finished the hunger games books. that last one was fucking bleak, i read it today. but in a refreshing sort of way, i guess. all out war and betrayal and untimely deaths and all. the ending was ultimately hopeful but still realistic. like no one's coming in the door going "war's over! watch out world, you're about to get banged with my freedom parade!" it's a lot more like "im gonna go ahead and not move or shower for a couple months now." from the beginning it is obviously much grittier, makes harry potter feel quite shallow and fairy-tale-esque. when i saw the movie i wasnt really sure what the whole thing was, i think i assumed it was dumb like twilight or something, so i was quite taken back by how good it was. but now in reading the books, i was surprised at where the story went after that first one, it really expanded further than i was expecting.
it's exciting to having something popular with a female heroine like this one. she's allowed to be a real person- she's allowed to be unlikeable at times, quiet, withdrawn, depressed- she's not a charming smiling bubbly girl. she's a poor coal miner's daughter who hunts for her food. the entire world in these books is such a slap in the face to the 'twilight' generation.
and the male lead is excellent as well because he is made up of qualities that male heroes get away with lacking- he's thoughtful, intuitive, compassionate, a great communicator. he loves her but is not reduced to some embarrassing caricature of what a 13 year old girl wants. she ends up saving him most of the time because she is physically more skilled than he is, she's the brute force and he's the smart one who is good at connecting with people. it's the sort of role reversal between the female and male characters i like because it highlights how lame it is to constantly justify gender stereotypes and sexism with evolutionary science. not that testosterone isn't very real and creates differences in the way men and women function. but there are way too many shitty things that are socially accepted as normal behavior.
ps i dont mean that harry is shallow, i mean overall the books are not anywhere as, well, bitter or painful. it's a post-religious world where nothing is held back, no one is protected in the way harry allows, and lots of children die.
The books (and mythos) of our times... I hope the story makes people sit back and think about how precious order is, and how rare it has been in history when the poor are supported and allowed to share what's available.
Funny that iz in the other room from you is reading Aristophanes's The Birds.
re harry potter:
Harry's of our time, which is quietly dramatic. The issue is death, the action in the psyche: the places that fundamentalism tries to turn into the literal, the material.
archive post, Negative Capability, 2004
Magic is not about disorder. On the contrary, it reestablishes a peaceful coexistence between the conscious and unconscious when coexistence is under attack. ~Ioan Culiano
Stars and planets. They've been pondered, ached over, cooked and internalized since our consciousness first split off from the unconscious. Have a look at the night sky (I know you do) in some place away from city lights: awe, pure awe. We, as a species, the conscious eyes and ears of a planet, have long ago embedded a projection of our psyche within those stars. Onto those changing relationships of infinite small fires, ever-moving, we've wished our deepest wishes, prayed our most cherished and desperate hopes.
Quite a map, this that we carry off to our dreams.
I'm not one to believe in divination or prophecy. But I do tend to think that the way I feel in responding to it sometimes tells me about parts of myself I didn't know about. If there's a revelation, that's it.
What would JKRowling's perspective be? I understand and sense from the Potter books she has an accord with Jung. She also knows her classics. The planets, the magick of forces and relationships projected as the Greek daemon and the Roman/Medieval genius figures: such intuition was just part of the daily thoughts of ancient and imaginative people... and the more you read of them, the more you suspect that their thinking persists in our unconscious and understand it as what is reflected in myth.
Further, the more you study myth, the more you are amazed that such great depths of wisdom could be cast and played out in these personifications of forces and events. The very act of writing -- any art -- releases them. So I just expect that depth from someone as finely tuned as JKR. The theme of Alchemy reflects the dream perspective that plays on and directs our thoughts. The conscious awareness that light comes forth from darkness (and vice versa... a metaphor for the Tao / Oneness of conscious and unconscious) -- has been heartening in my life, to say the least. But what has always struck me was the discussion of the Centaurs in the first book... Fate. Harry seems doomed by the planets, yet, it ain't necessarily so, Firenze insists. Firenze, the rebel, seems a terribly important figure. What is he really saying? That though the dark forces and their logic are always there guiding things and not to be belittled or ignored, the light of consciousness--individuality and ultimately the continuing process of individuation--can reset the course. That ultimately Harry and the decisions he makes, the things he uses to guide him, are a stronger magic than any literality or prophecy. That that is his fate: to defy fate.
Firenze is cast out from his kind for working with Dumbledore... cast out of a star-shackled consciousness. This seems enormously important. Work with caution, the old alchemists said. Harry Potter isn't about good vs evil; it's about power and the way we use it. Harry Potter reflects the crisis of our age.
"Mars is bright tonight."
This year, Mars will be bright in the sky during the Christmas season. He is an archon of war and aggression, and there is no denying his terrible influence at this time in history. But the spiritual traditions say that he has a good side—he strengthens, fortifies, and sharpens everything we do. This year might be the time to firm up our notions of what it means to be religious and spiritual, what it means to love our enemies, and what it means to make peace. ~Thomas MooreI keep bringing up the Fundamentalist Right, that certainty with which they inflict their views on everything they touch -- and it's a huge "hand-of the dead on the shoulder of the living" power they wield--which works to create and promote a superstition that makes the Bible a magick book of hard prophecy, rather than the collection of writings from various sources, histories, intents and interpretations that it truly is. They lose its true power, which is inspiration and metaphor. It's like insisting Harry is a true story and that that is its only value, when it's only the meaning that's "real." Like the Centaurs, they've become blind to their actions... like the Death-eaters in their certainty of following. And--they're being used by forces that pursue an agenda of power.
The conspiracy business isn't new in the world. It's always been with us, there in birds, in primates. It was perfected by the Romans and hasn't ceased since. (Dinosaur eat dinosaur. It's so neocon. It's so In the Company of Men.) It's the tiresome mindset that uses propaganda, racial, religious, Nationalistic myth to ensnare. Many ways to lie. It knows them all. I have no insight into conspiracy's whos and whats-- but listen to Dumbledore:
"I say to you all, once again – in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust.”How we ache to trust. We can't turn on the TV without being made to flock like birds of identical feathers, fear our neighbor, coaxed to hate some all purpose 'evil dooer.' Some enemy is created to fuel the need to circle the wagons and forget our conscious heart and higher reason... our lives and who we are. All gets boiled down to good/bad, and we lose our center.
And as you know, reality is the middle way. The old Celts knew this, and Dumbledore is one of them.
We think we know so much. But how do you deal with the mystery of how water knows to be ice?
Intellectually, it's easy. We know enough recipes, recipes to blow up whole worlds, yet have no idea where the worlds come from. At the deep and final core, all is still mystery, really. We are magicians as well: We know how to creep into minds and make them do our will. As Giordano Bruno (an actual old-timey sorcerer) knew, propaganda is a form of magic.
How can you see your own irrationality when the cosmos doesn't reflect or adhere to human reason? Nature is by nature paradoxical. We have no ready way to grasp that, except through art and myth and, with some honest humility, what they can reveal to us about our own shadow. The cure starts there. Harry comes as a balancing magic in the world: our modern and necessary myth.
Much appreciation and affection,
extra credit: (spoilers) The Beanie Baby Hunger Games