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Endings as beginnings: remorse in ‘Harry Potter’ series

30 Aug

At the end of the first book of the J. K. Rowling series ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ Hagrid cries to Harry, It’s -all -my – ruddy -fault!’…
‘Hagrid !’ said Harry, shocked to see Hagrid shaking with grief and remorse…’
Rowling here, at the end of the first book, introduces the compelling narrative philosophy of her series: remorse. This trope ‘Remorse’ is the overarching theme of the Harry Potter series. The word is a thread through the series, a hidden key in each book. How does Rowling use and define remorse?
Remorse is a choice open to all the major characters Harry encounters, including himself. It is what makes wizards muggle like and humans wizards. Snape, (or rather Professor Snape) Voldemort, Hagrid, Ron and Dumbledore, among others, are offered remorse. Harry pointively offers Tom Riddle this choice at the end of their final duel. Voldemort refuses. He has long ceased being Tom Riddle, being human. He cannot and will not ‘try’ remorse. Such a choice, and its acceptance, Rowling herself ( through the character of Hermione) points out in the chapter ‘The Ghoul in the Pajamas” (The Deathly Hallows) can destroy earthly life. Remorse is the only magic that can break a horcuxes’ power in or for a life. But without remorse, or deep, deep sorrow, all life in and beyond earthly existence is lost. Life can only begin when we grieve, grieve at a lost. A son; a spouse, a school, a heart.
Great art, music, painting and writing, have ends embedded in their beginnings. Shakespeare’s Prospero drops an iamb in his last speech in ‘The Tempest.’ There is remorse in leaving his magic, his island, writing and the spell of creation. Something ends with his new beginning. Carravaggio’s ‘The Call of St. Matthew’ shows three images, three paintings of the apostle’s life: the call has the movement from a young man holding, grasping coins to an older man’s hands open, embracing death at his end. Opposites, ends in beginnings; the dropping of a word’s beat, grasping and holding at life’s beginnings, then releasing and emptying at its end: this is deep remorse, the movement from an enslavement to a freedom that hurts, deeply, even to death. Opposites together. All spiritual fruit has seeds of the Spirit’s fruit in its opposition. Remorse is a love, an empathic love of the other. It is a fruit, a love. An end product. The tears of remorse waters. Hagrid cries remorseful tears; Harry forgives; a photography album of pictures of Harry’s Mum and Dad enters Harry’s hands. Harry can not speak. He is loved. And he now can love others beyond himself.
Remorse, closes his mouth. We understand. Hagrid understands too. He feels; he is loved. His remorse saved him. It can also free us.

meditation 12-‘breaking’ bad fruit: idolatry & witchcraft

25 Aug

J.R.R. Tolkien in response to a critical question concerning the placing of total power in the Ring of Sauron in ‘The Lord of the Rings” stated in a letter, ‘The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical ways of treating the placing of one’s life or power in some external object outside oneself which… thus exposes (the person) to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself.’

We all do this. Children place their desire on a toy, a ‘new best friend’ at the start of a school term, a doll, a promise, a Christmas day. Adults place their desire in a love, a person, a spouse an ideal, their work, achievement. Or ‘a diamond birthday.’ All of these are idols that we create and recreate through our walk and life. And when we create we ‘place.’ This placement is the worship: we move our internal ultimate value to external object. Our souls to rings. Or to a Ring. Such placement is a form of witchcraft. Paul in Galatians tells us that idolatry And witchcraft work together. (‘and’) How? By creating. And by recreating.Walter White in AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ and Lord Voldemort in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books both place their souls in external objects. They are both worshippers and creators. Idols themselves, made by their own hands. No longer humans, but objects. Fragment and particles. Walter becomes the desire for a ‘name’ and Voldemort is the desire for life eternal. Both change their names; both want to rule in the ‘unknown’ country, the land beyond life. Both are idol worshippers. And both were or desire to be teachers.
Walter White places the black hat on his head and becomes his alias, Heisenberg, the physicist father of Quantum Mechanics, the founder of the Uncertainty principle: particles existing in multiple states and places at multiple times. Walter exists as a chemist, yet also chooses the identity of a physicist for one purpose: to create a name, an object outside himself that will live forever. His fear? Part of what all teachers fear is being forgotten, swallowed up death, or lack of remembrance. Teachers deeply fear that their students certainly won’t remember them. And without memory life loses meaning.(Jesse is such a student who desires to destroy his memories of teacher Walter) Voldemort also desires eternal life through memory. Thus, he creates horcuxes. Objects as Tom Riddle’s Diary, Maravalo’s ring and others. He creates with particles of his unstable soul. Objects that can only be created out of murder. Riddle becomes Voldemort; White becomes black, Heisenberg. Multiple selves in multiple places. In their quests for certainty they become particles of uncertainty. Objects of pure flesh warring with Spirit. Paul closes chapter 5 of Galatians with a statement on their joint fates, ‘those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’
Idol worship, witchcraft, is bad fruit. It breaks and fragments in our hands, destroying our very self, our souls.