Rowling’s Talk at Ripple of Hope Awards

At 8:25 in the short talk, she says she is a week away from finishing Strike5.

Rowling Returns to Twitter with a Bang!

Twitter, of course, has exploded with the predictable backlash from the political left for whom transgender people are a protected class. For the background of who Maya is and this backlash, see this piece on Cosmopolitan that describes Rowling’s tweet as “supporting a transphobic author.” For that author’s explanation of the controversy, go here.

I am left scratching my head about this re-surfacing of The Presence at her twitter page. Why now after a year of prudential silence? Is it that she says she is all but finished with Strike5 and has time on her hands to deal with online firestorms?

And why on this subject of all possible subjects? Can you think of one less likely to win her a second ‘Ripple of Hope’ award?

The science is indisputable and the PC police backlash is as predictable given the prevalent blurring of sex and gender into synonyms (sex is a function of chromosomes not organs while gender is, at least according to the Zeitgeist, what you will). Other than standing with a woman who is being treated unfairly, what did Rowling hope to accomplish here outside of a martyrdom by doxxing? [Google ‘TERF’ for the trending story.]

Why has she chosen this issue for her re-appearance? She keeps a silence through the recent elections but decides to surface on an issue that is guaranteed to cast her as a fascist trans-phobe Tory bigot (etc.) in twitter dom?

Rowling has always said that courage is the virtue she admires most — and is showing no little of that quality here. Looking at losing all she has gained in keeping quiet for the better part of a year with respect to the high opinion of fandom, Rowling stands up for a woman being pilloried for her courage to speak the counter-metanarrative biological truth about sexual reality.

I have to admire her for that; she certainly didn’t count the cost or consult with Warner Brothers and her publishers before she wrote and sent this tweet. Or, if she did, she ignored their advice. Unless they wanted the headlines on the principle that all publicity is good publicity? Forgive me for doubting that.

In addition to the questions above, does this give Serious Strikers reason to re-visit interpretations of the Career of Evil meeting between Robin and Cormoran and the young people who want to have limbs amputated because they self-identify as amputees? Her implicit critique of the NHS in Lethal White? The theme of media irresponsibility and recklessness (and how people believe whatever The Daily Prophet and its Muggle equivalents reports)?

Let me know what you think of two issues: (a) why Rowling has re-appeared to speak on this issue today rather than Brexit, etc., in the past year, and (b) how does this reflect the more conservative messages implicit in the Potter series as well as the Strike books.

Please save your commentary on your disappointment (or elation?) that Rowling has outed herself as the new Margaret Thatcher for the tweet threads and fandom posts available elsewhere and everywhere for that discussion.


JKR Receives RFK Award in NYC

As announced months ago at her web site, J. K. Rowling received the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Human Rights Award last Thursday in NYC. It is an award only given to politically liberal notables and, for Americans, it helps a lot to be a Democratic Party grandee (e.g., Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also received an award at the event). Two things Rowling said that night are of possible interest to serious readers of her work.

First, she claimed that if her daughter Jessica had been a boy, she would have been named ‘Robert.’ She added that, “lo and behold she has become Mackenzie and I have become a Robert,” i.e., that she took the name ‘Robert Galbraith’ in honor of the late American politician, Robert Kennedy. While she has always claimed that Robert Kennedy was something of a hero to her, this is the first time I can recall her saying her second pseudonym was derived in part from her admiration of the third Kennedy brother. Watch the video clip here.

Second, she said, “He was a man of both empathy and action. He helped bring about real change and he continues to inspire people. I’m not sure we can ask much more of any politician, or indeed, human being.” I’m not sure but I can guess that we can ask a whole lot more of “any politician” — because any politician today who said and did what Bobby Kennedy did with respect to gay people, Jews, and especially to women would be someone loathed by Rowling as “much worse than Voldemort.”

Perhaps when we find out at last how Leda Strike died — was it an actual overdose and accidental death or could it have been a staged suicide to cover the murder of a woman who knew too much about powerful men? — we can re-visit all the conspiracy theories about RFK’s involvement in the seeming suicide of starlet Marilyn Monroe. Is Rowling writing a prolonged wish-fulfillment defense-in-story about her hero’s supposed role in killing Monroe before she talked?

A stretch, I know. The best part of the Rowling comments in NYC Thursday that I can find online was in this bootleg clip from a smart phone. In it, she discusses what it feels like to watch a film celebrating your life and contributions to a better world. “Well done,” indeed.

Let me know in the comment boxes if you’ve found a transcript or video recording of her remarks — and what you think of what pieces of the talk have been made public. Fun to have her back, no? And Happy St Nicholas Day, everyone!


Solve et Coagula: What It Means

J. K. Rowling seems to have had the words ‘Solve + Coagula’ tattooed in a script much like her handwriting on the inside part of her right arm just above the wrist. When Nick Jeffery discovered this and told me about it, I posted a quick note here at HogwartsProfessor which TheRowlingLibrary tweeted out to its global audience and The-Leaky-Cauldron retweeted to its minions at the far reaches of the galactic fandom empire and beyond.

Which has meant I have been buried in e-owls asking the question, ‘”What does solve et coagula mean?” Beatrice Groves has written something on the subject which I assume will be definitive but has been down (way down, as in “transitioning to new ownership”) so I don’t know when her solve salvo will be available.

To fill the breach, here are some notes on the alchemical axiom solve et coagula from Charles Nicholl’s The Chemical Theatre and Lindsey Abraham’s Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery, two of the definitive texts on literary alchemy. After the jump! [Read more…]

Rowling Sports Alchemical Tattoo?

Friend of this blog Nick Jeffery tweeted me and Prof Beatrice Groves on Friday with an astonishing picture. It is of Rowling’s arm with the words ‘Solve + Coagula’ in script on the underside of her right wrist. My assumption is that picture was taken at the premiere of the Finding the Way Home HBO documentary at which Rowling appeared in her role as Lumos founder and spokesperson; she is pictured holding the hand of a young woman there of the size and color of the other arm in the picture Mr Jeffery sent (see below).

I find myself wondering if it is a tattoo — the script akin to her handwriting suggests she wrote it there herself in pen rather than being properly inked? — but, permanent or water soluble, it is a remarkable confirmation of the centrality of alchemy in Rowling’s writing. She has written the essential action of all alchemical operation in ink of some kind on her right arm. Outside of the several PotterMore posts on the subject and her 1998 admission that she’d always wanted to be an alchemist and had learned a great deal about the subject which set the “magical parameters” of her imaginative sub-creation, this tattoo makes dismissal of Rowling as alchemist and transformative artist even more of a stretch than it was already. 

I am busy writing the alchemy chapter of my PhD thesis, believe it or not; this photo could not have come at a better time, except I don’t have the time because of my deadlines to do it justice here! I have asked Professor Groves to write something on ‘Solve et Coagula’ and we’ll let you know when and where she decides to post it — but I had to share the news and pictures with you here as a ‘heads up.’ Please let me know your first impressions in the comment boxes below.