notes on harry potter

happy halloween

ok so i should start off by saying that harry and i are the same age.

what i mean by this is that every age harry was in the books (and as they were coming out) i was also that same age. this is, i believe, an important distinction. harry and i probably had the same saturn returns idk. his Leo ass is definitely different to mine but i guess we will never have answers to these questions because jk rowling is a jerk.

but what i’m trying to say is i have a bond with harry potter.

recently i watched the whole entire movie series (i’m talking 1 to 7) on my TV like a week before i sold said tv just as i was leaving NY. i bought the entire 8 FILMS on apple and then a week later HBO released all of them and i wasn’t even mad. the films salved something deep in me as i was shifting and transforming my life, gnawing at pain and intrigue, watching teenagers chart spells gave me a really deep awareness into the channel that’s been opening up inside of me the last few years. coming out of bleakness and out of darkness into something new, something magical, as i watched all these witches and wizards become powerful against Voldemort (and also sometimes for themselves) i felt somewhat propelled into my own motion; it helped me self actualize.

maybe because i fucking love lore. i always have, i love understanding the dimensions of humans and creatures that are adjacent to us. surely as the term witch exists in every language it says something about our psyche and connectivity to realms we don’t understand but accept. going into the world of harry potter is like existing in an alternative life with different perils.

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ok but i also figured out that i am a

Ravenclaw sun

Slytherin rising (this is all people’s projections of me, I come off more curt than I am because I have resting unimpressed face, it’s not my fault!!!)

Gryffindor moon because i’m loyal af at heart and also a corn ball

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i love the movies so much i don’t know why like why do i love these white kids so much? ron with his annoying-ass attitude, wtf? hermione with her snooty little opinions that are always right, wtf? i actually hate harry so much in the early books and series because he’s a real ole twat and is constantly like “omg woe is me” ALL THE TIME but then he really changes course i’d say roughly when Cedric dies (goblet of fire is a real and very dark film) and then we see this maturity reside in Harry that I really appreciated because it felt authentic to see him humble in the face of death. though he had faced such hardships before with his parents, and had lived a life as an orphan, there was still that Leo-ness in him, the resilience enmeshed with grandiosity… you know Harry needed to mature a little before he could really do shit. before he could really fight Voldy. isn’t that a compelling vision? the way we get ready for what life throws us is a very compelling thing to witness.

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like most kids and Gryffindor wannabes (guilty) I never understood Slytherins because ofc they are the archetypical villains but (also) of course what life will show you (and indeed Jk Rowling’s life herself) is that villainy is far more complex and insidious because real evil exists in the shadows. what i mean to say is the worst people are not always outwardly so and therefore it’s a bit of a boring-ass trope to declare immediate rejection of people as “bad” or “evil” just because they wear green or wtv. Trust me, I’m Muslim, I relate!!! i’m thinking here about the binaries, about how we’ve been obsessed to think in terms of “all good” and “all bad.” i guess i am seeing how difficult the binary of good and evil has been in my own life wrt to everything so i’m disinterested in perpetuating that myth. i like the idea that chaos is a part of human life and spiritual ontologies outside of the framework of dogma that declares one thing as godly and the other as demonic. is the reason we are so divided because we are are so punitive and unwilling to see the full dimensionality of each other? we don’t allow complexity because we fear we must be all or nothing.

i guess Snape is an embodiment of transformative justice and the power of love. Dumbeldore’s mercy really strengthens Snape’s loyalty and it’s a treasure to witness their connection with each other. it’s kinda sexy in a nonsexual way when Dumbeldore says “Severus” really sternly. their love is platonic and deep and i like watching two men have that kind of relationship, it feels healing. it feels really really radical.

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dude when dumbledore

(spoiler alert, but are u kidding me?)

dies

(i spoilt it for my friend in 11th grade, i was never forgiven)

i had to take a day off of school.

every single time i watch alan rickman go “Avada kedavra” and the green light pushes michael gambon down into the cavern known as death i fucking get mad emotional.

everytime i still feel like i did as a 16 year old, grief stricken in bed, reading the book as fast as i can before school, knowing that everyone will be discussing it there. it was the first time, when he died, that I felt a real loss of someone i felt i knew. because i didn’t have access to my grandparents, or elders, i didn’t really know what it felt like to have a mentor who wanted to protect you. everytime he dies, i mean all of Deathly Hallows Part 1 + 2, is just incredibly existential and dark.

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i loved alan rickman. when he died i wrote a piece for the New York Times about grieving celebrity death (it was like Bowie and Prince and Rickman all in a 2016 astrological death cluster) and even though the piece was killed by the editor i often think of how in that piece i really got to write my jeremiad for alan Rickman who was an astonishingly magnetic human. that voice? that edge that he channelled so rapturously from Sense and Sensibility to Love Actually, he had the range of a true actor that loved the craft for the sake of the craft.

He was also pro-Palestinian, and even wrote and directed a play named “My Name Rachel Corrie,” after the American activist who was crushed to death by an Israel bulldozer in the early 2000s. He had convinction. He was sometimes sexy (he’s so good with Emma Thompson in The Song of Lunch) sometimes scary (Snape) sometimes both (most things if I’m being honest 👀!)

Snape was dope in an anti-hero way (even though Albus Severus is the worst name of all time) and it’s fun to rewatch all of the early movies knowing how Harry is a total shithead (verging on “ethical narcissist” vibes) and misreads EVERYTHING (#justiceforsnape) to make it seem like Snape has a huge vendetta against his whiny ass when actually Snape is protecting him from Ralph Fiennes!!!

In my notes while watching Chamber of Secrets I wrote, “Lucius Malfoy says, “Let’s hope Harry Potter’s always here to save the day.”

Isn’t it psychic that Harry goes, “Don’t worry, I will be.”

Excuse me you’re 12?”

Like what kind of promises are you keeping Harry and should you consider boundaries mate?

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some mischellaneous things i’d like to address:

  1. is conjuring a patronus just, like, doing EMDR?

  2. all of the films are fatphobic af, not sure why Aunt Marge has to blow up like that and don’t even get me started on Dudley even though he’s also terrible and very annoying

  3. i have had a crush on Fiona Shaw for a long time so aunt petunia i guess can get it? i don’t know if i fully stand behind this but Fiona Shaw can definitely get it (Killing Eve? Fleabag?) and the fact that she’s married to renowned writer and economist Sonali Deraniyagala makes me very fucking happy!!!

  4. Sirius Black would’ve been a really good godfather :(

  5. Watching Ron get swole throughout the movies is very rivetting

  6. I’m sad that Dean Thomas never gets to say anything and he’s always laughing in the background while Seamus Finnegan gets to say everything and have a lot of expressive ideas about a lot of things… it’s like… ok Seamus we get it

  7. All in all though the folks of color are existant ~ Dean, Parvarti, Cho ~ they’re always relegated to the side friend, the side person. The Cho Chang poem by Rachel Rostad was really important when I first heard it back in 2013 but I can’t seem to find it anywhere anymore. In the poem, Rostad articulates something devastatingly important (and still largely undiscussed) wrt to relationality of the Asian women and femme in most social situations. we are usually seen as complicit, submissive and in actuality so much of the colonial violence we experience/d orchestated this state of existence. and these are still myths and social paradigms that many of us are trying to break free from.

    Cho is a trophy, like the Triwizard cup, but in a different way. she is servile, she is seen as ornamental rather than someone who has emotions and range. no one even checks in on her when Cedric dies, she doesn’t really get to mourn, only Harry does. Once or twice they pan across her confused quivering face but they never give her more.

  8. where is Parvarti’s family from, are they Indian? If so, where in India? What language does she speak? Is there a group of South Asians in Hogwarts that she relates to? What does she do in her spare time, does she like reading? Does she write poems? Does she get a long with her sister, Padma? What’s the relationship like there? The only characters that get and have depth… are white.

  9. shout out to Dobby but damn are these moral platitudes that Rowling was trying to bring out very condescending and disturbing now when we see which end of the socio-political spectrum she went to… isn’t her TERF positionality very pure-blood esque? girl you need to do some soul searching.

  10. I do like how the depiction of Tom Riddle is always hot because I do like the reminder that hot white men can often turn into Patrick Batemen level sociopaths. Poor Voldy chose some bad life decisions and did not age appropriately… hatred is not healing u girl

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    but I do like how all in all this idea that Harry holds some part of Voldy and vice versa is an interesting depiction of liminality in power, as well as the existence of humanness amidst that power. Harry’s most human qualities make him susceptible, honest, or even weak, because he’s vulnerable. i often find that there’s this weirdness around accepting that vulnerability is a power, that it has the ability to create so much newness because it’s apart of our nature we haven’t been allowed to develop. despite V’s monstrosity there’s also a humanness still there, inside of him, and though it’s never really unpacked, it’s still there as maybe a lasting message. Even if Voldy is unwilling to witness it, I find that idea so compelling. that we choose who we wish to become, and having an accurate narrative and healed self-mythology helps you exist in the world as a person in community. when ego gets involved, when it becomes a mission of the self, and only the self, then you lose yourself.

    All in all that’s one of the biggest lessons I learned from watching Harry Potter this time… That there’s a choice that’s better for the rest of humanity. As much as you can, choose that choice for yourself. liberate from those that deem to control you and fight for liberation for all, through the liberation of yourself. It’s a beautiful reminder.