Sunday, October 28, 2007

Off the deep end

At an appearance at Carnegie Hall on Friday, J. K. Rowling revealed that she intended the character of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series to be homosexual. His love interest, she says, was not Harry (we can be grateful that approval of man-boy love is still a few years off for the elites) but wizard Gellert Grindelwald, the book's shadowy magical rival to Dumbledore.

I can't decide what to think of her. Now that she'd absurdly rich, is she pandering to her trendy new friends in the elites? Is she just a modernist PC woman with the usual modernist PC assumptions about morals? Perhaps a little of both.

And besides that, I wonder if there isn't a huge, characteristically PC blind spot operating in her as well. The contemporary worldview has completely lost sight of the possibility of men forming deep friendships without those friendships being, or becoming, erotic. If you find a kindred spirit in another person of the same sex, modern people think, of course you're going to want to go to bed with them. If you think differently, they say, you're just fooling yourself. Find two male friends together? Must be secretly gay. No other explanation need apply.

It's an arid, simplistic view of human nature.

I've defended the Potter novels against accusations of promoting real witchcraft more than once in this space. I still stand by that assessment. But it's clear to me that by choosing to twist the endearing character of Dumbledore this way, Rowling now joins the legions of other modernists hoping to foster a complete acceptance of homosexuality in her many young readers.


Won't be seeing any of the upcoming Potter movies. That's about all I can do in the way of protest, since the books are already bought and on my shelves. I'll be curious about the movies, but not curious enough to put another penny into Rowling's already-bulging pockets.

Too bad, really. She was never a very good writer, but she could conceive a good story, and could certainly capture a place in the contemporary imagination. Her hope for lasting literary fame was to remain true to the Christian foundations of her imaginary world. Now that that's gone, she will be, too.

I'll make a prediction: in a hundred years, people will be still be reading Tolkien avidly. But when Rowling's name is mentioned, they'll say: "Who?"