Sunday, November 26, 2006

Joining Dumbledore's Army

Before we return to another week of deconstructing fundamentalism as it appears in government, religion, politics, corporate affairs, the media, and the culture at large, how about a few moments of fun on a Sunday?

Harry Potter: The Turning Point. For me, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the turning-point story of the Potteriad. It may also be the best written tale of the lot, but that's very much a matter of personal preference, so I won't insist on it. But clearly, the themes of OOTP make it a transformative tale, which is why it is featured so prominently in my own Tao of Hogwarts. If you have a glance at the pdf download of the entire text (in the banner above), you will find that OOTP is featured in Chapters 2, 7, 8, 9, and 10. OOTP is loaded with political, psychological, and transformative metaphor: the death veil, the Department of Mysteries, the Ministry of Magic, the character of Dolores Umbridge, Grimmauld Place, the Room of goes on and on.

That's why the next film, to be released in July, 2007, is of such interest to a fellow like me. There's an extended trailer/preview over at Google Video which is worth a look. And the kids at Mugglenet have a load of material about the film, including ever-increasing sets of still photos.

Dark Energy: Of equal importance to my mind are the recently-published findings regarding dark energy. I don't exactly agree with the term, which probably raises the wrong sorts of associations. I'd prefer to see it called something like "expulsive energy," meaning that it's responsible for the cleansing, expansive, outward movement of the universe--the negative pole in Einstein's original vision:

The findings are consistent with the idea of dark energy behaving like Albert Einstein's cosmological constant. The cosmological constant describes the idea that there is a density and pressure associated with "empty" space.

In this scenario, dark energy never changes; it has the same properties across the age of the Universe.

That this phenomenon comprises roughly three-quarters of the universe's activity (I feel that the universe, like god, is best conceived as a verb rather than as a physical entity), while so-called light matter, or the stuff that you and I are made of, makes up a mere 4% of the total, shows us something about how important we really are in the context of the totality of the cosmos. Once it's more thoroughly understood, this expulsive energy will, I suspect, have a lot to tell us about our own energies, which are not, after all, separate from our cosmic environment. It may also help to solve one of the more intractable disputes in philosophy, about what place death has in the flow of matter and energy.

In other words, it may help us to understand where exactly Sirius Black "went" when he was shot into that veil on the ancient pedestal in the Department of Mysteries...

Finally, there will be another film to watch for in 2007: Michael Moore's examination of the American pharmaceutical industry should be appearing next year. I was reminded of Moore's film when I found this Pfizer ad in the Washington Post: well, does it fill you with confidence in the future? It made me wonder, "hey, isn't it time that some energetic filmmaker had another go at Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?"

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