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July 22, 2003

Potter Malarkey

I should perhaps follow up just a teeny bit on the whole Byatt/Potter thing. I'm quite appreciative of Su-lin's rather startling analysis of it here. As I've remarked recently, I seem to be quite sympathetic to people who are invested to the point that their writing constantly and inevitably returns to their master narrative. For the Economist, this is economic theory, free trade, competition; for Waugh this seems to be nostalgia, the past, Catholicism, the sense of loss and time passing. For Su-lin it's Fitzie :).

Just to clarify though, from Su-lin's entry (gently, so as not to offend), I don't feel "scoff" is quite the right way of describing my position on Byatt and Potter. True is the fact that I'm not commited to either and find myself largely agnostic in the midst of that particular quarrel.

Possession is not my favoritest of books, but there are portions that I find no end of intriguing (not just Val, which I find the most moving), especially the bits that the Potter article seem to illuminate. Largely because my Oral Assessment group ignored this when I brought it up, and as the Potter article elaborates, Byatt exhibits at least some form of knowledge/sympathy with Marxist rhetoric (if only by its pointed absence, as in Possession).

Particularly so with her incessant evocation of nostalgia and the expression of an irretrievable halcyon past - mixed with her scepticism/dismissal of the urban, the new, the economic. All a particular brand of rather unproductive Marxist thinking if you ask me - and which is particularly ironic coming from Byatt, expressed as it is in a hopelessly C/conservative register.

But while I obviously find the expression of this in Possession the most interesting portion of the book (noticeably also because it occupies a very marginal presence, away from the rather tedious letters and poetry) - and I find her bible thumping in the article simply distasteful - she does actually write with aplomb and with the skill and presence that attends a scholar and a woman of letters. The Salon.com idiot might as well go and write for the Guardian.

Regarding Harry Potter. If I hear myself say, yet again, that I'd read the Narnia Chronicles over again rather than Harry Potter, I'd probably be forced to keelhaul myself. Similarly with the whole Val thing in Possession.

My objection to Harry Potter is simply an aesthetic one, that I find the level at which it is reified by the superlative praise/evangelism that it recieves rather distasteful - quite aside from the content of the books themselves, the perusal of which is rather precluded by my distaste.

As Choon Ping once said to me regarding Moulin Rouge (and I suspect Su-lin said to me regarding Potter), I'm 'one of *those* people'. Though unfortunately having actually seen Moulin Rouge, I can at least with some authority say that I'd rather cut my heart out with a spoon than watch it again. Pretentious motherfucker (not Choon Ping, who is no end of clever despite questionable taste - I mean Luhrman). Harry Potter I can just dismiss like I dismiss Coldplay, as something which is so obviously not quite up to what it is purveyed to be. Though it doesn't help that Coldplay sucks ass.

Posted by subtitles at July 22, 2003 1:26 AM | Personal