Sunday, July 14, 2013

Harry Potter at Last!

 I've had a bad week. It's one thing to read a book, discuss it's merits and failings, and move on. It's another to reach for that book in the dark days and realize that - despite disappointments, frustrations, and occasional outright dislike, the book has become a friend. This week, Harry joined Hobbits and Russians, and one or two others in that fictional friendship, and I'm not at all sure how it happened. I tell myself it's through no merit of his, but I'm not sure I believe myself yet..

Jenna's too long neglected post on chapter 16 is amazing. I like seeing the tasks all laid out before me that way. I liked, as I read, the reminder on every page that all things worth doing will pain us, challenge us, and will lead us to yet another, harder challenge.  That burdens are best when shared with willing friends..Harry and I are alike (shocking, I know) in that we both prefer to avoid burdening others, we would rather not have friends along to aid and comfort, until we give in and realize that without them, we would have failed. I felt with him the surprise and terrified joy that comes when Ron and Hermione insist on helping..the "Oh thank goodness" right after "Oh no!" 

I'm glad they do come along. It makes the story so much more about love and the strength of commitment than about the skills and luck of one particular boy. And the tasks themselves are ..honestly sort of a disappointment. I mean really, aren't these supposed to be skilled witches and wizards? Except Snape's, they're all sort of mundane, really. Snape's though, is delightful. It's more than a task, it's sort of an introduction to the man, a picture of his layered and solitary soul. A soul full of nooks and chambers and dusty-0ut-of-the-way places where old photos are laid face down so we can't snoop. He's clever, hidden, lost inside himself, and oh-so-full of secrets, like his potions, and he offers clues..but not direct ones. If you need direct clues he despises you..which may be more of the reason for his dislike of Harry than anything else. Harry's a liar, but he's a clumsy one, he has no subtlety. Snape has subtlety in spades. I adore it!

Christie's breakdown of the trio's positions on the chessboard is lovely, by the way! I loved it! And I'm thrilled Rowling didn't make Harry the King, that would have been obnoxious..

The rest will have to wait for the final part of our Book one discussion..I'm tired, I haven't written so much in a week, and I have my newest tattoo to plan before Tuesday..Blessings all!


  1. Let me play devil's advocate and posit that it's by no merrit of Harry's that he's become a friend in the dark times but through the community and friendship that has risen up around him. <3

    I KNOW what you mean about Snape! I don't have any trouble seeing why he's such a popular, well-loved character from the series.

    When I paused to think on it, you're right--the story would have swiveled drastically off course if Harry had gone alone to his tasks. It would have been about him, his personal resolve and strengths. It would have been too easy for it to become about the gifted boy wizard who inherited talent from his father and mother.

    The tasks I see as sort of archetypes, and it does well in keeping with the rest of the novel so far . . . the expected, trite customs. I think I'll write a break-down post of them to examine them more fully. But I do see room for Rowling to have been much inventive and clever (it's sort of a repetition of the eye-rolling name of Erised!), but I don't think it's any lack of smarts or ability from her.

    A new tattoo! <3

  2. Christie said:

    Let me play devil's advocate and posit that it's by no merit of Harry's that he's become a friend in the dark times but through the community and friendship that has risen up around him. <3

    Funny, I was just thinking about this! I think you're totally right that friendship has everything to do with it. <3 <3 <3 But I wouldn't say it's no merit of Harry's just because the friendship is the impetus. I'm always falling in love with things I'd never thought about or never liked, simply because someone I love is passionate about them. It seems to me that this is usually because sharing a friend's passion allows me to see strengths in the work(s) that I'd not seen clearly before. Of course, it's also true that it tends to soften my criticisms, so there's that. ;D

    Snape's task is definitely my favorite of the bunch, except perhaps for Dumbledore's, but I want to know why winged keys and animated chess are mundane. I totally had a blast reading through that obstacle course. What am I missing??

    Also, I LIKED the name Erised. :P I think I like cornball wordplay too much. Or maybe it's that I don't mind cheap jokes as long as it's the first time I've heard them.

    Snape is such a fascinating character. I never loved him wildly like some people do, probably because I'm one of those people who needs direct clues, and I just know he'd hate me. Me and Neville. (And Harry, but if I were at Hogwarts, Harry would never have known I existed. Neville and I might well have been best buds.) But I do find him interesting, and I admire his cleverness and a few other SPOILERS about him, and I do feel a great deal of compassion towards him. (Although, less when he's bullying my pal Neville.) His understanding of and value for logic and non-showy skills makes me wonder what he could've been if he'd never gotten mixed up with Death Eaters. I want to say so much more, but I'll have to save it for later books!

    1. Oh, and NEW TATTOO. Pics!!!! (Presuming you're putting it in a place you're willing to take pictures of.) You know, you're making me want to get a tattoo. Do you have any idea what a fit certain members of my family would throw if I did that??!!! ;)

    2. Oh, I liked Erised, too! But I don't think I can say that it's original or uber-clever. Which goes back to something that keeps coming up whenever I write about Potter . . . the triteness as chosen style. Not to break or invert the formula but in a kind of celebration of it, a wink or nudge to the reader. Like beginning a story with "once upon a time," and instead of seeing it as mandatory, embracing it and having fun with it. Like how the wizards and witches in HP are parodies of Halloween stereotypes. There's no reason for a modern witch to use a cauldron per se or to use a broom (it's not like they're charmed household objects that happened to be about; they're designed like motor-bikes!), but it's part of the mythos that has risen up around him and instantly clicks with the social conditioning of the reader.

    3. I think. Arguments to the contrary may prove me for a fool! c;

  3. You know, you're making me want to get a tattoo. Do you have any idea what a fit certain members of my family would throw if I did that??!!! ;)

    Me too!

  4. You both should totally get one..if you come up here - we can all go to My tattoo artist together!!!!!!!!!!!! I've shown him the plans for this one, the appointment's not til Friday! I can't wait, I'll post pictures when it's ready!

    Triteness as a style..she does kind of do that, and a little too much (I think) to be completely in the tongue-in-cheek/Firefly sort of way, but mostly really well. I like a lot of the unnecessary but fun "oh look, Witches" things!

    Snape is So fascinating..I like him so much better than Dumbledore..I bet HE has a tattoo ;) ;)

    1. HAHAHAHA. Snape DOES have a tattoo. On the inside of his left wrist, as I recall. ;)

      All three of us going to get tattoos together!!!! That sounds like so much fun!! The only question would be which literary quote or symbol to use... oh gosh... In a perfect world we would TOTALLY do this and not get Howlers for it afterward!!! Maybe I could avoid the Howler if I put the tattoo in a reasonably hide-able place... but then I'd want to blog about it, which would defeat the purpose... haha, look at me scheming!

      Christie, if you don't know what a Howler is, you'll find out in a few chapters of HP. ;)