yotg discussion (spoilers)

liril at gmx.net liril at gmx.net
Wed Dec 13 08:54:57 EST 2000


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Some random thoughts on YotG:

Wermacht... [ramble-alert]
When we were talking about Harry Potter IV, somebody (sorry, I couldn't
find the mail) assumed that "Durmstrang" was "intrinsically annoying to
the Germanic
reader" (or something like that). Whilst it wasn't, the name Wermacht is
(at least to me). Well, I don't know whether I really should say
annoying, but it's certainly distracting. Wehrmacht translates as "armed
forces" and was the name of the German regular army until 1945 (regular
meaning not SS or SA). There has been quite a controversy about an
exhibition called "War of Extermination: Crimes of the Wehrmacht, 1941
to 1944" about the involvement of the Wehrmacht in the Holocaust
(For quite some time there were  people who claimed that the Wermacht
was just "normal army" and not much involved), maybe you heard about
that, or you know the name from history lessons or movies or are even a
time witness. Anyhow, this name carries a lot of  feelings, resonances,
that seemed quite out of place in YotG. And given our discussions about
the significance of names in DWJ books together with the fact that I
assume (considering her biography) she knows the term "Wehrmacht" as
well, it made me wonder what it is supposed to mean. One idea that
occurred to me was that it might be she wanted something that sounded
German. The reason I do not like this is that it would, in a winded way,
make Wermacht another „German cardboard character“: exact, correct,
stupid, annoying, boring, shouting, feeling-important... Once I had made
that connection I saw all these „Ugly-German“ character-traits
personified in Wermacht, and I’m quite sick of those characters. Mind
you, I don’t say DWJ did have that in mind at all, I do not even think
so. It’s just how at some point it felt to *me* and it was rather
distracting. To get to that interpretation you have to make some weird
associations. It’s just what happened. Maybe it has to do with that
incredibly terrible German star trek person Peter David invented in his
Captain’s table book. She’s tall, blond, punctual, has a scar from the
student-fencing Mensur (! I went raving mad at that), and of course,
she’s got absolutely no sense of humor (and spends her free time
slaughtering people in battle simulations on the holodeck, listening to
Wagner, I presume). I wondered if *I* had no sense of humor and this was
really very ironic, but somehow I don’t think so. And, as I had to find
out travelling abroad even if it *was* irony, some people construct
their picture of Germans from „representative characters“ like this,
which is just sad. Her name is Muller btw, which I think *is* funny.
Anyhow, I still think, Wermacht is a strange name for a fictional
character... But I got over it, eventually, which goes to show what a
good storyteller DWJ is.

Things I loved...
All that wonderful details: the coat rack, the oranges appearing in the
spells, the coat rack, the book of truth, the coat rack and the
intellegent pigeons! DJW, I feel has a wonderful eye for these details
that bring a book to live, these fabulous slightly crazy ideas you'll
have to remember.

But what I like most is the scene in which Corkoran reads the essays,
because to me, the metaphoric meaning about what Universities in our
world should really teach and do as opposed to what they do rang so
true. It was as if DWJ summed up and put down my thoughts on that, but
much better and clearer and in so many facets, from so many angles.
Teaching of Law in Germany is becoming more and more „technical“, like
you’ve got to know and learn the practical things, and as fast as
possible. I feel students should be much more encouraged to think for
themselves, to think: Why is this problem solved that way? Why does
everybody do it in this old way? How could we do it differently? How was
it done in the past? How *should* it be done? So the different
approaches shown in the different essays were very interesting, I
thought. Once "magic" in DWJ's world can be compared to creativity in
our's. And it's rather sad how Uni sometimes treats the creativity of
students. I wouldn’t go so far to say „Law should be done for fun“, but
there should maybe more fun in doing it. :-) As I do legal history I get
quite my share of "But what's the practical use of this historical
approach?" To which I answer:"Maybe it's visible directly, but if you
look at the basics, the human basics, you can find out valuable things
that might help not only continue to do what we do, but to find better
ways." So this part is something I’m looking really forward to reading
again.

I also enjoyed the scenes with Blade and Kit a lot, and in general
learning what happened to the people from Dark Lord. (BTW how old is
Blade now?) And also the way Titus reacted to Claudias letter.

Bettina

--------------------------------------------------------------
Dickens, as you know, never got round to starting his homepage.

(Terry Pratchett, alt.fan.pratchett)


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