far too many thoughts on why DWJ is better than JKR, was Re:DWJ inIsraeli newspaper
meparks at mtholyoke.edu
meparks at mtholyoke.edu
Sat Feb 21 13:39:31 EST 2004
Quoting Ika <blake at gaudaprime.co.uk>:
> Me, then Minnow:
> >>I have a tendency to be
> >>reduced to a state of incoherent rage by Rowling. I feel about her like
> >>Derk feels about Mr Cheney, and for much the same reasons. I'll try and
> >>articulate this a bit better when I've thought about it some more.
> > OK, I'll contain my soul in patience! :-) It wasn't very urgent, just
> > slight surprise that it was so strong an emotion about what sounds to me
> > like a fairly trivial matter. (I mean, the books sound more and more
> > trivial the more I'm told about them, and I don't think they are actually
> > going to destroy the world from pure greed, are they?)
> <darkly> You'd be surprised. <g> There's a wonderful cartoon by Alison
> Bechdel of a competition in which one of the events is to "deliver an
> impromptu critique of misogyny in popular culture", and the competitor in
> the picture is saying "... And in summation, I think 'The Little Mermaid'
> has done more to undermine the work of feminism than all other forces of
> patriarchy combined." I think of it often when I hear myself talking about
I just read The Da Vinci Code and I was _entirely_ unsettled when he associated
this movie with pagan goddess-power. Admittedly he didn't say how, but the
_only_ way I saw that working was with the overthrow of Ursula, which could
mimic a supposed overthrow of goddess-based powers (?), so. . . I'm not sure
why Dan Brown used that as an example. (But as an afficiando of noncanonical
gospels in general, I had more than few qualms with some of his assumptions.)
> The Derk-Mr Chesney (thanks for the spelling tip!) analogy comes about
> because the books work in a certain way. Like people have said, they don't
> hold together on examination: for some fairly obvious examples, time
> travel is not only possible but common enough that the 13/14yo Hermione,
> who is a neurotic overachiever, is given a Time-Turner in order that she
> can work what is probably an illegal number of hours a day for an adult
> worker, and take twice the usual number of academic classes in a day.
> (When she sleeps/eats/etc is not addressed. Nice job, Dumbledore.)
> Similarly, there is a potion called Veritaserum which is an infallible
> truth drug. However, several of the books rely on race-against-time or
> wrongful-imprisonment plots - and in the most recent book, where Someone
> Dies, it's not even suggested that they go back in time to save him.
> All of which isn't a particularly big deal - I read books with plot holes
> and blind spots the whole time. They're not as satisfying as the books
> with "complex, organic universes" others have mentioned, but sometimes
> that doesn't matter. But what it means is that the reader is very
> dependent on Rowling, because if you *think* about what's going on at any
> given moment, it doesn't make any sense. So you basically have to be a
> very passive reader, believing what Rowling tells you.
Yes. I agree. And this is why I think that the books have _so_ much
fanfiction. There's a Tough Guide of Harry Potter fanfic on fanfiction.net (at
least there was some time ago), and if you look through it, I believe you'll
see that one of things used most often is the idea of 'wandless magic.' That
is to say, a huge percentage of fanfic writers have noticed that there is
utterly no logic or theory to JKR's magic. THIS DRIVES ME CRAZY. Whhhhy does
flicking your wrist a certain way while saying 'Wingardium Leviosa' in the
right way make something levitate? Where is the magic coming from? Is it
intrinsic? do wizards share a genetic ability to tap into ley lines? Is their
magic a product of being related to nonhuman races (another big fanon
convention is that Draco Malfoy is part veela ;). IF I was ever going to write
Harry Potter fanfic, (which I have no intention of doing) it would be to
explore the missing theory behind the overly convenient magic.
> Hence, incoherent rage in the manner of Derk. Because the books make
> *visible* a wider landscape/history/society, then summarily dismiss or
> annul it. For example, Hermione campaigns to free the slaves on whose
> unpaid labour the whole wizarding economy seems to be based: this is good.
> But *every single* sympathetic character explains to her that the slaves
> are *happier* being enslaved, it's "their nature"; and the slaves who
> *are* freed conform to the worst stereotypes of pro-slavery American Civil
> War writing - they can't cope with their freedom, they worry about their
> old masters the whole time, they become alcoholics - as well as speaking
> in a similar pidgin English. Further, Hermione, whose *only* character
> trait is intelligence, suddenly loses any sign of it and insists on
> calling her organization "SPEW" - the oddly Victorian-sounding 'Society
> for the Protection of Elvish Welfare'. So the idea that slavery is bad is
> raised, and then, instead of being argued against by the characters or
> demonstrated through the narrative, it's just, sort of, displaced and
> ignored. It's as if you were on a tour with Chesney, and then you stopped
> off to chat with Derk or Mara or the Horselady - and then you went back on
> the tour as if nothing had happened.
> So I don't think the books are complex, I think they're hopelessly muddled.
> Love, Ika
> PS: There's a compressed and fairly ranty article by me on Harry Potter
> and Capitalism at
> http://www.barbelith.com/cgi-bin/articles/00000013.shtml. My girfriend and
> I also gave a joint paper on similar themes (but with added Guy DeBord and
> a slightly funnier title) at the ARPF conference last November, which
> isn't published anywhere but if anyone's interested I could email them a
> copy if Jenny doesn't mind, which she won't.
I'd love to see this ;)
In the link, you brought up one of the other Big Big problems I have with HP--
the fact that the kids at Hogwarts get sorted into houses that shape their
lives when they are only eleven. How many of you think that you were well-
formed enough at eleven to know what you wanted to be like for the rest of your
life? I was a major brat when I was eleven, and could have well enough ended
up a Slytherin because I was sneaky and manipulative--had I done so, I'm not
sure I would have ever grown out of it.
so yeah--while I do enjoy the books, I think there are large problems. . .
lizzie, who is still amazed that JKR has more money than the Queen of England.
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