Saturday, July 05, 2003

Harry Potter Questions

I got hooked on Harry Potter last year, after trying as hard as I could to resist the brainwashing. As it turns out (Alan Bloom's sphincter-puckered critiques aside), Rowling's not a bad writer at all. Her prose is simple and engaging... but I'm betting you knew this already.

Do you ever wonder if Rowling's part of some larger project to integrate us all into a Borg-like hive mind? It all starts with the injection of the Potter meme, producing astounding conformity of thought in disparate cultures...

Actually, I don't wonder about that puerile doodie. I have some technical questions about magic in the Potter world. Since I'm in Korea and haven't had the chance to read Rowling's latest, Harry Potter and the Odor of the Penis, I can only hope that Penis answers these questions.

Specifically, I want to know why

- some spells don't require an incantation, but just a flick of the wand (cf. Professor McGonagall retrieving her spilled books early in Book 4, right after she shouts at "Moody" for abusing the Malfoy-ferret).
- some spells, cast the same way, nevertheless produce different effects when cast by different people ("Expelliarmus" being the most infamous example).
- some spells appear to emanate from the spellcaster directly, without any need of gesture or incantation (example: Harry making the glass disappear from the snake habitat in Book 1, and Harry inflating his aunt in Book 3).

I know Rowling's put out a few "side" publications, books that supplement the series and flesh out her world. I haven't read any of them, however. If you have answers to the above questions, write me at, and remember to put HAIRY CHASMS in your email's subject line.

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