What a tangled wwweb we weave...

Monday, July 18, 2005


Full disclosure: I work, part-time, at a cafe and, said cafe, is located in a children's bookstore. We sell cupcakes and lots of other baked things made of flour and sugar perfect for the children of greater Manhattan and the nannies who love them. Unless you are living in a cave in Khazikastan you know that the latest Harry Potter book (Publisher's gold -- ka-ching!) was released to the seething masses this past Friday night or rather in the earliest hours of Saturday, July 16th. I know about the Harry Potter feeding frenzy intimately because I was worked at the cafe this past Friday at midnight when the doors of said bookstore opened to people who had either, months before, pre-ordered their copy or had just stood in line for a few hours brandishing their credit cards like weapons ready to spear/buy "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince" right at the witching hour.

It was, in a few words, an "event"/ a "phenomenon" / a messianic ritual... As the adults acting disturbingly more child-like then their children rushed to grab their books, the chatter of excitement reaching it's fevered pitch all I could think was about how, as human beings, we seek ritualized experiences, we seek to create them and to be a part of them, to attach ourselves to an event that is bigger than we are. Especially for those of us who are "secular/materialists" many of our ritualized experiences come through the Church of Retail/ the Temple of Consumerism which I am not suggesting is better or worse than, say, the mega-churches that are spawning armies of evangelical Christians ready to do God's work at all times (and, interestingly enough, the right-wing Christians hate Harry Pottery and his suspicious (satanic) sorcery).

I am a secular materialist so I have read the Harry Potter books and, certainly, I agree that they are lovely; how can you not love an Orphaned Underdog/Wizard who spends most of his time roaming the grounds of a bording school for magicians? However, I am not sure that the frenzy they spark in readers is simply due to the story of the beleagured boy-wizard and his tribulations and triumphs. I posit that for those people who stood in line outside the bookstore on a indescribably hot night in New York City when their every movement set off a torrent of sweat, Harry Potter was only half of the reason they were there. The other reason was the need for community, the need for ritual and the sense of wonder and, yes, magic both provide.
I cannot believe the Harry Potter phenomenon. The next day, people reading it on the subway were already three-quarters through it! Did they not sleep? Do you think maybe it really is satanic mind-control? Perhaps the Harry Potter masses will eventually take over...

I am actually reading a book for the first time in a long time, taking a break from the constant flow of magazines to read Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. I'm not usually one to read such a grownup best seller, but it was a Christmas gift and I just picked it up the other day after exhausting every NYLON magazine in the house, and it is truly amazing. Everyone go get this book. It is gorgeous and will make you pee laughing.

Yes I just very sincerely blogged about the good book I'm reading. Stamp GEEK on my head and move on. I promise my next post will be sex drugs and rock and roll.
Dude, fuck Harry Potter and the broom he rode in on. Anything that makes grown adults feel like they have permission to act like assholes while sober is just wrong and needs to be destroyed. Stop encouraging this behavior!
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