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Thread: Harry Potter

  1. #136
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveB View Post
    While I find many of your literary comments interesting, your attempts to use literature to make a case for your far left political leanings are very ill-conceived. You have clearly drunk the leftist koolaid and can no longer separate it from analytic thinking. Slinging around the "neo-con" label only weakens your position.

    I value many of your literary insights, but can't understand the apparent need to politicize everything read and said.

    Sorry to be so personal. It could be that I'm being overly sensitive, having just survived two+ years of political mud wrestling.
    Literature is political - the world is political - it's like trying to read a text without reading the setting of the text. It's impossible.

    I believe Orwell wrote a famous essay on politics and literature, perhaps you can check it out.

    In terms of yelling at the leftist, you seem to be a hypocrite, on one hand condemning me for my stance on neo-conservatism, and on the other hand slapping liberalism.

    As for separating it from my thinking, well, could the authors of their works seperate the world around them from their literature? Was Virgil not writing, essentially, a politically motivated poem? How much of Horace is political (note, I used those examples to slam down on the conservatism). Literature is a product of a time frame, and the reading of literature is an appropriation of that into another time frame. If a work doesn't reflect the values, or fundamentals of another time period, than it needs to a) be said, or b) be thrown out.

    Either way, I'm not as political as you make me out to be, I could easily, as I have done, go on about the mediocrity of the prose of some works. The point is, I like to branch out and accept different viewpoints. The most conservative readings anyway, that is, the American religious communities, seem to condemn Potter as satanic anyway, which is the dumbest reading of them all in my book.
    Last edited by JBI; 12-15-2008 at 06:57 PM.

  2. #137
    A FLEECED MONSTROSITY aBIGsheep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Literature is political - the world is political - it's like trying to read a text without reading the setting of the text. It's impossible.


    Either way, I'm not as political as you make me out to be,
    Uhh, wait wut?
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  3. #138
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Look, if librarians aren't necessarily promoting the canon, then if Harry Potter is to survive in the children's market, the librarians will not have much of a say, being that the books will have to be relabeled classics, by their date of composition, and therefore be judged canon-worthy anyway. . . . If the Librarian isn't recommending classics, then when the time comes, they won't be recommending Potter anyway, since it will be in the "classical" time frame.
    I think the problem is I still don't agree that literary critics get the last say. The only people who generally pay attention to literary critics are other literary critics. Otherwise, most people ignore literary critics. It is important to remember that the study of literarature as an institutionalized profession is fairly new.

    Plus the historian in me grows suspicious when I hear statements like that. What books we read a hundred years from now I suspect is part of a complex interaction between hundreds of little nodes: the librarians, the critics, the average person's tastes and values, tradition, popularity, book clubs, classrooms, availability in print, etc., rather than ultimately decided by one of those sources.

    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Literature is political - the world is political - it's like trying to read a text without reading the setting of the text. It's impossible.

    I believe Orwell wrote a famous essay on politics and literature, perhaps you can check it out.

    In terms of yelling at the leftist, you seem to be a hypocrite, on one hand condemning me for my stance on neo-conservatism, and on the other hand slapping liberalism.

    As for separating it from my thinking, well, could the authors of their works seperate the world around them from their literature? Was Virgil not writing, essentially, a politically motivated poem? How much of Horace is political (note, I used those examples to slam down on the conservatism). Literature is a product of a time frame, and the reading of literature is an appropriation of that into another time frame. If a work doesn't reflect the values, or fundamentals of another time period, than it needs to a) be said, or b) be thrown out.

    Either way, I'm not as political as you make me out to be, I could easily, as I have done, go on about the mediocrity of the prose of some works. The point is, I like to branch out and accept different viewpoints. The most conservative readings anyway, that is, the American religious communities, seem to condemn Potter as satanic anyway, which is the dumbest reading of them all in my book.
    It's not your questioning of Neo-Conservativism that is the issue for me anyway, but rather where are all these Neo-Con critics that you keep talking about? I've been to three (technically four schools and know plenty of English majors from other schools), and I've never once met an English major who was right-wing. The furthest right I've seen in any of my classes were Centrists/Moderates. The vast majority were not only Leftist, but Far Left.

    Also, it becomes problematic when one starts judging the value of a text based off whether it has the correct politics.
    "You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too." - Herodotus

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  4. #139
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    They exist, they just aren't really taken seriously most of the time. I haven't used the term since the (third?) page of this thread, but I think there (it was a while ago anyway) I was referring more towards the a) Religious, or Bible-centric readings, b) the kinds of readings that look for "truths" and morals in a book, and c) is generally an older generation.

    Generally, no one pays attention to these people, but you, I'm sure, have run across some of their essays in your reading.

    But on a less academic level, I think before I was referring to the people who wrote reviews on the books, and not actual literary critics in the Academic sense. Those, I'm sure you know, are very apparent in society.


    Thinking back now again, I think I may have also been trying to imply simply the older F. R. Leavis influenced generation, who evolved out of new criticism, and is now slowly dying out. Their method of reading, you will know, and their method of writing, is very, very different.

    But yes, on the whole, most critics still writing are left-leaning, and are somewhat radical in their thinking, given that they don't accurately represent the divide between left and right in the mainstream of society.

    The problem is identifying major neo-con critics now, which is more difficult, but to name some in the last 20 years, I would put: the Late work of Lionel Trilling, Susana Sontag to an extent, Sidney Hook, the author Saul Bellow, V. S. Pritchett, and others.
    Last edited by JBI; 12-16-2008 at 11:54 AM.

  5. #140
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    It's not your questioning of Neo-Conservativism that is the issue for me anyway, but rather where are all these Neo-Con critics that you keep talking about? I've been to three (technically four schools and know plenty of English majors from other schools), and I've never once met an English major who was right-wing. The furthest right I've seen in any of my classes were Centrists/Moderates. The vast majority were not only Leftist, but Far Left.

    Also, it becomes problematic when one starts judging the value of a text based off whether it has the correct politics.
    Like I said, I was merely trying to get in more viewpoints. As it is, children's literature in general seems geared towards the "moral of the story". If there is a moral, from what I read in the book, it is "Jesus saved us and was reborn, because he loves us". Which isn't really a moral at all. Either way though, this is futile - the bad prose enough is to burn the book, let alone the crummy clichés, and monotonous characters.

  6. #141
    Procrastinator General *Classic*Charm*'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    If there is a moral, from what I read in the book, it is "Jesus saved us and was reborn, because he loves us".
    Are you aware that this series was banned in a number of catholic elementary schools in several countries? I'd love some examples of where this message was found. I suppose if you were really forcing it, you could make the Harry-Jesus comparison, but I think you'd have to have read the book deliberately looking for such a connection to find it, and even then it's weak.

    What I think is often overlooked about novels in general (especially by those who read classical literature) is that books fall into two categories:

    Art and Entertainment

    Much like film, there are novels written to diagnose the human condition, make some sort of statement about an unlimited number of things, tap into a certain human emotion, etc. Then there are those which are meant purely to capture a reader's attention and provide him or her with a diversion of an entertaining nature. These categories are not limited to more adult literature, either. Such divisions are present within children's literature as well, such as the obvious distinction between EB White's works and something like the Goosebumps series. I think it's completely irrelevant and unnecessary to evaluate novels written to provide entertainment in a political sense in this particular case.

    The Harry Potter series were written in the latter sense- they were written to entertain children and whomever else decides to read them. Entertaining children's books are not written to delve the reader into the human psyche or reveal some life's mystery. I'll even go so far as to say that they're not always about the moral of the story, once the reader hits a certain age. Harry Potter was meant to provide young readers with an entertaining and creative story, and that was clearly accomplished. You're inhuman if you can't credit Rowling with having an impressive imagination.

    I'm so tired of arguments like this one! The author never claimed that her work would be the be all and end all of literature, and neither do most readers. And for those who do- who are you to decide what is worthy of being an individual's be all and end all? Every person has some piece of literature that is the single greatest writing he or she will ever read. If it happens to be Harry Potter, then people should stop looking at them as inferiors and appreciate that maybe they see something in it that you don't!
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  7. #142
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Yeah, that is the irony of the whole thing - religious people banning religious stories. But then again, those people weren't very bright to begin with.

  8. #143
    Procrastinator General *Classic*Charm*'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Yeah, that is the irony of the whole thing - religious people banning religious stories.
    Like I said, I'd like some evidence. What exactly makes you think this is a religious story? This has never been insinuated by the author, from every account I've encountered.

    But then again, those people weren't very bright to begin with.
    That's something entirely different that has no place in this thread. Take that argument elsewhere.
    I'm weary with right-angles, abbreviated daylight,
    Waiting for a winter to be done.
    Why do I still see you in every mirrored window,
    In all that I could never overcome?

  9. #144
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    The whole thing is fused with Christian perspective since the beginning. The conflict between good and bad is a construct out of the system, and the players are fused by this sort of morality.

    But in depth, there are plot devices, such as the Irish kid denying Potter, or the notion of love as virtue, or the simple fact that all the kids in the book seem to be Christians (and celebrate Christmas) which creates a Christian feel. The ending of the first book for instance, offers Voldemort's temptation in the desert, in this case right in front of the mirror, offering the world and power if he will but serve him.

    The ending is the biggest give away. The book builds itself on a chosen-one construct to save the world, and ends with the self-sacrifice and rebirth so cliché and overdone to hit you on the head. In truth, there was a fear in Rowling, apparently, when writing the earlier volumes, that some would "guess the ending" by thinking of the Christian components.

  10. #145
    Procrastinator General *Classic*Charm*'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    The whole thing is fused with Christian perspective since the beginning. The conflict between good and bad is a construct out of the system, and the players are fused by this sort of morality.

    But in depth, there are plot devices, such as the Irish kid denying Potter, or the notion of love as virtue, or the simple fact that all the kids in the book seem to be Christians (and celebrate Christmas) which creates a Christian feel. The ending of the first book for instance, offers Voldemort's temptation in the desert, in this case right in front of the mirror, offering the world and power if he will but serve him.

    The ending is the biggest give away. The book builds itself on a chosen-one construct to save the world, and ends with the self-sacrifice and rebirth so cliché and overdone to hit you on the head. In truth, there was a fear in Rowling, apparently, when writing the earlier volumes, that some would "guess the ending" by thinking of the Christian components.

    I think that these conclusions can be drawn when reading the novel from a perspective that is looking specifically for these connections. While the notion of love as virtue is of course a Christian concept, it is a conclusion that transcends religious beliefs. Potter being denied by another kid is purely a childhood event, if you think the fact that he's Irish also plays into this notion, that's rally stretching it as the entire cast of characters is from the U.K. Why do you assume all the kids celebrate Christmas? Simply because the novels don't address other options does not mean that they were deliberately avoided. The offering of power in exchange for servitude is also a concept that, while having it's place in Christianity, transcends it's religious reference. This offering, as well as the chosen-one construct has been the centre of literature and story-telling since before the imposition of Christianity.

    To say that these references are more than the coincidental implementation of the most common theme known to literature in a creative way is over-analytical, in my opinion.
    I'm weary with right-angles, abbreviated daylight,
    Waiting for a winter to be done.
    Why do I still see you in every mirrored window,
    In all that I could never overcome?

  11. #146
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Rowling, like I said, knew her ending was religious, and said as much. They weren't found there, but put there. The text is Christian in scope, I just haven't read it in x number of years, or even in its entirety (I got summaries for the abnormally long, pointless parts).

  12. #147
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    I just haven't read it...in its entirety (I got summaries for the abnormally long, pointless parts).
    I'm done here then.
    I'm weary with right-angles, abbreviated daylight,
    Waiting for a winter to be done.
    Why do I still see you in every mirrored window,
    In all that I could never overcome?

  13. #148
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by *Classic*Charm* View Post
    I'm done here then.
    How so, I have read the parts I am commenting on - I have read the first handful of books in entirety, and merely skipped silly bits. Go ahead an be done, but I am not the only person to make Christian parallel observations. Much has been written on the subject.

    But yeah, I guess I can't comment since I didn't read about a stupid game of Quidditch that some want waving Victorian English schoolboys play.

    I'll remember this statement, so if you ever comment on one author's works, I will be capable of attacking your authority if you haven't read their entire opus.


    But Ok, since you're done here, we can move on.

  14. #149
    A FLEECED MONSTROSITY aBIGsheep's Avatar
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    You guys are lame. Why can't we enjoy a book for being a book? Jesus Christ.

    That's a religious parallel by the way.
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  15. #150
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aBIGsheep View Post
    Why can't we enjoy a book for being a book?
    The entire nature of literary analysis relies on the fact that we actually "analyze" the book. Simple exclamations of: "Oh that book was great", or "Oh that book was not great" are fine for casual conversation, but when we want to get to discussing the nuts and bolts of a work, we need to think beyond just "enjoying a book for being a book".

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