Cormoran Strike: Unanswered Questions

Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott are such thoughtful, insightful, and self-aware people whose penetrating intelligence is their shared defining characteristic — they mull over and detect as their vocation what other people (and the Metropolitan Police) miss in the minutia of daily living — that we are lulled into the conviction that they are ‘picking up on’ or ‘getting’ the important clues in their own lives about the mysteries they live within. As a rule, though, Robin the wannabe psychologist and Sherlock Strike are clueless about their own lives; self-reflective as each is, they ignore or otherwise neglect the strong signals and suggestive events that surround them.

We trusted the teen Harry Potter, our de facto narrative lens in the Hogwarts Saga, to catch the key clue he sees but which he does not understand and this inevitable but misplaced trust in the good guy-orphan was the means by which Rowling created the narrative misdirection the fooled us every year in that series, her signature ‘big twist’ at the story climax and denouement. In the Strike mysteries, as Oonaugh Kennedy observes about book-smart people being the most naive about their sex lives (Blood 270), the Amazing Memory Man and the Jungian Jungfrau are in the dark as often as not and oblivious to clues Rowling-Galbraith is giving the reader by putting them in the pair’s individual and shared blind-spots.

Strike explained to Robin when she observed that Cynthia Phipps’ joke about Anne Boleyn’s decapitation was rather tasteless given that Creed may very well have cut off, boiled down, and powdered Margot Bamborough’s head that this was a function of self-blindness. “She’s lived with it for forty years,” said Strike. “People who live with something that massive stop being able to see it. It’s the backdrop to their lives. It’s only glaringly obvious to everyone else” (Blood, 411). Our problem is that, though the author is being more than fair in presenting the back-drops to the lives of Strike and Ellacott, the mysteries are not “glaringly obvious” to us because we put such trust in our brilliant narrators that we neglect the unanswered questions in their lives.

I thought, as we begin the run-up to the publication of Ink Black Heart, that it would be a useful exercise to create a catalog of these mysteries hidden in plain sight, especially those highlighted in the massive and still opaque Troubled Blood. I’ve collected two batches of these off the top of my head, one for the series as a whole, the other just from Troubled Blood,  that I think we may learn more about in Strike6 and I hope you’ll contribute those you see that I have missed. The first batch today, then, after the jump, to be followed tomorrow with those specific to Troubled Blood. [Read more…]

Rowling vs Walsh: Whence Trans Militarism? Ex Nihilo or from Feminism? What Does This Tell Us About Her Work?

Rowling has this week disavowed any sort of alliance with critics of transgender activism who do not also believe feminism is necessary, good, or even in alignment with established facts about the differences between the sexes. The Presence went so far as to tweet that conservative journalist Matt Walsh, who has been fighting transgender over reach since at least 2017, is “no more on my side than the ‘shut up or we’ll bomb you’ charmers who cloak their misogyny in a pretty pink and blue flag.”

Walsh responded with characteristic humor:

He went on to say, though, that Rowling’s blind spot, one he suggests “might be worth thinking about,” is her inability to see how the defining premise of feminism, the supposed absence of differences between the sexes, leads inevitably to transgenderism. Inez Stepman explains this connection in several tweets and via a talk she gave at the Claremont Institute: [Read more…]

‘The JKR:’ Rowling Honored by Boozer

On 2 July, The Harlequin Pub in Sheffield created a new cocktail, the ‘JKR,’ in Rowling’s honor. She pledged two days later to buy the necessary ingredients to try it out.

Well, she elected instead to drop in at the Harlequin at lunchtime today, a week later, and have the drink as made by its creator. [Read more…]

Point-Counterpoint: Has Rowling or the Media Been Seduced by the Dark Side?

Point: Sarah Wheaten at Politico’s The metamorphosis of J.K. Rowling: When it comes to trans rights, some fans believe the Harry Potter author is more Death Eater than Dumbledore.

“Many of you may be aware of JK Rowling’s recent tweets concerning transgender issues,” reads an explanation on the tour group’s website. “It’s a difficult time to be a Harry Potter fan for many but we sincerely wish JK Rowling’s views not to diminish our appreciation of the books and their messages of inclusion and tolerance.”

The disclaimer is a quiet but unambiguous protest against Rowling’s buzziest body of work since her blockbuster series of schoolboy sorcery. It’s also a tiny but telling example of how, in a few short years, the author has gone from being an unobjectionable matron of the political left to one of its most hated villains.

Rowling’s views — and her willingness to exchange biting blows with her online critics — have been denounced by fans as transphobic, a betrayal of the values of tolerance they learned from her books. Stars of the Harry Potter movies have disavowed her statements; celebrities have taken their distance; major websites devoted to the wizarding world have said they’d stop writing about her. (On the other side of the spectrum, Russian President Vladimir Putin has bemoaned that she’s been “canceled.”)

None of this seems to have given Rowling pause — or done much to put a crimp in her commercial prospects. Twenty-five years after the publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” her books continue to fly off the shelves. The third installment of the Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts” hit theaters in March. If anything, as the criticism has mounted, Rowling has only become more combative, cheerfully retweeting her detractors to trigger pile-ons from fellow thinkers.

The [‘Metamorphosis’ piece by Sarah Wheaten] however, is so beneath the writer and Politico. It is not a profile but a sloppy attack on Rowling. There is no attempt made to understand the arguments around all this or the differing contexts. Why this now?

Possibly because actually a lot more people are waking up to what is going on. There is no mention that Warner Bros are making it clear they now back Rowling, that many sporting bodies are rethinking their stand on trans athletes, that here The Cass Review is unlikely to recommend the US gung-ho approach to puberty blockers as its interim report said “There is lack of consensus and open discussion about the nature of gender dysphoria and therefore about the appropriate clinical response.”… All of this means  that Rowling’s position and that of many gender critical women does not appear to be so eccentric. Nor is it transphobic.

We want the best for young women and we want single sex spaces.

However we all know what has happened to Rowling. Wheaten makes her position clear writing “Transgender women are women ,” proclaimed Daniel Radcliffe, schooling the woman, 25 years his senior” . He schooled her? Really.

Wheaten seems obsessed with legacy when Rowling has made it clear she knows what she is doing and what she believes. She seemed worried about my legacy too [Wheaton interviewed Moore and discussed her in the Politico article – ed.] suggesting that I did not have much support when I left The Guardian. This was not the case at all.

She calls me “a pariah” which is rather over the top considering I have maintained and furthered my writing career. Bizarrely she describes the lunch we had [at the River Cafe earlier this year], which was a load of fun, in language redolent of the most rancid Daily Mail style “With glossy red hair and a plunging neckline, Rowling out-glammed them all, even as the poses got sloppier with each bottle of wine”.

What is this crap? Was Rowling flaunting her enviable assets? Were we women laughing with wine instead of salad ? Call the police? Has Wheaten ever met a lesbian or women who were not trying to out-glam other women because many of the ladies who lunched were shock horror gay!!

Who knows? This piece on Rowling is sour, ill-informed and silly in so many ways and a real waste of an opportunity to explore the issues.  Hatchet jobs are usually at least sharp. Wheaten’s knife is blunted.

Scorecard: Rita Skeeter at Politico wins on reader points because her platform is enormous compared to Moore’s; few readers will find Moore’s substack piece that reveals the original article as a deliberate hatchet job. Rowling may not be subject to cancellation or blacklisting and she may be winning the war in the UK for vulnerable young women and for single-sex spaces; she remains an open target for media know-betters who continue to carry water for transgender activists and extremists.

Shared Text (Not Safe For Work)

Andrew Schulz clearly knows next to nothing about Harry Potter. Note that in the above routine that he mentions “Harry Potter the Musical” in reference to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which for all its glories (failings?), is not a musical.

Having said that, it’s interesting to observe that he does understand, as in “know for certain,” that his audience will get  a Harry Potter joke and especially enjoy an equal parts playful and tasteless spell in Latin. Because everybody knows Harry Potter.