Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I don't want to prolong Buckbeak-Mountain-gate unnecessarily, but just a few links and loose ends:

* Gay writer John Cloud analyzes Dumbledore's personal saga much the way I do, except of course he sees it as a Bad Thing. (Hat-tip: Mark Shea)

* Exception Day for our NY Times ban, 'cause they printed this. Read the whole thing, but above all, picture NYT readers trying to comprehend the following:
[T]here seems to be no compelling reason within the books for her after-the-fact assertion. Of course it would not be inconsistent for Dumbledore to be gay, but the books’ accounts certainly don’t make it necessary. The question is distracting, which is why it never really emerges in the books themselves. Ms. Rowling may think of Dumbledore as gay, but there is no reason why anyone else should.

Yes, of course, Dumbledore acknowledges that at the bleakest moment of his life, when he was still a teenager and feeling “trapped and wasted,” the appearance of a charismatic friend “inflamed me” and lured him into fantastical dreams of power and influence. “Two clever, arrogant boys with a shared obsession,” he recalls, resulted in “two months of insanity.” But his regrets lasted a lifetime.....

As for his later celibacy, it has the echo of a larger renunciation and a greater devotion. That is, after all, what the fantasy genre is all about. The master wizard is not a sexual being; he has shelved personal cares and embraced a higher mission. And if he indulges in sex, it marks his downfall, as it did, so legend tells us, with Merlin, the tradition’s first wizard, who is seduced by one of the Lady of the Lake’s minions. Tolkien’s wizards — both good and evil — are so focused on their cosmic tasks that sexuality seems a petty matter. Gandalf eventually transcends the physical realm altogether.

Ms. Rowling quite consciously makes Dumbledore a flawed, more human wizard than these models, but now goes too far. There is something alien about the idea of a mature Dumbledore being called gay or, for that matter, being in love at all. He may have his earthly difficulties and desires, but in most ways he remains the genre wizard, superior to the world around him.

(Emphasis mine. Is Edward Rothstein always this good? If so, I'll have read him more often, no matter where he publishes.)

* The IOLANTHE thing. I did it in re Larry Craig (see Aug. 29 post here); only fair if I do it here too. I refer to the scene in which the Fairy Queen -- no, it's a contralto role, and she really is a Fairy Queen, sort of a cross between Shakespeare's Titania and Wodehouse's Aunt Agatha -- confronts the Lord Chancellor over a perceived slight to her nephew, Strephon. The LC dismisses her curtly, realizing only too late that she is no ordinary intruder. In the original it goes like this:
Oh! Chancellor unwary
It's highly necessary
Your tongue to teach
Respectful speech-
Your attitude to vary!
Your badinage so airy,
Your manner arbitrary,
Are out of place
When face to face
With an influential Fairy.

A plague on this vagary!
I'm in a nice quandary!
Of hasty tone
With dames unknown
I ought to be more chary;
It seems that she's a fairy
From Andersen's library,
And I took her for
The proprietor
Of a Ladies' Seminary!

All right, let's have a go:

JK (through publicists)
O readership unwary,
It's highly necessary
Your tongue to teach
Enlightened speech
Your attitude to vary.
A worldview more inclusive
A politics intrusive
Are de rigueur
When a characteur
Is an influential fairy!

A plague on this vagary!
We're in a nice quandary!
Of hasty tone
With microphone
She ought to be more chary.
It seems that there's a fairy
In Dumbledore's library,
And by your leave
We're asked to believe
It's that very luminary!