The Metaphysics of Harry Potter

18 Sep

OK, I’m half way through “Chamber of Secrets” and, yes, I’ll admit it: I am now a fan.

But is this a surprise? Not to me. The books are better than the movies, charming and entertaining and almost a perfect fit for the kind of fiction I look for: sci-fi or fantasy that takes place in our world, but reveals a secret segment of our world no ordinary person knows about (BtVS/Angel and Highlander are both like this). And it’s a series, so that when I get that “so what happened next?” bug I can just pick up the next book. Or wait for the next book. And of course, I like books with complicated teen-aged protagonists/heroes. Don’t ask me why. Connor Angel, John Connor, Luke Skywalker, Buffy Summers, Richie Ryan, Harry Potter.

Rowling has created a rich complex sub-culture/universe that, only half-way into the second book, rivals a full 11 seasons of BtVS and Angel. To crawl around in this woman’s mind! I knew I was merrily in fandom land when I found myself looking for Harry Potter websites that resembled the Metaphysics section of my own ATPoBtVS. If I hadn’t come across a clever and decent little reference site on my first search, I would have had to wrestle my inner metaphysician to the ground to keep her from starting a new website, All Things Philosophical in… well, you know.

I came to Harry Potter through the movies, so that might make me sympathetic to the movies, but I actually find it fascinating to compare the books and the movies. I’m the sort of person who enjoys the writer’s and director’s commentaries on movie and television show DVDs almost more than the original piece. It’s interesting to see where the movie-makers cut corners, what they decide to chop out, what they decide to keep, and where they decide to make events go completely differently than the books in order to save time and resources.

But this is why the written word will never be replaced by film. The written word can go more places, and people are willing to give it more time than they’ll sit through a film.

Rowling has given a fresh face to classic fantasy themes: the unwanted child, discovering a magical new world right under your nose, good versus evil, the mundane/poor/outsider kids vs. the popular/rich/insider kids, secret passageways, mystical animals, bubbling potions, spells, rituals, monsters, super powers, and the panged, panged pains of childhood/adolescence.

Now I will just have to find a way to deal with the fact that I like something that is immensely…. dare I use the word? Ugh!

Popular.

shudders Instead of people staring oddly at the front cover of the book I am reading on the bus, they smile nostalgically. I am not used to this. I’m so used to doing what comes naturally to me and finding myself the odd girl out.

12 Responses to “The Metaphysics of Harry Potter”

  1. cwx September 18, 2003 at 12:50 pm #

    See, instead of letting WB adapt it, they shoulda sold the rights to BBC and done a 10-hour adapation of each book, like they did with those Austen novels et al. Then they could show it on PBS and make millions in pledge money, erasing their budget troubles for the next few years! Heh heh… the only problem is the special effects, of course.
    The third movie is supposed to be by the guy who did Y Tu Mama Tambien rather than the guy who did Bicentennial Man, so take from that what you will. I will say that I expected the first two to suck as bad as Columbus’ previous movies, so I think we should be glad that it’s apparently not that easy for even him to screw up the HP books. 🙂

  2. neshaffer September 18, 2003 at 1:05 pm #

    It’s a long time until next summer…
    I haunted a few “Making of the Prisoner of Azkaban” movie sites until I decided I would be spoiling myself.

  3. dlgood September 18, 2003 at 1:08 pm #

    I’m the sort of person who enjoys the writer’s and director’s commentaries on movie and television show DVDs almost more than the original piece.
    My favorite parts of the “Lord of the Rings” are the appendicies…
    But, I’m a freak like that. I still can’t get excited by Harry Potter, but the “History of Middle Earth” series still sets me all atwitter.

    • Claudiana December 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Hey there! This is Bellatrix Lestrange from last night’s line, all of us right there front n’ centre thrhugoout, and that was all just the most singularly awesomely fabuloso time I daresay I’ve *ever* had! I did indeed first come across that article and mention made in the T-C, because I’d been wondering what tone their report on the day’s happenings would’ve taken . (when it’s Michael D. Reid, who knows, right? ) But it seemed like a perfectly decent article, and certainly I did notice that you were featured in it .good on ya, line-friend! (though I do have to wonder, awwwww, but where’s the Bellatrix-love, eh? I mean, honestly, surely people aren’t holding that whole Malfoy Manor-torturing thing against her .um, wait .eeep. Like with those re-enactments, too, which were of course simply awesome .but you know .LOL! )I was actually minded to comment on this blog of yours not only as a result of the newspaper article, natch (and was there coverage on last night’s news? I can’t believe it totally slipped my mind to give the head’s-up to friends n’ family at home so’s they could keep an eye out for us, and tape our appearance .argh, curses!) but also because, well .all of us, we never had the chance to exchange contact info, you realize? .and, well, I don’t know, I guess I feel like twould just be nice to keep up with the HP group fandom’ing e.g., what with talk of Quidditch’ing, quite possibly . And then, too, I always wonder what potential interest there would be in costumed photoshoots, right? .since I’m always more than game for em, and I’ve actually done quite a few in my SW costume kit .but still definitely am rarin’ to for HP, and hey, any and all opportunities to trot out the costume kit, I’m *totally* all for that. And then, too, don’t we all in our HP-fanverse have to stick together anyway? .what with all the Muggles otherwise about, for one thing . *laughs*

  4. neshaffer September 18, 2003 at 1:23 pm #

    Novels with appendices are good.
    Never was able to get into the Lord of the Rings books myself. I’ve tried several times, and decided they were just too “complicated”, but I know that can’t be the real reason. I enjoy complicated worlds and complicated characters.
    I’ve seen both LOR movies and enjoyed them well enough, but not enough to see them more than once. So perhaps it’s the story, or the characters, or something that’s just not grabbing me.

  5. dlgood September 18, 2003 at 2:06 pm #

    Re: Novels with appendices are good.
    Matter of taste, I suppose. I tried to get into the Potterverse, but it just doesn’t do much for me. I recognize how good Rowling has been at what she’s set out to do, but it just doesn’t grab me for whatever reason. I think I would have loved it if I’d read them when I was 10.
    Tolkien’s case is odd, because he was a Philologist who sort of stumbled backwards into long form fiction. Personally, I’m more into the Silmarillion than LotR – and for me reading Tolkien is more on par with reading Kalevala or the Eddas rather than reading standard fiction.

  6. angeyja September 18, 2003 at 2:09 pm #

    If I hadn’t come across a clever and decent little reference site on my first search, I would have had to wrestle my inner metaphysician to the ground to keep her from starting a new website, All Things Philosophical in… well, you know.
    Awww….
    I’m following mainly to see what happens now. Thanks for the update; I’m anxiously looking forward to your take on the last book.

  7. neshaffer September 18, 2003 at 2:18 pm #

    “The last book”?
    You mean Order of the Phoenix?
    I’m only half-way through “Chamber of Secrets”. And I haven’t yet given my “take” on that yet…..
    Stay tuned. Might be November!

  8. neshaffer September 18, 2003 at 2:35 pm #

    Re: Novels with appendices are good.
    I think I would have loved it if I’d read them when I was 10.
    Well, I’m stuck in a protracted adolescence. I can’t really read any books with only grown-ups in them. Too much of the real world leaks in: politics, war, crime.
    oooooh, depressing. I could read the newspaper if I wanted to hear that stuff.

  9. angeyja September 18, 2003 at 4:17 pm #

    Re: “The last book”?
    Yes, I know. No rush. 🙂

  10. rahael September 19, 2003 at 8:27 am #

    Really glad you’re liking them!
    Yeah, I know it feels like you’re following the herd, but I also kind of like it that lots of people like a really rather good book – it’s a nicer feeling than constantly mourning the fact that the vast majority of people will never discover the fantastic things that get me so excited.
    I like it that I can discuss it with my secretarial colleagues – usually my reading habits aren’t shared by them that often.

  11. neshaffer September 19, 2003 at 9:29 am #

    Re: Really glad you’re liking them!
    I am, and of course I had to run out and find other intelligent readers of HP (not that I don’t already know a few!)
    Here’s a new LJ community discussing it:

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