Communique No. 3: Rowling, Pussy Riot, and Political “Dafuhs”

J. K. ROWLING AND THE WRITING LIFE

Actress Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her performance in “Misery.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Remember the movie Misery? I confess I haven’t seen the whole thing and have only a basic idea of the plot. The most prominent thing that really comes to mind is that scene where Kathy Bates has the sledgehammer raised over head ready to bring it down on James Caan‘s ankles… yikes. For whatever reason, the gore of Lord of the Rings doesn’t bother me but stuff like that just makes my skin crawl.

Anyway, there’s another scene earlier in the movie where Bates’ character Annie, a nurse, is talking to Caan’s Paul, an author trapped in her home and injured from a car crash during a blizzard; she reveals to him that she is a huge fan of his books but, meekly (at first) and only after being coaxed by Paul, admits she isn’t the biggest fan of all the “swearing” from his characters. So awkward. Continue reading

PERSONAL FILE: A Box-full of Memories

What if it were that easy?

Dumbledore has an armory of peculiar magical devices in J. K. Rowling’s story of Harry Potter but there’s one that’s of particular interest to me. He keeps it locked away in a cupboard and when the young wizard first stumbles upon it toward the end of the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it’s only a short time until the final contest of the Triwizard Tournament. After having a vision of the dark lord Voldemort, Harry finds himself in Dumbledore’s office and accidentally discovers the object in the cupboard, left slightly ajar: it’s the Pensieve and Harry’s curiosity gets the better of him when he leans in too close to the shining basin and falls in, finding himself doused in the headmaster’s memories.

As with many things in Rowling’s books, “Pensieve” is a play on words: “pensive” means to be thoughtful or absorbed in deep reflection and contemplation. Dumbledore periodically takes his memories–which appear as a wispy white vapor on the tip of his wand–from his head and drops them into the Pensieve where he will return to examine them on occasion to search for “patterns and links.” Continue reading

Potter Satisfies “Spiritual Hunger in a Secular Culture”

I never thought I’d see the day when an intelligent Christian literary critic could so eloquently write on Harry Potter. The full article I’m referencing can be read at Christianity Today but here are a couple of highlights:

“Like Lewis, Williams, and other greats, Rowling has written a spiritual allegory of the soul’s transformation to perfection in Christ. Fiction, as philosopher and historian of religion Mircea Eliade explained in The Sacred and the Profane, serves a religious function in a secular culture. Moderns are immunized against sacramental experience, prayer, and worship, yet still long for the transcendent, something beyond the ego. We find it in sports, film, and music, but most powerfully in books, especially in novels in which the heart recognizes its reflection in a character like Harry. We recognize and imaginatively experience our hearts’ end in Christ’s victory over death.

[…]

“Rowling did not create the truth of the Eliade thesis, that novels satisfy a spiritual hunger in a secular culture. But her saga has confirmed it spectacularly. Harry Potter revealed rather than created the great spiritual hunger of our time.”