A Psychological Reading of ‘Journey from Platform Nine and Three Quarters’

I met Dr Janina Scarlet at MISTI-Con 2015 at which Group That Shall Not Be Named gathering she and I were the headliners. I moderated a panel that featured her explanation of ‘Superhero-Therapy’ and the role that reading stories can play in creating or re-fashioning a positive idea of ourselves. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, teacher of acceptance and commitment therapy, and a “full-time witch” (her words).

To the point, she is posting podcasts at her website, Superhero-Therapy.com, that are chapter-by chapter readings of the seven Harry Potter novels from a psychologist’s perspective. Dr Louise Freeman, HogwartsProfessor.com certified Potter Pundit and Psychology professor at Mary Baldwin University, was Dr Scarlet’s special guest for her reading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone chapter 6, ‘The Journey from Platform Nine and Three Quarters.’

I don’t listen to podcasts as a rule (especially ones I am on) but I was curious about this series and, having been in several podcasts with Dr Freeman and an admirer of all her popular literature analysis, I knew her part would reward a listening. I wasn’t disappointed! Check out the conversation at Superhero-Therapy.com — it’s only half an hour — and let me know what you think.

A long-awaited CFP: The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter, vol. 2!

In 2002, the first collection of Harry Potter scholarly essays, The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter, was published, under the leadership of Ferrum College Professor Lana Whited. To put the data in perspective, the series itself was only up to volume four: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Now, after 7 books, 8 movies, 2 Fantastic Beast screenplays and a theatrical production, a long-overdue second volume is being assembled.  Check out the following CFP and get those proposals ready!

Luongo: Passing of ‘Game of Thrones’

I have passed on reading the R. R. Martin Game of Thrones novels or watching the teevee adaptations of them. I have done this despite the requests from audiences at talks and in private correspondence that I read, watch, and share my thinking at HogwartsProfessor on the written or filmed series. I’m just not interested enough to tackle the many long books — and I don’t even own a television.

Rev George, a long time friend of this blog and correspondent, thought I would enjoy Tom Luongo’s review of the last episode in Thrones, ‘The Passing of Game of Thrones.’ He was right; I haven’t any idea if he is correct in his assessment of either original or the adapted series, but Luongo reads the books from a perspective I admire and share to greater than lesser degree.

Game of Thrones was a story built on classic archetypal, mytho-poetic storytelling ideas. But with the goal of undercutting them, of taking a more post-modernist approach, to just show chaos without structure and purpose, no ending could ever be satisfying.

As consumers, when we start a book or a movie we can go on a journey into hell and back again as long as once we’re finished the ride was worth it.

The story has to illuminate fundamental truths, not spit on them.

And what makes the series finale such a failure was the unwillingness of the writers to at the last moment embrace some traditional storytelling conventions and anchor the chaos of Westeros in a lesson that can be passed from generation to generation.

By betraying the arcs of main characters like John Snow, Arya Stark and Daenerys Targaryen Weiss and Benioff set themselves up for the backlash they are getting now. And with good reason.

Heroic storytelling requires heroes to rise to their pivotal moments and, through their actions, create the opportunity for radical change. They are born out of and rise above the chaos of their times to make the hard choices and sacrifices necessary to preserve the world and build the foundation for the next one.

Stories are not reality. Stories are meant as reflections of the world we live in. They exist to help us make sense of the senseless.

Game of Thrones fails, Luongo believes, because the artists involved “have lost the plot of humanity’s struggle” simultaneously to resist the chaos Game celebrates (contra Tolkien) and to create an “institutional order …sufficient to act as a brake on humanity’s worst impulses.” This, he explains, is a function of the author and teevee savants being so “thoroughly ingrained” in “post modern Marxism” as to be oblivious of the evils of chaos and the human need for boundaries lest we be animals.

Read the whole thing.

I don’t know if what he says is true of the novels or their adaptation because I couldn’t tell if the many story references he makes to back his points are accurate or as crazed as what the Harry Haters have said and exorcists are saying about the Wizarding World. But I think his concerns are important ones, validly applied or not.

If you’ve watched the show and read Luongo’s review, let me know what you think!

D-Day and Harry Potter:The Longest Day

Last Thursday, 6 June 2019, was the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe in 1944. ‘Operation Neptune,’ usually known just as D-Day, remains the largest invasion from the sea against a fortified beach-head. It led to the liberation of France and eventually to victory on WWII’s Western Front.

D-Day is often called ‘The Longest Day’ because of Cornelius Ryan’s 1959 popular history of the invasion that had that title as well as the blockbuster film made in 1962 based on the book. David Martin wrote me on Thursday, 6 June this year, to suggest that Rowling deliberately made the longest day in the Hogwarts Saga the 50th anniversary of the invasion, 6 June 1994, as a kind of tribute. 

We should, of course, honor the heroes of D-Day – June sixth, 1944.  That day is sometimes called “the longest day” because of the great struggle and because of the uncertainty as the whole world waited for the outcome.  There is a classic film about D-Day with the title “The Longest Day.”

J. K. Rowling appears to have honored that day in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  One of the few specific dates given in the Harry Potter novels is the date of Buckbeak’s scheduled execution – June sixth.  (Prisoner, page 400) 

The year would have been 1994 – fifty years, to the day, after D-Day.  In Prisoner June sixth, 1994, is the day when Hermione used her Time-Turner to take Harry and herself back three hours.  Thus they experienced a 27 hour day – their longest day.

Since none of us mere Muggles has yet mastered legilimency it is doubtful that we will ever discover all the hidden meanings and references in J. K. Rowling’s books.

A fascinating possibility, especially in a book with so many Nazi-Death Eater correspondences that more than one critic has suggested the series is an extended WWII allegory (e.g., Voldemort is Hitler, the Weasley-Delacour wedding is the Anglo-French alliance, etc.). MuggleNet gives the date as 9 June on its calendar but the Lexicon timeline for Prisoner has it as 6 June 1994 as David writes.

What do you think? Is the 6 June 1994 longest day in Harry Potter a word-play hat-tip to the Longest Day invasion of Europe in 1994?

Ezra Miller: Life Imitating Art?

Ezra Miller is an interesting character — and I use that ch-word deliberately. His life seems a studied piece of improvisation, a staged and predictable performance in conventional, perpetual non-conformity. His sexual polyamorism and adventurism, his strident identification with and defense of anyone and everyone oppressed (except Christians, of course; “Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and it’s accelerating,” USCIRF Report, 2019), and his attention-demanding choice of clothing make him something of a historical glyph or cartoon capturing the Zeitgeist. I rather like watching the ‘Ezra Miller Show’ as it plays out, even if the series currently seems caught in a loop of re-run spontaneity; I enjoy his having been cast as the loner Credence Barebone, lost and confused about who he is and the meaning of his life as much as anyone. He plays the part really well.

Lately, though, I have been worried about Boy Wonder Ezra. He may have over-played the ‘bad boy’ hand, the guy who knows-better than the experts, with Warner Brothers, the movie studio responsible for the DC super-hero movies (as well as, y’know, the Wizarding World).

On 17 March, it was reported that Miller was disappointed with the script for The Flash film in which he plays the lead role. DC wanted a relatively light and engaging film like its recent successes with Wonder Woman and Aquaman; Miller thought they needed a more profound and challenging story — and said he would be writing the script?  [Read more…]