The Relative Comment

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Earnestness is more fun than cynicism

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Here’s a way to make life more enjoyable: Experience things earnestly and with seriousness, even the silly things, rather than being cynical and filled with negativity.

This post is not about politics, and the potential impending doom of our economy and its credit rating. It’s not about NASA or physics or evolution and the dismal state of Science in the United States, nor any of the things TRC makes a habit ranting about. It is about Harry Potter.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 was released last week. You probably heard. And for me and mine, the release of HP 7.2 was a big deal. It was the culmination of 10 years of fandom and enjoyment and wonder. 10 years of overly intricate discussions about how the world of Harry Potter works, what it means to acknowledge the gravity of a child carrying the fate of the world, what character one would be and why (Neville, obviously), what spell one would use at work or in school if one could (muffliato, of course), and what it means to have evil battle good. To ask ourselves to sacrifice for the greater cause, and what it means to be put in (hypothetical) situations that ask us to give it all up for the friends we love.  This has been my earnest experience of Harry Potter for the past decade.

And I’m grateful for J.K. Rowling and the makers of the Harry Potter films for providing those ten years of absolute joy. (I say 10 knowing Potter actually arrived in the world 14 years ago, but it was not until the first film that I came aboard) . It comes up because now the films are over, the books are written, and no new Potter material will (maybe) be produced and I feel like expressing my appreciation. The cynics have had their say for all these years, but the Potter machine rolled on, and the experience for those of us who chose it was riveting.

There were the literary critics who have spent their hours mocking the books, berating a literary culture where Rowling could have the success she has with such minimal talent. Those of this ilk are always ready to throw cold water over those unwashed readers who love to escape with the ease and fascination of young adult fiction. It seems for many critical literary individuals, Harry Potter reached such heights of popularity that it actually posed a threat to great fiction.

There were those in the Christian Church have worked tirelessly to warn the world of the dangers of witchcraft and the temptations of Satan that are present in the texts, as though children (and adults) lack the imagination to separate the wizarding world of the Durselys and Hogwarts from their world of school and parents.

And there are the hipsters and the keepers of the cool who have always turned their nose up at the pulp and baseness of Rowling’s talents and the eagerness and earnestness with which some of us embraced it.

Cynically, people mocked those who love to escape into the make-believe and spend their lives talking about it. Instead some of these individuals spend their time belittling those who get wrapped up in the silliness, putting down those of us who loved to pick up Potter.

Of course, these are not all people. Millions (and millions and millions) of people around the world-literary critics, conservative Christians and hipster elitists among us-loved and adored the Potter world, and Harry and Ron and Hermione and their journey to defeated He Who Shall Not Be Named.  We ate it up for 10 years or more because taking things up with love is more exciting than putting things down.  This is a change for me. The naysayer of Potter and other pop-culture swill was the role I played for many years. And, at least in part, Harry Potter is among the reasons this started to change.

So for that, I want to say thanks to Harry and his friends. Because it truly is more fun to love something silly, than to be a cynic in the face of something that actually worth the effort.

That’s all. Back to politics, science, and seriousness of the real world.


Written by Christopher ZF

July 24, 2011 at 23:25

8 Responses

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  1. “like”

    Redhead In Rapid

    July 25, 2011 at 08:45

    • yes, but pretty awesome, richard.


      July 25, 2011 at 11:08

  2. Great post. Harry Potter has never really appealed to me (though similar fantasies have), but us sitting on the sidelines can tell that it is concerned with the vital things: adventure, courage, fidelity, and all the thrills and dangers of a moral universe. No need to apologize for earnestness, and the truly silly things are those that are focused on mere material conditions (politics, science and the “real” world).


    July 25, 2011 at 18:20

    • did you just burn me? as in, burn yo!

      anyway. science and policy sure are serious. but no less so than literature and the imagination.


      July 25, 2011 at 18:25

      • I think I’m missing something. Your last line just sounded like a lament, like you were headed back to the world somewhat characterized by cynicism. Nothing against politics and science (and you know how much I enjoy them), but I really liked what you were saying about pure love of the so-called silly things, especially because I don’t think things like Harry Potter and Middle Earth are really silly at all anyway.


        July 25, 2011 at 21:48

  3. Not that YOU are characterized by cynicism, the world is characterized by cynicism. Why can’t you edit comments on Word Press?


    July 25, 2011 at 21:50

  4. No, Brandon. The last line simply meant: back to blog posts about politics, science and the world.
    There is no ranking of values here.


    July 26, 2011 at 09:16

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