Over an hour’s worth of deep Harry Potter theory

playing talisman
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

After a long bout of playing “Talisman” – a Dungeons-and-Dragons-ish board game – we persuaded Sophie to take a bath (fancy foaming bath salts) and go to bed (lacy pillowcase) with a flashlight and a book in Moomin’s top bunk. I read Sophie as being the sort of person who likes fancy things, but won’t admit it, so she takes great satisfaction in the lacy pillowcase much too fancy for a grubby little kid. She wrote “Evil Fridge” and “Fear Me” in fridge magnets – quite wonderful – I need to get her the Franny K. Stein books.

Moomin is grasping the complexities of Talisman. For the second or third time he played the Philosopher, who has the power of always peeking at the top card. It’s a good power! He likes to amass objects and proceed with caution, while I go like a tiger after strength and followers.

After the little kids passed out, Eliz. and I marked up a book catalogue with stuff she thought looked good. Of particular interest: “101 Things to Do Before You Get Old and Boring” and a biography of Victoria Woodhull. I just happen to know quite a lot about Victoria Claflin Woodhull and her sister Tennessee and how they grew up as 2-bit carnival psychics and how Victoria was a radical feminist stockbroker and publisher involved with the free love movement and then ran for President of the United States. I played a role-playing game character based on her once.

Then the serious nerdaciousness began. Eliz made me look up from my cosy blog-reading on the couch by saying thoughtfully, “What I like is the books that make you want to re-read them right away because they’re so complicated and you keep seeing new things… And most books aren’t LIKE that… only Harry Potter.” I assured her not to worry – there are other books like that. (Did she lose that copy of The Odyssey I gave her when she was 7, or what?) “So, I’ve been thinking really, really hard about Dumbledore, and my friend Jak and his mom also have read the books a lot and know all about it, and THEY say… and I think…”

Her main points (supported by examples, at length, with great logical conviction) were:

– We don’t know what house Dumbledore was in . Maybe he was in Slytherin! Hermione says “I hear Dumbledore was in Gryffindor” but that doesn’t make it true.

– He and Snape both know about polyjuice potions and they might have switched places and it’s really Snape that’s dead.

– It seems like Polyjuiced-Dumbledore would never Avada Kedrava Snape, because he’s all good and stuff, but he could be acting specially good because he had been specially evil before.

– It says very clearly that Professor McGonagle was putting up his picture… which can talk. He’s basically still alive in his picture, even if he’s dead.

– A weird idea that probably won’t happen: what if Dumbledore is a phoenix that has burned up for so long that he turned into an immortal human being and that’s why he lived for so long?

– Dobby could have turned into Dumbledore … house elves have powerful magic.

There was more, but Rook and I were busy looking up articles on Nicolas Flamel, and the Wikipedia article on Dumbledore, which led us to the most excellent site ever, “Dumbledore is Not Dead“, which Eliz immediately began to read out loud to us, and she didn’t stop until her dad came to pick them up at 11. I printed it out for her. Really, go and read it… it’s stunningly brilliant! I’m completely persuaded about the phoenix lament’s significance.

Then the killing blow; “I’m a really good manipulator. You were going to make me go to bed, and I’m good at getting people interested in what I’m talking about, so that they want to go and read or look at the products or books I’m talking about, and now you want to go re-read Harry Potter, and so you forgot to make me go to bed.” I hadn’t been planning on messing with her 10 year old dignity, but it’s true if she’d talked so much without being interesting that I would have suggested she shut up for a while. As it stood, we drove Rook away with the unrelenting Pottermania, byzantine logic, footnotes within footnotes, wild speculation, disagreements about house-elf importance, and overanalysis of phrases half-uttered by minor characters.

It was really fun. I remember how bad I wanted to have serious conversations when I was ten. (Not like it’s any different now.)

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