Complications Ensue:
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Friday, November 25, 2005

The Harry Potter series has always bugged me because it feels too much like a parody of a coming of age story set in a British Boarding School -- magic is too easy and too cutesy, not mysterious enough. Sure, Rowling has a huge imagination, but the plots seem all over the place. I'm not quarrelling with the series' popularity, I just haven't loved any of the movies as much as I loved, say, the new Superman teaser trailer. Which feels mythic. And magic.

But the HP stories also bug me, I realized, because I'm not a wizard. I've always felt left out in the magic department. I know people who claim to be able to see auras. A friend of mine could draw down the Moon -- and if you'd seen her when she did it, you'd know that it wasn't just her there, something or someone old and strange and yet utterly familiar was in her.

I can't do that. I can't get out of my head enough to work magic. Or, at any rate, I can't feel magic.

But then I realize that in another way I am a wizard. I say things and they appear. My mojo has to be working, and other people have to agree that those things ought to appear, and large numbers of people are involved in making the things actually appear. It takes a stretch of time and a lot of negotiation. But still. I imagine them, and then one day, there they are. After that, they take on a life of themselves. They appear, and then they go on to live in people's memories and dreams. I don't even have to be there any more. Other conjurors can keep the world and the people I created alive.

Lisa and I were talking on the drive down here about what a thrill it is to write things on a page, and then someone acts them, and suddenly there's this fictional person on the screen, saying the things you thought of for her to say, and people have feeling about this fictional person, and want her to be happy, and fear for her life, and wish she could sort it all out. When it works, it's a rush.

After I realized that, I felt a lot better about Harry. (Or, at least, Hermione, who's willing to put the work in. And who, thank God, has finally started looking her age.)


I have a love/hate relationship with the mystical arts. Back when I was about 8 or 9 I knew I was a little bit 'different' than my peers. My sense of empathy and intuition a little more finely tuned. Then came the dreams, much like Allison from Medium has. Weird dreams about people I don't know and places I've never been, only to revisit in the 'real world' days or weeks later. I knew what people were going to say before they said it, because I'd already been through it once before. Now that's some pretty freaky dejavu. And it wasn't just me that was freaked out by all this. Some kids at my Catholic school started calling me a witch and even went so far as to pin me down on the ground during recess a couple of times and try to set my dress on fire with a match. Ah, yes...those were some good times. :-(

After dabbling with ouija boards -- with some rather disturbing results -- when I was a teenager, I moved on to tarot cards in my 20s. To this day I insist it's all just bullshit and coincidence, despite the fact that I have a 100% accuracy rate and predicted a family member's upcoming rape by one boyfriend, being cheated on by the next boyfriend and getting pregnant by the boyfriend after that -- even after being told by the doctors that she could never conceive, let alone carry a fetus to term. Seven months after my reading with her, she got the blessed news.

Sometimes I wish I just had the kind of magic that Alex was talking about, instead of this freaky mystical kind. I think my life would be a hell of a lot easier.

By Blogger Kelly J. Compeau, at 12:19 PM  

I'll understand if you decide this is spam and delete it, but after your last entry, I can't resist posting this: Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody

In defiance of everything you might expect, both the book and the author are pretty decent.

By Blogger Harriet, at 12:11 AM  

From a screenwriting perspective, the success of Harry Potter perplexes me. He's a character who reacts while the proactive characters poke him in the side and nudge him along. Somewhere on my yellowbrick screenwriting road, I met a blue fairy who said that doesn't work. Apparently, for Harry, it does.

By Blogger MaryAn Batchellor, at 1:03 PM  

That bugs me too, MaryAn. I think if you throw $200 million worth of spectacle and wonder at a movie, you can get over the central character's reactiveness. Look at the Star Wars movies.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 1:22 PM  

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