Thursday, August 11, 2005

Harry Potter & The Half-Western Prince

Today's front page relayed from Ottawa claims Harry Potter is the favourite consolation for the martyrs at Guantanamo Bay. Listen, I stayed silent about the Hollywood-football-movie-style-hazing, didn't even speak up about the bad photography, but this is the end of the line. When will the abuse at Guantanamo Bay stop? If pyro-islam didn't think America and Britain were Satan before Harry Potter And The Modified Noun, they'll surely view the West as children of The Beast after reading JKR. What? No, those saints aren't reading Potter for pleasure, you kitten-eating tree-burner! That's impossible.

Reading: Treachery, lust, murder, rape, pride, powerless good, sodomy, theft, and torture—there is too much evil in the world. And there is too much evil in Arabella Edge's The Company. There is no justice in this book. Quotes inside the covers of the paperback liken it to The Lord Of The Flies, and Edge plays no tricks with lines like "I am drawn to the familiar leer of one—my old friend Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies" and, "Instead I stun flies with my fan, capture them in my hand, tear gauzy wings from dry frail hinges". Additionally, I see similarities to The Caine Mutiny, for Captain Queeg (of Mutiny) and Jeronimus Cornelisz have a suspicious and selfish perception of reality which transforms each man into a monster. There's a certain type of boy (generally, I think, it's a boy) who lights grasshoppers on fire, rips the fine-veined wings off the imitation monarch. That boy is this book, and this book is full of those boys. Now, The Lord Of The Flies is told in the third person; so, too, The Caine Mutiny. And it seems to me that this third-person narrative provides a nice moral cage for the main monsters of either novel. But the first-person narrative of The Company obscures morality, imposing the view of it's main character on the prose, and JC (what initials!) renounces good and evil—"I also make them understand that for us there is neither good nor evil". The man does, however, abdicate responsibility for his actions, even blaming his chief tool Wouter for the bloody ends of the Batavia survivors. Yet why, if he truly is above all men and lives in an amoral universe, why does Cornelisz deny responsibility for his actions? Arabella Edge does not, I think, sufficiently explain or explore this paradox, and the reader (myself) feels cheated. Cornelisz is led to his execution firmly believing his own lies, a man, he thinks, betrayed, and therefore cries "Revenge, revenge". How can he be betrayed if there is no heaven or hell? In other words, the man remains unpunished, and for the author to have created such a monster and not to have punished him, is to have inflicted this monster on her readers and punished them—if, that is, we are against Cornelisz and his view of the world.

Now I'm reading a book about the possible immortality of Vlad The Impaler. At least we all know Vlad is a bad man, yes? A good tale is what I expect. There better not be any fine shading of post-modern etiquette here, not in The Historian + Elizabeth Kostovo

Listening: Thanks to Robot Mark over at Music For Robots, I get to listen to a toy piano being grimly and steadily tapped (but wait for the ending!) in "Freshman Thesis" + Thee More Shallows

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