Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Potions to Pass the Day

Notes from the Potion’s Dungeon:

Pepperup is a success! I love this recipe..too easy to fail, and amazingly perky. Take a long whiff and then sip slowly when you’re feeling down, under the weather, or in need of something peppery. To make, place 2 heaping teaspoons of whole black peppercorns in a pint of vodka. Allow them to steep under the light of the setting sun for about an hour then strain out the peppercorns, bottle, cork, and deliver to Professor Snape for full marks. Or, just take a shot. It’s Potions 101.

And now we’re starting a slow-brewing elixir for lowered inhibitions and reduced internal chatter. It won’t build love, per se, you’ll need a waxing moon for that, but it will make romantic evenings more fun..as well as making board games with friends, dance parties, and political discussions ridiculously amusing! For now, we’ve put together Siberian ginseng, dried apricots, candied ginger, cinnamon bark, whole nutmeg, ….. To steep. For Romance, expose it to moonlight for at least an hour each night; for full-hearted political discussions, set it out - properly covered - in a rainstorm. It needs to steep a week for full potency. So we’ll leave it on the shelf for now. Snape disapproves of love-potions, so make sure it’s a hidden shelf!

This week’s Reading:

The Dueling Club is one of my favorite scenes in the series. Partially because it’s one of the rare moments of inter-house recreation. We get to see the houses - out of class and -at least superficially - out of their school-imposed clicks. It’s also an interesting scene because it shows Snape and Lockhart in sharp contrast: dark and light are obvious..and somewhat misguiding it seems; but of primary interest to me is the contrast between the Showman - with his well-dressed hair, dramatic gestures, and cultivated pursuit of the spotlight; and the Shadow - who cultivates an image to deter interest rather than attract it, excels in subtlety and derision, and who is obviously in his element here, aiding Lockhart in his enthusiastic self-humiliation. Rowling’s talent for caricature is happy here. There are so many distinct temperaments to play with. Harry’s ability to speak to snakes is well-revealed here, with a wider potential for reaction than the classroom or common-room could offer. There has been some discussion around the ‘net about the occult implications in Harry’s ability to talk to snakes (my personal favorite for overall enjoyment is Godhatesgoths.com - who knew that God had such a loathing for pale kids in black skinny-jeans!). I think that, looking at the treatment of snakes overall in the series, and especially in this second book, we see a trend toward a very balanced treatment of the serpent. Like serpents throughout the Bible, we see snakes here as mutable, tools in the hand of those with the authority to use them. But also as creatures with a dark mystique. The wizards of Rowling’s world seem every bit as cautious of snakes as the rest of us. It’s an interesting line for Harry to walk - and I’m looking forward to seeing it’s effect on his future.

Fawkes is…interesting. I prefer the image of the phoenix born anew in beauty from the ashes than Rowling’s ugly little hatchling. It seems to diminish much of the imagery. As does the name itself, which Jenna discusses a bit with my poor neglected husband here. I can’t see any other link between Guy Fawkes and phoenix, apart from the burnings, which makes the phoenix’s name sort of an uncomfortable, partial-mockery of a dead man, and very much a throw-a-way of a potentially meaningful opportunity by an author who does seem to try very hard with her names. 

So brew up some Pepperup to sip alongside your afternoon tea, and share your thoughts  - I'll edit in some photos when - and if - Blogger lets me load them. And check back with Jenna for more to discuss on these chapters. She gives her response to the perennial Christian question: Do we give these books to children, or are they too dark, too witchy, too entirely lacking in artistic merit? The third would have been the stickler for me, until I found myself reading Corduroy the Bear for the umpteenth time. I do have standards with kid's books (even at this age) but I'm not convinced Harry falls outside those standards. And I'm not such a control freak that only the best and brightest of children's literature is permitted to fall under Yarrow's impressionable gaze. But I can see reasons for pause in the series, as there are in most books, depending on the individual child's needs, temptations, and maturity. Would I be more likely to tuck away Potter and prominently display The Hobbit..yes, I would, but it would be because I love The Hobbit, it's a better book, and one of my favorites, and parents are always going to encourage their favorites. It's just a fact of nature. But while I can see aspects of the books that are very problematic in the formation of youthful morality, I don't see enough to deny a child the books. Yet. 

Your thoughts?


  1. MASHA. THE POTIONS. Are awesome!!! What liquid do you steep the "slow-brewing elixir for lowered inhibitions and reduced internal chatter" in? Is that vodka, too? Because I NEED some of that stuff.

    OK... OK... there's a site called GodHatesGoths.com? That makes me want to go dye my hair black, pronto. And maybe get a nose piercing. As for the God I've been taught to believe in, I think he has a special place in his heart for Goths... a loving place. My most memorable student in all my days of youth ministry was a six-foot-three-ish trenchcoat wearer who claimed he didn't fear anything and laughed in my face when I suggested he give God a chance--but he shared his earbuds with me so we could listen to Richard Marx together, spent hours in my art session drawing alchemy symbols, and, the last time I saw him, gave me the warmest, sweetest goodbye hug ever. I treasured that boy. He's in my heart and prayers for life. I suspect he'd done and thought a lot of things that God might fairly loathe--haven't we all--but there's no way in hell that God had anything less than a father's tenderness for that beautiful, broken, beloved young man.

    *takes deep breath, swallows hard*

    I'm glad you find that site humorous; I think that's the best response. :)

    I love your portrayal of the Snape/Lockhart dynamic in the Dueling Club scene. That whole section is a lot of fun to read.

    I agree with you about Fawkes' name, though I liked the ugly hatchling, maybe because it felt believable. Also, cheers on writing a nicely balanced paragraph about whether to give the books to children. There need to be more of those on the internet. Says someone who usually overcompensates for the anti-Potter frenzy by being a little too unequivocal about the books' awesomeness. ;)

    1. Brandy and Vodka...I'll get the recipe up this week..and photos - hopefully photos too!

      I LOVE your beautiful goth boy!! He's in my prayers now as well!! And I had to take a deep breath and swallow hard after that story too! Humor is really all I can do in situations like that..

      I'm glad you liked the whole thought on to give - or not to give- the books to kids, I have trouble saying anything at all on those sorts of questions because I feel like just saying "OBVIOUSLY if your kid is not able to handle fantasy/darkness/inter-personal drama you should be aware of that and lock them up in the non-fiction section." and at the same time I can't help but wonder HOW some books get published (have you read Eragon..or however you spell it?) and books like that really, well..I'd rather see kid's reading books by people with a gift for writing..or at least storytelling.. you know ;) But I can understand the need for unequivocal enthusiasm, especially in light of godhatesgoths.com. ;)

    2. unfortunately..or fortunately, really..godhatesgoths.com is phony..a mockery of other godhates__ websites. I'm a little bummed, but very grateful. Oh well..I'll find something else to enjoy!

    3. I wouldn't have gone to godhatesgoths if I thought it was one of the real God Hates sites, but since you said it was a parody, I went over to check it out. I actually thought it was a little too close to the mark to be funny -- RL teenagers get slammed with some of those actual verses in real life for wearing black or whatever. For that reason, I prefer godhatesshrimp.com for all my godhate-mocking needs.

      Eragon is spelled correctly. I thought the movie was extremely enjoyable in a so-bad-it's-good way; the book moves more slowly through a lot more words & is kind of boring. But its success isn't all that hard to understand; it's got telepathic links with really cool dragons and Being the Chosen One and resistance movements and all sorts of other appealing things that are fun to read about if you can disengage your Bad Prose Parking Brake (or didn't have one in the first place) .

      I kind of like the ugly hatchling phoenix. :D And as far as uncomfortably appropriating historical executions goes. . . well. . . there's more where that came from :-/

  2. OK, second attempt at commenting...

    THANK YOU for praying for my boy!!! That made my day. I keep thinking about him, and... yeah. It was nice to have the reminder, even if godhatesgoths.com turned out to be a mockery of something much too stupid to need a dedicated mockery. ;)

    Yeah, I read Eragon. And couldn't get into it. To be fair, author Christopher Paolini was a teenager when the book was published, which might explain both the book deal and the ineptitude.

  3. Hold on, WAIT. You don't like CORDUROY?

    you can just give it right back to me then. :(