Archive for July 30th, 2007

Harry Potter Links

July 30, 2007 @ 11:53 am | Filed under:

Our beloved Virginia pals, the Jones girls, will be pulling into our driveway any minute for a delirious, delightful week-long visit. My girls are beside themselves. Rose has been stationed at the door for the past half hour and may well combust from sheer excitement if they don’t arrive soon.

I thought I’d get a Harry Potter post up during the weekend—a delusional notion, since this was San Diego Comicon weekend and Scott had to work long, late hours every day since the middle of last week. I’ve enjoyed some good discussion about the book, though, in the comments of this Studeo post and also at Kelly Herold’s GoodReads review. Spoiler alerts apply in both cases.

I also wanted to share the link to this very interesting take on the Harry Potter books by another of our former Virginia neighbors, Steve the Llamabutcher (posted before he read Book 7). Steve’s a big fan of the HP books but sees a failing in the wizarding world:

The bone I have to pick with J.K. Rowling—or maybe it’s
intentional, and therefore something to credit her with—is the
complete absence of the humanities from the course of education at her
magical school. The wizarding world as she presents it is completely
bereft of art and music of their own creation which is not derivative
of the creations of the non-magical world. In many respects the
wizarding world—or, at the very least, wizard Britain—is a world
which never really left the medieval: they never went through the
Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the revolutions of capitalism,
industrialism, and Darwinism. Now, I can see how a number of our
readers would probably say a combination of the last three aint bad
(and certainly the Shire of Tolkein was Rousseauian presentation of
Britain minus the last three), how many of us would want to live in a
world without the humanism and individualism and rationalism and
science that were the crowning achievements of the first two? Not me,
for one.

The first book—and I have a gut hunch the last book—pivots on the character never actually met by the reader of Nicolas Flamel,
a historical figure with a long history of being used by authors as a
representative of the obsession with alchemy. To me, the series rises
and falls with the fate of another obsessed alchemist born several
centuries after Flamel lived: Isaac Newton. Newton turned away from
alchemy in the end and embraced science and the scientific method, and
with it the principles of rationalism and free inquiry. Rowling’s
wizards remain profoundly uncurious about the nature of their world,
and the small few who inquire are kept hidden away within the
Department of Mysteries, their work kept secret. The Wizards, from the
fragments that Rowling provide, turned within themselves in Europe at
least at exactly the time the Europeans reached out to understand the
world, the universe, and the place of human beings within it.

Whether intentionally or not, Rowling has shown us a world within a
world free from imperialism, nationalism, capitalism, religion and
industrialism—yet it is a society racked profoundly with racism and
slavery, governed oppressively without any pretense of due process, the
rule of law, equality, or democracy, and in a world without great art,
sculpture, literature, poetry, dance, or music of its own.

They have Dumbledore.  We have DaVinci, Newton, Smith, Darwin, Einstein, Watson, Dickens, and Neil Armstrong.

Compelling perspective, and I’d love to comment but can’t just now because Rose is chanting "Aretheyhere? Aretheyhere?" ad nauseum and I can’t hear myself think. Posting will probably be light this week because we will be running around town keeping up with the Joneses!