Art by Anariel27
"You can throw some powder in the chimney, walk into the fireplace, and end up in another town altogether.... we Muggles see it as charming, but for the wizard-born-and-raised, wouldn't the e-mail and the text message seem more magical? And what separates magic from science, in a universe where magic seems to lack all elements of spirituality and is a naturally found occurrence? It reminds me of the passage in The Lord of the Rings when Lady Galadriel kindly tells Sam that what he considers "elf-magic" is for them art, skill, and science."Arthur Weasley excepted, I wonder if the wizard-born-and-raised would find texting and email more magical than Floo powder. Those technological advances might just look like the Protean charm.
But while Rowling's magic is a naturally found occurrence as it's portrayed, I don't think it's necessarily unspiritual for all that. Art, skill and science involve the whole person, spirit and all; roughly put, I'd say that there's the hard, technical craft side of any skill or study and the more fluid, artistic side that draws from unseen places. I'm with Sam in taking a bit of a mystical view of such things.
(Apparently I am Sam. Sam I am. [Sorry, I couldn't help myself.])
I'm debating Christie's words here, not her meaning. She would be the first to recognize the Greek honor for the Muses, the Psalmists' inspiration from God, the spiritual aspects of the faculty that allowed Michelangelo to find David in a block of marble and Copernicus to hypothesize about heliocentrism. As for Harry Potter, I've probably introduced terminological confusion into this discussion by too-eagerly defending Rowling's treatment of magic as nonspiritual with nonspiritual meaning "obviously not based upon the invocation of spirits."
|If you want to re-create fifth-grade science, here's how.|
"There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words."She gives very little explanation of what she means there—merely a brief comment on studying astronomy and herbology. Based on the overall presentation in the story, though, I do think of Harry's magic as spiritually invested in the artistic sense, at least. Hints include:
- it's something he has an innate talent for but must study and perfect
- it's obviously deeply connected to the emotions/psyche (consider, for instance, what Harry does, wandless, in this week's chapters)
- [MAJOR SPOILERS FROM BOOKS FIVE AND SEVEN]
|Gotta keep up with Masha on the cat picture thing.|
This is the [Potter] book that seems to have more unrealized potential than any otherWhich suggests that the other books are either more realized, or have less potential, which could be quite a series of arguments (and might become so when we get to OotP and DH). I'd like to keep this in mind as we work through this book; if it hadn't been that I love one and five and seven so much, book three would be my favorite, and I'm hard put to come up with anything I'd change.
In other news: Harry Potter stamps!!! Now—who on earth would you want to send a letter with this on it?:
|Two words: TAX RETURN. Hahaha.|
Also, you can go to Starbucks and get them to make you a butterbeer. Sort of. I still think butterbeer recipes need to have at least trace amounts of alcohol present in order to qualify. But I'm picky like that.
On to this week's reading! But first: why didn't I see this one in time for the last book???
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This Week in Reading Harry
Read: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, chapters 2-4
This Katy Perry parody by BYU students is hilarious and adorable. I love it.
Potential Discussion Points:
So much of these three chapters is simple mystery-building, which is why I took them all together. By the end of it, at least Harry understands the Ministry of Magic's uncharacteristic graciousness, but Rowling's dropping details right and left that set up the end of the book. It's hard to comment much on those right now. Here are a few things we can talk about, however.
1. The late Margaret Thatcher. I've always respected her, though admittedly from too much distance to have hard confidence in my feelings. But it's almost taken for canon in Potter fandom that "Aunt Marge" is intended as a pointed mockery of Dame Thatcher and of conservative politicians in general.
|Art by heatherlynnharris|
Once anyone starts tying something like this too specifically to modern politics, however, it gets mean. Maybe some of the Marge and Vernon Dursley statements are a fair parody of some of the more extreme and mouthy conservatism, but it's certainly not a fair presentation of conservatives in general. Though possibly I'd just find the satire more bearable if groups like the Harry Potter Alliance weren't so desperately prone to presuming that this sort of thing is serious and accurate and that they're therefore justified in writing all conservatives off as monsters.
Disclaimer: I'm politically disenfranchised, to the point where I sometimes don't vote. Part of the reason is that neither side treats the other fairly. Oh, what a rough world we live in....
2. Critique of excess. The final Aunt Marge scene, with the overflow of food and alcohol and criticism of those who need to rely on charity—outside of the party lines, there's some human truth behind the hyperbole here.
|Art by Ry-Spirit|
|Art by Liza Phoenix|
Death omens, by the bye, are something it would be best if I never know anything about. The Flourish and Blotts shopkeeper is right when he says that reading Death Omens: What to Do when You Know the Worst is Coming will make you start seeing them everywhere. I totally would.
5. "You sometimes have to join forces with those you would rather avoid." Leaving aside the fact that Molly seems conveniently ignorant in this scene for narrative purposes, Arthur's statement is... one of the other reasons I have a hard time with politics. :P We won't meet the Azkaban guards till next week, but considering how horrible they are when we do meet them, I think this is definitely fair game for a real scrapper of a debate about ethics. The stationing of SPOILER-sucking SPOILERS around a school full of adventurous children, even in defense against a murderer who is planning to break into the school with a particular victim in mind, is dangerous almost to the point of insanity. I think Dumbledore knows this, and I'm not sure why he caves here... but the Ministry of Magic is involved, and again, politics.
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|Batteries not included.|
But this post has already been delayed long enough, so—converse away!