November 23, 2010

Link Fixed: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1"

Read my review in Taki's Magazine:
Kids these days have short attention spans.

Or so I’ve often been informed. For example, Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford professor of “synaptic pharmacology,” recently warned the House of Lords that social-networking websites “are devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance. As a consequence, the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilized, characterized by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathize, and a shaky sense of identity.”

Yet having recently plunked my 20th-century mind down amid an otherwise superbly attentive young audience cheering on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the seventh and penultimate film in the witches and warlocks series, I suspect the opposite is truer. When sufficiently interested, the new generation can display attention spans that boggle the old. 

Read the whole thing there.

48 comments:

Steve Sailer said...

My thanks to Lonewacko for pointing out a linking flaw in an earlier version of this post.

TH said...

The link is still wrong.

William said...

It's still screwed up. The first and last links point to Nick Scott's article rather than yours.

"Kids these days have short attention spans." links to your blog's homepage.

Obviously, there's no need to post this comment.

Anonymous said...

you're still linking to
http://takimag.com/article/j._k._rowling_britains_most_important_cultural_conservative

should be linking to
http://takimag.com/article/j_k_rowling_britains_most_important_cultural_conservative

notice the lack of dots

dearieme said...

Baroness Greenfield is, mind you, a twerp.

Anonymous said...

Offtopic but...

Hot Girls Not Being Hired Because Less Attractive Women Dominate HR At Corporations: Study

From the NYTimes:

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/20...employable/?hp

The full study available below:

http://www.ec.bgu.ac.il/monaster/adm...ers/1006_2.pdf

Abstract:

Job applicants in Europe increasingly imbed a headshot of themselves in the top corner of their CVs. We sent 5312 CVs in pairs to 2656 advertised job openings. In each pair, one CV was without a picture while the second, otherwise almost identical CV contained a picture of either an attractive male/female or a plain-looking male/female. Employer callbacks to attractive men are significantly higher than to men with no picture and to plain-looking men, nearly doubling the latter group. Strikingly, attractive women do not enjoy the same beauty premium. In fact, women with no picture have a significantly higher rate of callbacks than attractive or plain-looking women. We explore a number of explanations and provide evidence that female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace is a primary reason for the punishment of attractive women.

Kijkfaas McGee said...

Steve, please extrapolate on your view that Rowling demonstrates a core of ethnic pride in her books/films underneath the Amnesty leftism. It does not occur to me that Rowling is a cultural conservative, esp. as she is on record as a supporter of multiculturalism, etc.

Anonymous said...

It's doubly broken now. It doesn't even link to the original article (before the second page wasn't visible--now neither are!).

Anonymous said...

The review seemed truncated.

At any rate, I don't know what to make of the HP phenomenon. The handful of now-college-age people I know who grew up reading the books don't seem to have become "readers" as a result. But maybe it's too soon to tell.

-- JP98

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks.

David Davenport said...

It does not occur to me that Rowling is a cultural conservative, esp. as she is on record as a supporter of multiculturalism, etc.

Maybe public obeisance to multi-kulti dogma is what Jamice Rowling has to do to remain a part of polite society in today's UK. It's just business, like a writer in the old USSR endorsing Marxism-Leninism.

Not very courageous, but that's the price of success in the post-Christian, post-English or post "British" regime, a regime in which one must appease the powers that be in New York and Hollywood if one has ambitions to cash in big time.

Why do I suspect that Ms. Rowling is not a Lefty Leveler deep down inside? Because the basic Harry Potter plot line is that Harry has inherited special powers from his ancestors. Harry is an heriditary prince of wizards.

B Lode said...

From this movie I got the word I propose we apply to TSA employees: snatchers.

B Lode said...

I myself noticed a welcome streak in Rowling's implied philosophy, but "cultural conservatism" implies slightly the wrong thing. Rowling's message is anti-statism and patriotism, with a whole lot of family values. The good guys and the bad guys feeling about defensive magic the way the NRA and the Brady Campaign feel about guns. State control of schools is bad; foreigners are wonderful but ominous and not for marrying; good chaperoning keeps the kids out of the boudoir and ready for marriage.

Close to, but not quite, cultural conservatism. Dumbledore's army is more like Dad's Army (the UK Home Guard, WWII) than an American militia. Family values flourish but aren't really defended vigorously; it's just that wizards aren't much aware of condoms-and-pop-music culture and they are really into clear genealogies.

Hard to say if she is endorsing "rugged individualism". That is an American meme. Britons just have the good guys prevail because they're the good guys and they're vigorous and they pick good teammates - Harry is sometimes alone and sometimes together.

Anonymous said...

Rowling's fantasies are deeply conservative. They are all about maintaining and restoring the old order among an hereditary elite, the containment of youth, and the right of a young man to rule his tribe by virtue of his genetic inheritance. The are traditional English school stories (Tom Brown's School Days; the early works of P.G. Wodehouse), tricked up with owls and wands and girls. The quiddich matches ... well, every school story has a big game. The author's attitudes reveal themselves in almost the very first chapters of the first book, when the lower middle class family Harry is initially housed with is portrayed as contemptible, not only because they are common, but also because they are fat. Rowling's lead characters aren't "outsiders", but the school elite. Harry is "in" with the school establishment from the moment he walks through the door. The books's heroes aren't young rebels, they're the young Repubicans of their world, preparing to take over the ruling class of their magic magic kingdom. Rowling doesn't give a shit about diversity, unlike L. Frank Baum, whose Oz books portray mixed species groups of extreme social outsiders penetrating and disrupting established societies and changing them. Harry's all about bringing back the old ways, claiming his genetic rights, and shutting down the usurper.

Anonymous said...

At any rate, I don't know what to make of the HP phenomenon.

Maybe a little off-topic, but from what I've seen of the series, the later movies are getting a little horrifying.

The other day, I was sitting on the couch, absent-mindedly watching the graveyard scene in Goblet of Fire [Voldemort -v- Harry], when suddenly I noticed that the four-year-old in my lap was simply terrified.

[We both agreed to close our eyes because the movie was getting just too dadgum scary.]

Thomas said...

Steve, your article looks like it cut off halfway through. I don't know if you were finished or not. I understand perhaps what you are picking up on in Rowling's work, but I don't think you've conclusively established what you mean to say. More, please.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Whoa, that ended abruptly.

Wade Nichols said...

The funniest article about Harry Potter EVER:

"French Marxist attacks 'bourgeois' Harry Potter"

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/
europe/french-marxist-attacks-bourgeois-harry-potter-704598.html

Whiskey said...

Steve, don't forget the Twilight books. They're massively long (if badly written) and their fans are absorbed into them.

Can you give the cite for the 44 million in print for Deathly Hallows? I keep hearing that Stieg Larsson of "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" sold 46 million books world-wide, making him more popular than Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and Dan Brown combined. Obviously someone is wrong.

A couple of observations: 1. Pop literature is far more feminized than at any time before, and 2. Rowling is no cultural conservative. She feeds into the same elitism and feeling of 'specialness' that is the core of SWPL disdain for everyday life and those who live it. Rowling famously said Dumbledore was gay, to applause, and has likened Voldemort to Enoch Powell.

James Kabala said...

Below is a link to an infamous essay by a Marxist (NOT by the author of Watership Down) denouncing Rowling as a secret conservative. Only four books were written at the time. "Anglo-Catholic" is incorrectly used to mean English Roman Catholic.

http://voiceoftheturtle.org/show_article.php?aid=170

Anonymous said...

"When sufficiently interested, the new generation can display attention spans that boggle the old. "

Seems irrelevant, since I can get a dog to concentrate on a piece of meat for an hour. Intellectual maturity isn't demonstrated by how long a witch can hold a subjects interest. It's staying focused on abstractions perhaps don't seem immediately and personally relevant to the subject.
That is, there's a reason one of those old Greek guys said that Spectacle is the lowest form of theatre. It's intended to interest the groundlings from the bogs, and their spawn.
Also, kids are interested in those stories because they always follow the classic plotline as illustrated by Joseph Campbell. It's wired in our DNA to follow those timeworn narratives.
Like a dog following a piece of meat.

agnostic said...

"Like a dog following a piece of meat."

What would you have it eat instead -- dirt? That would prove how awesomely abstract it was.

Anonymous said...

Here is a completely unintended and unforeseeable consequence of No Child Left Behind.

CJ said...

There are closet Sailer readers everywhere. Most lately they've been detected at The Onion:

Department Of Education Study Finds Teaching These Little Shits No Longer Worth It

Anonymous said...

I read the Harry Potter books.

Well, the first three. I got stuck in the fourth one. It was just so dull and meaningless.

These books are just damned boring. Drivel. Horrible.

Don't romanticize them.

Anonymous said...

These books are just damned boring. Drivel. Horrible.

But they've done a damned fine job with the movies.

The Hollyweird Jews were all set to ruin the franchise [Haley Joel Osment as an animated Harry Potter?], but, to her credit, Rowling said no.

Point being that - even after all these years of decline - the Brits are still the world masters of stagecraft.

[And if that's the case, then imagine how good they must have been back in Pax Britannica].

Anonymous said...

Most lately they've been detected at The Onion

But look closely at the picture which accompanies the story - even the Onion has to bow to political correctness, and paint the teacher as a negress with dreadlocks, and the "Little Shits" as white males.

Anonymous said...

Here is a completely unintended and unforeseeable consequence of No Child Left Behind.

As I have been trying to tell guys like Steve & Charles Murray for years now, NCLB, and, specifically, its testing requirement, is a Godsend.

Because of the NCLB testing requirement, we have both

1) Established - beyond any possible shadow of a doubt - the utter hopelessness of the genetic/intellectual situation for the NAMs, and

2) Produced invaluable demographic data as to the precise geographic location of the very worst hotspots of hopelessness.

For white people, 2) allows them to glance [online] at a neighborhood's test scores, and know immediately the racial make-up of the neighborhood [or town] in question - information which decades of "Fair Housing Act" laws forbid real estate agents from passing on to their clients.

Furthermore, a good 9% of all American blacks actually have triple-digit IQs, and [as the article in question indicates] they sure as heck aren't going to want to see their kids being "edumakated" in a school filled with Section-8, IQ-60, gang-banging thugs & cretins & murderers.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that I've seen all this before.

I was hired as a systems contractor in the late nineties at a telecom company where all the software engineers (except me) were Russians. Amazingly all their servers were named after places or characters in the Tolkien Ring. Later I worked at web development firm (all Americans) where again all the servers and work groups were named after "Lord of the Rings" creatures or realms.

Still I was never interested enough that I would be tempted to actually read Tolkien. I still haven't. Nor will ever read a Harry Potter book.

I do however have a certain weakness for Peter Hamilton's space operas. Hamilton really writes long stories. He makes Tolkien and Rowling seem like Ogden Nash. His first hit book The Reality Dysfunction is almost 1200 pages. The whole trilogy was published in this country in six volumes. They didn't think they could sell thousand page novels - or was it that they couldn't print them?

What does it all mean? Not much, except there is now and has long been been a market for long winded fantasy.

Albertosaurus

not a hacker said...

Thanks to James Kabala for that link. First time I've ever seen any anyone link John Major with George Orwell.

Anonymous said...

Joanne Rowling is a politically left-wing, somewhat culturally conservative, churchgoing British patriot. They do exist.

James Kabala said...

The "Joseph Campbell classic plotline" is mainly bunk.

Smaug said...

Albertosaurus said:

Still I was never interested enough that I would be tempted to actually read Tolkien.

Huh? How can you speak of "interest" in something you've never read? You just mean you couldn't be bothered. Not the same thing at all.

Anonymous said...

I too think the editorial of this review is rather odd, towards the end.

Below is a link to an infamous essay by a Marxist (NOT by the author of Watership Down) denouncing Rowling as a secret conservative. Only four books were written at the time. "Anglo-Catholic" is incorrectly used to mean English Roman Catholic.

http://voiceoftheturtle.org/show_article.php?aid=170


Ah, so this explains Whiskey's and others' observations of JK prostrating herself at the feet of the Great SWPL Totem. Ever since she read that she needed to at least give the impression of holding impeccable SWPL credentials.

Dumbledore gay, Voldemont Enoch Powell - if she was was really trying she'd be more imaginative than that, I'd thought.

Whiskey said...

The points in Favor of Steve's thesis that Rowling is a cultural conservative is all the attention paid to uniquely "English" institutions made into idealized fantasy realms: Hogwarts, magical steam trains out of Victorian times, etc.

The points against the thesis is that the institutions are amok with multiculturalism: various non-English characters of Chinese and South Asian descent and names acting very, very English. Moreover Rowling herself has said (sorry no cite but I did read it) that she modeled Voldemort and what he wanted on Enoch Powell, and that Voldemort's "crushing" of the Muggles was akin to Powell not ... wanting the entire Third World in England.

One of my commenters noted that he was active in some entertainment forum (my assumption was this was a female dominated one) and the subject of England being soon non-White majority came up. When he reacted with horror at the idea, he was called "racist" and banned. I've seen similar "celebrations" of California's K-12 students being majority Mexican in various forums focused around entertainment (skewing heavily female) with the attitude "it's about time the US was solidly Latino/Mexican majority."

Rowlings books themselves are a rousing defense of PC and Multiculturalism -- the chief villain is someone who wants to end "half-blood" magic users and rule over mundane people. I mean, you cannot get more explicit than that, and it is precisely BECAUSE it tells a "noble lie" that people want to believe (happy clappy pc Multiculturalism) that it is beloved by particularly the reading public that resemble its creator.

Anonymous said...

I find myself rooting for Voldemort. It is very obvious that this series is just more PC propaganda. Voldemort wants to stop Muggle born intrusion into the magical world, and lord knows in this world there is no sin greater than "discrimination" based on birth status. But with HBD in mind, Voldemort is probably right. It makes perfect biological sense to assume that the muggle borns are worse at magic than non-muggle borns on average, and any outliers are just that, outliers. Voldemort is rebelling against the culture of race-suicide, Harry Potter is trying to maintain it.

Anonymous said...

Here is one liberal's criticism of Rowling's "incredibly conservative aristocratic children's club":

http://www.theawl.com/2010/11/harry-potter-and-the-incredibly-conservative-aristocratic-childrens-club

Eric said...

The problem facing Voldemort and his followers is that the old bloodlines are dying out, possibly from inbreeding. (And that is on top of the magic users generally not producing a lot of offspring. The Weasleys are one of the only large families to appear anywhere in the series. Most of the characters, young and old, have no siblings or only one. Nor does it appear to be a matter of choice.) This is mentioned briefly but never fully explored. It is also plain that magical talent isn't necessarily stronger among the pure bloods. Hermione is muggle born but possessed of magical at least comparable to the other students coupled with a genius IQ. During one book she uses a time travel device to allow her to attend more classes to fulfill her voracious capacity for learning.

There are hints that Rowling had a lot of background detail worked out that she hasn't seen fit to share with the reader. What little she has divulged made a good case for why the magic capable remained as a hidden society within humanity, increasingly so as technology gave the rest of humanity a matching strength against wizards if it ever came down to a confrontation. Most of the magic users have a kind of technology blindness, much as the muggle world cannot perceive magic beyond its most visible effects.

I suspect that what scared the community most about Voldemort is that he would ultimately cause them all to be wiped out by the muggle world if it were ever forced to acknowledge their existence.

Trivia:
Peter Hamilton's books are big but he always has a huge cast of characters rather than a small core group like the Potter books. (I'm on the second volume of the Void series right now.) In one of his introductions he mentioned that he'd originally favored short stories and novellas but his editor told him this was the route to starvation. So he came back a few weeks later with the 500 page synopsis for the Night's Dawn series with a note on top reading: 'Be careful what you wish for.'

Lord of the Rings was originally presented to the publisher as a single volume but was split in three to cope with a paper shortage at the time. There was the implicit threat that the following two volumes would go unpublished if the first didn't do sufficient business.

Eric said...

The problem facing Voldemort and his followers is that the old bloodlines are dying out, possibly from inbreeding. (And that is on top of the magic users generally not producing a lot of offspring. The Weasleys are one of the only large families to appear anywhere in the series. Most of the characters, young and old, have no siblings or only one. Nor does it appear to be a matter of choice.) This is mentioned briefly but never fully explored. It is also plain that magical talent isn't necessarily stronger among the pure bloods. Hermione is muggle born but possessed of magical at least comparable to the other students coupled with a genius IQ. During one book she uses a time travel device to allow her to attend more classes to fulfill her voracious capacity for learning.

There are hints that Rowling had a lot of background detail worked out that she hasn't seen fit to share with the reader. What little she has divulged made a good case for why the magic capable remained as a hidden society within humanity, increasingly so as technology gave the rest of humanity a matching strength against wizards if it ever came down to a confrontation. Most of the magic users have a kind of technology blindness, much as the muggle world cannot perceive magic beyond its most visible effects.

I suspect that what scared the community most about Voldemort is that he would ultimately cause them all to be wiped out by the muggle world if it were ever forced to acknowledge their existence.

Trivia:
Peter Hamilton's books are big but he always has a huge cast of characters rather than a small core group like the Potter books. (I'm on the second volume of the Void series right now.) In one of his introductions he mentioned that he'd originally favored short stories and novellas but his editor told him this was the route to starvation. So he came back a few weeks later with the 500 page synopsis for the Night's Dawn series with a note on top reading: 'Be careful what you wish for.'

Lord of the Rings was originally presented to the publisher as a single volume but was split in three to cope with a paper shortage at the time. There was the implicit threat that the following two volumes would go unpublished if the first didn't do sufficient business.

David Davenport said...

http://www.theawl.com/2010/11/harry-potter-and-the-incredibly-conservative-aristocratic-childrens-club

Check the endnote to that review:

Maria Bustillos is the author of Dorkismo: The Macho of the Dork and Act Like a Gentleman, Think Like a Woman.

Anonymous said...

There are articles working out the probable genetics of Rowling's wizarding world, including a couple by scientists in Nature (one in 2005, a follow up in 2009). They think it's a good way to teach kids about dominant and recessive genes.

The consensus seems to be that Rowling's "wizards" probably have a combination of two or more genes that, when activated, enable the person to practice Magic. So-called Muggle-born wizards like Hermione must have distant wizard ancestry on both sides. Both of her parents carry at least one of the genes, but not both, and therefore aren't wizards themselves. One theory:

http://harrypotterwiki.org/wiki/index.php/Wizarding_genetics

So, in one sense, the baddies are right that marriage to Muggles will lessen the number of children who are born wizards. On the other hand it's possible for two humans with the right hidden genes to produce a wizard one out of two times.

By the way, Voldemort is evil with a capital E, on a par with Hitler. I don't think anyone could root for him.

Svigor said...

Maybe public obeisance to multi-kulti dogma is what Jamice Rowling has to do to remain a part of polite society in today's UK. It's just business, like a writer in the old USSR endorsing Marxism-Leninism.

More than just remaining in polite society, it's how to sell books (and get them turned into movies).

But yeah, all the stuff about bloodlines and castes is somewhat un-PC, or at least one step away from un-PC, but liberals seem to have a much easier time with it if it's just families, not families-writ-large.

And it's complicated; underneath that magical hierarchy is the same old crap, a bunch of honkey males vs. the diversitoid good guys; but the diversitoid good guys are largely props with which to surround the ofay central characters.

DAJ said...

Rowling doesn't give a shit about diversity…Harry's all about bringing back the old ways, claiming his genetic rights, and shutting down the usurper.

It appears that you are projecting your own views onto Harry Potter. Acceptance of diversity is a common theme in the book series. Recall that the core villains like Voldemort and the Malfoys champion the belief that the world ought to be controlled by pure-blooded wizards to the harsh exclusion of all others. Contrarily, the good guys like Harry and Dumbledore heartwarmingly support Muggles (non-magical humans), Mudbloods (wizards/witches who descend from Muggles), blood-traitors (pure wizards who advocate the former two), purebloods, and quasi-humans (giants, werewolves, and centaurs). That is, the protagonists care more about the content of one’s character than the magical ability of his or her nature.

By the way, though the story understandably revolves around white Anglo-Saxons, the series mentions non-Anglo characters like Angelina Johnson (a black girl who captains the Quidditch team and dates a brother of Ron Weasley, Harry’s best friend), Dean Thomas (a black boy who courts and kisses Ron’s sister, Ginny), and the Patil sisters (South Asian girls who accompany Harry and Ron to a school ball). Bulgarian Viktor Krum goes out with Hermione Granger, Frenchman Fleur Delacour marries Bill Weasley, human Nymphadora Tonks marries werewolf Remus Lupin, ad nauseam.

The Harry Potter series is far from Birth of a Nation.

Brent Lane said...

A couple of things from a non-obsessive fan of the Potter ouevre:

First, what most regard as 'classical' English culture hasn't had this kind of exposure since the Beatles. I am reminded of a lyric from Morrissey, just a decade and a half ago:

At heart, what's left, we sadly know
That we are the last truly British people you'll ever know


Thanks to Rowling, I don't think this is the case any longer.

Secondly, those who ascribe to the Voldemort-as-Oswald-Mosley theory are overlooking a significant point: in the world at large, wizards are a VERY tiny (albeit powerful) minority. Although numbers aren't ever given, it appears that there are but a few dozen adolescents with sufficient magical power to be invited to Hogwarts each year, which is the only entry into the British magical community. It also appears there is only one such school per nation (there is never any mention of another Hogwarts-type institution in the UK). And Voldemort's desire for 'purity' is more of an internal power struggle within that tiny ethnicity, as opposed to Hitlerian master-race demagoguery.

So Rowling's Enoch Powell comparison was either PC-compliant posturing, or clear evidence that she is willfully ignorant of the demographic realities of the complex world she has invented.

The latter seems highly unlikely.

asdfasdfaf said...

Gosh, is the Right so lacking in cultural firepower that we must pretend that a gay agenda-ist like Rowhling is a conservative, cultural or otherwise?

This reminds me of too many pieces in AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE which recast leftist or liberal thinkers and celebrities as 'conservative'. Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Bruce Springteen, The Clash, etc. I mean gimme a break.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, is the Right so lacking in cultural firepower that we must pretend that a gay agenda-ist like Rowhling is a conservative, cultural or otherwise?

Yes.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that declaring an apparently celibate character gay well after the books are published really counts as the "gay agenda."

Anonymous said...

Boy you got one thing right, there is never enough Alan Rickman.