Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Ire

Well, Pride month is not exactly a barrel of laughs this year, is it? Everything fun is cancelled and then there is… ugh… this…

I feel for all the Harry Potter fans. If it is any help, I share your bewilderment that somebody who wrote characters who argued so well for inclusion and against prejudice could fall headlong into one of the most dangerous targeted hate movements currently around. There had been clues for quite a while that this was coming but I’m sure that many fans had no idea about this until very recently and many others were just hoping against hope that it wasn’t what it seemed to be.

Anyway, to cheer everybody up, or at least let you know that you are in good company, here are a couple of stories of great people who had to walk away from those they had previously admired when they realised that they were, to quote Lindsay Ellis in the video below, “a shitbag”.

Ludwig van Beethoven and Napoleon Bonaparte

Beethoven originally dedicated his third symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte, who he believed embodied the democratic and anti-monarchical ideals of the French Revolution. The politically idealistic Beethoven titled the work “Buonaparte”. Later, about the composer’s response to Napoleon having proclaimed himself Emperor of the French, Beethoven’s secretary, Ferdinand Ries said that:

“I was the first to tell him the news that Bonaparte had declared himself Emperor, whereupon he broke into a rage and exclaimed, ‘So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of Man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!’ Beethoven went to the table, seized the top of the title-page, tore it in half and threw it on the floor. The page had to be recopied, and it was only now that the symphony received the title ‘Sinfonia Eroica’.”

(Note: The content in the above section is extracted from Wikipedia and not my copyright.)

Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner

Nietzsche famously broke with Wagner, who had been a close friend and influence, after Wagner began to promote ideas of German cultural superiority grounded in nationalist and antisemitic nonsense. Wagner wanted Nietzsche to drop his Jewish friends but instead Nietzsche dropped him saying:

“Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a sickness? Has his music not made mankind sick? One pays heavily for being Wagner’s disciple.”

La mort de l’auteur

So, you are certainly not the first people to find yourselves in this awful bind. This is where Death of the Author can help. If you find meaning in the Harry Potter books, and in the wider franchise, and in the communities that have spontaneously sprung up around it, and that meaning is something worthwhile, then why the hell should you give that up? That is your meaning. It belongs to you. It is not something that Hatsune Miku, or whatever her bloody name is, gave to you and it is not something that she can take away! Many key people in the Harry Potter ecosystem have spoken out against bigotry and hatred over the last few days. It may be a sadder place now but, as long as that is still possible, there is still value in there.

Of course, if you just feel like you are “done with this shit” then that’s perfectly valid too.

Lindsay Ellis: Death of the Author

Anyway, if you are looking for some authors who I believe to be genuinely good people who won’t let you down, then I think that John Green and Lindsay Ellis are both pretty safe bets. Failing that, stick to the actually dead. Terry Pratchett is never going to rise from the dead to endorse Trump or shit on LGBTQ people, not that he would anyway if he were still alive because he wasn’t like that. Even if you pick somebody problematic, like TS Eliot, at least you know that they are not going to get any more problematic, although somebody might make a really shitty movie.

June 11, 2020. Books, History, Politics, Sensible.

One Comment

  1. Rik replied:

    I had a hard time with Nietzsche. I couldn’t finish ‘On the Genealogy of Morals’. It felt like I was being ranted at by a gammon-faced lunatic and then he cites his own past works as argument clinchers as if they had the certainty of mathematical theorems. There’s clearly something I’m not getting 8D Shame about Boney, that he let it go to his head. Beethoven, from the little that I know of him, seems to’ve been someone very together in his attitudes and musically, of course, he’s right up there with Zeppelin. Yup, Pride’ll be a big miss. Nevertheless, happy Pride, everyone!

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