I read and often enjoyed the Harry Potter books, but was not really a great admirer of them. So when I heard that J.K. Rowling had published, under a pseudonym, a detective novel meant for adults, I was not particularly interested. I suppose the only reason I even knew about it was that someone had revealed that "Robert Galbraith" was in fact Rowling. That of course attracted some publicity, and she was quite put out about the disclosure, for which I don't blame her. I assume she wanted to see whether she could write a book that would succeed on its own, without the assistance of the Harry Potter author's vast fame.
Well, that's a might-have-been; sales took off, and that book, The Cuckoo's Calling, has been followed by six more in the series, under the same pseudonym. I think they've all been fairly successful, so it's safe to assume that Rowling's reputation is not their main attraction.
Time passes ever more quickly. If you had asked me when the publicity about the first book and its authorship appeared, I would have guessed five years or so ago. It was actually ten. But then if I had known that she had published six more books in the series since the first one I would have guessed longer, perhaps something more like fifteen years. Whatever you think of Rowling's writing, her ability to spin a complex and effective narrative in a fairly short time is astonishing. I think of one of Flannery O'Connor's letters in which she tells a friend that she's been working on The Violent Bear It Away for seven years and is trying to convince her publisher that this is normal.
My wife read the The Cuckoo's Calling, liked it, and soon read most or all of the novels in the series, which is known, in the usual fashion of detective stories, by the name of its primary sleuth: the Cormoran Strike series. Then she discovered that there is a BBC TV series based on several of those books, so we watched it. It's called Strike in the UK and C.B. Strike here. And it's very good. We had to rent it, as it's not available on either Netflix or Prime, and it was worth it. I recommend it to anyone who likes that sort of thing.
What does this have to do with the sexual revolution? I'm getting to that.
When I graduated from high school I thought I wanted to be a journalist. Really I wanted to be a poet or some other more literary sort of writer; mainly I just had a very strong impulse to write, and journalism seemed like the way to go, the way to earn a living by writing. So in my first semester of college I took a journalism course, and that, along with a very good freshman English course, soon showed me that I ought to discard the idea of majoring in journalism. It was good that I figured that out quickly, because I would have been terrible at it. One of the things they used to teach journalists--perhaps still do, somewhere among the urgings to change the world, speak power to truth, etc.--was to include in the first paragraph of a news story the Five Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
It's a good rule for a news story, which implies that I am not cut out to write news stories, because I don't write that way. I don't want to write that way. I like to take a bit of time, supply a bit of background and prelude, perhaps ramble a bit, before getting to the point. And I usually do in a blog post. Why not? Nobody is paying me, nobody is enforcing space limits, not many people are reading. So I may as well enjoy myself. I do try to keep in mind that I am asking for a degree of attention from the reader that he or she may not wish to provide, so I try to limit myself to a thousand words or so.
Here is the first paragraph of this post as I might have written it if I were observing the Five Ws:
Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling [Who], author of the Harry Potter books, has published a series of detective novels known as the C. B. Strike Mysteries [What], after the name of the detective protagonist. The first one appeared in 2013 [When] and six others have followed. They have been made into a BBC series called C.B. Strike. I haven't read the books, but as seen in the series certain aspects of the stories may be taken as suggesting that the sexual revolution may not have been an altogether good thing. [That will have to serve as the Why; Where is not really relevant, unless we treat Capitalist-Industrial Civilization as the location.]
I would go on to say that I don't know whether Rowling intends that suggestion, but that I at any rate found it unavoidable. Cormoran Blue Strike is the child of a famous rock star and a not-equally-but-still-famous groupie. (No doubt "Blue" is one of those offbeat names that hippies and rock stars sometimes gave their children; I don't know about "Cormoran.") I assume, though I don't recall the TV series mentioning it, that he was born in the late '60s or early '70s. He was mostly raised by relatives. His mother died of an overdose when he was in his late teens, no doubt a faded shadow of her formerly glamorous self. His father repudiated him and has never had anything at all to do with him. He has a number of half-siblings with most of whom he has little to do. He left college to join the Army where he served in the military police, lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan, and now earns a none-too-lucrative living as a private investigator.
All I know of J.K. Rowling's views on social and political questions is that she seems to be in general a pretty typical liberal, except for the fact that she has opposed the transgender movement's insistence that sex is not a biological reality, has consequently been branded a "TERF" (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist), and is now despised by the left, including many who once loved the Potter books. As I say, I have no idea whether Strike and his situation are intended to reflect Rowling's view of the '60s and the sexual revolution. But they certainly reflect the reality. Strike is the accidental product of the mutual pleasure-seeking of two people who don't seem to have cared much about anything else. Not abandoned but certainly neglected and damaged, he leads a life which is the opposite of the "lifestyle" pursued by his parents, defined by ugly and often violent realities and symbolized by his missing leg.
You can't get much more biological than conception and birth. Implicitly, that is an objection to, if not a repudiation of, the sexual revolution's doctrine that there should be no limits on sexual expression, that it doesn't really matter in any fundamental way, and that children are an optional and expendable result of contraceptive carelessness. Strike is a living embodiment of that objection, a walking, and limping, reminder of the serious consequences of its fundamental unseriousness.
That's 1229 words, including this note.
In case you missed it in the comments on the previous post, Marianne gave us a link to a discussion between Rod Dreher and Louise Perry (and a moderator whose name I didn't get) about her book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. It's an hour and ten minutes long, but worth your time (and I say that as someone who usually doesn't have the patience to sit through such things).
That's 1304 words. Sorry.