Wednesday, August 16, 2006

RfP Wednesday: It's Time. The Potter.

Lo, what now is many weeks ago, there was a photo meme thing on which I totally dropped the ball. Part of it is I'm more of a words person than an images person, and part of it is that I just couldn't figure out what to take pictures of in response to people's queries. Well, and some requests - like a picture of my kitchen - made me feel all anxious like I should totally clean my kitchen - or like a picture of my dishes - made me feel all like I should buy new dishes because I'm just a crappy homemaker.... Yeah, so anyway, I dropped the ball. My bad.

And you may be wondering why I bring this up at the start of a Reading for Pleasure Wednesday post. It is because when I was pondering what to photograph as "the craziest thing in Dr. Crazy's house," Dr. Medusa suggested that the craziest thing in my house is in fact my Harry Potter books. But not really the books themselves. It's me with the books. It is an obsession, and not an entirely healthy one. But so I've got to talk about the Potter. It has waited long enough.

To Begin: My History with the Potter.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came out when I was in graduate school. These were dark times indeed, when I did not read for pleasure. I scoffed at the Harry Potter phenomenon. What was wrong with all of these people that they acted like HP was so great? There have always been great books about misunderstood kids, usually orphans, who lived with their aunt and uncle, and ended up going to a magical world. Wizard of Oz much? And the adults reading the books? Were they illiterates?

I totally didn't get it.

And then I actively resisted the phenomenon, particularly when my Ex-with-whom-I-lived told me he'd talked to his pre-me-girlfriend and she told him she was reading the HP books. What. A. Loser. I was totally never going to enjoy anything that girl enjoyed, right?

So I finish my PhD, and I get my job, and my best friend from high school sends me a present at some point in that time - a Latin edition of the first book. (At other times she has purchased me joke t-shirts written in Latin, and Winnie Ille Pu - awesome. Love high school BFF.) At this point I am intrigued, but I still think it is silly to read the book in English. I think to myself that I shall translate the Latin version. Needless to say, this did not happen.

To Continue: Crazy Cracks under the Pressure and Gives in to the Potter

It had to happen sometime. No one could resist it forever. The year: 2005. I had just broken up with a guy (some of you may know him as Stupid Freud), and I was spending a lot of time on my own. The school year was ending, and I just happened to catch the first two movies (on two consecutive Saturday nights, for I am a loser) on Network TV. And then the third movie was available on-demand. And then I thought, well, I've seen the movies, and now the semester is over, and so I may as well read them, right? And so I bought myself the present of the Books 1-5 set, and I was off.

To Continue Further: Crazy Becomes Dangerously Addicted to the Potter

I have been reading the books for over a year now. Sometimes I read them in order. Sometimes I reread the same one a bunch of times - it's kind of like being a human skipping record. Sometimes I read them out of order. It's totally insane. And it makes me happier than anything. [Aside: I actually just found out that a good friend with whom I'd fallen out of touch for a couple of years does the same thing with the books, so clearly this Potter Neurosis is not unique to me. I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse.]

Why am I doing this? What is the pay-off?

Well, I'm glad you asked. The short version is this: I enjoy looking for clues into the next book and in constructing scenarios for how the series will end. The longer version is somewhat more neurotic, and because that is much more interesting than the short version, I will have to post some of my musings here. As this is an insane activity, I can only post them as random questions and insights. I believe that JK Rowling herself confirms some of my theories, and I also believe that I am not alone in this obsession. Don't believe me? Just check out The Leaky Cauldron.

Dr. Crazy's Crazy Theories Related to the Potter:

  • Is Snape evil? Of course not. But then why does he kill Dumbledore? Because Dumbledore knew of the plot to kill him, and he had arranged with Snape that Snape would kill him so Draco wouldn't have to commit murder. Also, Snape is still working for the Order of the Phoenix.
  • What, you say? Snape is evil! But you see, no, Snape is not evil. And yes, he's been horrible to Harry, BUT the thing that nobody knows is that Snape was in love with Lily (Harry's mother) and that is where the potions book comes in. Because remember: Slughorn always is saying that Harry inherits his MOTHER's talent for potions - just like he inherits his MOTHER's eyes. If Snape was so brilliant at potions, why would he need to make all of those marginal notes in his old potions book? Why wouldn't he just naturally have a knack for doing the potions? And remember also how Snape gets angry with Hermione in one of the early books for helping Neville with potions. Why is that such a problem for Snape? Because Lily helped Snape on the sly, and Snape was in love with her, but then Lily went and married Snape's nemesis, James Potter. So Snape joins Voldemort because he's all upset and hurt and such, but then he realizes that in doing so he condemned his One True Love Lily to death, and then he joins the Order of the Phoenix. This also explains why Dumbledore believes Snape - as the one thing Dumbledore believes in more than anything else is True Love, right? And THEN, when Snape meets Harry, he immediately hates Harry because, as we all know, Harry bears a remarkable resemblance to James - in every aspect except for his mother's eyes. THUS, when Snape looks at Harry, not only is he reminded of the person he hated most in the world but also of the loss of his One True Love to that person. Sucks to be Snape, huh?
  • So will Snape die in the last book? Of course, but only after we learn all of the above, thus meaning we will be devastated when he dies, as we were not actually devastated by the death of Dumbledore, because Dumbledore was ready to die whereas Snape's whole life has been stunted, he's never been recognized for his brilliance, and he's never been happy. It's going to be heartbreaking.
  • What happened to the Potter grandparents? Because if Neville lives with his grandmother, and if Dumbledore is a minimum of like 87, then wizards tend to be pretty long-lived, and there's got to be a reason why the old Potters aren't around. While we're at it, how come Harry never asked anybody about them? Or about what his parents did for a living? For a curious kid, he's not too curious about some pretty obvious shit.
  • Oh, and Harry is the last heir of Gryffindor, obviously, which is why his parents lived in Godric's Hollow.
  • Dumbledore will appear in Book 7 first in a Chocolate Frog Card to give Harry advice.
  • Harry will have to return to 12 Grimmauld Place (for many reasons, not the least of which is to get the locket horcrux that RAB - Regulus Black - left there) and there he will have some communication with Sirius, whether in the form of a portrait or using that 2-way mirror in some way.
  • The final battle between Voldemort and Harry will happen at Hogwarts, for the Hogwarts enchantments are the only thing that could put Harry on a level playing field with Voldemort.
  • I really don't think Nagini is a horcrux. I think that Voldemort did get into the school (many times, through the vanishing cabinet at his old job at Borgin and Burkes) and that he did get something from each of the founders. This would be one of Dumbledore's minor mistakes, though he is right about the number of horcruxes.
  • Harry and Ginny will not be together. Harry's soulmate is Luna Lovegood. I really believe this. And Luna is my favorite human character. I also have a soft spot for Dobby.
There's more where all of the above came from, but I'm feeling kind of exhausted from writing it all out. So that's my ongoing pleasure-reading. And yes, I realize it's really, really crazy.

19 comments:

AAYOR said...

I want to respond to this point. by. point. but instead, I'll just say that I figured out RAB immediately, too....

Jill said...

Oh how wonderful! I love all the theories :)

And I'm somewhat comforted that you reread them all the time - my ten year old reads and rereads and listens to them on audiobook incessantly, and thus I too am used to the sound of Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter in the background (Stephen Fry does a great job reading them!) - and well, other people also having this obsession makes me less inclined to rag my poor daughter about hers.

Me, I still read Anne of Green Gables over when I need cheering up. Harry Potter's probably a better set of books... Oh no, I need Anne too.

negativecapability said...

I read quite a bit for pleasure, with a lot of sci-fi and fantasy in there, but for some reason I'm just "meh" about the Potter. I've tried--meaning I've read all the books, except I made it halfway through the one before the latest because I was bored and didn't get to the latest one. My friends are the "pre-ordering copies and reading them all night as soon as they get them" HP fanatics, but they just don't do it for me. I like the idea of HP, like I like listening to my friends theories and reading yours, but I don't really get it.

Sometimes I feel like there's something wrong with me :)

shrinkykitten said...

I was so ready to stop reading your blog immediately after the first paragraph of this entry. Luckily, I gave you the benefit of the doubt! :)

I resisted reading HP for a long time too - but once I started reading it, I was hooked. It doesn't hurt that when Iw as reading book #3 on a plane, some super christian woman totally lit into me about how I was the cause of all evil in the world for reading HP. That only increased my appreciation for the book.

I love having stuff like this of be obsessed with/addicted to. Though sometimes I feel a little crazy that I talk about the characters/people as though they are real or I know them (this is an issue with me and "Project Runway" right now!).

And I too refuse to believe Snape is evil.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...
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Inside the Philosophy Factory said...
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Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Hubby loves Potter like you do -- I've read them all, but I'm not quite as into it as y'all. I do have a theory I started after seeing the first movie in the theater -- my theory is that Harry is a reincarnation of Dumbledore.... I was sure I saw a syspicious wrinkle/scar on Dumbledore's head.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

sorry for the multple comments, blogger must hate me!

jo(e) said...

I have certain parts of each book I read over and over again -- I love the fun and descriptive parts, like Christmas time or buying schoolbooks in Diagon Ally and stuff like that ....

Luna Lovegood? No, no, she is too weird. I want Ginny and Harry to be together.

k8 said...

I can't deal with too much suspense, so I've actually put off reading all Harry Potter until they are all out. Then I will binge to my heart's content. Of course, since I work with children's and YA literature, everyone I know thinks that it is 1) unbelievable that I haven't read HP, and 2) that I have committed a sin against something or other. But yes, I will binge on all of HP once the final book has been published.

Tiruncula said...

Me too with the resistance, then the obsession, the rereading, the theories. I agree with almost all of yours except shipping Harry/Luna - though I do like Luna. And I would add that I don't think Harry is fundamentally curious, though one thing I like about HBP (a limited list) is that finally Harry thinks of questions and asks them directly. Once he starts gathering information, he turns out to be good at it and he comes to the right conclusion very quickly, which bodes well for his survival.

I have some Potter posts brewing (a short one on Endangering the Dursleys and a longer one on Snape's Underwear) and you've inspired me to do something with them - as soon as my syllabi are finished.

Meanwhile: Do you listen to Leaky's podcast, Pottercast? It's become the chief of my secondary HP additions.

Cats & Dogma said...

We got hooked just as book 3 was coming out, and have read every word of them aloud to one another, complete with voices (you should hear my Dobby) and faux British schoolboy accents: it's why it took us almost 8 months to get through 6.

Your Snape-in-love theory is flat out brilliant (as are most of your predictions), though like others, I don't buy your Lovegood theory (though I love her as a character).

bbound said...

I also really resisted Harry--I think I tried to read the first paragraph of the first book, found it stupid, and didn't try again for several years. That had its benefits though, because it meant I could read the first three in a row.

As everyone says, your Snape theory is brilliant. Really explains a lot. Ultimately, I just don't think Snape can be pure evil. Rowling always shys away from people just being intrinsically evil, there is almost always a reasonable explanation for wrong-doing. And it seems like Snape will at some point provide Harry with a lesson about forgiveness, something Harry hasn't quite figured out yet.

MommyProf said...

I am with you about Harry and Luna. Our whole family loves HP, too.

cloudscome said...

Oh sheesh now I want to read them all again.

I agree about Snape. I always knew he wasn't evil. And I know Dumbledore isn't gone forever.

Psycgirl said...

I loved this post because I too despised the HP phenomenon - and I worked in a book store. I especially did not get the adults buying the 'adult version' with the different covers. I thought it was pathetic these kids never read before... and now I'm completely addicted. I re-read them over and over again! You have some good predictions, I can't wait for the next book!

Canada said...

I think there should be a Potter Anonymous group - I'm a charter member for sure. I didn't read them until the first movie was released, and then I had to read the first book before I saw the movie (I'm obsessive that way). Then I was hooked. Like grabbing my 9 year old nephew when I was in the middle of the Goblet of Fire and saying "How many books are there? When is the next one coming out?" and having him say, as he slowly backed away "soon, Auntie, soon. . . "

I'm totally with you on Snape, not so sure about Harry and Luna. And what about Dumbledore - do you think he could have horcruxed himself with Nicolas Flamel? (The Philosopher's Stone wizard, who was preparing to die anyway at the end of the first book).

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I had exactly the same reaction of: This is really silly! then reading them, and realizing: I love these! I don't spend a lot of time discussing the theories or anything, but I am obsessed, and I do re-read.

I'm kind of with you on Luna. I think it might be Luna, or someone completely new. Or I should say: that's what I hope. I kind of suspect, given JKR, that it will be Ginny. But I can live with that, too (as long as we get another book!!).

I love Neville, too.

Paris said...

Why doesn't Harry have any curiousity about his grandparents?

The same reason why the 1000 year old entrance to the chamber of secrets was hidden behind a 100 year old plumbing fixture.

Which might be related to the fact that history teacher is deathly boring.

As for Dumbledore's death - he's far to interlinked to that phoenix to convince me that he's actually gone, especially given what the coffin did at the funeral. He'll be back in some form or another.

And yes, I too am obviously above putting a lot of thought into children's books! They ain't great literature but they are a ripping good read.