Shared Text No More? Why No Mention of Fawkes Here?

CNN: Survival of injured baby golden eagle in Utah wildfire called ‘amazing’

The problem with the ‘Shared Text’ thesis is that it seems non-falsifiable. That issue can be put in the form of a question: “Can we claim media references to the Hogwarts Saga demonstrate the pervasiveness of this story in the popular imagination if there is no possible counter balancing demonstration for the negative?”

Perhaps this CNN story of a golden eaglet rescued from the western states wild fires — named “Phoenix” for what I’m guessing aren’t geographical reasons — is a case for the negative. How weird is it that there is no mention of the Order of the Phoenix to describe this eaglet’s over-the-top ‘anything for the bird’ handlers? And Fawkes?

Your comments and corrections, please!


  1. Perhaps the writer of the article was merely a casual reader or casual watcher or hasn’t had any extensive encounter with the series. We can’t take every missed opportunity to reference Harry Potter as evidence that it is no longer a shared text. Then every article about the financial sector would have to refer to wealthy bank executives as “goblins”, and as hilarious as that would be, it may grow tiresome. More seriously, though, Fawkes is a major part of the series for the serious readers. He is a symbol of resurrection and healing who makes multiple appearances in the books as a clear Christ symbol (or at least a symbol that points to Christ). But he plays a very minor role in the movies, and even casual readers would overlook him for characters who got more “face time”. For the serious reader the connection is a no-brainer, but the fact that the connection may not be made by a casual reader doesn’t necessarily mean that the book is no longer a shared text.

  2. I think that’s a sober assessment. Here’s proof from a USA Today film review dialogue excerpt (hat tip, Prof Pazdziora!) that we’re a long way from forgetting Harry as our imagination-baseline:

    If a man sneaks into the theater and suddenly gets the urge to become a stripper, what advice would you give? “Get a good thong,” Tatum suggests. “You just know when you found the right one.

    “Kind of like Harry Potter and his wand. The thong picks you. You don’t pick it.

    Prof Pazdziora’s comment was “worst Shared Text reference ever.” I’m not sure how we scale good and bad here on a Shared Text continuum, but if he meant “tasteless,” I think he has a decent argument.

    Edifying or not, of course, it confirms David’s rationale above, no?

  3. David James says

    I’m going to use my middle (Confirmation) name from now forth, so that the two “David”‘s don’t get confused.

    John, while the CNN story does not give direct reference to the HP Shared Text in connection to “Fawkes” it does do a good job in directing the reader to the mythic story of the phoenix. This golden eagle comes out of that Utah fire charred, feathers and all and still survives, if that isn’t as close of a story to the mythical bird in our natural world I don’t know what else could come close. Courage is even mentioned in the article in relation to the eagle’s survival! Was this writer reading my talk for Ascendio this week? Scary stuff. ;o)

    So if one be Harry Potter literate or not, if one is interested in the “phoenix” reference in the article, they will Google it and somewhere down the “phoenix list” a blog for Fawkes will come up…….hence eventual Shared Text!

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