J.K. Rowling really tapped into a good bit of wonder with the Harry Potter idea. Kid stuck in a situation with nothing at all going for him is transported into a place of continual charm, and it isn’t a dream. There are an awful lot of really good ideas in the magic and feel of the whole series.
What J.K. Rowling gets right is that to open up so much wonder, if it is going to be more than sugar coating, is that it comes at a price. If it isn’t a dream to wake up from, it isn’t a nightmare to wake out of. And so as things open up, and every time there is a better vision of the world imagined, the danger increases. Wonder and terror have to be commensurate for the thing to ring true and satisfy, as Mr. Baggins also learned.
And how they satisfy. Not as some others have, but still they do. Rowling manages to touch on an old truth in a new way.
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The great body of a hawk swooped over me this afternoon. I had been reading someone calling windmills medieval technology–which is not entirely accurate–and bird guillotines. There is a point there, though, I thought walking in the November landscape beside a former field all gone to seed and awaiting a new owner and development. Something lost, something remembered and something perhaps defiled by distortion.
You think of what the author of Beowulf does, and the poignant tragedy of time on human achievement. It isn’t poignant if you think you can get back what you have lost, or all that tragic for that matter. To recognize that something was good in the past and is now lost cannot take you back that way. It is gone, and the best that you can do is to make a lasting memorial; never forget and never trifle with its greatness. It does make you want to keep what you have, but also to find ways to live as you must, and can without the same ways you remember to the things that never change.
The permanent things are the things that matter, and we must somehow in time touch eternity by drawing attention to the ageless beauty of permanent things. Incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away is, after all, the language of eternity.