Stranger Things 3
Chesterton's Non-Canonization

Who Would Dumbledore Vote For?

I don't care. But apparently a lot of people do. Apparently J.K. Rowling is "a major voice in world affairs". I've missed that development. The piece I linked to there is from 2017, and maybe she is not speaking out as much as she was then. I looked at her Twitter account and there is very little there from recent months.

But the fact that she would reduce her characters to political puppets in this way is to me of a piece with the general quality of the Harry Potter books. And, I'm sorry to say, of the general cast of Rowling's mind:

She has revealed Dumbledore was gay and that Hogwarts would have been a ‘safe place’ for LGBT students.

Oh, come on.

I really tried to like the books because one of my children was of exactly the age to be an enthusiast. I succeeded to some degree, and mostly enjoyed them, though the last couple seemed so diffuse and convoluted that the resolution they offered didn't have the impact that I think they were meant to. The books never truly engaged or moved me, not like the work of Tolkien and Lewis did. I don't think it's just me, either; I think my view of them is more or less objectively correct. I don't think they will be much read fifty years or so from now, or a hundred, whereas I think the others will move a great many people as long as the language remains accessible to the average person.


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The idea of Hogwarts being a safe place for LGBT students is pretty funny. Hogwarts is not a safe place. If they were safe, they were the only ones.


It sure was nice when the Harry Potter craziness ended, but it was impressive that books could cause such a stir and I wonder if that will ever happen again, Mac?

I read the first two and figured that was enough, but I don't particularly like books about children, or school. Having to sit through many of the movies with stepchildren was particularly dreadful.

Actually I think I might like the movies better than the books. Don't hold me to that but it did occur to me a few times when watching the movies.

Good point, Janet. But then Rowling's statement is probably just virtue-signaling.

"...impressive that books could cause such a stir and I wonder if that will ever happen again.."

I wouldn't say no, because I wouldn't have thought this one was at all likely.

I’m surprised by this post. I have a memory of Mac being excited by the release of a new Potter book. My hostility to Potter used to annoy everyone in the LODW comm boxes. In her politics Rowland is a leftist and Remoaner. She was against Scots independence I think?? A sort of Labour party centrist.

I sort of doubt "excited." Interested, definitely, so maybe I gave a misleading impression. I'll see if I can find whatever post you might be thinking of. I did defend Potter/Rowling against some of the Christian critics who thought the magic in the books was evil. And like I said I tried to like them. But I never managed much enthusiasm.

"Labour party centrist" seems to describe the Spectator's view of her in that piece I linked to. Anti-Corbyn.

And I might have defended her/them against you, depending on your line of attack. :-) I'd be surprised if you took the "magic is evil, period" view, though.

No I thought they were bad books - like Enid Blyton.

What I remember is you were really looking forward to the publication of some new one in the series and when it finally came out you were excited about that and you did one or more posts about it

The only things I can find that seem anywhere close to what you're describing are these two, which are about the last book:

And these two, about the final movies:

This is the first I've heard of Enid Bloyton, but the Wikipedia article suggests I could be wrong about the future of Harry Potter:

No it was earlier

You know, it's strange. I have at least 500 children's books, and when I was a girl I probably read a book every day, and I have heard if Blyton, but I don't think I have ever read a book by her.

They look like The Box Car Children, or The Bobbsey Twins.


There were girls school books and there was a separate series called The Famous Five.

They were hugely popular in the Uk in the sixties and seventies. By the 70s the school books would totally out of date but people still found them addictive. I remember someone at my school saying that her heroines would be hated and her villains would be liked today at school. That is completely true.

Teachers hated them because they were just bad literature. Left wing people hated them because they thought they had bad attitudes to foreigners. It all went together because villains would be ugly and vaguely foreign.

Mac did you lose a bit of the blog from before 2005? Maybe it was from then. Certainly I can remember youvtalking about anticipation for a new Potter book. People change their minds!

That's true, but my mind on this didn't change all that much. My view of the books may well have sounded more positive at some times than others. But I'm absolutely certain that I was never an enthusiast. I'm sure of that because I wanted to like them more than I did.

Looking at the pub dates of the Potter books, I see only the final three came out during the life of this site, so any mention of an upcoming book could only have been about those last three. The very first LODW post was in January 2004. From then until roughly mid-2006, when I started the blog proper, it was only the Sunday Night Journal. I'm pretty sure none of those posts have been lost.

Using Google to search the site now, I'm not finding any mention of Potter or Rowling before that 2007 post linked above, "Provisional Last Word on Harry Potter."

What has been lost is the comments for several years beginning with the initial conversion to a blog in June 2006. So it's possible that you're remembering something I said in a comment. I can imagine that I could have said something like "The new HP will be out next week, I'm interested in seeing how it all works out." That would qualify as anticipation. Taken alone, it could have given you a mistaken impression about my general opinion of the books.

I, also, had a definite impression early on that you liked them better than you do.

I am completely shocked that most of the books came out before the blog--more than 20 years ago!!!


Well, like I said, I tried to like them. And I know I defended them against some of the fundamentalist (for lack of a better word) attacks.

Yeah, I was shocked, too.

Yes, I looked, and also was surprised about how long ago it was. It must have been in the early days of the blog, and its not easy to comb the web for 15 year old articles.

But Im morally certain that you wrote an actual post about your anticipation and a loving post about the actual arrival of the book. Then I disagreed in the Comments. Im not going to change my mind on this, and neither are you, so we should probably agree to disagree.

I guess so, as I'm equally certain that "loving post about the actual arrival of the book" is incorrect. Best possibility I can come up with is that something I wrote sounded more positive than I actually felt.

I remember seeing a local news story of rabid fans at the Barnes & Noble waiting for the release of the final book and Mac was in the front of the line shaking his fist at anyone attempting "buttsies".

I was about to make a joke about shooting them but today's definitely not the day.

My daughter worked in a local bookstore where they had a big party in the parking lot on the night one of the books came out. She was in charge of it, and it was pretty elaborate. I think everybody had a good time.


Sounds like fun.

Mac, I found a post you did in 2005 on one of the Harry Potter books at the Caelum et Terra site. The last lines: "No, it’s not on Tolkien’s level. But if I step back a little and view it in comparison to the horrid parade of Judy Blume-style children’s books, to say nothing of TV and movies, it’s a treasure – if not gold, then silver."

Ah! Thank you. It hadn't occurred to me to look there. I'd forgotten I wrote for that blog, actually.

I wouldn't use the word "treasure" now, but on the other hand I don't repudiate the "in comparison to..." opinion. It (they) is (are) a whole lot better than much of what's out there. That post seems to be about the next-to-last book in the series. I'm surprised that I said it was well-plotted, because as I said in this post I was left feeling that the last two books were unsatisfying. Must have been the last one that was kind of letdown. Or maybe it was book 5, as I say there.

Anyway, I guess you could reasonably call this post "excited." Relatively. ;-) Like I said, I was trying.

Thank you Marianne

Just reminiscing: back in those very early days I thought of CT and LODW as interchangeable or like two rooms with open doors - like two parts of a single blog. I could never remember what was said where And I was always wondering between the two blogs trying to find that conversation Id been in.

The break was inevitable because Dan was drifting left and Mac was drifting right but its sad that fallen human nature contains these inevitabilities

Im not moralizing - the later situation was not workable

The rift was really already there. There's a lot of pre-internet history there that you wouldn't have been aware of. I had been on the political right since the early '80s (though, as I always feel obliged to point out, not in line with the conservative movement). And he had always leaned left, though not to the degree that he is now. But he was officially in charge of the magazine, so I avoided writing things for it that I knew he would disagree with. More to the point, we had a lot of common ground in a shared Catholic vision. For various reasons and in various ways that broke down over the past 10-15 years. That's really what you're seeing in the CetT blog.

Clarification: when I said I'd forgotten that I wrote for "that blog", I meant the WordPress incarnation of the CetT blog. I originally set up a CetT blog on TypePad. As I recall, a big part of my reason for doing it was to continue the vision of the magazine, and I hoped that other CetT contributors would be involved. Neither of those really happened, at least not to the degree or in the way that I had hoped. I can't remember now why I/we decided to move it to WordPress. Can't remember when, either. The Typepad entries were moved over to the WP blog, so there's not an obvious starting point for the WP one.

I was thinking that I mostly stopped writing for it after the switch, but I'm not sure. At the time of that 2005 CetT post that Marianne linked to LODW was not a blog, just a static manually-coded web site, with no comment facility. It became a blog in 2006. At a glance it looks like by sometime in 2007 I was mostly just posting links to my blog. At some point the CetT blog became Daniel's personal blog.

That's probably why the two were a single entity in my mind.

I have the usual 59 year old person's memory lapses. I have to sit for a few moments to remember a word. But thank God so far I still have a professor memory for stuff like that. My brother used to curse my memory. He would deny happened something and I would produce evidence. In this case, Marianne produced the evidence because I didn't realize Mac had written for CT. I must have forgotten that! In my mind, it was always two rooms with open doors between them.

Boy, there is a lot of interesting and memory-jogging old stuff on the CetT blog. Like this:

I could easily spend several hours browsing around there.

I think in general--in VERY general--women tend to have better memories than men. However, I'm only partially conceding on HP.:-) The anticipatory post you describe doesn't seem to be on either blog, and there aren't any comments from you on the one Marianne found. Google only finds one other mention of Potter on the CetT blog, and that's this one, which is mainly about the question of occultism in the books:

But anyway, we're sort of nitpicking about precisely how positive I was or wasn't about HP. It fluctuated a lot, so I shouldn't be surprised that one or two posts left people with the impression that I felt more positive overall than I did. And it was probably overall more positive then than now.

That fairly ambivalent 2007 post linked to above, "Provisional Last Word on Harry Potter," represents to the best of my recollection my general view during the period when the last three books were being published. I guess it's half-positive, at least. Much of the positive has faded since then, not because I've re-read the books but just because they haven't stuck with me the way a great work would.

The first one Marianne found is way more positive than what you remembered - You are thinking now that you never liked Potter, and you did like it.

I think there's more, maybe in 2005 Sunday Night ones. As I said to Janet the other night, 'Allen Tate said memory is a woman' :)

" You are thinking now that you never liked Potter, and you did like it."

No, I'm precisely *not* saying that I "never liked Potter." This very post that we're commenting on, written three days ago, says "I really tried to like the books.... I succeeded to some degree, and mostly enjoyed them."

It's not either-or. We're quibbling about relative proportions in mixed feelings. I'm freely granting that my opinion is lower now than in 2005 or 2007, but that doesn't mean it was an on-off switch. Yes, there's the post Marianne linked to. Then after the next (and last) book had come out, I said this:

"There’s much in the books that I find distasteful (the gross-out humor) or unconvincing and unamusing (the depiction of the magical world as a sort of Halloweenized parody of the real one). There is certainly no remarkable prose craftsmanship on display. That’s forgiveable, as the story here is the main thing, but it’s certainly a major handicap if we are going to throw around the word “great.” I find them overall fairly lightweight, although they get better after the almost comic-book level of the first one, and often show real depth. But I don’t put them in the class with Tolkien."

By the way do you want me to change the name on your last comment to your pseudonym? An accident maybe?

The cultural phenomenon was greater than the books, but I suppose a cultural phenomenon is always greater than its subject matter.

Anyway, I guess you could reasonably call this post "excited." Relatively. ;-) Like I said, I was trying.

In another (sweet) post at CetT in 2005, you talk about how your daughter liked the first Harry Potter book so much that she made a recording of it so that you could listen to it while you drove to and from work, and that when "she ran out of steam halfway through or so" you read the book yourself.

That "comparison to the horrid parade of Judy Blume-style children’s books, to say nothing of TV and movies" is mighty important, too.

Yes, that's the post I linked to earlier today. The story about my daughter is actually in a comment on the post (in case anyone followed that link and missed it). Anyway, that's what I was referring to in this current post when I said: "I really tried to like the books because one of my children was of exactly the age to be an enthusiast." You can see why I was trying. I still have that tape...I hope...

I'm sure that's true, Stu. I'm trying to think of a book or movie that was a cultural phenomenon and also truly first-rate...can't come up with one.

Item of blog-historical interest: browsing around the CetT blog I found this post, which shows that the Typepad-to-Wordpress conversion was done in April 2008.

A bit of poking around past that date suggests that I did not in fact post very much after that beyond links to my SNJ entries.

It was a mistake but you don’t need to change it. I tried to get my email in and then it just changed my name. I don’t have any real need to be anonymous it’s just that I don’t want to have a discussion with my PhD students about everyt single offhand remark I made. Its more a need for privacy than secrecy

It kept bothering me so I changed it anyway. That only takes a moment if I'm at the computer.

I read the Blyton school stories and Famous Five books. I think they were pretty popular inAustralia in the 70s/80s.

I’m pretty tired of authors like Rowling virtue signaling

Thanks Mac. I write from my laptop at home, which has the form all filled in, and from my phone, which doesn't, and - least often - my office computer, which doesn't have the form filled in and which fills it in for me if Im not quick to stop it.

I've started watching Deadwood. Its one of the legendary series I've never seen. Im giving it two or three episodes to see if I like it. So far, so-so. If I don't like it I will try another legend I have not seen - X-files.

I sampled Deadwood a few years ago, just one episode. It didn't particularly intrigue me and I never went back to it, though I know a lot of people think it's really good.

I'll be very interested in hearing what you think of X-Files. I think it's a really, really mixed bag, and I really, really liked the best of it. Guess I'll leave it at that for now.

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