Five Predictions for JKR Q&A Today

Yesterday I posted three questions I hoped someone would ask Rowling-Galbraith during the “interactive” question and answer session today, This morning I rush to put up five predictions of what questions she will be asked and what her answers will be. Apologies all around for not posting this earlier to encourage the Serious Strikers here to share their ideas of what The Presence will and will not say; it only occurred to me as I began reviewing and writing up my latch notes on the novel’s beginning and end.

Prediction 1: My idea that this will be “interactive” in the sense of her engaging with readers in any back-and-forth way will be shown as ridiculously naive.

I want to start my prognostications with an almost sure-thing and that  I was wrong yesterday to think Rowling-Galbraith would engage with fans in a meaningful way is just that. Patricio Tarantino of The Rowling Library wrote to me on the moderator channels to explain that “interactive” here most likely meant that the “pre-recorded, not live” event  involves those who tune in being asked “to vote for two questions and then they will see the video with the answer to the most voted one and so on.” He expressed disappointment in advance with this format because it suggests “there will be recorded answers that we won’t see.”

If he is right (and, frankly, Mr Tarantino is right more often than not in a spooky Anomie kind of omniscient way with these things…), then the “interactive” Q&A will be a kind of online game akin to the Drek’s Game of Ink Black Heart, one that requires repeated visits to the site to explore its various possibilities, in this case, all the questions and answers. I have little doubt that all the information will be available to the persistent — and that Rowling-Galbraith is having a little fun here with life-imitating-art, the discussion of the book in a curious fashion reflecting the action of the book.

More speculative guesses after the jump!

 Prediction 2: Rowling-Galbraith will discuss the Ink Black Heart epigraph sources, Gray’s Anatomy and Victorian Women Poets.

If we do get to see answers based on a popular vote rather than just our preferences, I suspect we won’t get to see the answer to a question about the epigraphs should that subject be put in a competition with a subject like Robin’s snogging Pez or the failed kiss outside the Ritz. The epigraphs question, though, is almost as sure a thing to appear as that I was deluded to think this Q&A would be meaningfully “interactive;” Rowling inevitably drops a one-liner about the themes of her most recent novel in her post-publication guides for clueless reviewers and the epigraph opposition between the clinical anatomy text on the heart-as-pump and the spiritual “eye of the heart” is the perfect vehicle for that.

Prediction 3: Rowling-Galbraith will point to the thematic ‘through-line’ connecting the novel’s first epigraphs and the Coda conclusions, namely, wounded hearts and self-blindness.

The author has put a lot of work into her choice of epigraphs for Ink Black Heart, at least as much and I think probably more than her previous Strike novels. She creates something like a heart’s lub-dub beat in the contrast between a just-the-facts note about the physical heart in her selections from Gray’s Anatomy and a poem fragment about the heart and its vision from women poets of the 19th Century. She will anticipate that few readers will note this and want to draw their attention to it, hence the high probability that there will be a question and answer about it.

The answer, I’m almost sure because of her history with these things, will not do much more than point at these epigraph paired-sources. At most she’ll tag them with a “I thought they worked well together with my theme of wounded spirits and healing in relationships.” That will suffice to justify our exegetical efforts here without giving too much of the game away, for which serious readers should be grateful (for her restraint, not our efforts!).

If you doubt she will go there, read the first three epigraphs and chapter 107, the Coda, immediately after. As I’ll detail in my latch post and first attempt to crack the Coleridge-Gray-Rosetti epigraphs, it’s hard not to see the heart-stricken Strike’s book-closing complaints about people, to include himself alas, as needing “to open their fucking eyes” as his coming to understand what was meant by the spiritual “Blindness” of M. E. Coleridge’s ‘Doubt,’ the opening epigraph, the “Wounds of the heart” which are often but “not necessarily” “fatal” in the Gray’s Anatomy line that prefaces the Prologue chapters, and Coleridge’s ‘Moment’ and its question to God about His eyes and breath.

Not since the Deathly Hallows epigraphs has Rowling tipped her hand in such a pronounced way about the spiritual content of her work as she does in these Ink Black Heart epigraphs, in a book whose primary embedded text has a hero named ‘Harty’ who struggles with his dark side (get it? Harty? Harry?). There’s no way she doesn’t drag reader’s attention from the prosaic plot points that consume them to this subject, however obliquely. She’s invested too much in it not to want readers to pay attention to this artistry.

Prediction 4: Rowling-Galbraith will answer questions about Strike’s decision to date Madeline after feeling rejected by Robin at the Ritz.

Strike fandom is as focused on the Strike-Ellacott romantic relationship as Potter Maniacs were with the ‘ships between Harry and Hermione and/or Harry and Ginny — which, of course, is just as the author wants it. She’ll have to throw a bone to this crowd and its consuming fascination so there will be an obligatory question about how stupid Strike seems to be in not pursuing Robin rather than “fucking famous,” a friend of Charlotte’s no less. Her explanation will not excuse Strike so much as explain the psychology of his compensation, projection, and self-blindedness due to his previous relationship injuries and continuing pain. There won’t be anything about the Shakespearean psychomachian allegory or mythological content of the Strike-Ellacott relationship as soul seeking perfection in the Spirit the other represents but she will discuss the pair as a frustrated romance.

Prediction 5: Rowling will celebrate Robin’s coming-into-her-own as a detective and woman in Ink Black Heart.

Because she has already attempted in the Q&A pieces already dropped to short-circuit or correct-in-advance readers and reviewers who connect the dots between Anomie’s murder of the ‘Ink Black Heart’ creator and the poisonous atmosphere today in Harry Potter fandom about Rowling, she won’t need to revisit that. I’m guessing, though, that she will say more about Robin and her story arc because some readers are going to struggle with her hard to believe leap to super-hero status in Strike6 and Cormoran’s being wonderfully acquiescent on that score.

She won’t say, as we have already, that she’s following the ‘Cupid and Psyche’ mythological template here with Robin-Psyche going through Hell to realize her feminine self beyond empathy and nurturing while Strike-Cupid-Pollux, son of Leda and the Swan, sits this one out in Venus’ home-retreat licking his wounds from her knife-and-oil-lamp betrayal. There will, however, be high fives all around on her becoming a woman who is not a prisoner to her feelings but true to her vocation and emotional needs, Ginny not waiting on Harry.

Only an hour before the “interactive” Q&A comes up so I’d better post this if my predictions are to have any value. If I had more time, I’d talk about my ‘druthers, namely, that she’d talk about Prudence the Jungian psychologist and that she spent less time walking around and talking about Highgate Cemetery and its residents, as she will inevitably if only because of its B-roll scenic values. I’ll close here, though, and look forward to your scoring my predictions after the event today (or tomorrow for those Down Under)!

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