Pen names as character identities? As meta narratives? What about META EDITS?!
[I am interested in the marginalia. The editing. The revisions. How this affects our perceptions of growth and change and time. This video addresses it well.]
“But Harry Potter is simply too big a cultural landmark to jettison. I don’t believe anyone wants to mind-wipe Harry Potter’s existence from the world; it means too much to too many of us. (Let’s leave aside the nonsensical whatever of Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts films.) But I also find myself bristling at the jokes that have invaded social media in the wake of Rowling’s comments — the ones fantasizing that the Harry Potter books magically appeared unto us with no author, or that they were written by someone else we like better. Sure, the author is dead, but that idea is about reclaiming agency over our own interpretation of a text. It paradoxically depends on the author having a proprietary interpretation of their own work — one that we can then reject.
By repudiating Rowling’s anti-trans comments, millions of Harry Potter fans are also turning the series into a symbol of the power of a collective voice to drown out an individual one. The power of fans’ love and empathy for trans people and other vulnerable communities, and their steady rejection of Rowling’s prejudice, is a potent, raw form of cancellation — one undertaken not out of a spirit of scorn and ostracism, but with something closer to real grief — and it deserves to be a part of the story of Harry Potter.
But if we can’t erase Rowling, what can we do instead? We can break up with her.
We can grieve, nurse our wounds, and be sad we loved someone who hurt us so badly. We can celebrate happier times while mourning a relationship we outgrew — one that became toxic — and regretting the time we spent waiting for a problematic fave to change and grow. We can give ourselves time to heal. And we can consider accepting that the microaggressions we may have noticed in Rowling’s books themselves were, perhaps, warning signs obscured by a benevolent, liberal exterior.
Jo can keep the money, and Pottermore and Cormoran Strike, and definitely all of Fantastic Beasts. She can keep the house elves who really love their enslavement, the anti-Semitic goblin stereotypes, Dolores Umbridge, Voldemort, the Dementors, and Rita Skeeter. I’ll take Harry and Hermione and Ron and Draco, Luna and Neville and Dumbledore’s Army. I’ll take Hogwarts and pumpkin pasties and butterbeer and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and every other moment of magic and love this series has given me and countless others.
Trans and queer Harry Potter fans get to keep Tonks and Remus and Sirius Black and Charlie Weasley and Draco, because I say so; Harry Potter is ours now, and we make the rules. J.K. Rowling lost custody over her kids and now we can spoil them, let them get tattoos, express themselves however they want, love whomever they want, transition if they want, practice as much radical empathy and anarchy as they want. Harry Potter is Desi now. Hermione Granger is black. The Weasleys are Jewish. Dumbledore’s Army is antifa. They’re anything you want and need them to be, because they were always for you.”
‘Thanks to the postmodernists, much of the discussion of authorship in the last half century has focused on the medium of film. This is, it would seem, largely owing to the fact that the dozens or hundreds of individuals involved in the making of a film collectively challenge the notion of films having a singular author—an auteur. More recently, this challenge has returned to other forms of art, including literature. A trend in postmodernism is to assert that each of these individuals is an author of the work in question or, alternatively, that there is as such no one who deserves the title of author. Harold Love suggests that “we need to recognize that most novels are much more like films than we are prepared to acknowledge in deserving a long roll-out of credits at the end.” Nevertheless, despite the recognition of the valuable input of others, we continue to apply the title of author and to do so very selectively.
More recently, philosophers on the analytic side of the analytic and continental divide have taken up the authorship issue with particular focus on distinguishing contributors and others from true authors, working to determine what makes two or more contributors to a given work joint or co-authors and leaving others to be, at best, acknowledged for their helpful input….
… An author is one with the ultimate responsibility for the form and content of the work, including its artistic and, where applicable, moral qualities. Put another way, we hold the author or authors responsible for the ideas being expressed and the form of that expression. This responsibility, I would suggest, arises from the author’s power to select and arrange elements as constitutive of the work.
… The difference between multiple authorship and co-authorship, I suggest, comes back to the issue of responsibility. Does an author take responsibility for just his contribution to the work or to the work as a whole? If I author an entry for the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, for example, I do not take responsibility for anything beyond my contribution. Rather, my contribution makes up a discrete, identifiable unit of authorship and can be separated from the remainder of the Encyclopedia without serious effect upon the rest of the larger work. And this seems true even if I make a joint commitment with a body of other philosophers to build the Encyclopedia in this way. If I co-author an article with a colleague, however—as I have on a number of occasions with Craig Derksen—this is not usually the case: my contribution does not consist of a discrete unit that may be separated from my co-author’s, leaving a unified whole. As such, each he and I take responsibility for the work as a whole. Indeed, my co-author and I signal this by not identifying which elements were written by whom. In general, I think it reasonable to suggest, first, that where more than one individual can be identified as meeting the conditions for authorship of a given work, that work has more than one author. Where that work is made up of discrete, identifiable units of authorship, that work is multiply authored. And where that work is a unified whole without discrete, identifiable units of authorship, that work is co-authored.’
-Darren Hudson Hick, “Authorship, Co-Authorship, and Multiple Authorship.” Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism. May2014, Vol. 72 Issue 2, p147-156. 10p.
Recommend a BookTuber video in the comments and it could make our Tuesday post!
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]