(and no amount of magic can change my past!)
In the wake of JK Rowling releasing yet another thing to do with Harry Potter, having stopped writing the series a mere seven years ago, there has been a great deal of wizard-related traffic on my Facebook feed and YouTube searches; and while I don’t want to hate on people simply for liking a thing and then talking about it (honestly), there is a small part of me that feels a bit left out, a feeling eleven-year old James didn’t get when The Deathly Hallows was released, because I had Star Wars Battlefront II to concern me back then.
My knowledge of the Harry Potter world amounts to several views of the first film, sneakily recorded on a VCR player when it was shown on TV in about 2001 (incidentally, a VCR player is a primitive device for recording video that dates back to William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066 – I head he vlogged the whole thing), and a half-hearted viewing of the sixth film, The Half-Blood Prince, which was either out of pity for a friend who wanted to see it but had no-one else to go with, or with my Mum and sister, I can’t remember.
So I understand the basic premise – three kids from different backgrounds go to a boarding school and have adventures – but nothing more about it; I don’t like talking about things I know little about, because I’m sure the series is far more complex and meaningful than that sentence, in the same way that Battlestar Galactica is about more than ‘Man, the cylons are pricks, aren’t they?’.
And it’s not like I’ve been deprived of the books; four of them sit by my desk as I write this, and the fifth is somewhere in my house; I’ve just never been particularly interested in reading them. When Pottermania was in full swing, in about 2005-7, I was too young to care for reading, as a task for anything more than pleasing teachers, so I skipped the series while I was a kid, and I never really caught up. Now I understand that reading is cool, but I’m more interested in reading the works of Dante, or Dickens, because surely that\s what I ‘should’ be reading, as an English student?
Yeah…no. I don’t really accept that we ‘should’ be engaging with certain kinds of art at different stages in our lives – sure, I didn’t understand Slaughterhouse Five when I was a kid, but I loved TFiOS as a seventeen-year-old – because the issues raised in them are often applicable to people of multiple ages; I’m sure the school setting of the Harry Potter series is some kind of metaphor that can be applied to adult life in a sophisticated and informative way.
I suppose it’s peer pressure more than anything else, but without the ‘peers’; I have a vision of myself as an intelligent person, and so I need to read obviously intelligent things, even if I don’t fully understand them, just to be involved in that kind of thinking, a vision probably reinforced by my own misconceptions of what ‘intelligence’ actually is.
I then look at the fact that I’m loving The Bone Palace, the second book in Amanda Downum’s excellent Necromancer Chronicles series, a novel that doesn’t include one mention of Latin, or a reference to Christian allegory, and realise that I’m not just being a dismissive, judgmental and arrogant bastard, but a dismissive, judgemental and arrogant bastard with double standards, a group of people who would probably get their own circle of Hell if Dante was writing his Divine Comedy today.
So I will try to eliminate these double standards from my selection of books; this summer, I will read the first four Harry Potter books, and avenge the death of child James, who never got a chance to do so. I have no idea when this will take palce, considering I have the Necromancer Chronicles, Dark Tower, Divine Comedy, and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series to finish, as well as Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of… series, and the entire UCL reading list, that starts with Milton’s Paradise Lost, to get through first, but I have a few months on my hands, so I should be able to finish everything.