Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Fight Against the Death Eaters

On my first night in the hospital this week, my doctor came around to talk medical stuff but got so excited by seeing me with the latest Harry Potter tome, which he had just finished himself the night before, that we really didn't talk much about illness but did go into our favorite characters.

"I've got 150 pages to go so NO SPOILERS!" I told him.

"Have you gotten to The Cave yet?" he asked in a voice filled with a trace of chilled awe.

"No, and don't say another word because I'm not reading it tonight. It feels too scary to be reading it at night in a hospital."

My physician is the same age as me, by the way, on the wise side of 50.

I'm feeling ridiculously grateful for all kinds of things right at the moment, including the fact that we have our own version of a Charles Dickens phenomenon, where people would wait on the docks in the 19th century on the East Coast waiting for the latest installment of his serialized novels. The emotional high point for me was the third book in the series, "The Prisoner of Azhkaban" where Harry finally found Sirius Black who loved him unreservedly like a good parent, after having been tortured by the Dursleys all his life. And like Dickens, Ms. Rowling didn't let that warmth and fuzziness last very long but plunged us back into some serious sadness.

The series is also funny and infinitely surprising. My favorite line in the latest book is "What do I care how he looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I theenk!" which is fabulously absurd but in context is quite an admirable remark.

What's also interesting is how connected the whole saga is to "current events." I'm not sure if it's intentional on Rowling's part, but her capturing of the zeitgeist of our "real" times is uncanny. I can't watch the Bush Administration, Berlusconi and Pope Benedict in Italy, Blair and his gang in England, without thinking "Death Eaters." They need to be fought in every way possible, and we can win, because as Dumbledore tells Harry, "You have a power that Voldemort has never had. You can love."

The subject of fighting for change, large and small, and unintended consequences is addressed in one of the most beautiful essays I've ever read by a San Francisco writer who I'd never heard of before, Rebecca Solnit. It's been reprinted on Tom Engelhardt's blog, and is called "The Great Gray Whale." Do check it out.


the Witch said...

Welcome back, dear Mike.

This witch hath missed your magic.

Anonymous said...

I like Harry potter too. Gotta read the last one before I read this one.

Anonymous said...

"...tortured by the Weasleys all his life..."! I believe you mean Dursleys!

Civic Center said...

Dear Rob: Thanks so much for the correction. I'll go back and fix it. The Dursleys appear so briefly in this volume that I put them out of my mind, and of course the Weasleys are Ron, his siblings and his parents who are Good.

Anonymous said...

Life does imitate art (or vice versa). Hmmm... the conundrum of the chicken and the egg. In this case, I believe the REAL hope lies with Harry and perhaps even Snape and Malfoy. If you've finished six, you may agree that not everything is as it seems and true redemption is a better bet at Hogwarts. Given my faith in fantasy over fact, I am most engaged by the Cinderella story that Harry offers. We all have the potential to find we are indeed the prince or princess in our own story and the ashes or the Dursleys are just an illusion. For another spin on a "Happily Ever After" go to - - and see me spin the tie to another "death eater". Great to see you this week Mike and it's been FUN visiting your blog!