Shared Text: US Defense Calls China ‘Voldemort’

When Harry Potter shapes the vocabulary of the Pentagon, Generation Hex is carrying the nuclear football. And we definitely have reached Shared Text status —

While Washington’s Asian allies look to it for leadership, the Obama administration has (like its predecessor) taken China’s professed good intentions at face value.  Things have gotten so bad that in the Pentagon some now refer to China as “Voldemort,” the evil wizard from the Harry Potter series who is often referred to as “he who must not be named.”

The “Voldemort Effect” is seen in the Defense Department’s recently published Quadrennial Defense Review, which cites the growing threat posed by anti-access and area-denial capabilities….. (The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2010, p. A13).

See also the original report at Defense Studies. H/T Nicole!

Shared Text: Harry Potter in ‘Big Bang Theory’

A better episode from the same series with a Quidditch reference (embed function disabled, alas) can be found here and here’s the actress who plays Penny talking about her love of Harry Potter. H/T to Lynn!

Shared Text: Rep. Giffords Reading Harry Potter

Like all of you, I was horrified by the shootings in Arizona two weeks ago and have followed the story of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery, from the reports of her having died by an assassin’s bullet in her brain to her plans for a move to rehab as early as tomorrow. As we live in a Harry Potter universe, of course, I should not have been surprised that this story, which, for better or worse, overshadows even the murders of tens of thousands of people not far from Arizona, has a Hogwarts element to it. Prof. Freeman alerted me this morning to an article in Entertainment Weekly about the first book Rep. Giffords is reading since being shot: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

What else? Be sure to read the article to the last line. If the Hogwarts Saga were not this generation’s ‘Shared Text,’ could the reporter have used that as her exit line with surety that all her readers would ‘get it’? Of course not.

The KJV, Our Real ‘Shared Text,’ Hits 400 Years

We talk here about Harry Potter as a ‘Shared Text,’ meaning that it serves, because so many people have read it, as a common reference for discussion, almost a shoe-horn for getting into larger topics and as a language or experience for facilitating exchange of ideas. The Hogwarts Saga only has this function, though, because the Shared Text of Western Civilization, the book known as “The Book” and “The Holy Book” or more commonly The Bible, has lost much of its power via commonality and reverence even among  serious readers.

Allan Bloom noted this in his Closing of the American Mind:

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Shared Text: The Smithsonian Institute’s Three Cheetahs Are Named Draco, Granger, and Zabini

I am curious, of course, about why they named one of the three brothers ‘Granger.’ You can read more about the SI Zoo’s cheetahs and the decision to name them for Harry Potter characters here. The breeding idea seems to have worked out well, too. H/T to Lynn!