Christmas Pig 2: Dante, Sacred Art, and the Symbolism of the Tree and Its Angels

I have been writing about Rowling and Dante since the publication of Deathly Hallows. Please read ‘Snape’s Green-Eyed Girl: Dante, Renaissance Florence, and the Death of the Potions Master,’ chapter 4 of The Deathly Hallows Lectures, for the central place The Divine Comedy holds in Rowling’s Hogwarts Saga. Pig, the tale of ‘The Living Boy’ in the ‘Land of the Lost,’ is in several ways a revisiting of ‘The Boy Who Lived’s adventures and a re-imagining of Horcruxes, a soul’s investment of itself in material things. As Evan Willis has demonstrated, however — in a post written in October after only listening to the new book once! — Pig is perhaps most like Potter in its debt to Dante. Join me after the jump for Evan’s nine points of correspondence and my explanation of Rowling as sacred artist! [Read more…]

Christmas Pig 1: Jack Jones, Peter, John

Welcome to the week before western Christmas at HogwartsProfessor.com! I’ll be posting about J. K. Rowling’s new story, The Christmas Pig, every day in the coming week and we have a special guest post that will go up, next Friday, Christmas Eve, the “Night of Miracles and Lost Causes.” It promises to be a lot of fun and I look forward to sharing with you the delights beneath the surface of this wonderful tale. 

Let me start with my summary opinion of Rowling’s entry into the genre of Christmas stories.

J. K. Rowling’s Christmas Pig works as a key, a relatively small object that creates a much larger opening to a larger and new experience, with respect to her other works to date. It is perhaps her greatest achievement, a miniature — her shortest work ever, briefer than Philosopher’s Stone or The Ickabog — and cameo of her most important themes, most sophisticated artistry, and most powerful meaning about life, art, and faith. It is, in brief, a concentrated introduction to everything serious readers love about the world’s most popular writer.  Owen Barfield is supposed to have said about C. S. Lewis that “Everything he thinks is evident in anything he writes;” everything Rowling does is present in her Christmas Pig.

I suppose it goes without saying that everything posted here this week will assume that you the reader have read Christmas Pig, that you have read it recently, and that you are eager to explore it at depth. It works at four levels but I will be focusing on the allegorical and anagogical planes. There won’t be any spoiler warnings. To appreciate the depths of The Christmas Pig requires an understanding of Rowling’s writing process, of her personal history, and of extra-liturgical sacred art before jumping into the story itself. For an introduction to the premises of this week’s exegesis of this brilliant tale, join me after the jump for a look at the meaning of ‘Jack Jones,’ the name of Pajama Boy in the Land of the Living.

[Read more…]

The Original Christmas Pig was Blind Pig

I have been working on an epic Christmas Pig post while finishing my thesis and the two efforts intersected with a revisiting of the first Fantastic Beasts screenplay (the Occamy and Demiguise, in brief, are strong markers of Rowling’s anti-nominalist traditional artistry). The Pig moment, of course, came in the New York City magical speak-easy in Beasts 1, the American Hog’s Head that Rowling called, sans explanation, ‘The Blind Pig.’ I wrote two friends in the UK the following note last week lest I forget the connection:

1. Rowling has mentioned that pigs are distinctly non-magical or supposedly are so: [it is a characteristic of Pure Blood ancestry if one demonstrates] “dislike or fear of pigs and those who tend them (the pig is often considered a particularly non-magical animal and is notoriously difficult to charm).”

2. The ‘Blind Pig’ speak-easy in the first Beasts film makes me wonder if the bar was not named for the original David Rowling cuddly toy, which Rowling has confirmed had the eye surgery that the fictional DP underwent before he was defenestrated. I think it a fair conjecture that this ur pig was named ‘BP’ and that ‘CP’ and ‘DP’ are affectionate echoes of same.

3. She couldn’t use ‘BP’ because of inevitable and constant confusion with British Petroleum?

4. And of course DDursley and his tail courtesy of Hagrid. That, of course, predates David, BP, and company.

Today Rowling, as my correspondent emailed me this morning, “all but confirmed” that the original cuddly toy pig in the Rowling-Murray clan was ‘BP,’ for ‘Blind Pig.’ She tweeted:

I’m going to take her reticence in revealing ‘Blind Pig’s name as her not wanting to share the Murray-family-only Easter Egg of Beasts 1’s speak-easy and the resonance of Christmas Pig’s DP and CP with their BP. But I’m so glad I wrote my pig notes up before she tweeted this picture…

Two other notes to whip us back to Point One of my note, the non-magical aspect of pigs, especially to a feminist —

CP acts like something of a chauvinist pig in Mislaid in his approach to the Princess action figure. He tells her, in effect, that Pajama Boy is there to rescue her. She rebuffs him with the postmodern feminist icon she is with the assertion that she was “looking for a bit of an adventure.”

CP again is overly aggressive with more than whiff of violence with vulnerable women in Disposable when he tricks Lunchie into opening her lid so he and Jack can enter her without consent, His “Shut your lid!” when she objects to their jumping in sans invitation has more than a hint of rape. Jack is certainly unsettled by this and by CP’s telling Halley the Inhaler that, if she gives them away, that Pajama Boy will break her.

Back to the mega Christmas Pig exegesis, in which I discuss why pigs are especially apt symbolism for the story!

Rowling Talks About ‘Christmas Pig’

Video Courtesy of TheRowlingLibrary.com!

“For the Straightforward Path Was Lost”: A Few Starting Notes on The Christmas Pig

To get discussion started on The Christmas Pig, I thought I would post some thoughts, aligned with a few of our keys to interpretation, that I was left with after my first read through. Or, rather, first listen through. The audiobook proved really quite wonderful, with excellent cast and sound design. On any of these points below, consequently, much more can be said. These points are also not in any particular order as they are something of a collection of first impressions. The discussion below will not be spoiler free.
[Read more…]