Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Posts tagged “harry potter

True Neutral

I’ve been taking this blog far too seriously. Okay, I really believe in the importance of philosophy in modern society, and I love writing stuff, and all the crap, but let’s face it that stuff is boring.

Here’s a less serious blog post.

Pottermore, you lost me at Slytherin.

Yep. I entered Pottermore beta almost a year ago. I was sorted into Slytherin. I couldn’t believe it. Me. ME! A Slytherin? Check your algorithms, Sony. I’m a Ravenclaw.

Then again, maybe not.

After a little soul searching, I’ve found that I’m true neutral. If you’re not familiar with the alignment system (a Dungeons & Dragons tool), here’s a good site describing it.

To sum up true neutral in a word: Meh.

Here’s what someone else has to say about it:

A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil-after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.

Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.

Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.

Neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Here’s a chart:

Back on point, I thought my neutral tendencies, focus on acquiring of knowledge, and strange habit of remembering insignificant facts would get me safely in Ravenclaw. Not the case.

Once upon a time, my patronus was a raven. Now, I believe it’s a velociraptor. She stares down the dementors while my friends’ patroni (that’s the plural, right?) attack from the sides. And, as the dementor is being torn to shreds, he turns to my patronus and mutters,

“Clever girl.”

I have embraced my Slytherclaw status. What house are you in? Better yet, what’s your patronus? Tell me in the comments.

Open Book

I want to talk about reading.

Not as a writer.

As a reader.

Because I will never be able to quantify the vast amounts of information I have learned through the simple (amazingly complex) process of reading.

I was able to read before I started 1st grade. I’m not sure what caused this. Perhaps it was a push from my parents, or maybe just the desire of wanting to imitate what they were doing. My parents read constantly. There were always books in our home, and we were encouraged to read.

This is a photo of me on the day I was allowed to get a library card:

I could make up something about how this was before the age of computer games and the Internet, but that would be a lie. I learned how to type with Mario Teaches Typing. I played Reader Rabbit. I was a Math Blaster pro. These weren’t just in my home, they were at school.

My mother is a substitute teacher, and I asked her how her day was.

“Such and so can’t read.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“She sat at her desk and cried all day because she can’t read.”

“What does that-”

“I was teaching 3rd grade.”

My brain audibly ground to a halt as I tried to force this into some kind of perspective that related to me. This is truly cognitive dissonance. I know, on an intellectual level, that people don’t know how to read. I have not met these people. And, for the first time, I really started to think about how much knowledge, pleasure, joy, and heartbreak they don’t have access to.

I’m just trying to work this out in my head, and it ended up on my blog.

The movie is never as good as the book.

There are people out there who will never know Harry Potter, or Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, or Harold and his Purple Crayon the same way I do.

I wish there was some way I could fix that.


Soapbox Podium Thumping – eBooks

*shuffle shuffle shuffle* SQUEAK! *clears throat and steps onto soapbox*

I’m about to pontificate, so feel free to ignore my opinion.

I stumbled across something I’m not going to link to because I don’t want to support the cause, even indirectly, but I want to be clear.

eBooks should not be the be-all-end-all direction of the publishing industry.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kate, you have mentioned on your blog several times how much you love your nook, and your iPad. You are addicted to gadgets. How can you say such things?”

I love eBooks. I love my nook. These things are true.

But, unless it’s an actual, physical book at some point in its history, I have a hard time taking it seriously for the simple fact that an author can’t sign it.

Every time I see that scene in Beauty & the Beast, when he shows Belle the library, my heart races, my pupils dilate, and a little voice in my head sings, “I want to go to there”. If I’m ever rich enough to build my own house, that library, be it physically possible, will make the final blueprint. You better believe there will be a track ladder.¬†

I suggested an author to a friend. Said author has a new book coming out soon, which I also drew to the attention of aforementioned friend. This author is someone who I know and have spent time with. Friend freaked out.

Squees, all caps on Facebook, I was thrilled, thinking, “Awesome. She’ll enjoy a good read, as all people of the world should.” Then I got this note.

“What’s your address? Will she sign stuff?”

Um. Well. Yeah, I guess. I mean, why else would you become an author if you couldn’t sign a body part…er…flyleaf or two?

Now, imagine you meet J.K. Rowling (in a parallel universe where Harry Potter is available on eBook). Would you have her sign your nook? I mean, come on. That’s not really the same. You could add a digital flyleaf in an iPad app, but it’s not the same.

As I am clearly the conflicted character in this novel, I’m going to tell you right now: if there were seven books that I could have with me at all times, the Harry Potter series would make that list in a heartbeat (maybe not all of it, but still).

eBooks rock portability, and, coupled with an eInk screen, things look pretty good. But there are some things that you need to see in hard copy.

There are some pages you need to thumb through.

There are some things that you need to get signed, if only to show off to your friends who don’t happen to eat pancakes with awesome authors.

If you’ve ever been to a book signing or plan on going to one, hold that book in your hand and think about this: without that person sitting at the table at the front of that line, this thing – this gigantic, momentous bundle of cardboard, paper, and ink squeezed by your hot, little hands that took you to a place you’d never been – would not exist without them.

You are holding a piece of someone’s soul and it’s not trapped in a little computer box.

It’s contained in this thing that you can give to your mother when she’s lonely. Or, you can read to your son when he’s sick. Or, you can rediscover when you’re swinging from your track ladder on a rainy Sunday evening.


Items of Interest: Ep. 16

Phew. That was a close one. I almost didn’t find anything that I was interested in this week.

It’s been rough.

But, enough about my mental instability.

Items of Interest: Ep. 16

The Power of Three. Or, Rule of Four.

Find a need, fill a need.

You’re all familiar with the four humors, right?

Okay, crash course. Look at this.

All right, now look at the group of friends you hang out with.

Chances are, there are four of you. And, each one of you fall into one of those categories very specifically. Before you get all huffy and jump to another feed, hear me out.

You rotate. There are shifts. Things change. But, if Simon shouted “Stop!” in the middle of a rotation, these four basic types would still be filled. Almost like there’s a need to fill the basic personality types. If it works in real life, it must work in story.


Sex and the City. Will and Grace. Frazier. The Electric Mayhem (sans Dr. Teeth).

Why does this work? No idea. Just thought it was interesting. Moving on.

The Power of Three

It’s like someone saw this trope and thought, “All I have to do to be different is get rid of a humor.”

This was a great plan because it adds a layer of previously unreachable conflict. The group of three is unnatural. It lacks balance. We are always trying to find the fourth humor to complete the picture. This is a gut-conflict. It has nothing to do with the story, or the action. We the audience feel¬†like something is wrong and needs to be resolved. We just don’t realize it’s the fourth humor.


Harry Potter. Throughout the series, we see Ron, Hermione, and Harry rotating through the four humors. Hermione stays pretty solid as phlegmatic while Ron is pretty stable sanguine. The dynamic of the group changes every time a fourth member is added. Neville is melancholic. The Weasley Twins are choleric.

Harry remains the wild card, which helps the audience empathize with him. Like us, he is not always aware of what role he needs to play in the ever-changing dynamic.

And, all this in a world of fours!

Four Houses, four Marauders, four Founders.

We’re happy. In the end, we get our fourth. Ginny. The roles are set, the group dynamic stops spinning.

That’s why you have an epilogue. To prove you’ve stopped searching for the fourth.

This stuff is visceral. It’s not about defeating Voldemort. It’s about finding where you fit in context of four.

That’s simplified, of course. And, as all things in the real world, it’s not necessarily true all the time. But, that’s what stories are, right? Trying to find their way to a universal truth.