Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eeek! What a place!

A locus focus, and Oh! what a scary place it is, too. For today we are serving

Detention with Dolores

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

[Harry Potter] had known this office under three of its previous occupants. [...]

Now, however, it looked totally unrecognisable. The surfaces had all been draped in lacy covers and cloths. There were several vases of dried flowers, each one residing on its own doily, and on one of the walls was a collection of ornamental plates, each decorated with a large technicolor kitten wearing a different bow around its neck. These were so foul that Harry stared at them transfixed, untill Professor Umbridge spoke again.

I'm already shivering!

I also thought about mentioning this locus back in September, for "educational" settings. Indeed, Harry learns much about the nature of evil --- as well as something of the heroic --- in this particular office room between his second and fifth year.

In its fifth-volume avatar, the Defence Against the Dark Arts Proffessor's Office shows us just how ugly good things like kittens can be made, with just the wrong sort of twist; in an interesting parallel, the same room highlights just how ugly such a good thing as devotion to the Truth can become when twisted into "devotion to what I say the Truth is" --- which is an idolatry.

I don't want to say too much more because I believe Enbrethiliel hasn't read this book yet.

That Bat also known as some guy on the street


Enbrethiliel said...


OMG!!! Scariest setting, hands down! Technicolour kittens from hell!!! *screams*

Thank you for being so considerate of my aversion to spoilers, Bat, but this happens to be the last Harry Potter book I did read. So you can "spoil" away some more, if you like. ;-)

I remember being a little disappointed, when I was reading it (for the first and so-far only time) that Hogwarts fell so far, so fast. I've always idealised boarding schools, I suppose, and I was horrified when the presence of Professor Umbridge caused this particular boarding school to implode. And Rowling's stories, which I had been carelessly comparing to a Dickens saga, suddenly seemed more like an Orwellian satire.

Which is not to say I hated this change! In fact, I think that the reason Hogwarts is one of the "Top Ten Fictional Schools of All Time" (and not only in my own mind) is that the much of the learning takes place outside the classroom; and indeed, when it becomes impossible inside the classroom as well, the whole setting seems to side with the students and make sure they get, by hook or by crook, the wizarding education they need for the final battle.

Belfry Bat said...

Here's a funny thing: I recently read some muggle complaining about how there are no classics at this trade school called Hogwarts: in seven years there's no litterature or foreign languages (although we hear of several being spoken by English wizards nonetheless, and they do *tell* stories...). I suppose there's the Ancient Runes option, and History of Magic, but that you could get through all that without apparently *hearing* of Homer or Vergil... anyway, this fellow was Against It, and would never send his children to Hogwarts even if they were magical and not muggles again.

I wish I could offer you a link, but there it isn't, if you take my meaning...

Enbrethiliel said...


Hmmmmm. I vaguely remember one of my professors (my favourite one, incidentally) saying that there are many people who have passed through the classics-heavy English educational system who thought the classics pretty useless. That is, great if you like that sort of thing, but not necessary to making a well-rounded person. Maybe Rowling belongs to that "school" of thought.

Meredith said...

Ugh is for Umbridge.

/dev/null said...

Meredith: tell me about it!

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