le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

R.A.B, yeah yeah

It's not much of a revelation to "speculate" that R.A.B. (the Horcrux-thief of book six) is Regulus Black, Sirius's brother (who was murdered by Voldemort 15 years before, aka the year Harry was born).

but i'm re-re-reading Order of the Phoenix, since HP is my comfort reading, and most of my other books are packed away for the move, and when the Gang cleans out the drawing room in Grimmauld Place, they remove (and presumably, throw out) a "heavy locket that none of them could open."

Merope is described as wearing a "heavy gold locket" that we know is Slytherin's.

So did HP and friends throw out the Horcrux? or maybe Kreacher nicked it from the rubbish sack??

More importantly, why do I spend so much time speculating about such things? I don't care nearly as much about what happens in the final book of The Series of Unfortunate Events (although i DO care quite a lot, and I'm eager for October 13 to roll around!), or what happens next in the Charlie Bone books (which I thought were sort of mediocre).

spells, spells, everywhere!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm waiting....

to get over my latest Harry Potter phase. I always get thoroughly Pottered when major disruptions, like moving, occur. I don't know why this is.

I'm mildly obsessed with Slughorn, and I'm quite eager to see what Rowling does with him in the final book. I've chosen Luna Lovegood as my in-book counterpart (well, I did that ages ago - she's the character I most identify with).

I've re-read Half-Blood Prince twice in a week, and I - like every other person on earth - am wondering about Snape. What strikes me on these read-throughs is Snape's insistence - repeated insistence - that Harry not call him a coward. To me, this gives me a smidge of evidence that Snape is really on "our" side after all, that perhaps he is doing something desperately brave but must be misread as cowardly by everyone.

*** Aside from Pottering, I've been giving loads of brain-time to my Lilo & Stitch paper (unwritten, but in mind for years now). I'm seriously contemplating writing up a proposal and sending it off to the modern critical approaches conference (Middle Tennessee State, sponsor). UC Knoepflmacher is keynote speaker, and it would be fantastic to see him. I'd REALLY like to get another conference paper under my belt (so to speak) in the next year or so. and I'd like to hit the ChLA conference next summer as well, even if I don't present. Perhaps I'll be able to wrangle a bit of cash to get to that...Norfolk isn't THAT far from Pittsburgh, especially since I have friends in the DC area with whom I could stay to break it up.

Over on child_lit, a conversation about child prodigies has erupted, with some attention going to a person called Adora. Because I am largely out of the mainstream-media loop, I hadn't heard of her before, and after viewing this website, I feel both ill and angered.

I HATE trick children. Hate them. Not them, so much as the adults around them who put them on display. I haven't read any of this girl's writing, but I'm willing to accept that she has some talent, maybe even a lot of it. But her website is written in the third-person "Precocious and curious Adora!" who loves to help. Contact her for free editing! for advice on how to teach (THIS i have real issues with, for a variety of reasons). It sounds more like a product is being shilled, than a girl is being praised.

Her name is alarming, too; even a totally uninspiring, mediocre child named Adora would bring on my gag reflexes, but a child meant to be admired and - yes - adored for her precocity being named Adora? Ugh.

Okay. I just listened/watched a snippet of some morning show reading Adora's work, and I'm unimpressed. all her characters "said" their dialogue, but the presenters were just as awful and patronizing.

Adora's main skill seems to be typing fast - 60 words a minute!- and we "watch her go" on national tv.

exploited kid....I wonder what the scoop on her parents is?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

horace slughorn, and who is harry potter?

I'm moving soon - a Real Moving Castle around these parts - and somehow, the stress and insecurity of moving always triggers my Harry Potter reflex. I re-read Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince in the last few days, acquiring some new appreciation for both texts.

I still think HBP is a bit of a scam; so much backstory, in dragged-out detail; do we really need to revisit all of Dumbledore's memories along with Harry? The "point" of those memories could have easily been narrated in abou six pages, instead of 100. It felt at first reading, and still feels, a bit of a cop-out.

I've become interested in places where Rowling gives us a bit of complexity - Snape being the obvious locus of this. But Horace Slughorn is becoming a much, much more interesting character to me, and I am very curious to see what, if anything, will become of him in the final volume.

The most interesting thing about Slughorn is that we finally get a decent Slytherin, instead of the unqualified evil, nasty and cruel Slytherin students. Ambition is one of the defining characteristics of Slytherin, and Slughorn has ambition in spades, though it is that power-string-pulling, backseat ambition (this description makes Slughorn sound like a much more benevolent Karl Rove, actually). But Slughorn's ambition is not for evil, or even bad; it's self-serving, but it's obvious to me, anyway, that Slughorn isn't entirely selfish. He wins students over, handpicking those he likes, but in a way, doesn't Dumbledore do something similar? or even Hagrid? Slughorn's vain in a very stereotypically insecure way; he boasts about his connections to make himself look special and strong. But he only uses those connections to help other handpicked students, or to get pretty small-time perks for himself. a hamper from honeydukes? tickets to Quidditch? candied pineapple? these are hardly criminal activities. There's a thread of anti-fat prejudice in Slughorn's characterization, really.

Even his "preference" for pure-bloods isn't quite real; it seems more a generalization based on experience (limited or narrow-minded experience, but not really prejudiced or nasty). He has a real horror of the practice of Dark Arts, it seems; he acknowledges, in giving the sluggish memory to Harry, that he fears he did something very very bad in discussing Horcruxes with Tom Riddle. Slughorn has conscience, which seems to be utterly lacking in the Slytherin camp at large. And I think he does have general goodwill towards most people. He isn't interested in collecting less impressive students, but neither does he wish them ill.

And I feel like there is real friendship between him and Dumbledore; somehow, the first chapter in which we meet him ( "Horace Slughorn") makes me feel like he and Dumbledore used to sit around the fire in comfy armchairs, shooting the shit and taking the piss out of each other over fine oak-matured mead.

My final question, or issue, is that I feel like Harry is weirdly undeveloped. I feel like I don't know anything about him, who he is. This could simply be from re-reading so many times, but he feels weirdly flat, somehow. Or rather, he lacks interiority. I guess because of the third-person narration, I don't feel along with Harry; his emotional and interior life is reported upon, but not really engaged and made visible, made palpable, to the reader. He likes treacle tart, and going to the Burrow, and Ginny, Ron and Hermione. He cares about Quidditch (but why?). One thing that has always troubled me is the way he put all his emotional stock in Sirius, leaving Lupin utterly aside, even after book three, in which Lupin (I think, anyway) formed more of a connection with him than Sirius did.

so i feel like, though I can predict Harry's behaviors, I don't really know him. It's a weird phenomenon for me, not having a sense of who he is outside of his actions. He's an extrovert, I suppose, or at least i experience him as such.

Anyway: Books five and six are good, getting better with re-readings, and I especially like Book Five, I've discovered, because so much of it takes place in the Wizarding world outside of Hogwarts, which has to me always been the place where Rowling really shines imaginatively.