TheRowlingLibrary: Kloves and Rowling

TheRowlingLibrary.com, a website and an online fanzine, has just published their December 2019 issue, and it’s a good one. The feature article of #36 is about J. K. Rowling and Steve Kloves and the much neglected change in their relationship with respect to the Fantastic Beasts series (in brief, Kloves is now not only an Executive Producer in his role as Rowling Re-writer but actually credited as a co-writer). That’s worth the time it takes to download issue in itself, but there’s more.

In addition, there is a review of all the Headline Generating Events of 2019 in Harry Potter fandom and an in-depth survey of the Christmas celebrations in each Harry Potter book. If you’re like me, both of those pieces will have several “I forgot all about that!” forehead slapping moments. There is also a wonderfully out-there piece by S. Sipal on the new Rowling twitter header with its Tarot card theme; Sipal, perhaps the world’s leading expert on the Fantastic Beasts film franchise esoterica and inside baseball, links the Tarot cards to possibilities in the next Beasts film.

This is all great material and fun reading! TheRowlingLibrary creates a fun and beautiful product and deserve your attention and support.

Is it perfect? No, but what is?

I suspect you’ll be as disappointed as I was that this issue went to press before the Tweet Heard Round the World, Rowling’s #IStandWithMaya Ezra Pound moment on 19 December, the 2019 event most fans will remember as the biggest news of the year. And why no mention in the Christmas survey of Beatrice Groves’ delightful LeakyCauldron posts on the Christmas Roses and Why a Basilisk fears the Rooster’s Cry?

And I just blushed at the Sipal piece on the Tarot Cards because she doesn’t know, as Evan Willis pointed out at HogwartsProfessor in August, five months before Rowling posted the three cards on her Twitter page, that these cards are featured on the cover of Blue Oyster Cult album, Agents of Fortune. They’re not about the Fantastic Beasts movie at all, alas, but the Cormoran Strike mysteries in which at least one Serious Striker believes the song ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ acts as something like The Prophecy does in Harry Potter. [For more on Rowling and the Tarot, read the three posts I wrote on The Hanged Man card here at HogwartsProfessor.]

Those are nit-picking criticisms, though, that only demonstrate how closely I read every issue of TheRowlingLibrary when it comes out! I recommend you download the current issue and read it yourself.

The Strange Case of the Missing Fan Site

MuggleNet.com is the Coke to Leaky-Cauldron.org’s Pepsi in Harry Potter fandom. The site is the click bait tool of Emerson Spartz, founder and CEO of Spartz Media, now Dose (see the 2015 New Yorker profile: ‘The King of Clickbait’ for all you need to know about him). Though primarily aimed at the movie, memorabilia, and phone app-gaming focused tribes within the Hogwarts Horde, MuggleNet has hosted both the MuggleNet Academia and Reading, Writing Rowling podcasts and Beatrice Groves’ ‘Bathilda’s Notebook’ entries for serious readers of J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith.

The news? This website has been down without explanation since 13 December 2019.

The MuggleNet.com home page offers the following explanation:  [Read more…]

The Lake and The Shed: Rowling Reveals Her Writing Process

Here is a Christmas present for all serious readers of J. K. Rowling!

In a pre-recorded Christmas Special episode of BBC4’s ‘The Museum of Curiosity,’ during which not a single reference to Christmas is made (how long ago was this interview recorded?), Rowling donated ‘Inspiration’ to the imaginary museum for sale in their virtual gift shop. Along the way, she revealed bon mots about a book she was writing when inspired on the train to write Harry’s adventures, about her love of Dickens and his thoughts about ghosts and ideas, about why Harry Potter shouldn’t be taught in schools, and about why she couldn’t make a living as a strip-tease artist. Did I mention Rowling is writing a children’s book featuring a newly invented world, a work in progress, half-done?

Most important, though, she spoke about how she thinks about her writing process, a two-step journey of inspiration and perspiration, what she describes as ‘The Lake’ and ‘The Shed.’ I don’t doubt that listeners in the US and UK may have tuned in to see if she was going to comment on the Tweet Heard Round the World and the subsequent controversy (she does mention, with respect to an unrelated matter, having to turn in her “feminist card”). No luck there as this radio show was recorded ages ago, but her ‘Lake and Shed’ comments I’m confident will be referred to from this point forward in all discussions, popular and academic, of Rowling’s craft as writer.

As a gift from the Orthodox on the Feast of St Spyridon to the great horde of heterodox Gregorians on their ‘Christmas Day,’ I give y’all a transcript of Rowling’s remarks on this ‘Christmas Special’ radio show that never mentions Christmas. After the jump! Joyous Noel, Serious Readers! [Read more…]

The Twitter Controversy as a Rowling Story: Mirroring Subtext, Narrative Misdirection, and Literary Alchemy

In my first post about Rowling’s tweet in support of Maya Forstater, I focused on two questions concerning this explosive reappearance on this social media platform: ‘why now?’ and ‘why this subject?’ The first response in the comment thread to that post, I think now, has the closest thing we will have to correct answers to those questions for some time. Nick Jeffery wrote, tying the seemingly arbitrary post to Rowling’s new Solve et Coagula tattoo (one he was the first to notice), ” It is an act of destruction and it is quite deliberate.”

I believe Mr Jeffery is quite right. To understand Rowling’s tweet and the consequent fall-out in fandom, our best course is to read the specific text in question as we would any story Rowling has written with the tools we know work best. What those tools suggest is that Rowling intentionally created her break with the Social Justice movement and its champions in Harry Potter fandom and I have to suspect with Hollywood in the months to come — and, as importantly, she is re-creating her public image and self to reflect better the person she wants to be (or the public mask behind which she is more comfortable).

Rather than the tweet being a clueless act of bigotry, what this view points to is three contrary to prevalent narrative possibilities: (1) that Rowling has written a story with real-world characters who voice the lines she know they will speak for effects she wants to happen within her narrative, (2) she has embedded clues for the attentive reader to discover, clues which reveal her true meaning as well as a lesson in reading well, and (3) that the #IStandWithMaya post she made on 19 December is a long-planned and courageous act of re-invention that frees her and her serious readers potentially from being sock-puppets for the Zeitgeist. Call this the ‘Solve et Coagula Theory.’

To see these three possibilities involves a review of Rowling’s year and most importantly the week prior to the tweet in question, a review using the tools we have in hand for interpreting Rowling’s work in a careful reading of the specific text in question and of the context of her previous work and public comments. If you want to move beyond the Daily Prophet headlines that ‘Rowling is a Transphobe!’ and ‘Inclusive Message of Hogwarts Saga Betrayed!,’ please join me after the jump for an exercise in exegesis with the tools of texts within texts, narrative misdirection, and literary alchemy that reveal Rowling as the maestro of media manipulation and personal re-invention. [Read more…]

Rowling’s Remarks at Film Premiere