I like a story I can inhabit. I suppose it requires a certain amount of confidence in one’s primary reality to walk into other worlds in other stories and stay for a bit and return from them. Otherwise, you’re just a nerd or a Trekker or a Jedi or…something.
Just as Anne Rice—for whatever other failings you might want to ascribe to her—can carry me into the dead weight of a heavy humid New Orleans night or the strident, stentorian spray of a cold Pacific Ocean just outside the protection of our Bay with just a few well-placed words; or as Frank Herbert could create a lush and verdant Dune; or as Joss Whedon can squirt you through a lens into Sunnydale or onto Serenity; so J.K. Rowling sends me to Hogwarts and Little Whinging, Surrey, and a secret London with the wave of a wand and her incantatory prose.
In forms that depart significantly from the quotidian reality we all mundanely mostly agree upon, archetypes are employed to give us guideposts in a strange land. It’s those more gifted with a sense of story that can flesh out the archetypes into believable, companionable, sympathetic characters. It’s the rare few who can further weave those characters into those with whome we can feel empathy as they are driven along plot lines that keep us engaged, keep our wills suspending disbelief and skiving the fictive nature of that narrative.
At the time when Harry Potter was the “latest thing”, a cultural explosion in and of itself, I steered clear of it. I didn’t buy the books, I didn’t see the movies. Friends went on opening day because they wanted to be “part of it all”. I wanted no part of it—perhaps, as I see now, for the very same reason.
I saw the first Harry Potter movie on DVD in Tucson, I believe. Sam and his Lesbian had rented it. I may be wrong about the details, but suffice it to say, I sort of fell into watching it instead of having made the effort to engage in it.
Of course I bought the DVD, and the second one as well, as it was out already. And soon after, the third. Tomorrow, I’ll buy the fourth.
If you look at the left column on the main page you’ll see the books I’ve been reading. The last five are Harry Potter books. My friend Steve gave me his boxed set of the first three and made sure I had Books Four, Five and Six awaiting me before I finished Three.
I don’t find myself wishing I were Dumbledore or Harry, or any of the others, but I do see facets of myself in each of the characters (that would be where the archetypes come in) I also see the same million little nuances in each of the characters that I see when I meet someone new.
When the books conclude I’ll be sad (I’ve just finished Order of the Phoenix today, so no [more] spoilers, please!), but I won’t be despondent like the Trekkers or the Comicon-types get. It will just be nice to have known these people, and sad that we have to part ways.
The best kinds of escapism are the ones that bring you right back to here and to now with a better sensitivity and fidelity to those million little nuances that make you who you are.