Tuesday, June 25, 2013

guest post: Neglected Husband

A Plea for the Mundane 
What are you doing in my subconscious, Harry Potter, and when do you intend to leave?  

   Alright, I figured now would be a good time to express my reasons for why the Harry Potter Book Club must end. Now. It’s a monster that must be tamed. Even Hagrid couldn’t handle this. It’s one big SPOILERisk that’s SPOILERing my life with it’s big, mesmerizing, SPOILERS. And yes, all these reasons concern ME; my ego is at stake and since the internet just sorted me into Gryffindor I feel I have a certain reputation to uphold…

1) I had a dream where I was, well, um… okay, so I was Harry Potter. But only briefly, then I was someone else in the same setting so don’t hold it against me. BTW, (and this is totally cool) I could perform the accio spell with no wand; see Ron and Hermione were trying to hide my wand from me and I wasn’t in the mood for games so I just said it and my wand came whizzing out from their hiding place and Hermione looked really annoyed like I had no sense of fun but I think Ron was pretty impressed and… um, anyway, yeah.

2) I drew Dumbledore on a place-mat while waiting for my food to be brought. Seriously. In child’s crayon. IN PUBLIC. What have you done to me?

3) My co-workers (masons for those of you who might not know. Some might even consider them manly) have taken to saying “wingardium leviosa” when sending anything to various levels of the staging on our hauling rope. And yes, someone (actually no, not me) usually responds “it’s ‘wingardium levi-OH-sa’, not ‘wingardium levio-SAH’”. This is all the truth. The sad, sad truth.

4) I can’t help but picture a tired, battle-weary Harry singing whenever the Christian pop song “Worn” (by Tenth Avenue North)comes on the radio. “I’m tired, I’m WORN…”. Okay this started pre-discussion, but not much pre, just a little pre so I’m lumping it in.

5) I don’t say “Hi honey, I’m home. How was your day? I love you so much it hurts…” anymore when I get home. Instead “Anything else in the discussion?” comes tumbling out of my mouth and I sulk when the answer is ‘no’.

That’s all I’ve got for now but isn’t it enough?

-The Neglected (Red-And-Gold-Wearing) Husband

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Messy Love and Hidden Moons

I don’t write much, or well in the summer-time. The beeches have bright green leaves that rustle softly, the days last forever and the nights are lonely - with an early setting moon and a wide expanse of lost little stars. I’m restless in the summer - not as I used to be, for long stretches of road and someplace different - now I’m restless for small things: toes in the stream, blackberry season, time to myself, and clothes that I can love every bit as much as I loved that blue batik wrap-skirt my room-mate in college gave me. I wore it to pieces and loved it with all my heart.

My sister and her husband are visiting. They are delightfully self-directed guests. They stayed late after dinner last night, discussion all the spoilers we’ve been avoiding in the Book Club. My sister and I pulled out a chair for a dream-Jenna to use, she would have loved the discussion - Laura’s unwillingness to say anything bad about anyone, my own surprising (to myself) defense of a certain important professor’s journey toward redemption, and lots of wine and laughter.

This morning I would like just to crawl out into the sunlight and bake until evening. I won’t because sunbathing, for me, is much like bathing itself. I long for it, prepare for it, and then, about 10 minutes in, I’m done..distracted by something else - on my way to find ‘the right book’ or pull up just that one weed.. I’m not patient, or focused, or whatever it takes to stay still and rest. I’m sure my skin is grateful..I don’t tan well anyway.

Last night, when they left, Seth and I stood watching the garden by torch-light - the moon had set behind the trees - and smiling at the shape our life is taking and enjoying the peace of night. I am enthusiastic about winter - the great retreat - with all the beautifying and tightening up we’re doing. I see our yurt looking and being warmer and cozier than ever: layered, insulated, floored up and full of proper-sized blankets. Stocked with summer flavors and strong against the storms. It is a good season, summer, good and full of growing things; and I’m too wrapped up in them to write.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kinder thoughts from Others and Reflections for the Book Club

Last week I shared some negative commentary on the Harry Potter series..This week I thought I’d offer up some positive thoughts (again: by People, Not Me). Here are a couple from Haley at Carrots from Michealmas. They’re both enthusiastic, pleasant, and kinder in tone than either of last weeks critics - one on the general good of the series and one containing SPOILERS..in sort of a moderate way..I read it after touching on Molly a bit in the comments with Jenna. I like Molly Weasley in this book - but I can’t stand her in any other book; I think she’d be a great jump off point for a discussion on the women and girls in the series..at some point, when most of them are more a part of the action. But, apart from not liking the character, she does have good points and Haley obviously loves her. Lets talk about it! (I mean, as much as we can at this point in the series.)

Jenna mentions unethical practices surrounding secrecy in the Wizarding world. YES! It’s just touched on in this book, but it does grow and grow throughout the series - wizards are sort of shockingly careless with the dignity and rights of others - in sort of an ‘the ends justify the means’ sort of way, and while there’s not much more that can be said about it at this point in the series, the off-handed way Ron mentions it lets us know how very common and acceptable it is in the magical community.

I think she’s right about Ron in this book too! This is sort of the book in which Ron is able to shine a bit. He’s staunch in his loyalty here - and as hungry as he is for success in his own right, he doesn’t envy his friend’s many moments of glory. It’s so nice, so wholesome, so friendly!

Jenna also highlights the line “always the innocent are the first victims”. It does seem like the truth, and I wonder most of all what was in the mind of the author when she wrote it. The Centaur, who speaks the line seems aware of, and mourning for the truth of his statement, but at the same time, unaffected by it. Like many creatures of fairy, who are aware of emotion without actually being able to experience it - the statement gives a sense of otherness, of separation to the centaurs that falls apart quickly, when we see in Firenze that deep emotions are a part of the centaur’s make-up. So what accounts for the disinterest of the centaur’s regarding innocent suffering? I suppose it could be the tendency continual involvement in divination often brings: to see the present only as it relates to the future. To be farsighted, in the sense of being blind to everything immediate. Living in potentialities and portents can be as debilitating as living wrapped in memories, mourning for what has past. With the mirror, we saw Harry tempted by the latter - by visions of loved ones dead and gone; with the centaurs we see a similar failure to live as they spend their time waiting for what may or may not be. It’s and interesting pairing, and it brings me back to something Christie writes in her refection - that “the danger lies in sacrificing or neglecting the good we do have to a potential or a might-have or a might-be.” Which may be the lesson all of us need to learn, whether our desires truly are, as Rilke promises ‘memories of our future’ or will-o-the wisps leading us from the narrow path to Love.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ron and the Mirror

Wow..Jenna’s given us a ton to think about this week! If you haven’t read it already, check out her massively interesting post! I’m going to put alchemy on my back burner for now..because I need to read everything alchemical about 20 times and then dream about it to have it make sense. But if you’re not similarly challenged - post a response on it!! I really want to read more.

The Mirror:
What stood out to me most in this section was Ron’s vision in the mirror of Erised. I love the concept of the mirror - mirror magic is fantastic! It’s one of my favorite things - except after dark, which is sort of the best time for it, but the worst time for looking into mirrors in general. And the mirror itself is nicely done (except, I hate the name..because I’m a snot and just don’t like things like that; and excepting - as Jenna mentioned - the whole trouble of what the mirror would show “the happiest man on earth” Does Dumbledore believe - as it seems here - in nothing beyond this earth? Or does the mirror limit itself to desires earth can satisfy - which makes me wonder what happiness entails for Rowling. But Ron stood out most in the encounter with the mirror. I felt awful for him. Harry has had a real loss, and it’s obvious why he would long for family; but Ron, surrounded by family and yet full of a desperate need to prove himself, a striving that I think should have landed him in Slytherin. It made me feel uncomfortable with his family: Ron’s deepest desire is to outshine them all, be noticed and praised. It shows him with such a lonely, hungry little soul. I wanted something more for him there - but maybe, in his ability to turn away and back to reality, we’re able to see a bit of will-power in him, more than Harry has, to embrace life as it is, and not mourn for shadows. I’m glad he’s given that gift.

Symbolism and Sport:
This is a very minor question about Quidditch. I’ve been reading so much on the symbolism in the Harry Potter series..but can’t find anything on what the symbolism of Quidditch is. Is there any symbolism there??

Commentary by people, not me:
I read this article, by Harold Bloom of the Wall Street Journal recently, it's not a recent article. He is not a fan..unfortunately, he lost all my sympathy early on by implying that Rowling is much like Tolkien, and that he hates Tolkien just as much. People who hate Tolkien have no taste. But, if anyone wants to read him..we could insult his opinions, or occasionally defend opinions unrelated to J.R.R. Tolkien..though I'll need lots of convincing to love Alice in Wonderland half as much as The Hobbit. 

And here, Michael O Brien responds to those of you who think he's being unfair to the series. He mentions knowing "about eight different critics of the Potter series who either write books or magazine articles on the subject. All are sober people—" I'm not a huge fan of sober people..but I did feel bad for them when he added that "they suffer from personal attacks against them that are at times quite irrational, a kind of knee-jerk outrage against any criticism of Harry Potter." 

They're both interesting, SPOILER-FILLED reads..please don't assume I agree with either..remember - Harold Bloom hates Tolkien, and Michael O'Brien probably isn't a huge fan of girls who base major life decisions on dreams.., and don't read if you get too frustrated with un-friendly, non-fans of the books.. But do read if you can..and share your thoughts with me!

Friday, June 7, 2013


I knew when we decided to buy the land that I’d be leaving behind - forever - the sort of carelessly interactive city-life I’d been living. I’d no longer glance out my bedroom window and into my neighbor’s living room, no longer take a quick walk to the grocery store, or cafe. And I knew that would have repercussions in my social life - the easy popping by was no longer an option..I would have to be more intentional, more conscious of my own social life and expectations. I didn’t expect isolation though. Our home isn’t so far away as to make it a burdensome drive - twenty minutes from our old apartment in the heart of town; and being nurtured - as I was on friendships that are still strong despite the huge expanses of country that separate us, or diverging lifestyles (my dearest friends and I are often at odds about more important things that city or town, Latin Liturgy, or Novus Ordo), has made me ill-prepared for the social changes that came with our move.

I am beginning to learn the danger of intentionality - my life is not clear and straight before me. Thoughts and hopes are in flux. More than anything, I’m feeling the loneliness of introversion. Rilke reminds that friendships can inspire more loneliness than solitude, and this is true; but these are not the friendships I can hold to. Not to see them take intense focus and effort, yet languish. This month I am retreating back into myself, saying a quiet goodbye to those whose affection was not so much for me as a person, but for me as one of many - part of a community that stands still and watches dreams stagnate. And the goodbye is less bitter than it could have been. It’s grown into something touching forgiveness: aware that what I thought and expected wasn’t realistic. I expected a kindred spirit and an understanding from those who share little but faith with me..There are too many types within the Church for all to be compatible. And I’m mourning a little bit, because half-friendships wound too, when they’re abandoned..and because I can’t help but wonder if my daughter will spend most of her childhood standing at the end of the driveway, watching it disappear into the trees, and whispering “nobody coming, nobody coming”..too soon adept at exile.

The Castle

Hogwarts was a good idea. It’s place as a living, breathing entity. Place as changeable, magical, wild. It’s captivating. There’s a sense of humor in the castle, as though thousands of laughing wizards have left their joy hidden in nooks and crannies; there’s power - as the misdirected spells of generations linger on the stairs and under tables.. Hogwarts feels to me like a school ought to - never truly left by the students who were - never truly understood by those who are, at the moment, nestled in it’s halls. I like it because - apart from the ghosts who are more like the modern, unbelieving concept of spirit - the castle is haunted in a deeper way, by memories and dreams -that-don’t-fade, by rich imaginings come to life.

Like Stonehenge, the castle is unknowable..and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to share that even Dumbledore hasn’t discovered all the secrets of Hogwarts. Like some immortal, ever-young being, the castle seems to watch and laugh anew as each new batch of children trip on the step that isn’t, run up stairways that end, and lose themselves in a world of possibility. It’s this rediscovery of the castle that makes me think Rowling might have a sacramental imagination - the sense of potential here, the power of unseen things, and most especially, the life of this place. I wonder, and I think I’ll be wondering again and again as we read - Is this the result of a sacramental imagination wedded to a relativistic worldview?

If you haven’t already - head over to Jenna’s for a taste of pumpkin pasties and some discussion of rule-breaking by both teachers and students, or to Christie’s for a helpful reminder that Harry’s vice is normal and will - hopefully - be grown out of before he’s through with school! As for me, this week has been full of unfinished intentions. I had a longer post planned but was distracted by the castle, my car (which is legal again!), and some overwhelming thoughts on social expectation and the trouble it creates for me.. I’m putting aside some hours for writing this weekend though, and should be all caught up next week (hahaha..I do live in a dreamworld, don’t I?)..maybe, partially caught up??