury in that filth a great number of materials and articles of inestimable value.
“This is going to waste everything,” said the analyst. In this casserole there is ingredient A, which, as you know, is extremely caustic and also gives a very ugly color. In this other there is rubber B, excellent for staining, and whose marks are not removed except with a lot of work. In this boiler there is the C stick, which could be used to give a coarse and common color, but I do not know how you are going to produce anything exquisite. In a word: examining everything separately, I find that you use ingredients contrary to what you propose, and from now on I assume that, instead of taking anything according to the beautiful samples that you have in the office, you will suffer a loss of consideration in his fame and interests.
“Everything is possible, Mr. Philosopher,” said the inexorable dyer, taking in his hands the precious, raw and rich manufactures and immersing them mercilessly in the dirty and pestilential cauldrons. Anything is possible, but to end the discussion, please come back in a few days.
The philosopher returned a few days later and the dyer, unfolding the fabrics that must have been wasted, cleared all his doubts. What a surprise! What a humiliation for the analytic!
Some showed very fine scarlet. Others, delirious green. Others, beautiful blue. Others, exquisite orange. Others, raised black, others, a white slightly covered with varied color; Others showed delicious jaspers where beauty and caprice prevailed at the same time. The nuances were innumerable and charming, clean, smooth, shiny as if they had been covered with crystals without suffering the contact of human hands.
The philosopher left confused and crestfallen, saying to himself: «It is not the same to know what one thing is by itself from what it can be in combination with others.
From now on I will not be content with decomposing and separating. Composing and assembling also does wonders».
*Balmes, Jaime. El Criterio. Chapter XIII, section IV.