By Carolina S. Ruiz Austria

The word "Heresy"

was used by Irenaeus in Contra Haereses to discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. It has no purely objective meaning without an authoritative system of dogma.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Potter and Parenthood

"Our ethics, morals, conduct, values, sense of duty and even sense of humor are often developed through simple childhood parables and fables. From them we learn what is socially acceptable in the society from which they come. They define good and bad, right and wrong, what is natural, what is unnatural among the people who hold the myths as meaningful."

Merlin Stone
When God was a Woman, 1976

Many serious "Potterheads" (some though admittedly not all, Harry Potter fans/fanatics and J.K. Rowling devotees) might not agree with my own musings on the series, most of all, my take on the ending in Book 7. But while many are arguing about the real meaning behind Book 7 (The Deathly Hallows) or for that matter, whining endlessly about how the last movie (on Book 5, The Order of the Phoenix), wasn't "good enough," I have to say I really liked the last Book, particularly the sense of closure it gave to what was a really good story.

I liked it that Harry didn't die and didn't have to just to prove himself capable of heroic acts, or to be worthy of being considered extraordinary. The truth is, I didn't realize how much I liked the ending and how I actually thought about it until I spoke with a teenager, not unlike others her age who were teasing (or seriously - I may be mistaken) ridiculing the ending's lack of heroic death, saying "it's a children's book!"

Maybe its because I am a mother myself (and also getting old?) that somehow it delighted me to realize that "young death in a blaze of glory" would have been too easy a way out for these kids. Sorry, kids but you don't get an easy ticket, you'll have to realize that in the end, while you are very important, its not (and will not be) always about you. Sure, not everyone of you will opt to raise kids but still, as a grown up, you will have to realize at one point that its going to be about the younger generation.

I realized that at that age, the prospect of having to grow up and face the real world, (live as muggles do, or worse as your muggle parents did!) is even more terrifying than a real rock and roll, bursting in flames, sort of ending that many young people expect from rock concerts as well as story books (apparently).

I can understand I think how a teenager would cringe at the prospect of becoming just like her/his parents someday, much more than they would cringe from handling a Horcrux?

If there is one thing I have noticed about JK Rowling's writing, it's that she has always sought to break out of the bind of "binaries," through both her storytelling and her characters.

Nobody's perfect in the Harry Potter series. Not in good, not even in evil. Okay, granted that Bellatrix, the Dementors and Voldemort are as dark as they come but even Voldemort had a background which neither justifies or excuses his behavior but at the very least offers insights about his choices. Snape's character of course is the best example of debunking the myth of two dimensional characters in real life.

This is one of the reasons why I think Rowling's work has facilitated a much needed wake up call to a generation on the verge (in the midst even) of changing mediums.So many generations of readers, listeners and viewers of media have been doing so as mere receivers of information. Mind you, our media "consumption" still smacks of the linearity and myopia of still dominant TV programming and the influences of "banking" theory styles of education. Rowling doesn't simply tell an interesting story in the HP series but she asks of her readers to do more. She asks them to think. The cross referencing part of the Harry Potter experience from book to book, right down to piquing interests in languages Latin and Greek, should already be familiar terrain for young readers so adept at surfing the internet and cross-linking.

One colleague says that having observed the virtually invincible anime characters of on-line gaming that her children play on the computer, Harry Potter is so much more human and therefore so much more real. Sure Harry and friends could do magic but even they had to work hard to be able to do good magic.

Like Harry, many young people often feel "alone" even in the company of friends, when they have problems weighing them down. Emotional responses tend to get heightened at the crucial stages of adolescence and when we say "raging hormones," its actually an accurate depiction, albeit wholly inaccurate if we were to isolate the "effects" as purely on the sexual side of things.

I'm glad I still remember the feeling of being young and being always so insecure because that means it was fairly recent? (Or so I try to fool myself) Well when I look back, I know that even when it is still possible to feel insecurity as an adult, it was always so much worse when I was a teenager.

That tendency to think everything revolves around you, making a mountain out of a molehill, feeling like you could die of embarrassment from a single look, and simply seeing your parents as the most uncool people on the planet, may not exactly be true for everyone but its common enough during those years.

Now Harry also learns that depending on others is not something to be afraid of, or to be guilty of. I may be chided for over reading but I think its a wonderful indictment of the enduring myth of "Individualism" and "Autonomy/complete separation" in the most classical liberal sense.

Sure the individual remains important and autonomy itself is a positive value but Rowling's tale reminds us that complete separation from others is hardly ever reality, nor a desirable place to be.

Yes, Lupin died but not before he lived. Fred is dead but he didn't suffer. Harry lives. (Somewhere in Muggle London, I think)


Blogger marls said...

Very well put, karol. I also liked the last book and the way it showed the interconnectedness of people's pasts and chocies in life. The Harry Potter series is as realistic as they come.

6:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home