Day by Day

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Resting day

I've been relaxing today. Read the Harry Potter book. Spent time with the wife. Got my ears lowered. And generally sat on my ass.

I've heard quite a few criticisms about the whole Harry Potter series from some people. Now, aside from the few folks out there who scream "HARRY POTTER IS THE DEVIL AND HE PROMOTES WITCHCRAFT!", which is rather loony to begin with, the biggest complaint I've heard is that the series is too simple. Too many plot holes. It doesn't explain this or that well enough. I've actually seen some people get into a discussion about the economics of magic, and how the HP series is lacking in that.

Um..... I don't know how to break it to some people, but it's a series of books written for children. I don't expect J.K. Rowling to be the next Tolkien. But if she can get kids to ignore the damn idiot box for a while and actually pick up a book, then great. I don't care if there are a few plot holes. To me, they books are a quick read, a nice distraction from the day.

But there's also a few themes that keep popping up in the books. Self-reliance. A quest for knowledge. (I recall the antagonist in Book 5, Delores Umbridge, talking about how knowledge for knowledge's sake wouldn't be allowed.)

The theme that the government is not your friend, and too much government control is NOT a good thing.

And lastly, the theme that evil MUST be confronted, because the consequences of not confronting evil are too high to pay.

So the books can get a bit simple. That's fine. I'm not looking for a philosophical discussion on the existential struggle between good and evil, as presented in an exhibit regarding a post-modernist Leftist and a Born-again Christian. And you know what? Kids aren't looking for that either. Yes, you can get a huge amount of knowledge from books, but you have to make kids want to read in the first damn place, and you don't do that with a lot of the pap coming out as kid's literature these days.

So, let me run down my list of why I think people are over-reacting in their negative opinions of the HP books.

1) Teaching self-reliance? Check.
2) Themes of "too much government provides bad results"? Check.
3) Teaching that evil has to be confronted, and that it doesn't go away on it's own? Check.
4) All of the above packaged in a format that is not only digestible by kids, but makes them want to read it?


If you want a deconstruction of post modernist theory, go buy a book on that subject. Me, I'll enjoy reading Harry Potter because it gives me a break from everything else I have to read for my job. It's a book I read because I want to read it.

Now, if''n you'll excuse me, I'm off to go spend some more time with my wife.

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