WaPo: Rowling’s “Endless Updates” to Potter Canon Become Internet Meme

The Washington Post has a feature these days called ‘Internet Culture’ in which they explore trends or ‘memes’ springing up on the world wide web with a special focus on twitter fads. This week the Post story under this rubric was ‘How J. K. Rowling’s Endless Updates to Harry Potter Became a Meme.’ In said article readers learn that Potter philes around the world have tired of The Presence’s additions to canon via PotterMore or tweets, e.g. that Hogwarts didn’t always have indoor plumbing so wizards of old used to just vanish away their excretions and that Ron’s Patronus was a Jack Russell, not to mention the back story of Nagini. Their response? Create their own Rowling-esque revelations, things-we-weren’t-told-about-our-favorite-characters, in the form of unsolicited tweets to an incredulous fandom.

Some of them, forgive me, are quite funny. Many involve sexual acts. Some gently chastize Rowling for being too political, politically correct, or for trending conservative in her posts and stories.

You get the idea. For more tweets along these lines not in the Post article, including many ‘not safe for work,’ see stories on this subject here, here, and here. I’m wondering if this sign that Rowling has somehow “jumped the shark” by being much too available and forthcoming with her fans has led to this backlash — and that she prudently has decided to take some time away from tweeting to give the meme a chance to die a natural death.

Just sayin’! Let me know what you think in the comment boxes below — and please keep any memes you might want to share PG 13…

Harry Potter and The Hanged Man: Part 2 The Historical and Occult Interpretations

Last month I started a series of posts about the significance of The Hanged Man tarot card for serious readers of J. K. Rowling with a listing of the characters, from Neville Longbottom and Mrs. Norris to Harry Potter and Severus Snape, who are hung, right side up or upside down, in the Hogwarts Saga. It’s quite a remarkable list, frankly, and it highlights Rowling’s naming the pub in Little Hangleton ‘The Hanged Man.’

Why do we care? As noted in that first post, Rowling’s friends at the Wyedean Comprehensive have said that Rowling used to read tarot cards and their palms to entertain them. Beatice Groves, in a post at The Leaky Cauldron, shared a 1999 interview with Jo Rowling sans make-up, not to mention cosmetic surgery, in which The Woman Not Yet The Presence admits that:

I know a lot about foretelling the future, without, unfortunately, I have to tell you, believing in it, which sometimes disappoints people…. I find it fascinating and I find it fun and I could read your cards for you now and I would hope we’d both find it amusing but I wouldn’t want either of us to walk away believing in it.

Her skill with the cards, then, was not just a childhood game she played in the cafeteria but something she maintained she was still capable of exercising at the time she was writing the Potter novels. It is more than reasonable to think that the hanged men, women, in cats may be a reference to the meaning of the tarot card, ‘The Hanged Man.’

Today let’s look at three interpretations of that card, from the historical to the occult and the standard understanding that young Rowling was most likely to have learned in the West Country as a young woman. After the jump! [Read more…]

JKR Twitter: Three Weeks of Silence

Today makes it three weeks that J. K. Rowling has not tweeted from her platform with close to 15 million followers. We follow her twittering pretty closely because, between what she writes about her books there and the changes in the page headers, it is our best source for what she is thinking and planning.

The fandom mind about the silence — those millions of people who “follow” her daily remarks and retweets — seem to fall into two general categories. The first school is that “We are unworthy of her sharing so generously her thoughts and commentary.” This tweet from a fandom site is representative:

The second school is, as you’d expect, that “She is unworthy of us; good riddance.”

My own thoughts? I’m told by a source I trust that The Presence took almost a month off in the New Year two years ago for a retreat to her estate in Tasmania. [Update: there is no “estate in Tasmania” (see comment thread); insert “island resort hide-away”] 2018 was a crazy busy year for JKR; in addition to her Lumos and Volant charity responsibilities, she published Lethal White, participated in the roll-out of Crimes of Grindelwald, and opened the Broadway edition of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. She was active on Twitter throughout 2018, not only promoting all things which Rowling, Inc., was celebrating and selling that week, but participating in the ugly push-and-shove of UK politics especially surrounding Brexit not to mention the various controversies with the Social Justice wing of Harry Potter fandom.

The safest bet, I think, is that Rowling is just taking some time off to gather her energies, creative and disputative, for the coming year. She might also, of course, be involved in a re-writing of the Fantastic Beasts 3 screenplay so we once again do not have her story and the agreed upon shooting script butchered in the director’s cut. Or maybe she has just made a resolution not to feel obliged to police the world’s conscience, politics today being a fool’s game.

Your thoughts? Any guesses if or when she’ll return? Let me know in the comment boxes below by clicking on ‘Leave a Comment’ up by the post’s headline.

La Gazette du Sorcier: French Potter Site

Cory Faniel wrote me last week about some Potter fandom inside-baseball in France that I was unaware of. He wrote lest I (continue to) embarass myself by not doing the right thing. It was a polite and very friendly letter and he won me over about the issue in question, about which, being no Franco-phone or -phile (Grangers are Normans, not French), I had not the slightest idea.

He reminded me that we had met at the St Andrews Harry Potter Conference years ago and shared, after I asked for more information, the following paragraphs about the French Harry Potter fan site with a twist. Not only is it in French (duh) and about current interpretations and insights as well as the fake stuff out of Rowling, Inc., but it is written as a French ‘Daily Prophet,’ that is, as if wizards and witches were reporting on events in the magical community.

I asked him to explain:

La Gazette du Sorcier is the oldest Harry Potter French fansite still active. The name comes from the official French translation of “The Daily Prophet”, an appropriation that is tolerated by the French editing house, Gallimard Jeunesse. It was created in July 2000 and its editorial line, at start, was to report informations about the Harry Potter franchise from a wizarding world point of view. Therefore, the books were called “biographies” and the movies were “biopics”; Rowling was “the biograph”, etc… This has slowly been abandoned for a more traditional style of reporting, more suited to contemporary readership; however we still publish “wizarding news“, made up articles with a “wizard twist”, sometimes based on a real situation (for example, this article on “wand restrictions” in the wizarding world, inspired by the debate on guns restrictions in the US; or the Purple Robes protesting on Paris Hidden Place, during the “Gilet Jaune” movement) sometimes entirely baseless and fun. It also used to be linked to the biggest French HP forum, but the evolution of the internet has led to most conversations migrating to Facebook and the forum emptying slowly but surely.

I joined the editorial team in 2011 and was made Chief Editor soon after. Since then, I have handed that title to another editor, but remain Head of Publication. I’ve built a new team, a new editorial approach, developed relationships with international websites, press contacts, etc… and built with my friends a team that now also branches out to offering  animations in small festivals in France, but also presenting conferences and in various conventions (for example on HP Translations, Illustrations, or the parallel between quididtch and the Deathly Hallows at LeakyCon).

Best, 
Cory
PS : as a fun “memory”, here is the article I wrote after the St Andrews academic conference, you’ll find a link to your website in there. 🙂
Makes me almost wish I had gone to Leaky Con last summer. For those of you who read French or who saw the La Gazette team in Dallas, check out the website and let me know what you think! I hope Cory will consider HogwartsProfessor.com one of La Gazette’s international websites with whom he has a good relationship — and that he’ll share with me news and articles the serious readers here might enjoy.

Of All the Places in the Wizarding World, Is the Bank What You Most Want to See?