Saturday, July 8, 2006

Harry Potter: Drinking From the Fire

I posted a comment on Friday to Judith Warner's blog at the Times. I left a link in that comment to my post from last August on what had happened in the sixth Harry Potter book. This morning, I found that a couple of folks had complained that I had "spoiled" the outcome of HP and the Half-Blood Prince for them.

Obviously, I don't wish to "spoil" anything for anyone (with the possible exception of a closed group of police-state tyrants led by George Bush, whose six-year party I'd like to spoil with some impeachment hearings). So here is my message for Potter readers who may be feeling cheated by "spoilers" like myself.

There is much more to learn from a book in its meaning than in its plot. The story is the same for everyone, but the meaning is your own. So when you are reading, attend to the metaphor behind the narrative.

I wrote a book called Drinking From the Darkness, which was about learning to find the guiding metaphor of growth in depression and anxiety. J.K. Rowling wrote a far better and more successful book called Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, that described a similar lesson: find the meaning in conflict, drink deeply from adversity (as if it were in a goblet), and you will never cease growing, no matter your physical age or societal stature.

Therefore, do not worry about who dies or what happens in the stories, except as these events teach you something about yourself. When you read Harry Potter, ask yourself:

∆ Who is looking back at me from my Mirror of Erised?
∆ What do I find when I go into my own Pensieve?
∆ Where is the "room of requirement" in my life, and what do I find there?
∆ Which parts of myself are scattered about in the objects of life that may be called "horcruxes"?

Bring questions like these to your reading—be it of Harry Potter or the Daily News—and you may find that the narrative will blossom with personal meaning that is unique to your life and your capacity for insight. And you can be assured that you will never feel "spoiled" again.


Miss Bitty said...

This is, quite simply, marvelous. I've an urge to do an HP reread now. (not that I need much encouragement for that)

I followed the link over from your diary today/yesterday on DKos (I'm writerscramp over there), from the absolutely beautiful piece you posted there that was just what I needed at a time when I was starting to feel (again) that so much is lost, it may be too late to save the world. I always, inevitably, find something that renews my fire and my hope, ready to tilt at windmills again, but rarely do I find the encouragement in so lovely a form.

And now you've given me two gifts, because now I have a marvelous new blog to add to my bloglines, and though it is already so full it takes me hours each day to catch up on my reading, the dark and depressing and enraging news will now be ounterbalanced with something a little more nurturing.

Consider me a new fan. ;)

Brian Donohue said...

Miss Bitty: I tried to leave a reply at "The Hallway" but got a 404 on submitting it. Anyway, you made my day. It's why I always say, if people understood the transformative effect of kindness, it would be even trendier than going to see Johnny Depp.

Once again, thank you so much for your kind comment.

Miss Bitty said...

Weird about the reply thing on the website, but thanks for the heads up on that...I'll have to look into it.

And you're very welcome. :)