Is J. K. Rowling a Novelist? Not Primarily

This morning a new friend from Finland, the YouTube videographer responsible for a piece that argued runes would play a part in the Beasts film franchise, wrote a note in response to my post on that idea. It was polite and thoughtful except for the casual assertion that we are “arrogant” here at HogwartsProfessor (a charge like ‘elitism’ that is a hashtag-categorization slur in place of argument and discussion that the insecure use to belittle anyone they fear are more intelligent). I thought what the response said beyond that unfortunate note was well-put, if we’ll have to agree to disagree about the likelihood of runes becoming important in the Beast films.

Reviewing my original post, though, I think I was mistaken in an important aspect of my argument contra Rowling-writing-with-runes in the films to come. As this represents something of a sea change in my understanding of Rowling-as-writer, I decided to write about it as a proper post rather than in that thread of comments (though I was obliged to jump into an old thread yesterday to explain a theory about Jacob Kowalski). I really would like to go public with this change in perspective I’ve had and read what you think.

I asserted with great confidence in the Rune post that Rowling is a novelist-on-holiday in her screenwriting duties, someone who is not really that committed to movie making, hence the ‘one-film now three films now five movies’ evolution that suggests writing by the seat of one’s pants rather than the five years careful planning we’re used to in her novels. The assertion that ‘she’s primarily a novelist,’ an assertion that is one she makes, was the heart of my argument that Rowling is almost certainly not going to create a new language for these films to include an alphabet.

That premise may have been true, but there is good reason today to doubt it. The consequent argument may be true though the premise is false; we’ll have to see. Why do I doubt that Rowling is still primarily a novelist?

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‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ Group Portrait: Is it a Meaningful Picture of the Story?

Warner Brothers released its first picture of ensemble cast for the ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ that will be in theaters a year from now. David Martin shared with me the official ‘Everything We Know about The Crimes of Grindelwald franchise posting over at PotterMore which featured the cast picture and a key to the various players.

As helpful as this survey post was in gathering together a lot of information (and links) about the story points released thus far, it certainly wasn’t everything.

Most importantly, there was no interpretation of the portrait itself in the PotterMore post, which includes only brief descriptions of the characters, though the cast picture has been posed as carefully as a painting by Pieter Bruegel or Giorgione. Let’s begin the conversation about this still-life drama by noting the position of the players relative to one another and the possible and more likely meanings. [Read more…]

Jordan Peterson and the Chamber of Secrets: Mythic Artistry and Meaning

Jordan Peterson, author of The Maps of Meaning, is a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. While most famous today for his defense of free speech contra campus cultural marxists and collectivists, more than five hundred videos of his classes about psychology, religion, mythology, and how to lead a fully human life have been posted at his YouTube Channel. Even more clips of interviews he has done, public talks, and his testimony for civil liberties have been edited and posted by his admirers.

I was delighted to see that he is a Hogwarts Saga reader — and a serious reader at that. In the above video, Professor Peterson chose Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as his text, a book experience he knows he shares with his students, to talk about why mythic stories make sense and why they mean so much to us despite their seeming nonsensical.

Check it out. And, if you have a moment, compare it with my first look at the meaning of Chamber of Secrets in 2002. Scroll down that page to ‘Chamber as Morality Play.’ I think Peterson and I agree a lot more than we disagree.

What do you think?

Post posting discovery: An older, cooler, shorter version of the talk above —

‘Wizards Unite’ Virtual Wizarding World Reality to Transform Our Experience of the Hogwarts Saga? Almost Certainly

Yesterday I read on MuggleNet that Niantic is following up its Pokemon Go global success with a Harry Potter game, an effort they are making in tandem with Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment’s Portkey Games. That night, Travis Prinzi, author of Harry Potter and Imagination and serious Ingress player, sent me this gaming industry release post which includes a link to this Niantic announcement with a note saying, “Look for a phenomenon even bigger than the Pokémon release when it hits.”

From the MuggleNet piece:

Founder and CEO of Niantic, Inc. John Hanke shared his opinion of the announcement:

At Niantic, our goal is to leverage technology to create real[-]world experiences that help people to discover the wonderful and often magical parts of the world around them. The beloved Harry Potter stories have captured imaginations worldwide for more than 20 years, and soon we’ll turn the fantasy into augmented reality, allowing fans and their friends to become wizards and witches.

David Haddad, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, added his thoughts to Hanke’s comments:

With this game, we are allowing the passionate, worldwide fan base to experience J.K. Rowling’s deeply powerful and imaginative universe in a new, truly immersive way. It is wonderful to have Niantic’s remarkable augmented reality expertise as we develop this incredibly rich wizarding world for players to explore in their everyday lives.

I’m going to risk some hyperbole here. [Excuse me for a moment while I change into my Chicken Little costume.]

There. Okay, a little snug but here goes.

I have been back-and-forth this week in correspondence with a BBC radio documentary producer in Edinburgh about a show she is recording about Rowling’s adopted home as a Potter Pilgrimage destination.

I wrote her yesterday about ‘Wizards Unite,’ saying that, in light of this Niantic/Portkey SmartPhone technology, the world as in “the globe, planet earth,” is about to become a Harry Potter experience. Forget Orlando and Edinburgh.


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Guest Post: Christmas Gift Guide Five ‘The Fiction of Roger Lancelyn Green’

The Forgotten Fiction of Roger Lancelyn Green: The 5th HogwartsProfessor Christmas Gift Guide by Chris Calderon

Roger Lancelyn Green is not a well recognized name.  He’s neither a household word, nor can he be found on any ‘Best Of’ lists.  It’s a sad fate for the man who might be responsible for giving C.S. Lewis the necessary encouragement to publish The Chronicles of Narnia.  Green has become one of history’s victims, the kind Lewis meant when he observed: “At every tick of the clock, in every inhabited part of the world, an unimaginable richness and variety of “history” falls off the world into total oblivion”.  This prompted the learned scholar to ask a very pertinent follow-up question: “Is there a discovered law by which important manuscripts survive and the unimportant perish?  Do you ever turn out an old drawer…without wondering at the survival of trivial documents and the disappearance of those which everyone would have thought worth preservation?”

This entry of the HogPro Christmas Gift Guide is at least one attempt to try and rescue a bit of valuable history from oblivion.  Here will be found the scattered writings Green made for children, as well as anyone who is willing to encounter a well told tale, no matter what age.  In setting out to write this piece, it should be noted that I in no way meant to step on the toes of John Fitzgerald, whose work on Roger Green’s anthology of world myths can be found here at Bruce Charlton’s Albion Awakening, a blog more than worth a look.  I will use some of the info gleamed from those volumes, however, the books dealt with here are different from those works.

With that in mind, let’s take the plunge, shall we? [Read more…]