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.

Two years ago this month, BBC4’s ‘Museum of Curiosity’ program featured Rowling as their special guest. Her contribution to the Museum was ‘inspiration,’ which gift she delivered to her audience of serious readers in the shape of a metaphorical explanation of her writing process, the ‘Lake and the Shed.’ She shared that she understands her work as being in essence two parts, inspiration of her subconscious that she calls her ‘Lake’ which story ideas she crafts intentionally into story in her ‘Shed.’ She described the inspiration source as her “Muse” in the 2007 Cruz interview, a supra-conscious or spiritual origin, which is important to keep in mind lest the reader be tempted to think Rowling is just writing out her psychological issues as self-therapy; the symbolism of the water in her Lake is polyvalent and includes both that of the psyche and the Spirit. The Shed work is her deliberate re-working of this inspired “stuff” into engaging and compelling story with the tools she keeps in her ‘head-Shed’ work-space, the symbolism, structures, and story-science she has from her life-long study of mythology, occult arts, and of her favorite writers.

Rowling in this Lake metaphor, one she revisited in her recent Scholastic chat with young American readers (begin at 20:00) about The Christmas Pig, points to her life experience, the issues with which her sub and supra-conscious mind wrestles, as the genesis point of conflict that generates the “stuff” of her stories. It is important, consequently, to know Rowling’s life-issues to understand her work while understanding that they begin rather than define her work, that is, to grasp that Rowling’s personal history simultaneously informs without restricting her artistry. The seven crises of her life that are public knowledge or easily seen from published biographical information produce the conflicts or issues to be resolved in the story alembic heated in her Shed, the dragon egg fostered to gestation in her cottage fire. Those crises in roughly chronological order are (1) the death of Anne Rowling, (2) the break of the Rowling sisters with their father Peter, (3) Jo’s experience of abuse from her first husband Jorge Arantes, (4) their subsequent divorce and her life as a single mother struggling with mental health issues, (5) the Potter-panic near-hysteria about the supposed occult quality of her Hogwarts books, (6) her re-marriage and new blended family, and (7) her ‘cancellation’ as TERF and transphobe because of her defense of biological women’s reserved spaces.

Rowling is given sub-and supra-conscious inspiration for her stories from her struggles with these issues, which inspiration she then reworks to elevate it from the individual and personal to the allegorical, mythic, and near universal quality of all her finished work (cf. Frye in The Anatomy of Criticism on the relationship of the ‘realistic’ with the mythic in the best writing). Her psychological scars are discernible certainly in the final product but, other than as a curiosity, the accidental point of origin, they in nowise delimit or define the artistry and meaning and power of her writing. 

Of the seven crises, six are public record and have been the subject of her own comment and reader discussion. The one that has not yet been part of the public record but which is evident in the Cormoran Strike series and especially in The Christmas Pig is her second marriage and subsequent blended family. Rowling is, much to her credit, ferociously private and protective of her Murray identity and family so little is known about her husband, their two children, how they all get along, and how Jessica Arantes, the daughter of Rowling’s first marriage who was separated as a child by court decree from any contact with her biological father, fits into the Murray clan. The Rowling-Murray wedding was celebrated the day after western Nativity twenty years ago this year so there is an obvious link — beyond Rowling’s confession of same in the book’s acknowledgments and in interviews — between that holiday marriage and this Christmas story.

The Strike novels and The Christmas Pig reveal that the union has not been a Disney movie without significant struggle or conflict. The Strike novels are largely about male and female roles in light of vocation and the difficulty of a woman taking what has been traditionally a man’s role as her vocation while remaining fully feminine. It is no great leap to speculate that the Rowling-Murray marriage has had to contend from its start with the elephant in the room of the global-celebrity billionaire wife being the primary provider and public face of the family rather than the husband. Rowling’s heroic and sacrificial stand against the mad overreach of transgender activists and their supporters has largely been, I think, the fruit of her study and reflection in light of this struggle on the roles and identity of men and women as such, which is to say, respecting biological reality and boundaries while acknowledging, respecting, and nourishing the masculine and feminine aspects in every person.

The Christmas Pig differs from the Strike series in that it reflects another Murray family issue. It has as its foundation story the agony of a young child in a blended family whose biological father is absent physically and emotionally and whose older step-sister is a bully consequent to her own issues about daddy. The serious reader of Rowling and one even superficially familiar with her life does not strain his or her eyes to see David and Mackenzie Murray and Jessica Arantes here as the story models for Jack and Holly, especially as Mackenzie Jean Murray was seven years old in 2012, the year of the story’s inspiration and the age of Jack, the boy in the story.

Rowling dedicates the book to David and has explained that the story toys, the cuddly pig favorite and its replacement, reflect two such cuddly pigs that her son adored. Jack Jones, however, is a name, front and back, that is a form of the name John; he is Joanne Rowling more than David Murray, her name also derived from Johannes, the Greek word for John (Rowling has given her daughter Mackenzie the middle name Jean, the more obvious feminine form of John). To put all my allegorical and sublime symbolism cards on the table at the start, what Jack has lost in the story is his father, what Holly fears losing to her step-brother is her father, the Pig is the exteriorized ‘heart’ or love he has as token or “transitional object” of maternal, unconditional love, and the story of the Loser is the sublimated agony of separation from Dad experienced as a child-hero must in the world of things and language. The Christmas Pig, though, in addition to this psychological allegory or dream-journey is an anagogical tale of seeking communion with the Father in Heaven through the light in one’s heart, the Johannine theology of logos-love that permeates Rowling’s work.

That’s quite the leap, I understand, but it follows as the conclusion to a series of points I think are largely undeniable. They are that (1) Rowling has embedded in her stories as their core common conflict the tension between ‘Peter’ and ‘James and John,’ the exoteric and esoteric, (2) her Dante-esque self-understanding as a writer, (3) the means and ends of story as extra-liturgical sacred art, consequently, as the best critical frame for understanding Rowling’s work, and (4) her including not especially opaque references to this artistry in all of her stories and The Christmas Pig especially. Evan Willis has masterfully laid out Pig’s story scaffolding as Dante’s Divine Comedy which ‘For the Straightforward Path Was Lost’ HogwartsProfessor post is essential reading. What follows about these four points, though outlined before I read that post, largely builds on its findings and explanation. 

Today, though, lets start with ‘Jack Jones,’ Pajama Boy’s name in his plastic body Up There in the Land of the Living. A close look at this moniker reveals that Rowling embeds both an esoteric and an exoteric or surface meaning in her stories to include Christmas Pig and a warning about the dangers of neglecting the life of the heart for conformity with the dictates of power and the law.

Peter, James, and John

We’ll start with Peter instead of John.

The attentive reader of Rowling’s work knows that any character or place named ‘Peter’ or one of that name’s derivations is a bad guy or suspect locale. We have Peter Pettigrew the person most responsible besides Voldemort for the murder of James and Lily Potter, Simon Price, the wife and child beating husband and father of Casual Vacancy [the apostle Peter’s given name was ‘Simon bar Jonah’ so Simon is another name for Peter], Peter Gillespie in the Strike novels, the lawyer who did everything possible to make Cormoran’s already significant daddy issues much worse, and the St Peter’s Nursing Home and Symonds House in Troubled Blood are dangerous even Satanic places (‘Symound’ is the spelling for ‘Simon Peter’ used by Wyecliffe according to the Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames that Rowling uses as her reference text, cf. Reaney 410).

In parallel, characters named ‘John’ or ‘James’ are the story white hats. James Potter, Remus John Lupin, Harry James Potter, Hermione Jean Granger, and Strike’s favorite nephew Jack like the Jack Jones or ‘John-squared’ hero of The Christmas Pig have names derived like Rowling’s own first name and the middle name of her second daughter from John or James, a pattern that suggests very strongly that Jonny Rokeby is anything but the bad guy of the Strike series. Rowling told Val Mcdermid that one of her favorite authors always tipped her cards to the reader about whodunnit in the quality of hands her characters were given; Rowling’s marker is in the names Peter and John.

Why she does this is no great mystery. Her father’s name is Peter John Rowling and the name he wanted to give his first child, one he very much wanted to be a boy, was ‘Simon John.’ As Rowling explained in her ‘Year in the Life’ interviews with Runcie in 2007, the father never really got over this disappointment and her childhood was something of a nightmare consequently. See Troubled Blood: Rowling Father Echoes’ for the complete history of that relationship — and its final end in 2012, again, the date of Pig’s conception. Rowling was given the name Joanne instead of Simon John, perhaps as a concession to mother Anne (her sister is named Dianne after all), but as likely because of its roots in Johannes.

Whether Rowling’s fascination with cratylic names and literary cryptonyms springs from her reflection on the meaning of her own names or the interest led her to that reflection is no matter. What matters is that an opposition between Peter and John is not something of her own invention but a Christian topos or cliche.

There is a tradition of unknown origin that concerns the existence of two churches within the faith that correspond to the exterior faith and its interior sanctifying substance or heart. Based loosely on scriptural depictions of the relationships between Christ and St Peter, the ‘Prince of Apostles’ and the Lord and His ‘beloved disciple,’ St John (and to a lesser degree St James, the brother of John), these inner and outer ‘churches’ are called the faiths respectively of Peter, the ‘rock of faith’ to whom the keys to heaven were given, and of John, to whom the Virgin Mother was entrusted at the Cross and the only one of the disciples not to have died a martyr’s death. Peter, of course, is identified with the Roman Catholic Church and its hierarchy, especially the papacy and its ‘Petrine claims’ to primacy, and their rituals, theology, dogma, and exclusivist claims to truth, what anti-papists call “Church-ianity.” The esoteric faith of St John and its invisible church has a less obvious worldly referent but has been variously attributed to Catholic mystics, Protestant sectarians of the Radical Reformation, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and to theosophists and New Age syncretists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Rowling’s name artistry is to tag authorities and institutions such as media, government, and care facilities or boot-licking servants of power as ‘Peters’ (and, yes, no doubt the playground use of that name as a euphemism for penis is in play here), which is to say, the bad guys whom the good resist. The Peters are the exterior and superficial in contrast with the Johns and James of her fiction, the inner essence reflected in the middle or hidden name of the character as often as not, who are on a esoteric journey to spiritual perfection. As one correspondent wrote me about the ‘Father Echoes’ post, the tragedy of Peter John Rowling seems to be, from Joanne’s view at least, that the Peter ego identity killed John, his heart, and tried to do the same to his eldest daughter with that name. Rowling told deRek that she leads an “intensely spiritual life” but, as she has said repeatedly and consistently, she struggles with formal religious belief and worship if she does attend “more than christenings and weddings (cf. Fraser 30-31); she identifies with John, her esoteric Christian faith, much more than with Peter, the institutional church.

This is critical for grasping what happens in Christmas Pig first because so much of that story is about Jack Jones’ sublimated agonies about his negligent biological father and Holly’s bitterness about Jack’s taking her father’s love from her.  Rowling told Lev Grossman in 2005 that she understood her Potter stories largely turned on the failure of fathers; “I look back and I see a repeated pattern of me saying that men have failed their [pause as she takes a deep, hoarse breath. she whispers:] failed their families” (Grossman 2017). More important, though, is that this psychological drama inherent to the lives of children of divorce is the setting of the spiritual drama of our spiritual disconnect from ontological reality, the Absolute or ‘Heavenly Father,’ our existential center and origin. Whence ‘Potter’ being both assonant with Pater and a reference to God as shaper of the human clay (e.g. Isaiah 45:9, Jeremiah 18:6, Romans 9:21). Rowling’s surname here is as important as her John first name; ‘rolling’ is the motion of a circle, the esoteric meaning of which is the revelation of the invisible creative principle or logos center that is the ‘point’ of her alchemical and ring structural artistry.

Three points on this before I close today’s Christmas Pig post.

(1) The Gospel According to St John

There is a theologoumenon or theological opinion in the Orthodox Church, one not binding on the faithful, that the fourth Gospel differs in kind from the first three, the so-called ‘Synoptic’ or look-alike gospels. As Fr John Romandides explained, the first three are introductions to the good news of the Word’s incarnation as a man, His victory over death, and our ability to share in that victory by becoming members of His Mystical Body. The fourth, the Gospel of Christ’s beloved disciple, in contrast, is the esoteric meaning of that Good News reserved for those who have already been received into the Church by photismos, the literal ‘enlightenment’ of baptism. The traditional Church begins its readings from the Gospel at St John on Pascha or Easter, according to this view, because newcomers to the faith have been baptized at the end of Holy Week and are prepared to hear this message at last.

This relatively esoteric message, chrystalised in its famous Prologue, is about the Logos of God, the second Person or Son of the Trinity, and His incarnation as Man and life in the heart of every human being (John 1:9). After Coleridge, the imagery of light, heart, and the soul’s journey to perfection in spirit, of communion with God in Christ, is the language and end of English High Fantasy (for more on Coleridge and the Logos, see Perkins’ Coleridge’s Philosophy: The Logos as Unifying Principle).

Rowling is a postmodern writer with postmodern concerns writing for a postmodern audience, I know. But as Joanne writing to throw off Peter, this is her touchstone belief and the core of her artistry and meaning. ‘Jack Jones’ and his adventures exemplify this fact as I hope will become obvious over the course of this week.

(2) The Lego Gifts from Jack’s Dad

We can start, though, with the bad dad of Christmas Pig. His default gift to his son is Lego, plastic building blocks. He gives Jack a package the day he drops the news that he’ll be leaving the country and only in touch by phone. “That’ll be fun, won’t it?” he tells the boy with the never-gonna-happen idea of Jack’s comiong to visit him on a plane. Jack is non-plussed, of course. Under the Christmas tree, Jack in his Pajama Boy form discovers a large box of Lego accidentally and thinks to himself that this must be a gift from his absent dad.

Rowling has the unnamed biological father give his son Lego as a marker of how he has failed the boy. Lego is not, after all, a finished toy but stuff that can be crafted into other things. That’s exciting for children, certainly, but the action of craftsmanship is the giving form to substance, creation, in which a father is supposed to guide his son. He is supposed to be there to act as a model or form for Jack’s life as a boy-becoming-a-man, a function from which Jack’s dad abdicates. His is there, no doubt, to provide material support, the funds Jack may need but not the eidos or form the child craves, the stability and substance of a nuclear family.

This loss of the father’s love is the agony, as much as his transition from baby dependent on his mum for everything, that makes Jack cling to his toy cuddly pig, the externalization of that unconditional maternal love. Holly fears the same loss at her parent’s break-up and her dad’s remarriage. The Christmas Pig is their joint journey to coming to peace with their blended family, an adventure of coming to know the archetypal origin of unconditional love on the Night of Miracles and Lost Causes.

(3) Peter and John in the Land of the Lost

Jack Jones and the Christmas Pig are the ‘Johns’ of this story but, besides the unnamed negligent dad, who are the ‘Peters’? Unlike Jack, whose name is the marker and give-away of his Johannine role and function, we are not given a Peter or Simon name as direct pointer in Christmas Pig’s Land of the Living or Land of the Lost.

I think, though, that the opposition between those whose touchstone is maternal or unconditional love, Team Jack, and the people and Things whose life-orientation is fear of and conformity with the Law, Team Loser, are as clear signals of Rowling’s Peter-John defining psychological polarity. Team Loser, as with that monster’s wounded desire to understand, consume, and acquire the “Alivened Bit” of Things and of Jack and to gain the capacity “love Things as much as people do” (258), do not live in the light of love, the logos alivening bit within them, but in fear or, its complement, as agents of violence. The father-figure internalized is the Law, which, to a child and the Things come alive in the Land of the Lost, is the guiding fear of arbitrary violence of the Dad-power that enforces the rules.

To see this, read the dialogue of the Loss Adjusters in Mislaid who manhandle Blue Bunny to the chute on to the Wastes of the Unlamented (71-72: “Nobody wants you. Nobody cares you’re lost. You’re Surplus”), the soliloquy of Scissors in Disposable (92:”It’s the truth. Things need to know their place. That’s how we all stat out of trouble”), the speech of Mayor Grater in Bother-Its-Gone (120-121), and the raving of King Power in the City of the Missed (204-205) and the common response of Things to these rants, namely, conformity to the Law in fear rather than resistance in union with love and justice. The vote in the palace of the City of the Missed about Jack and Christmas Pig’s fate is the conflict in every soul about whether to side with our internalized maternal unconditional love, the logos fabric of reality and our heart, or with the fear of paternal violence that will destroy our ego-existence. Memory, Happiness, Hope, Optimism, and half of our Principles are the seven (!) votes for John; Vain Beauty, Ambition, Power, and the Principles that value order before truth, the Law before Justice, vote against. Power over rules the majority vote but Hope (and faith) saves Jack and the Pig, both in the Palace and in the Loser’s Lair.

The most visible part of this in the allegory of Things is the quality of those objects that are chosen to be Loss Adjusters. In the Palace, those things that Power uses to capture the boy and his Pig are “razors, scissors, pincers, and knives; wire clippers, chisels, and the huge mallet” and these are typical; the agents of the Law are things that cut — Scissors, Pen Knife, Tin Opener, etc. – things that smash — Masher the Hammer, Crusher the Boot, and Mallet — and things that poke or pierce — Fork and Pin. All of these Things are threats or weapons that make us fear for our physical safety and integrity; they break up our union with what is good and true with the possibility of our unity as Things made up of “stuff” and soul being shattered. They are the agents of the Loser who literally sucks out the “alivened bit” of Things and leaves them as something spiritually dead, the husks of a person that is attacked with the Dementor’s Kiss. Rowling’s Peter-John dichotomy does not have a named ‘Peter’ but is the loveless and violent aspect of the Loser’s world and his agents and their generation of fear with the threat of violence and death that are its evident representatives.

Segue!

To get at the victory of Love over Fear, John over Peter, Jack versus the Loser, though, requires a side trip into Dante’s Divine Comedy, a text that Evan Willis revealed back in October is the backdrop and template Rowling deploys in Christmas Pig. In brief, the hardest part of ‘getting’ Rowling as a writer is that she is best understood as a writer of extra-liturgical sacred art – not, egad, of ‘sacred texts’ or revealed scripture — but allegorical depictions of the soul’s journey to perfection in Spirit via exteriorization of soul elements and an alchemical purification and transformation of same. Tomorrow, we’ll start down that road with a review of Evan Willis’ point-to-point post about Christmas Pig and The Divine Comedy and a discussion of writing as a sacred art akin to iconography and sacred vessels used in worship.

Until then, let me know what you think of the seven crises theory outlined above, the relevance of the Murray family in grasping Christmas Pig, and the Peter-John distinction in Rowling’s writing. I look forward to your comments and correction! 

The Perennialist Reading of Christmas Pig Series:

12/22: Whence Holly’s Hatred in Christmas Pig? The Symbolism of the ‘Broken Angel’

1/5: Rowling on Love, Hope, Happiness 2018

1/15 Rowling, Ring Writing, and Maternal Love

Comments

  1. The amount of friends and colleagues (read: HS English teachers) who have blatantly written off JKR as “cancelled” really frustrates me, and so my in-person community with whom I can discuss JKR’s literature to such depth as you provide is sadly quite small. That said, I’m slowly starting to build a new community from scratch! I’ve recently persuaded my mother to read HP in full for the first time, and then as a follow-up, handed her The Christmas Pig (which magically arrived on my doorstep the very day she finished DH). What she doesn’t understand in regards to extra-liturgical sacred art and literary alchemy, she makes up for in being a mother who, like JKR, is a survivor of failed men, and she found The Christmas Pig incredibly profound. She bought several copies to give away as Christmas gifts.

    I assume/hope you’ll delve deeper into this subject as well, but in regards to fathers in CP, the moment that struck me most was on the Island of the Beloved, when Jack comes to realize that “he’d come to love CP, not instead of DP, but quite separately, for his brave and good self. In that moment, Jack truly understood what it felt like to be Alivened” (230). I think there are some parallels that JKR hopes readers might be able to draw out here, particularly between his dad/DP and Brendan/CP. Several times in the first 10 chapters or so, Jack mentions he’d miss his dad, prefer him over some alternative, and in line with the psychology of transitional objects, he most deeply attributes the loss of his dad with the loss of DP – he kept groping for a replacement for his dad. So in this moment, when he has this awakening or “Alivening” and decides to accept the reality of losing dad/DP, he can choose to consciously “transition” to the figures around him that provide security, love, and comfort, in a way that doesn’t replace his dad, but loves them “quite separately”. I found this profound as a reader, and helped me make sense of the “point” she’s trying to teach to her young readers (since frankly, she’s not writing for us, but children). Furthermore, JKR deliberately refuses to develop Brendan alone to be this replacement figure, but more so the blended family as a whole, through the metonymy of CP. CP’s initial request to be given to Holly points to this inevitable finale, and the final chapter’s culminating family reunion – which notably includes his mum, Brendan, and Holly – shows that Jack’s journey results in the simultaneous and “quite separate” acceptance of his dad/DP’s loss, and his entry in this new blended family.

    I’m excited to read what’s to come over the next 6 days!

  2. Welcome to the HogwartsProfessor conversation about The Christmas Pig, BJ! I very much look forward to reading your insights, if this week’s posting schedule rather restricts my ability to respond at the length your contributions merit, for which neglect, please forgive me.

    I noted, reading over the first installment above that I’d left out my third point, perhaps the most important, namely, who the ‘Peter’ of this story is. I’ve added that and am on to Dante and Sacred Aret before services in celebration of St Nicholas Day. Cheers! And ‘Welcome’ again!

  3. If I’m not mistaken, the name Jack Jones is also Cockney rhyming slang, which roughly means ‘“on my own”.

    Example: “Are you with anyone?”
    “Nah, I’m on me Jack Jones.”
    Jones roughly rhyming with own. Most of the time with Cockney rhyming slang, you only use the first word, but there are exceptions. This is a name choice that perfectly fits with the character.

    Merry Christmas!

  4. What I’m about say has no choice except to sound odd. The way I arrived at an understanding of the themes of TCP was more or less a process of association. Or rather, it was a case of being able to grasp the meaning of one work of art through comparison with that of another. The idea itself is not so far-fetched, especially with a writer whose work is as full of literary allusion as Rowling. The trouble is it isn’t any of her own sources that helped me gain a footing with her Christmas book. Instead, it was a series of songs which, when strung together, I’ll swear come off as signaling certain of the allegorical aspects of the text. The best I can do to make this clear is to cite the samples of lyrics that “might” serve the reader as a quick go-to reference point in terms of the ideas contained in the author’s book and frame it in the context of the traditional, hermetic, three act structure. Thus combing alchemy and allegory in one neat setup, starting with:

    The Black Stage:

    Holly and Mum’s perspective:

    “If it wasn’t love at all/can’t I just go on dreaming”? – Carly Simon.

    Jack’s perspective:

    “Oh, come on…Who else am I gonna talk to, you’re my pal?”

    “We’ve got nothing in common, and so much to lose” – The Thompson Twins.

    The White Stage:

    Jack and CP:

    “I can feel there’s a hope on the wind.
    The sound of your voice – I think I hear a friend.
    We’ve got nothin’ in common
    I know we don’t, but it won’t stay that way.

    Everyone’s on a road of their own.
    Everyone’s gotta find a Heart a Home.
    Loving strangers – that’s you and me.
    Give a way to love, give a little honesty” – Christopher Cross.

    The Red Stage:

    Jack’s Final Outlook:

    “I try to run. I try to never fall apart.
    But Love takes pleasure from
    The Burning of the Heart” – Richard Marx.

    I did say my way of arriving at the themes of the novel was strange. It’s just this way that connections can sometimes form between seemingly disparate works of art in my mind. All I can do is chalk it up to what comes from being too much of a bookworm. Perhaps the real curious part is that I really am willing to swear that those snippets of musical poetics (however crass, or otherwise) can form an actual compliment to Prof. Evans’s Dantean scaffold, as each describes an idea or sentiment that can find its match in either the Medieval poem, or Rowling’s Holiday fable.

    In my own defense, is it any stranger than framing the Harry Potter stories in terms of songs like Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It”? Or Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper”? If any other explanation is required, then maybe it helps to know I was born in May, which makes me a Gemini. At least that means I’ve got some kind of excuse for every time I make myself look like a pure fool. The irony is that once you take all those lyrics together, they do sort of suggestion the Coleridgean idea of the eventual unification of opposites.

    If nothing else, I’d invite anyone who is curious enough to at least listen to the songs listed in the order presented above, as they do come off as forming this weird, yet strangely effective soundtrack commentary to the text as given. Think of it as musical accompaniment to the Christmas special in you mind, if that helps. All I can add is to try not to mind the 80s, if that’s any kind of hang-up. Also, admit it, some of you out there reading this were probably wishing that Rankin – Bass was still around to turn this into another one of their “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” style offerings after reading the book!

    Other than this, I’m looking forward to what next week has to bring. And to one and all, a very happy Feliz Navidad!

Speak Your Mind

*