Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Harry Potter Is Changing the World

"The stories we tell and respond to
create our collective and individual identities,
confer meaning on our present lives,
organize and make sense of our past
in ways the past did not.
They allow us to imagine the future
and thus act to give it shape."
- Dr. Mark Breitenberg

I finished re-reading the Harry Potter series again last night and was struck once again by the freaking awesome perfection of it. I am convinced that J.K. Rowling's books are solving a problem with society that older people I know have been complaining about for years: the lack of a collective mythology (i.e. something for everyone to believe in together).

Especially since Christianity lost control, people have been looking for a new myths, and I think that Harry Potter is the answer. Not only is Rowling's mythology in the series just completely amazing in the way that it addresses the cultural and personal need for healing, but it also has the benefit of being a global phenomenon. I think that HP gave the world the common mythology it's been looking for, and I think that so many people so excitedly embracing these stories is proof positive of that.

It makes me happy knowing that I'm living in a world where most of the children are growing up embracing such a positive and empowering myth. And it also makes me sad that I had to grow up with a negative, anti-female Christian myth. But mostly it makes me happy.


emawkc said...

I made the mistake of watching one of the movies (I think it was the first one) before reading any of the books and it kind of ruined me for reading the books.

Someday I'll probably pick them up, but I'll probably be the last person on earth to do so (and that's not to my credit).

May said...

Not to worry! You couldn't possibly be the last person.

But I know what you mean. I saw the 1st movie before I read any of the books and wasn't at all impressed. I only started reading them once my then-housemate had 1-5 and didn't want them any more. So, believe me, I feel your pain. The movies are really only interesting after reading the books IMO.