Archives for September 2008

Transformed Vision: Harry’s Odyssey in Sight

Much of my book, The Deathly Hallows Lectures, is about the eye and mirror symbolism of Ms. Rowling’s Harry Potter series finale. We have the eyeball in the mirror, the eyeballs in the Locket Horcrux, the triangular eye of the Deathly Hallows symbol, Lily’s green eyes in Snape’s agony and death, and Mad-Eye’s surviving eye-dentity and its burial. I argue that figuring out the meaning of the eyes is the way to turn what Ms. Rowling describes as “the key” to the books, the parting words of Albus Dumbledure to Harry at King’s Cross, the lines she says she “waited seventeen years to write.”

While thinking today about Harry’s transformed or corrected vision, a reader wrote me to ask about the Thestrals and why Harry, who was at his parents’ execution, could not see Thestrals before he saw Cedric die. I answered politely (Harry almost certainly did not see his father die and it is probable he did not grasp that the green flash that killed his mother meant her death, if he saw it at all) but the question grew on me. Harry’s experience of death enables him to see what previously had been invisible to him. Cedric’s death changes his capacity to discern reality.

One point, one question. [Read more…]

Harry Haters: Is the War Over?

Check out the 9-27-08 post at ‘The Wild Hunt Blog: A Modern Pagan Perspective’ called “Harry Potter Haters.” I think it is interesting both for the video clips of “We are Wizards,” the new wizard rock documentary being released in November, and the dated scare piece from 2001, and also because of its assessment that Harry Haters have become marginalized to the far periphery of even the Christian edge of the Public Square (as in ‘Chick Publications’).

Leaving aside the “pagan” aspects of the Wild Hunt Blog and its disdain for even the legitimate concerns any thinking person has about the occult, I suspect it is true that bashing Harry Potter as a means to identify oneself as a Culture Warrior and True Believer is an activity that has “jumped the shark.” I know there are enclaves of Harry Hating here and there and individuals in many (most?) parishes that still believe the Pope condemned Harry and that reading him is the Gateway Drug to Wicca and the Occult. Dare I say, though, that the war is over except for the soldiers deep in the jungle that refuse to surrender? Or would that be this the literary equivalent of the President landing on a carrier and declaring we have won the war in Iraq?

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John Granger: Talk Radio Interview 9/24

Here is an mp3 file of the talk-radio interview I did with Jerry Bowyer minutes before my talk last week at Yale’s Saybrook College. If I sound a little tight or hurried, imagine me in suit and tie, looking at my notes and the clock on the wall in the beautiful Saybrook guest suite, and trying to answer Jerry’s excellent questions with what was left of my attention…. The interview begins two or three minutes into the show so hold on or fast forward.

Luna and Hermione as Rationality Doppelgangers?

In the discussion of Ms. Rowling’s Veil comments on the HogPro thread below, Felicity, after Inked’s exposition of the reactions of several character to the veil as archetypal reactions to death, reviewed each from text. Besides revealing where Ms. Rowling made a gaffe worthy of candidates for political office (confusing Ron and Hermione’s reactions to the stone arch), she points out the curious ambiguity of Luna’s character. Felicity wrote:

Luna hears the voices more clearly than anyone and she also know there are “people in there” who (as we find out later in OotP) have “gone on.” But Luna is a character who believes in lots of bizarre things. As Hermione said of Luna, “Ginny’s told me all about her, apparently she’ll only believe in things as long as there’s no proof at all.” (OP13) Luna wears earrings made of dirigible plums, which we learned from Xenophilius, “enhance the ability to accept the extraordinary.” (DH20) And Luna does accept the existence of the extraordinary, even, apparently, the blatantly bogus. She has the strongest belief in an afterlife of all the students, but she also believes in the existence of Blibbering Humdingers, Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, Wrackspurts, and the Rotfang Conspiracy. Is Loony Luna an example of faith alone leading to acceptance of all manner of superstition? Or is Ravenclaw Luna an admirable example of untroubled faith standing ground against the ridicule of skeptics? Both?

In a nutshell, Luna can be read as a nutter or spiritually luminous or both. One word for this condition is ‘arationality,’ which is not to be confused with ‘irrationality.’ Her ability to answer the Ravenclaw Common Room Door’s metaphysical chestnut [Read more…]

Ms. Rowling Talks about The Veil

From Melissa Anelli’s weBlog, an excerpt from her new book, Harry, a History:

JKR: Everyone wanted to go beyond the veil.

MA: This is very canon-based, but there are some things that as a fan, there are things I just gotta know. A lot of fans see the veil as that separation –

JKR: It’s the divide between life and death. I tried to do a nod to that in the Tale of Three Brothers – she was separate from them as though through a veil. You can’t go back if you pass through that veil, you cannot come back. Or you can’t come back in any form that will make either person happy anyway. [Read more…]