Re: Harry Potter and the Tome of Disappointment

1

oh, fairly satisfying, all in all. surely not the best of the seven, but not a fatal period; it does not mar all that was spoke before.

but snape's death was disappointingly underplayed. and as for the epilogue, hermione should have been appointed head of hogwarts, and harry really should have wound up with luna, rather than ginny.

other than those few complaints, though, i thought it was pretty good.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:34 PM
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I liked it, Becks, you troll.

Haters might enjoy the review linked here.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:40 PM
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It picked up once they got to Hogwarts. You know, after wandering around the woods for 200 pages.

Also, having bowls of memories explain the entire plot of book six doth irk. But I liked how she knocked Dumbledore off of his pedestal.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:45 PM
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The deleuxe edition has a Harry-Ron-Hermoine threesome. Recommended!


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:45 PM
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The plot points were there for an interesting book. Translating those plot points into a compelling read just didn't happen. The actual storytelling was phoned in.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:48 PM
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Gosh - I'm one of the spoilsports who thinks the series is wildly over-hyped, but I liked the finale.

One of the flaws of the series is that Rowling doesn't know how to kill off a character - but certainly Snape's death was handled in no more offhand a fashion than, say, Sirius's.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:48 PM
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3--
yeah, 'pensieve' could become pejorative slang for an especially lame way of getting backstory included. an updated 'as you know bob'.
'towards the end of the novel, the author seems to have realized that large issues remained unexplained, so he resorts to a pensieve of glaring artificiality...'


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:50 PM
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Maybe it reads better than it plays on tape.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:50 PM
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Oh, and on page 415 it's fun to play the insert-'wang'-for-'wand' game.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:51 PM
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Maybe it reads better than it plays on tape.

I'm guessing that this is part of Becks' problem. I imagine sitting through the wandering in the wilderness on tape would get very annoying, but it goes pretty quickly when you're reading.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:51 PM
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Wandering in the wilderness takes forever on tape.

Also, and I'm going to get scorched by you all I just know it, but I found the whole "Dumbledore and Harry talking in limbo" scene unmoving.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:53 PM
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I felt a bit like it was written with a movie in mind. A lot of the dialogue is just exposition and the sort of material a screen writer would clean up ("Hallows not Horcruxes." twinklelights.)

I think I'd have to put it as my second least favorite.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:54 PM
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My strategy of non-reading resulted in utter non-disappointment.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:54 PM
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Yes, it was intensely disappointing. On the other hand, most of my prejudices were gratified--it was just as inadequate, just as conventional, just as politically problematic as I'd expected. So not a total wash.

But Snape is dead! Theatrical and selfish, the abject remnant so important in defining everyone else's good qualities, possibly my favorite genre fiction character ever because so consistantly and unappologetically unpleasant....Snape is dead! And I am sad, with extra frowns.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:55 PM
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My strategy of non-reading resulted in utter non-disappointment.

Mine too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:55 PM
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12 - that was exactly our thoughts at the Flophouse.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:55 PM
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Oh, and on page 415 it's fun to play the insert-'wang'-for-'wand' game.

Am I the only person who was ok with the pensieve exposition (although disappointed in the content -- I would've been much more interested in Snape turning out to be a decent human being than Snape turning out to have a 40-year hard-on for Lily) but hated the King's Cross scene?


Posted by: J-Dub | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:58 PM
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I'm also annoyed that in Book 4 using Unforgivable Curses are unforgivable, and here's they're sort casually tossed off even while Harry remarks how, gee, Mabel, you really need to tap into your hatred to make it work properly.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:59 PM
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11--
no inclination to scorch here. i found that a very odd scene, too. the afterlife is a train station? voldemort's soul is a flayed baby? huh?
but the eschatology has always been a little scattered. look, this is the author who tried a logic puzzle in book one, and the clues she gives don't determine a unique answer. some kinds of detail she excels at. others she just doesn't work out very well.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:59 PM
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That sure was phoned the fuck in, wasn't it?

Yeah I thought so.


Posted by: Kieran | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 9:59 PM
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Probably what I'm most annoyed by is the fact that Rowling never came up with some more interesting spells for the dark wizards. Sometimes it seemed like the just should've installed "aveda kedavra" Turbo buttons on their wands.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:02 PM
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the afterlife is a train station?

I don't believe you were meant to think that the train station was the afterlife.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:04 PM
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"aveda kedavra"

The effect of this one is to turns you into a good looking, wrinkle-free corpse.


Posted by: Kier/an | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:04 PM
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22--
i don't know. in old westerns, the bad guys' guns usually just go 'bang'.

interesting spells are reserved for comical effects (people's body parts swell, odd accretions appear, slugs body fluids ha ha ha). and i think comical effects would almost certainly result if the dark wizards did anything like that. probably more sober just to stick with swift death.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:07 PM
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Unforgivable Curses are unforgivable

Sure, by Gilbert Fudge's Ministry of Magic.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:08 PM
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19: what's worse is that I'm sure that logic puzzle was cribbed from somewhere else because I'm pretty sure I remember solving something similar to it as an eight-year old. Some contain poison, one is the antidote, and the other are harmless.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:08 PM
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Snape was my favorite, too, and the idea of his character being defined in large part by his enduring affection for Lily seemed intuitively right. But the way it played out was a little disappointing. I was looking for more of their deep connection. I walked away thinking Snape was more or less a stalker...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:09 PM
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The way Harry perceives the "place" where he must choose between different destinations is as King's Cross station, a place from whence he previously embarked on a great adventure.

My biggest disappointment is that the lesson Harry got about Dumbledore wasn't "You shouldn't follow the advice of even the wisest and most well-intentioned people all of the time, even they'll get somethings wrong" but rather "Dumbledore wasn't a flawless person, but assuming he is always right is the best way to go."


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:09 PM
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I should add that I thought it was in general quite good, but that it would be insane to not complain about the time spent wandering around in the woods which was both boring and insufficiently motivated by either prior plot or character traits. In particular, the restriction Dumbledore gave on who Harry could tell about horcruxes wasn't all that strenuous in the first place, and certainly didn't say that he couldn't involve anyone in any aspect of the plan at all.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:12 PM
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26--
right, and you have to shuttle the missionaries across without ever putting them in the same boat with the hens, who would eat them unless they tell the truth. about whether they are knaves or not.
if she cribbed it, does that make its failure to determine a solution better or worse?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:12 PM
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I really thought there was going to be a build-up to 'Dumbledore and Voldemort share a weakness: relying on cleverness rather than trusting in friends' that Harry would realize and learn and grow.

I really wanted an Azkaban-style confrontation. Or to have Harry kill Snape and then find out he was wrong! Or something. Plus, what the hell. You don't need to kill people in order to win their wands away.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:15 PM
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Also, this whole Hallows business basically rested on Mr. Lovegood showing up in a certain robe at a Wedding Party.

Some great clues there, Dumbledore.

Also I kept thinking that at least Hermoine should have came up with a back-up plan in case the 3 of them go killed, and then no one else would know about the horcruxes and Voldemore was assured victory...seemed remarkable that they didn't bother about that.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:16 PM
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What you don't understand, Harry Potter—so let me explain it to you through dialogue—is that goblins are the sort of creature who may not appreciate it when you go back on your word! It is not enough that you rely on your instincts, or observe Griphook closely; there may not be time for a great deal of time for CGI when the moment you're planning arrives.

Furthermore, Jews are green.


Posted by: Bill Weasley | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:35 PM
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33--
okay, sure, the whole racial thing never got one wit better. poor dobbie dies the faithful negro to the end. harry is a miracle of magnanimity for seeing to his burial--a veritable huck finn of color-blind conscientiousness. it's so white of him that griphook starts to think maybe he's trustworthy, but, as bill points out, hp was actually planning to stiff him on a technicality all along.

no resolution of the house-elf situation. in the final battle they come in on the side of the good wizards, but only by turning into munchkins. and in the epilogue? presumably they're back to steppin and fetchin.

really a deep embarrassment in the panorama of j.k.r.'s creative soul.

yeah, alright, in my positive assessment of 7 i was forgetting all of that mess.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:43 PM
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No, remember the amazing payoff to Harry's dilemma (or more properly trilemma) about misleading Griphook when it turned out that whether or not he was being honest with Griphook was not just irrelevant, but redundantly irrelevant?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:43 PM
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Ha ha! Well then, little git is dead. O ho ho. Ha. Hm, you know, I don't mean to complain—of course I have had a great triumph!—it's just, well I don't know, I might have expected some sort of power surge. Some little tickle of green electricity or some such. Well [inhales deeply] then! Of course, I have just killed this child—of course I feel wonderful about it! Make no mistake. Someone check his body. Quite dead? No, no, I&mash;well, I suppose I could give it a quick curse, there you go—actually, though, this is just a bit unexpected. Oh . . . you there! Potter's gigantic companion? Why don't you take him up, then?


Posted by: Voldemort | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:46 PM
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uh--you mean the fact that the goblin-made sword has been magically attached to the sorting hat, by some sort of string like on idiot-mittens, so that even if harry had given it back to the goblins it would have popped out of the hat anyhow?

or are you referring to something else i skimmed past in haste, or am trying to forget?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:46 PM
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Fuck you, Harry Potter, you pitch the fucking tent tonight.


Posted by: Hermione Granger | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:48 PM
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37: Harry's dilemma was irrelevant because Griphook stole the sword before he could do anything, and redundantly irrelevant because of what you mention.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:54 PM
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39--
i suspect that in a certain stunted moral economy, the first helps to justify the second, i.e. griphook's proleptic theft is what justifies the wizarding-world's long-term theft.

damn. why you people got to mention all this stuff? and there i was liking the thing.

puts a new meaning on 'spoiler'.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:58 PM
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Apropos of nothing, sometimes I think of ogged as the Frylock-like figure of this blog. (I really do; the supplied link would be an extreme example.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 10:58 PM
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41: I can see that, but I don't think the linked clip is very representative of the characteristics of Frylock that ogged manifests.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:03 PM
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Alternatively, one could say that Unfogged is what happens when a whole bunch of Frylocks get together.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:03 PM
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I couldn't find a linked clip that manifested the dynamic I was really after. But I think 43 might nail it. With ogged as the master Frylock or something.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:08 PM
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This one's near it, but not quite there either.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:14 PM
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Ooh, this one's got Shake as gswift (PBUH).


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:20 PM
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For several of these unending HP threads, I've thought through, but as far as I can remember, never actually posted, comments generally to the effect of, "I don't have anything against kid lit but *what are all you people ON about with this Harry-fuckin-Potter,* but hey that's cull, diff'rent strokes, etc."

However, the fact that my first and unmistakable reaction to this post was schadenfreude probably tells me something about how I really feel about HP despite my noblest aspirations to open-mindedness. (And now here I've went and told everybody else.)


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:22 PM
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38: Harry pitches a tent most every night. He's seventeen, for Chrissake.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:29 PM
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I'm reading through ogged's link in two, and one of them brings up what sounds like a serious plot hole that I hadn't noticed (or it could be addressed and I've forgotten): there's a whole bunch of stuff about how 12 Grimmaud Place isn't safe after Dumbledore's death because everyone who Dumbledore had told about its location themselves became the secret-keeper, but doesn't this mean that Snape could tell the Death-Eaters it's location (at which point they'd be able to see it) and so protections against Snape himself aren't particularly relevant, and further that the fact Snape hasn't told the Death-Eaters should give Harry a reason to trust Snape?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:35 PM
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Fuck you, Harry Potter, you pitch the fucking tent tonight.

Play a little demure for me tonight and it might work out.


Posted by: Harry | Link to this comment | 07-31-07 11:40 PM
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49: See Moody's tongue-tying charm against Snape set at 12 Grimmaud, along with associated other things set to discourage his personal entrance.

The hat-sword connection isn't as random as it seems - there are only two known relics of Godric Gryffindor, and those are they.


Posted by: HC | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:02 AM
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49:doesn't this mean that Snape could tell the Death-Eaters it[]s location (at which point they'd be able to see it) and so protections against Snape himself aren't particularly relevant

51: discourage his personal entrance


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:09 AM
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The point of a tongue-tying charm would be to prevent him speaking of the topic.

So - that to prevent him letting others in, and a host of other things to keep him out. Clearer?


Posted by: HC | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:22 AM
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Thanks, but while that clears up what we're disagreeing about, I'm not sure it clears up the underlying problem (not being snarky anymore, really not sure). My reading of the text was that the tongue-tying charm causes your tongue to stick to the top of your mouth upon entering the house, not keeps Snape from saying it anywhere. But that's kind of a stupid reading on my part, so I should recheck.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:58 AM
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I'm pretty sure that's it testing "Are you Snape? No?" and backing off.


Posted by: HC | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:59 AM
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41–46: Funny, since I think of apostropher as a meatwad.

(What's that? There's a cartoon character with that same name?)


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 4:17 AM
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GOOD morning, 27! I actually didn't care for the whole "Snape's entire life boils down to an unrequited crush" thing (although the "stare into my eyes as I die, male-child-of-true-love" thing is admirably perverse) It seems like an inadequate explanation for a whole unpleasant and peril-ridden adult life, and I say this as someone who doesn't let go of things very well herself. But it's a rather good figure for "I'm refusing to let go of the events that I feel defined me forever in my adolescence", at least. I do like Snape's stubbornness--if anyone has been reading any of the resentiment/class envy stuff going on latterly amongst the Left-Leaning-Lacanians (K-Punk, Larval Subjects, etc), it's interesting to think of Snape in those terms.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 6:13 AM
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Fuck you, Harry Potter,

Everyone wants to fuck me, Granger. Didn't you know?


Posted by: Harry | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 6:24 AM
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i think jk just likes to kill people off for fun. there was no consequence to any of the important deaths. moody was the only person who was actually given the appropriate amount of time to be missed. i'm upset by this. she needs to write another book simply so we can all mourn. the death thing was played up way too much and kind of a huge letdown.

yeah, that's morbid.

i want to adopt albus, by the way.


Posted by: delectabledemocrat | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 7:41 AM
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57 -- And a very good morning to you, too, Frowner. I agree, the idea of it being all a mere unrequited crush is what left the whole Snape thing feeling little more than stalkerish to me. Personally, I had perhaps built up his character motivation as being more along the lines of: (1) I was a lonely and misunderstood child, the product of an abusive home; (2) Lily was the first person who truly understood and accepted me; (3) I totally fucked that up with the whole "mudblood" bit and the falling in with the wrong crowd thing; culminating in (4) this whole process is how I am struggling to deal with the pervasive sense of shame that has cast its long, long shadow over my life and which I have cultivated my stern and aloof exterior as a means of concealing. Along the same lines as the whole remorse as route to redemption idea, which I thought was a really nice moral for the story.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 7:49 AM
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I demand Frowner post her thoughts on Snape to kidlit.org! Immediately, if not sooner!

34 is probably my biggest disappointment, although the fact that JKR has no idea whatsoever how to set up a Find-the-Lucky-Charms mystery quest (seriously, we're relying on random happenstance with the eye symbol, and Harry having stumbled across the Magic Tiara of Magical Magic in like Book 2 without anyone knowing about it? It goes hand-in-hand with "Our Three Friends overhear plot points because they happen to be invisibly camped next to some relevant people in the whole giant woods that we'll tromp around forever", I guess. At least they weren't singing fucking Elvish songs.) is a close second. The circumstances of the Snape resolution were deeply lame but I was expecting worse.

Still and all, it was surprisingly deft. I was expecting JKR to botch it entirely, but I thought it was an uptick from the last few books.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 9:07 AM
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It was an uptick, actually--despite the camping interlude, much less bloated. And the plot, mostly, went somewhere. Still, if I were teaching a class about plot coupons, this book would be a primary example--I was rather incensed that the whole plot revolved around "magical objects from the dawn of time that we have never, ever mentioned before. Come to that, I felt cheated by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where that annoying lion (seriously, how can any christian-of-reasonable-intelligence want such a stupid Christ-symbol) is all "Oh, but the witch forgot the Deeper Magic, so I'm alive!" It's not even good theology.

Snarkout, I can cobble together a couple of hundred words on Snape later today, actually--I've been boring everyone around me with Snape-related-commentary for the past week, so I think I know what to say. But it will be okay if I drag in such poncy scraps of capital-T Theory as I know, right? Snape is such an Abject Remnant!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 9:28 AM
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Poncy scraps of capital-T Theory is what kidlit.org is made for. If we had mouseover text, we'd use that.

...seriously, how can any christian-of-reasonable-intelligence want such a stupid Christ-symbol

But... but... the lion of Judah!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 9:41 AM
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The lion of Judah wasn't such a sententious idiot---seriously, don't you just want to do exactly the opposite of everything Aslan recommends? If we had a Narnia/Harry Potter crossover piece of fanfiction, Aslan's annoyingness alone would be enough to explain the Death Eaters. (Who are poorly explained, if you ask me--why are we evil? Because we're evil! And we think, inexplicably, that "Death Eater" sounds hip-yet-alarming!)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 9:51 AM
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Furthering 62- and Surprise, Harry, you happen to be the descendant of one of these people from the dawn of time and you happen to be the one descendant who's inherited one of the magical objects! And... your mortal enemy inherited one of the others! Life's funny, huh?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:01 AM
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Who are poorly explained, if you ask me--why are we evil? Because we're evil!

This was one of the more irritating aspects of the series. Rowling goes out of her way to draw parallels between the childhoods of Harry, Snape, and Voldemort, without ever giving a satisfactory explanation for why each of them turned out the way they did. Yes, they each come from abusive homes, but Harry's still a normal kid while the first time we see young Tom Riddle, he's already torturing orphans and small animals. What the fuck?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:05 AM
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Isn't that pretty much how things go?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:08 AM
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66--
yeah, and that thing with iago hating on othello--totally unmotivated. guy's a hack.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:12 AM
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67: Er, no. Or at least, not in a book. Now, you might have some kind of Nouvelle Roman where you just described the actions of all three (that's something to think about: Harry Potter as re-written by Robbe-Grillet) and didn't draw any conclusions...or you might write a novel where you (despairingly or elatedly) conclude that there's no conclusions to be drawn, there but for fortune, everything is just the Vitalist Hoax, etc. Or you could write a deep, complex novel where you Try To Explain. Or...etc.

But if you write a sententiously moralizing series like the Harry Potter books and then you do absolutely nothing, totally leave out any explanation for why the Good Guys are Good and the Bad Guys are Bad...well then, it's a what-the-fuck moment and a sign of extremely sloppy personal politics.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:14 AM
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Rowling goes out of her way to draw parallels between the childhoods of Harry, Snape, and Voldemort, without ever giving a satisfactory explanation for why each of them turned out the way they did.

I thought the explanation Dumbledore gave Harry in Chamber of Secrets was a good one: "It is not our talents that show who we really are, but the choices we make" (Or something very close to that.) Perhaps seeing Harry struggle more with the choices would have been better?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:14 AM
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68: I will say that I don't think Othello is one of Shakey's best works.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:15 AM
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(70 was me)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:16 AM
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totally leave out any explanation for why the Good Guys are Good and the Bad Guys are Bad...well then, it's a what-the-fuck moment and a sign of extremely sloppy personal politics

I guess I just don't understand this. Some people are good, some people are bad, and being good is hard work. Seems like the books got this one exactly right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:20 AM
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The thing is, a kids' book--especially one with a fairly eventful plot--simply isn't going to have as much space for deep characterization and fancy philosophy as an adult novel or even a less eventful kids' one. But the Harry Potter books, seriously, are awash in really toxic received morality. (And I would add that I like 'em and think that there are some things (list upon request) that they do very well).

It's funny, one of the things that the books do well is to describe the crumbling of the social/political landscape and the terror and disorganization that's caused thereby; the suffering of the characters in the later books is fairly real to me because I've seen them in so many settings over many both literal and novelistic years. That's why I wish that Rowling could be less pat in her explanations; it's terrible to think of the many dead (and terrible to think of Snape's pointless and suffering-filled life, if you want my honest opinion) but when Rowling tries to articulate that, it's all clunk-clunk, clunk-clunk.

I do read these books right now against my reading about the Iraq war, I admit, and something of my horror at the daily suffering there carries over; I see the final confrontation and the numerous dead (well, numerous for a small Wizarding world) and I think about how there are real people, real even as you and I, facing daily terror and routine bad news.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:22 AM
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71--
not my favorite either. murky racial politics again? cassio is really gilderoy lockhart.
69 though answers my complaint--it's not that *every* author owes us transparent explanations of the origins of evil, it's that jkr in particular took on the task of doing this, by offering psychological explanations of many other things.
e.g., if we're going to go on and on about how mother's love saved harry's ass and is the most powerful thing in the world, then at least give tom riddle an analogous cause of his perversity.

right. a demonic denying mother as cause of the evil lord's radical evil. maybe i'm just as glad she didn't run with that one.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:22 AM
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73: And which one are you, Mister Troll-Your-Own-Blog?

Some people are good and some people are bad? Huh. Maybe if I enumerate every event in my life I'll be able to figure out which one I am. But let me tell you, if it turns out that I'm bad, y'all had better watch out!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:26 AM
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The differences seem to be based on their relationship between the magical and non-magical worlds. Harry and Voldemort are both half blood, Snape is 1/4. Voldemort rejects all things non-magical and forms the death eaters, who are driven by the idea of racial purity; Harry accepts the magical but doesn't reject the nonmagical. The reasons for their different reactions are debatable (One of Harry's best friends is muggle-born? Harry's parents didn't reject him but were killed by the purity obsessed?) but there are several reasonable explanations. Snape is drawn to the death eaters, but he loves a muggle born, so he's between the extremes.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:27 AM
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77: But that doesn't really explain why which does each, you know. And where we see explanations, they're so trite as to be implausible, like the Snape Crush. Really, an unrequited crush does NOT explain twenty exceedingly unpleasant years and a personality like warmed-over-lutefisk.

That's why the books are an exceedingly good fit for slash fiction (or one of the reasons, anyway)--the explanations for things are intense and unsubtle, and everyone is an obsessive about things that actually, real people don't get permanently worked-up over.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:31 AM
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77--
bravo, sp! you might be on to something there. (we'll see if it satisfies frowner).

how reassuring to think it's all about us, after all. fuck them wizards; if they play nice with us muggles, then they turn out alright, but if they don't respect us muggles, then they're for the chop.

it's almost as though 'good' and 'evil' are terms being applied here by a less powerful race in order to hide its resentment of a more powerful race. don't tell friedrich!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:31 AM
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Some people are good and some people are bad? Huh.

Laugh it up, frowny-face. Back in my summer day-care working days, I met lots of two and three year-olds and some of them were sweet and good, and some were already evil, mendacious little fuckers. And don't you know any kids who just seem to have been born evil? You, Frowner, of all people?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:31 AM
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On Othello: Iago actually did have a pretty canonical and believable motivation, right? Envy. (A modern reader could add, "envy coloured by xenophobia" -- probably not what the Bard had in mind, but it works.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:34 AM
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80: I know people who seem evil, yes. I know people I'd like to believe are evil. But--and I know I'm getting repulsively earnest--I don't think people are anywhere near that simple. When I've had the chance to closely consider awful people, I haven't found them anything like as simple as that.

Especially three-year olds! What did they do that was so evil? Biting and hitting? Mere curiousity and poorly subsumed anxiety. Or really, what do we know about what motivates a toddler?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:36 AM
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Hey, live in your happy fantasy world if you want.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:36 AM
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Some people are good, some people are bad, and being good is hard work.

I don't think this is exactly right. I think it's more that there is the potential for good and bad in all of us, and we have to choose and keep choosing -- which is the hard work of it. Snape is a good representative of this. At one time, he chose "bad" -- to become a Death Eater. Later, he chose "good" -- to become a double-agent. The Malfoys return to the fold at the end -- but then, no one is quite sure if they belong there. Dumbledore was apparently once a budding fascist.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:37 AM
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82: Aren't toddlers motivated primarily by lust for their opposite-sex parent?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:37 AM
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Goddamit. I knew you bastards were getting all digressive in the spoiler thread. Like you have to have read the latest Harry Potter to have an opinion on the innateness of evil? Huh? Huh?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:38 AM
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81--
it's the disproportion of the response that is unexplained, as well as the near erotic intensity of iago's enjoyment. envy does some work, clearly, but there are many cases of envy that would make pretty untragic narratives. ("and so i, so i, spilled some beer on his new uniform is what i did! and then din't he look a prat! and din't we larf, too!" not tragical.)


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:40 AM
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Not reading the comments—spoilers, don't you know!—but can an audiobook properly be called a "tome"? PERHAPS NOT.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:46 AM
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84: It's precisely this that seems so pat. "You-the-individual must Work To Be Good and be Ever Mindful of your Choices", this radical individualism that is articulated directly by Rowling.

It's undercut a bit with Snape, which is why he's the most interesting character; we see something of the dynamic between him and James/Sirius/Lupin, how it's not just a matter of Personal Choices. Snape is poor, he's ugly, he's awkward, and he's probably dreadfully hard to deal with; a gang of boys cements their own friendship by baiting him; he can't stop playing into it and then can't let go of his hatred. And moreover, the school fails him. He's set on by a group of bullies, honestly, and they really are never called to account. He's the bad one for holding a grudge, the crazy one--and that's probably mostly because he's so uncharming and Sirius and James are so beloved. The thing is, Hogwarts needs a Snape--that is, Snape is the unacceptable outsider against whom everyone (or at least all the good guys) can bond together, either in rage or in pity. Snape is used. Snape is the product of an environment where a permanent outsider/scapegoat/abject remnant is needed. The fact that he's annoying and difficult doesn't change this.

It's a system, not a series of Personal Choices.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:56 AM
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89: To continue: I'm not just making this up because I'm an ex-nerd, either; there's a reasonable body of educational research about how school environments generate roles and people to fill them (stuff I read when I got my teaching certificate). The clown, the goat, the popular boy: the system has a lot of force. I have the book somewhere at home--I can try to look for it, since I don't remember the title at all and haven't read it in about five years.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:00 AM
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82- "What did they do that was so evil? Biting and hitting?"
Yeah, but there were only 50 of them, so I took care of them no problem.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:03 AM
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64: There's a graphic novel (okay, comic book) about a bunch of fairy tale characters living in Manhattan after their worlds were overrun by a big bad guy, and one of the comments is that no one really panicked when it was just Narnia that was run over because that lion was so holier-than-thou anyway.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:10 AM
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92: Although a lot of those comics are pretty graphic nowadays, yeah. I think I read about that and it sounded interesting. Do you recall the title? (Weirdly, although I read comics myself my mother has also gotten into them, or at least the fancy-pants ones--her vision is going, sadly, but she can still read comics more readily than novels.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:17 AM
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87: Shakes did love his moustache-twirling villains, 'tis true. Oddly enough, the tacked-on modern explanation solves both problems. (Too bad one can't do this for Richard III or Aaron from Titus Andronicus.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:24 AM
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It's called something like Fables in Exile.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:34 AM
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I'm not reading this (SPOILERS! AAAGH!), I just wanted to whine that I'm not done yet, and this isn't fair.

Not really adding value, I suppose.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:35 AM
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Richard III's evil was not without explanation: basic ambition, right? Not so much different from Nixon, except with the killing.

Iago and Aaron are just psychopaths. Which do exist in real life.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:40 AM
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97--

and i think 'psychopath' is a perfectly useful diagnosis.

but it's also pretty mute as far as causation goes. really doesn't tell us much more than 'some people are bad.'

which, again, may well be how the world is, and may be fine in some authors. but other authors offer to make the world rationally explicable, and then don't pull it off.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:53 AM
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or rather:
offer to make *their* world rationally explicable.
i'm not holding it against anybody that they can't make the actual, irl world comprehensible. but part of the point of creating fictions is to allow you to create mini-worlds that are more comprehensible, and let you gesture and explanations of the big world. like the miniature models that inventors used to have to submit for patent applications--proofs of concept.

anyhow--this is the part of frowner's charge that i agree with: jkr offers us a lot of explanation in other parts, and then when it comes to voldemort she says, oh, he's a psychopath, not much to say really.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 11:57 AM
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Well, but Iago may be rationally explicable. Maybe he seizes on Othello because his hatred needs some tangible outlet. Most people would need more than some minor slight, but Iago doesn't. He just needs an excuse.

There are people like this; hopefully not very many. I think Shakes gives us more than just "Iago is bad" but helps us see how he operates and thinks. His rules for action wouldn't be our rules for action (I hope) but they do exist.

I don't know what this means for Rowling.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:02 PM
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100-
means she should have made dobbie the central hero of the work, and made harry a devious conniving envy-driven little fuck who plots to undermine him.
woulda been a much better book, really. may already be written that way in the house-elf archives.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:04 PM
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Richard III's evil was not without explanation: basic ambition, right?

IIRC, the explanation for Richard III's evil is that he's pissed off about being deformed ("...but I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks...") and wants to make life miserable for everyone else. Pretty thin even by Elizabethan standards, but then the play in question was mainly propaganda anyway.

Iago's not just a psychopath, I don't think. And Aaron really is the classic example of The Villain!, with no discernible motive other than being a Moor, so "psychopath" doesn't quite work. (Indeed, he talks at exhaustive length about being The Villain! any time he's onstage, just in case the audience is in any doubt.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:05 PM
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Like that whole silence unto death thing? Really messed up. Maybe what Shakes is doing with this role is just posing the question: how do people get like this? what motivates them? And leaving lots of room for uncertainty.

Whereas Rowling doesn't have as much room for uncertainty. Cliff-hangers, sure, but at the end of the day, she wants to give you answers. And she wants to give them clearly, and that doesn't make for great fiction. You end up with compelling cartoon characters at best. But hey, nothing wrong with a good cartoon.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:08 PM
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93: It's called Fables.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fables_%28Vertigo%29


Posted by: Benjamin Disraeli | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:08 PM
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101: I will share with you my alternate-narrative Harry Potter theory that I made up while walking to work the other day: History is famously written by the victors. The whole Harry Potter narrative is given from the point of view of the victorious Ministry (and a nasty spying fascist-populist bunch they are, too), but the story is really a story of civil war--probably between two unpleasant entities using unpleasant tactics, but there you have it. The Wizarding world is undemocratic and authoritarian, and there's obviously some missing factor in the books that explains why the Weasleys are poor, Stan Shunpike has a " 'ere, gov'nor!" comic accent, etc. So how about this: a disaffected populace is mobilized by horrible Voldemort for his own ends, which are power and money, perfectly understandably (aristocracy and workers/peasantry against the middle class; not historically implausible as a mobilizing device) and the bourgie Ministry fights back! After they win, of course, they'll split up the spoils, keep the surveillance and enjoy their house elf service. The Weaselys are just, essentially, naive proles who've been co-opted.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:11 PM
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Wasn't most of book six trying to provide a plausible explanation for Voldemort being a psychopath? Orphan boy, didn't know love, didn't understand love, magic was a way out where he could feel powerful and like someone important, desire to defeat death, then came fame, drugs, and death eaters?

I wonder if the Snape-loves-Lily-but-never-grew-past-fifth-grade story would seem more plausible to a twelve-year-old. I have a friend who's insisted through most of the books that Snape is right: Harry is an arrogant little brat that the other teachers favor. But JKR seemed to move away from that to try to give Snape more of a reason to be the way he was, and the result seems to be that he never grew past a schoolboy grudge... except that he did enough to try to save the Potter family and seems to have grown up in other ways. It makes Snape complex, but a little bit unbelievable. Smart enough to leave the Death Eaters, but not smart enough not to get in a pissing contest with an 11-year-old?


I think there's a real break between books 1-3 and 4-7, and I'm not sure a lot of the stuff that makes sense in the first three carries over as well.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:15 PM
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105--
well, snape is pretty clearly trotsky.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:16 PM
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The series makes a lot more sense if you picture Ian McKellen playing Tom Riddle and Patrick Stewart playing Dumbledore.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:47 PM
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I always pictured Will Smith as Voldemort.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 12:51 PM
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Because you think he has untapped depths as an actor?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:07 PM
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Because he wants to see the Death Eaters gettin' jiggy wit' it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:17 PM
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Because Will Smith kills people.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:23 PM
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Patrick Stewart with long flowing white hair?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:24 PM
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With laughter and sweetness.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:25 PM
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Will Smith was good in Six Degrees of Separation.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:31 PM
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113: Well, Stewart certainly has Voldemort's shiny look, but I just think he couldn't slither too well. And while we know McKellen can do the "wise old bearded wizard" thing, I think his Magneto was too good to waste.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:41 PM
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Patrick Stewart with long flowing white hair?

He's done it before.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:44 PM
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You tryin to hex on me? Don't be silly.


Posted by: The Fresh Prince of Darkness | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:44 PM
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I like to imagine ReRun from What's Happening!! as Voledmort. And Pat Harrington Jr. as Dumbledore, and Valerie Bertinelli as Harry. Not while reading the books mind you, more while taking baths.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:48 PM
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You're all confirming my impression that Harry Potter books are sort of the Monday Night Football of literature: something you sit through so that you can talk about it the next day.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:49 PM
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People sit through Monday Night Footbal?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:54 PM
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120: More or less....or at least, they're a framework for a lot of different discussions held with varying degrees of seriousness. The other night, in fact, I stumbled across a website (can't find it right now, though) with works of Harry Potter scholarship--not, say, comparing the books with Enid Blyton, or discussing New Labor and the economics of the Wizarding world, or trying to pinpoint what Zizek would say Rowling had to say about the Real, but works of exegesis interpreting the precise nuances of relations between characters, how spells work, etc--with quotes and seriousness and everything. It was...disorienting. Kind of cute, but disorienting.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 1:58 PM
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People sit through Monday Night Footbal?

Communist.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:06 PM
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She means that she puts on her cheerleader outfit and does her routine, apo. Geez.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:07 PM
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JKR doesn't do innate good and evil, I think; it's more that we are the sum of our decisions -- the making of Horcruxes being the ultimately evil version, the self-sacrifices of Lily and Harry being the ultimately good version.

There's a kind of modern-mom voice in that Dumbledore passage about choices -- that's what they teach all the modern parents to say -- not "you're a bad boy" but "you made a bad choice." And the measure of a bad choice in modern-mom morality is how it affects others. Did you make your friend feel bad? Did you make a mess for your teacher to clean up? etc.

Same in JKR. Good choices = selflessness; making good choices makes us better people. Bad choices = selfishness; making bad choices makes us worse people.

Nobody's ever all everything, except maybe Voldemort, and even he may have had some potentially redemptive qualities at one point. All the good guys do selfish things now and again, Harry not excepted. Sometimes the bad guys do the right thing. Any claim to moral complexity the series has, belongs here.

For related reasons, I had no problems with the lack of vocational information in the epilogue. What has Harry learned? That fame is bunk, that Achievement is bunk, that what matters is family, and you should define family as broadly as you can.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:13 PM
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That fame is bunk, that Achievement is bunk, that what matters is family, and you should define family as broadly as you can.

This is nice. Can I put you in my family slo? And I want you to consult the rollover text when answering.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:22 PM
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Except fame and achievement aren't bunk, and family can be a mixed blessing. It's the sappy pieties that get me, less because they are sappy pieties than because they are crippling. "Oh, be sure to be selfless, because that is Good"--if you believe that, you'll be a sucker; if you dismiss it totally you'll be a monster. Universal dehistoricized platitudes--yuck! The good things in Harry Potter are the specificities--the various Ministers of Magic, the specific laws, the possibilities, cliques, class structure; the way the world falls apart under a steady barrage of violence. I never find Rowling more disappointing than when she decides to Explain and gives a stupid, pat explanation. And in fact, the flippy-floppiness about the Unforgivable Thingummies results from pat moralizing; she has to make them Unforgiveable at the beginning so that we know that People Who Use Them Are Big Scary Bad People; but then suddenly they're not.

Agamben's States of Exception could be usefully brought to bear here.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:23 PM
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except one of the few things we *do* see in the epilogue is that hp is still hugely famous, so much so that perennial side-kick ron has to get laughs by pretending the adulation is directed at him. yes, i'm sure he would still find that a source of great amusement one quarter-century later.

and the only way hp got a broadly defined family was by secretly killing off tonks and lupin, with his bare hands, just so he could adopt their kid.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:25 PM
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In subsequent interviews, Rowling has said that Harry and Ron are now Aurors. And that she'll probably write a Harry Potter encyclopedia with backstories and where-they-wound-ups.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:28 PM
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She means that she puts on her cheerleader outfit and does her routine, apo. Geez.

That was shared in confidence, Ogged. Last time I confide in you.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:29 PM
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129--
ho ho! interesting--so they wind up mid-level functionaries, working for the man. or the wizard.
alright, fair enough. i hadn't seen that. that certainly substantiate's slol's reading of her big message. (not that frowner's going to like it any better).


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:32 PM
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Harry becomes an Auror; Ron shelves his dreams and works in retail.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:33 PM
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What matters is family, and you should define family as broadly as you can.

AWWWWWWWWWWWWW. (sniff)


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:37 PM
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Harry, Ron, Hermione:

"Harry and Ron utterly revolutionized the Auror Department," Rowling said. "They are now the experts. It doesn't matter how old they are or what else they've done."

Meanwhile, Hermione, Ron's wife, is "pretty high up" in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, despite laughing at the idea of becoming a lawyer in "Deathly Hallows."
"I would imagine that her brainpower and her knowledge of how the Dark Arts operate would really give her a sound grounding," Rowling said.
Harry, Ron and Hermione don't join the same Ministry of Magic they had been at odds with for years; they revolutionize it and the ministry evolves into a "really good place to be."
"They made a new world," Rowling said.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:37 PM
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Rowling Interview. Luna becomes a nudist, apparently.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:38 PM
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134

the ministry evolves into a "really good place to be."

i think much of my ambivalence about jkr could be summed up by reflecting on that line


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:40 PM
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Doesn't satisfy Frowner, except to gratify my prejudices. I suspect that the "reforms" perpetuated by that annoying Boy Who Lived will be very similar to those perpetuated by those of the '68 generation who went into respectable politics--nice for nice middle class people to feel nice about themselves, but that's about it. Especially since we still know that house elves love their servitude.

I don't think that's Rowling's fault, precisely...it's just muddle-headed.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:44 PM
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it's just muddle-headed.

Or possibly...muggle-headed!


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 2:58 PM
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This is nice. Can I put you in my family slo?
AWWWWWWWWWWWWW. (sniff)

Hey, don't you read this blog? Unfogged is love.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 3:01 PM
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I suspect that the "reforms" perpetuated by that annoying Boy Who Lived will be very similar to those perpetuated by those of the '68 generation who went into respectable politics--nice for nice middle class people to feel nice about themselves, but that's about it.

What kind of reforms are you referring to here?


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 3:24 PM
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I have a friend who's insisted through most of the books that Snape is right: Harry is an arrogant little brat that the other teachers favor.

How is this wrong? One of my main issues with how JKR shaped the narrative is that she made Harry into a rich, overprivileged jock while still expecting the reader to grant Harry the moral authority of the oppressed. There are stabs towards the direction of Harry's self-awareness — him dealing with the fact that he's rich and Ron isn't, for instance — but the slobs-vs.-snobs schtick she's going for doesn't work well when the chief outcast from Camp Winnepesaukee is richer, more famous, more popular, and a less motivated student than the nominal villains.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 5:04 PM
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I didn't say he was wrong! I just put it out there because I hadn't heard it all that often. And I wonder if, back before the series got away from Rowling, we might have discovered that what looked like evil evil Snape was skewed because our narrator is only eleven.

137: Oh Frowner, Frowner, how you live up to your nickname! Harry Potter and the endless bureaucracy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 5:17 PM
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11 ... but I found the whole "Dumbledore and Harry talking in limbo" scene unmoving.

My theory was that "Dumbledore" is actually the aged Dave Bowman.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 5:37 PM
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the aged Dave Bowman

you misspelled "Bowie"


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 5:42 PM
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I still can't believe that she wrote a 700+ page book and still managed to make so little of it interesting. I mean it wouldn't have taken much more than a good editor and some decent plot to fix this. And speaking of the editing, her sentence structure should be taken out behind the barn and shot through the head to put it out of its misery. Seriously. Some friends and I read the book aloud to one another the weekend it came out and the level of sheer frustration invoked by her ridiculous run-on sentences and chronic abuse of colons and semi-colons was maddening.

And as a die hard Snape fan I was hideously disappointed that it all came down to him wanting to get into Lily's pants. Knew it since book one, of course, when he asks Harry about Asphodel. But I was really hoping that maybe somewhere along the way that he wanted redemption because Voldemort was clearly a sub-standard leader and functional moron with a penchant for killing off anyone who happened to piss him off from one minute to the next. That might sound appealing to a bitter 17 year old with anger issues, but to a 30 something man, much less so one would think.


Posted by: Ellie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 6:06 PM
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I really resented Dumbledore's insistence that Harry is an exceptionally good and selfless person, because to me it really felt like authorial fiat: "He IS selfless and noble and successful because he is especially good, YES HE IS TOO!" I don't buy it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 6:53 PM
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Didn't this happen at the beginning of book 6?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 1-07 10:36 PM
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94: Jasper Fforde has a great theory about what happened to Titus Andronicus.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 5:28 AM
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Ah yes, that once gentle comedy of manners. Hopefully Wuthering Heights is spared the same fate...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 6:52 AM
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Wait, listening to it on tape counts as reading the book?

Do you really get to give a book review for something you heard on tape?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:12 AM
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Another thing:

Do you people really expect great literature out of a 700 page book written so that children can read it?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:15 AM
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the last two comments were me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:16 AM
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Also:

There are bats that live under my skin but the government doesn't care.

Why don't you people care?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:16 AM
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you know, there's a whole big deal in the NYT today about how shocking it is that people in book clubs sometimes listen to the tape instead.

i think the prejudice against books on tape is a ridiculous fastidiousness.

i'm a book guy, okay? i read them and write them for a living, when i'm not reading journal articles and student papers. most of the books i read are so obscure that no one is ever going to read them out loud in private, much less put them on tape. when i want to get up close and personal with a text, i do it on paper so that i can mark the hell out of it.

but...for book clubs? we're talking about novels here, entertainment, something people do for fun. lighten up, you nyt jerks.

if somebody wants to listen to hp7 on a tape, they may well get more out of it than i did in my four-hour sprint through it. it's harder to skim, for instance. and the reader actually had to think through every intonation and inflection, which silent readers do not always do. there's an argument to be made that many auditors get *more* than many readers.

mostly it just seems like one of those ridiculous nyt sibboleths.

sorry: ssss-ibboleths.

damn, i can never say that quite right: jibboleths.

oh fuck it. anyhow, it's silly to diss books on tape.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:20 AM
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also--

you know that the hallucinatory experience of believing that there are ants crawling on your skin is called "formication"?

what a difference a letter makes.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:21 AM
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Kid:

I didnt diss books on tape.

I dissed reviewing a book after listening to it on tape.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:22 AM
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156 was me again.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:24 AM
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156--
that still you, will?
even here, i'd say there are reviews and there are reviews.

if i'm reviewing for a journal, of course i read the damn thing. (again, the stuff i write reviews about never makes it onto tape).

but for giving my opinion on a blog? or even writing a review on a blog?
perfectly adequate.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:24 AM
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Do you people really expect great literature out of a 700 page book written so that children can read it?

No, not really, although there are many examples of great stories aimed at children out there. But given all the hype and praise the HP series has recieved from all manner of adults, falling back on the "lighten up, it's just a kid's book!" line can be kind of annoying. What's the problem with examining it critically, anyway?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:28 AM
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Kid:

When I read your review in the journal, I am not going to write a 5 second post mocking you or giving you a hard time.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:31 AM
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I think it's fine to listen to books on tape, but I can't imagine doing it and actually retaining the information efficiently.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:32 AM
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Me again.

M/t

I do not disagree that this book could have been much better when you consider all of the resources available to create an amazing book.

I guess sometimes you just cannot buy artistic success.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:34 AM
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149: Hopefully no one else will be forced to read Withering Blights and the characters' fates can remain as they should have been in the first place: solely of interest to themselves.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 7:47 AM
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What kind of reforms are you referring to here?

The ones that Rowling alleges that Harry Potter, Auror, will make at the Ministry in order for it to be a "nice place" or whatever. I personally find that a bit chilling...

Seriously, we have a book where two of the main characters' big ambition is to join, essentially, the FBI. And an FBI that won't even have the excuse of an ongoing internal conflict to justify its existance.

(Now, okay, I know that there's no there there--Rowling isn't charting a world that actually exists; if she doesn't write it, it simply isn't there. But I find it both funny and disturbing that what seem to be the worldbuilding rules are so...I dunno, creepily, unconsciously conservative.

And if you're thinking "Oh, Frowner, why do you expect so much from a kids' book?", I recommend that you go and read some childrens' literature. Dianna Wynne Jones, for example--very popular with adults and children (not on the Rowling level, admittedly) and very concerned with political questions, especially the question of intervention. I particularly recommend the absolutely hi-LAR-ious Dark Lord of Derkholm, where there's a whole world in the thrall of a man who forces everyone to host tourists on pretend quests to save the the world from the evil, evil Dark Lord. (Who will have to play the Dark Lord this year? And how will he submit his expenses?). Or Deep Secrets, which is also very funny and pretty much pro-UN, pro-interventionist and liberal. DWJ is really smart and easy to read and funny and also a bit moralizing and didactic in patches--she's an excellent point of comparison for Rowling because she's not a much more difficult writer (and in fact, all her books are now back in print, mostly because of the vogue for fantasy generated by HP.) )


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:08 AM
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Some people like and respect the FBI, Frowner.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:16 AM
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165: You really think sucking up like that is going to save you from the detention camp?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:24 AM
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Holy crap, people. What a bunch of haters you are.

I liked it.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:12 PM
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I liked it too, Matt.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:17 PM
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Thanks, Ogged. You and me against the world.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 08- 3-07 6:42 AM
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I'll sign up for the suckers club too.

I liked the book.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 3-07 7:00 AM
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