March 15, 2016

The Magical World of Imagination

I was in a deep conversation with a friend of mine today about how the world would be in different scenarios.  This got me thinking about how magic would come into the world if we lived in a world where magic existed.  I started thinking about J. K. Rowling's universe and it occurred to me how much magic is an extension of imagination.  Harry lives with very practical and no nonsense Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon who are raising a perfectly normal Dudley, thank you very much.  She even named the unmagical child "Dudley" a perfectly dull name that makes you think of a "dud" or something that doesn't function the way it should.  And if you don't think she picks her names with intent, you really don't understand anything she's done at all.  The Dursleys are as normal as it gets and of course they're nonmagical, they don't have an ounce of whimsy about them and aside from lying, they're rather unimaginative.  Even their lies aren't that imaginative, really.  It's heavily emphasized in the movies at least that Lily was the artistic type.  You just have to look at the pictures of her with James to see that she could be an artist in any other movie.  The story about the fish bowl and the flower petal just shows that she is very creative.

If eyes are the windows of the soul, the fact that Harry has his mother's eyes tells us that despite looking like James, his resemblance to his mother is the most striking thing about him.  Both Lily and James are magical, of course, but this just furthers the emphasis on his pedigree as being a child of creative people and therefore being a child born to magic.

Muggles pretty much fade into the background as being people who don't really "see" the world around them.  Most of the muggles we come across are perfectly normal as well.  This is completely contrasted by the very diverse and whimsical world of magic that Harry finds himself in, where practically anything can happen, because magic.  This really makes the books start to fall apart when you think too hard about them, because the way magic behaves doesn't make a lot of sense at all.  But if you consider that magic is an allegory for imagination, then it doesn't have to make sense, because imagination isn't always linear and doesn't necessarily conform to rules as such.  Our brains are powerful tools, but we aren't always in control of our thoughts or able to articulate or formulate things terribly well.

We can also look at the characters in the story to see how this relationship is furthered.  Let's take a look at three particular characters:  Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Filch.  Dumbledore is seen as the equal to and better of Voldemort.  A lot of Dumbledore's quotes get thrown around as being wisdom, but when you start to dissect and really consider it, they're often times nonsensical.  There are elements of truth to them and they hit your ear well, but they don't always stand to reason.  If Dumbledore is the embodiment of imagination at its best, then it doesn't matter that he doesn't always make sense.  He's an artist in the purest sense.  He's powerful because he's unlocked his mind to the possibilities within it, and he may not always make a lot of sense to everyone else, but he understands the world in a way most wizards and witches can't comprehend, simply by understanding the power of imagination.  Voldemort becomes the embodiment of misuse of imagination.  He wants the kind of power that Dumbledore has, and if we accept the hints to Dumbledore's dark past, he may well have been on his way to discovering for himself how to unlock those secrets.  Perhaps by delving into the darkest possibilities of imagination, Dumbledore gained understanding and wisdom of magic that surpassed all others, and perhaps Voldemort might have reached the same enlightenment and his "evil" ways were the result of frustrations at not being able to unlock these mysteries in an immediate sense.  Or perhaps Voldemort embodies the kind of awful and sick things that come with misuse of imagination; his lack of control counters Dumbledore's mastery.  The struggle between darker musings of the brain such as depression, and the lighter side of the brain when creativity flows.  Lastly, Filch being one of the only squibs we see in the series.  He comes from a wizarding family but has no magic.  Filch is often depicted as irritable, but he's hardly as creative in his punishments as we're lead to believe.  He's a care taker and even with is apparent interest in capitol punishment, forcing students to clean or work as a form of punishment or to beat/torture them are hardly novel concepts.  These things have been done for ages.  He's a man living in a world of whimsy and creativity, but he doesn't seem to possess an ounce of it for himself.  He's practically as Dursley-ish and uninteresting as any other muggle in the book.

I could go on and on, but I think I've taken up enough time just tossing some ideas out there.

Today's prayer is for creation.

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