Literature’s imaginative intrigues are often forbidden.
Literature’s imaginative intrigues are often forbidden.
They have tried very hard to ban Harry. Time after time. According to the American Library Association, Harry Potter is the number one most often banned/ challenged book of the 21st century. Why all the hate? Especially in a world where I personally have never met anyone who did not love Harry.
The banning craze that developed around Harry Potter books supposedly has its origin in the fear of witchcraft and sorcery. Apparently, many people are concerned that Harry is promoting the occult, and beliefs like Wicca and Paganism that have NO DAMN BUSINESS in the good old You Ess of A . ( Call in the National Guard!!!! Witches and Wizards and Students! OH MY! )
This hatred of witches, of course has its origins in the bible. ‘Thou Shalt not suffer a witch to live’. So says Exodus 22:18.
I read that in the original Aramaic language this passage should have been translated as ‘Thou shalt not suffer a ‘m’khashepah’ (translated as ‘evil doer’ connotation of murderer) to live’. No mention of the word ‘witch’. The word ‘witch’ by the way, originally meant ‘wise ‘.)
But the good folks over at Bible Translation Service, Inc. (also known as Puritans Rope ’em and Grope ’em — or The Spanish Inquisition Burning Machine) decided to throw in the word ‘witch’. Just for fun.
That one little mess up of a word caused the deaths of approximately 100,000 men and women throughout Europe and the Americas between the years 1450 -1700. Witch genocide still takes place in Africa and the Caribbean.
But back to Harry. Is the fear of witches still so prevalent in the US that people go up in arms over a children’s book? Is America still that Puritanical?
Personally I think there may be more to it. Harry’s story itself may be what upsets people.
Harry is a disenfranchised orphan who is left to the mercy of his evil relatives until he discovers his unique and special abilities at Hogwarts. He happens to be taught by witches and wizards but that is not really the point. The point is empowerment. Harry undergoes a fantastic transformation. He becomes capable, powerful, whole. And the idea of the disenfranchised becoming empowered is enough to scare the be-jesus out of the Powers That Be.
Harry is the every man, the working girl, the average Joe (or Jo) who somehow unleashes potential within him/herself. And if Harry can do it, maybe we all can do it. This is the true gift of Harry and also the reason why they would ban him.
But in the end Harry wins! That is because you cannot keep the light down. Go into any public library in the US and chances are you will see Harry. Go into any bookstore and you will find him, sitting on the bookshelf, peering through his little round glasses. Maybe even riding a broom in a game of Quiddich. He says “Come with me. Do not be stifled by their small view of you! Unlock your wizardly powers and be free!”
Yep. The most subversive stuff in America.
They called us the Blank Generation. This was, I believe, a term coined by Richard Hell back in the days of CBGB punk-fests. Richard was always a bit of a pessimist. I mean, just look at his name. Sorry Richard, I do love you and all. But really. The Blank Generation? Granted, this was a time when a lot of folks (myself included) were writhing on their backs half naked or slamming in dance pits with some guy named Sid.
I thought about this term ‘Blank’, did a short comparative study and decided that these generational labels were worth reconsidering.
The Blank Generation is, mind you, not to be confused with the Lost Generation – that was Fitzgerald and Hemingway and all those greats who got to hang out with Gertrude Stein in her Paris Salon. Woody Allen, paying tribute to them, wrote a really cool time travel movie called ‘Midnight in Paris’. Be sure to check it out if you care to relive a bit of 1920’s avant-garde sentiment.
The Blank Generation is also not to be confused with the Greatest Generation. That was General MacArthur, President Roosevelt, Rosie the Riveter and all those good souls who survived the Depression, championed American manufacturing, took down Hitler and made the world safe for Democracy. (Or so they thought.)
It is also not to be confused with the Beat Generation. That was Kerouac, Ginsberg and other jazz grooving cats who went On The Road in search of American Pie. (The pie, I have been told, was apple 🙂 ) The Beats were the disenfranchised youth who ended up in a state of depression and PTSD due to the aftermath of WWII. Thus begging the musical question War: What is it good for?
Young people today are being called Millennials. But I like to call them Starseeds or the Harry Potter Generation. If you are under age 32 or so, this is you 🙂 There are a lot of you out there, even more than Baby Boomers, so say the latest statistics. The name ‘Millennial’ seems a bit generic. It insinuates only a hallmark of time, a commemoration. But Starseed and Harry Potter ? Ah, now THAT contains a good flash of magic…
We are all, in one way or another, headed toward Magick.
But back to Blank.
There used to be this constant threat of Nuclear War. You know — like some idiot could press the button any minute and somehow all of existence would just be annihilated. That is what I remember hearing as a young person and I used to believe it. It made everyone kind of cynical and fearful. It made everyone feel a bit useless. Now I am older and wiser 🙂 And I am still here, far from annihilated, far from Blank. I daresay the illustrious Fitzgerald was far from Lost, the prolific Kerouac was far from Beat, and the multi-talented Mr. Hell was never Blank a day in his life.
Blank, on the other hand, can be a good thing. Blank is uncluttered. Blank is free. Blank is a smooth patch of land ready for planting, an empty vessel ready to be filled, a January calendar with no appointments. Blank is your computer screen before you begin typing. The possibilities are indeed endless.
Blank is the elusive moment before you send your thoughts into this stratosphere of connection where all ideas are considered. This connection leaves us all less Lost, less Beat, more magickal and maybe even a little closer to Harry 🙂
This post is in response to the Daily Prompt pingback