Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Books of Liz

This has turned into a long unfocussed rant. Enjoy :)

I missed leisure reading in University. It is nice to have it back in my life. I think it might be making me sane again.

He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt.

Last summer I read Catch 22 for the first time, though it had been sitting on my "to read" list for some time. Within a chapter I was wondering where it had been all my life. Questions of war, death and human sanity vs insanity treated with dark humour and irreverrance (without the preachy morality of M*A*S*H*... book, movie or TV show included), it's about the only way I can deal with those issues. Sometimes I think that's why the Daily Show is so popular. Sometimes all you can do with something that horrific is laugh at it.

Have you ever wondered how you would go about teaching an elephant yoga?

Last December I read Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, by Christopher Moore. Of all the books I've read concerning religion and spirituality, curiously this strange fictional tale of a crude ultra-modern best friend to "Joshua" throughout his life's journey as the Messiah is the first one to make me actually want to be Christian. Not because I suddenly believe that there was a real "Biff" or that Jesus Christ learned Judo (seriously read the book), but because it's the essence of a story that penetrates the human consciousness, not its literal interpretation of what went on. Maybe Jesus wasn't a fun guy who got drunk off of the water he turned into wine and then declared that he loved bunnies (seriously read the book), but the idea of his kind heart and wisdom is what draws us to this story. His character is a hero, one who it doesn't do us any hurt to try to be like. I kind of wish we could just simply regard him as that, rather than fighting each other over whether believing every word he and the bible said is the only way to get into heaven.

There shall not be among you a witch

Which brings me very nicely to my most recent, ahem, literary endevour. Five years ago I picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for one reason, and one reason alone: To piss of the neo-conservative Christians in my school. I worked with one who told me I was right on my way to hell for reading about evil Pagan witchcraft. I told him that if it weren't for the medieval Pagans we wouldn't have many of the celebrations and feasts in our Christian tradition, including Christmas. This did not go over well.
Harry Potter and Christ. Well that's an essay in and of itself isn't it ;)

As we approach, what will be for myself and many other geeks, a sleepless Saturday morning reading I will talk briefly about my newest venture in nerdom.
Harry Potter joins Star Wars and Final Fantasy VI in my long list of REALLY uncool things I have tendency to obsess over on and off. I've recently decided that this is healthy for me, as I quite need a strong fantasy world apart from reality to keep me sane. And who doesn't love a battle of good vs evil? What I love about my particular choices is that all three series have an important message about good and evil. We all have both parts in us. We all have the potential to be good and evil, and it is our choices that define us.
I feel like we live in a culture that is increasingly inclined to either strict Locke or Hobbes philosophy, with little thought given to personal choice and responsibility. John Locke says that we are born carte blanche, and that it is society that corrupts man and turns him evil. Hobbes on the other hand believes that man is born evil and society is necissary to keep man from devolving into "continual fear and danger of violent death and the life of man: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".

I believe that we are born with both parts in us, and that our personal choices and actions reflect the good or evil in our person. People are not altogether good or bad they're just people.
For too long I played the optimist believing that if people were just educated enough or saw the world through other's eyes or opened their hearts they would ultimately do the right thing. It was quite damaging in the wake of 9/11 to keep trying to convince myself of this spiritually or morally. I simply saw too much evidence to contradict it.
I have spent the last few years wallowing in "I hate humanity" land. It's an easy place to be. If you think people suck, they don't usually disappoint you. It's easier to be angry at someone for being a jerk and just write them off as idiotic, than to try to see the good inside of them. It's a lot easier to find the bad than it is the good.
Finally, though, I think that I am coming to understand that people have the capacity for both and that this is a good thing.

"It is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so"

If there's one thing that I have never 'bought into' in Shakespeare's plays it's "Fate", the idea that some greater destiny is controlling the play and that people are absolved of their wrong doings because they were simply succumbing to their destinies (and all that we are evil in by a devine thrusting on :p).
The beautiful parallels that Rowling draws between Harry and Voldimorte to MacBeth are probably the strongest part of her writing (as far as an adult audience is concerned). If Voldimorte had not tried to kill Harry would the prophecy still have come true? Could MacBeth just have gone on home and ignored the witches and told his wife to take it easy? And when those events take place can the characters be held accountable for their actions, since it was indeed destiny? Well you know what I think by now :)

So do I think Harry willl die? Will he have to sacrifice himself to save the world from evil, as is told by the prophets... cies... ahem. Or does his Mother's death sheild him from harm as though he were not from woman born... cough ahem... don't mind that. Though I must ask... should we start calling Macbeth "He who shall not be named" in the theatre. :p

I'm done I promise.

I don't think he's a Horocrux, though I'm not quite sure about that scar itself.
If I'm worried about any characters dying it's Order of the Pheonix members (Lupin, Hagrid and the Weasleys especially). I see one of the Weasleys going, and Percy realizing that he's acting like a jerk, but being too late. If it's any of the kids, I worry about Luna, I quite like her, but I think it makes a lot of sense with her role in the series.
I feel that forgiveness will play a big role in the final battles. Both Snape, and even Voldimorte. Harry will have to play to his strengths, and Avada Kedaver isn't one of them.

So that said, I will not write about Deathly Hallows when I am done the book. Mostly because a number of you won't have even woken up to go down to the store and buy it by then. I promise I'll wait.


If anyone endured reading that, you probably know a little bit more about me than you may have, and hopefully appreciate that some of my geekdom is not simply for geekiness sake.

I leave you with a final thought that loosely ties it all together.

"Joe Bowers: There was a time when reading wasn't just for 'fags'. And neither was writing. People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about whose ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again!" -Idiocracy

1 comment:

Andrew J. Root the First said...

I think Hagrid dying would make some sort of sense. He's just so "lovable dope pathetic" that I'm not sure how he's still alive actually.