Flash back to when there were only three Harry Potter books out.  I decided to buy the first in the series—Harry Potter And the Sorcerer’s Stone.  The cover art looked compelling, the titles seemed catchy enough, and I enjoy fantasy fiction.  Most of all there seemed to be a buzz about the books.

I’ve read much worse (as in literally incomprehensible), but I still found the book a chore to read.  It made me never want to read another Harry Potter book again.

The sixth Harry Potter movie came out this weekend.  For the umpteenth time the communications channels have been abuzz with the excitement.  The whole phenomenon leaves me wishing it would end.

It’s like having a friend of the family show up every year with their enormous brood of brats and eating your brain.  I’m looking forward to the seventh and final book to appear in movie form (although the book will be split into two movies to prolong the thrill).

I decided I ought to get caught up on the source of all this legerdemain, and actually watch the movies.  Despite what I might think of the books, we are talking about one of the defining events of culture for the generation after mine.  These new mutants get to have it all—the past movements of creative wonder as well as the freshly minted attempts at civilization.  They are growing up with tremendous potential, and great things are expected of them.

As was said in the Spider-Man movie cash-in of sixties experimentation, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  I’m reminded of the mature numerological cycle of the twenty-one, wherein one has the same potential for ultimate creation and destruction as the ten.  However, there is accumulated wisdom in the world symbol as seen from space, so there is hope.

I believe that is the core of why this series is so popular.

You have the professors of the school of magic who represent an earlier, older generation who carried with them similar expectations as today’s generation.   But their race is run, their choices are made, and their failure remains supreme:  The student who turned to the dark arts and became Voldemort.  He Who Must Not Be Named.  The carrier of the ten, which is the first number to combine the one (human beings) and the zero (the divinity).

The highest fall from the highest pinnacle of achievement.  Dumbledore gets a vomit flavored bean.

Then you have the new student generation with Harry representing the hope that the dragon of the past can be overcome.  Great things are expected of him, and in no small part his friends Ron and Hermione.  Here you have a collective teen group of friends, which is not unlike the roleplaying adventure parties of today’s online games and dice-rolling dungeons and dragons crew.

The fellowship is as age-old as we can imagine.  Bands of hippies, parties of adventurers.  Carrying the ring to destruction, trying to level up.

You have the four student houses, which represent the four pillars of the world, the universe, the world, twenty-one.  The magical school Hogwarts is the setting in which choices the professors faced will play out again, in similar form.  Harry is carrying the thwarted dreams of the past and the pensive expectations for the future.

Slay the dragon that slew us, say the professors.  Give us a toffee bean.

I wonder if anyone’s back is that strong.  So often adults, parents in particular, put their fears and hopes into children.  Choke the child’s life out of them and make the child live a life that isn’t theirs.

Even Voldemort seems to have this problem.  His evil plans invariably end up involving Harry in some way or another.  See, there is a larger problem at hand than any of the principal players of the story can comprehend.  There is a need, I think, in this series for a Promethian act.  A stealing of fire is required, which they all only faintly grasp.

The professors tried to realize this unconscious dream and ended up serving the system.  Or dispossessed in some fashion.  Sirius Black is a framed criminal, Hagrid is a loner go-fer, the Weasleys are “poor” and Harry’s parents end up as corpses.  The Voldemort buddies?  Those who threw their lot in with the bad guy appear to have descended into fanaticism.  And there’s the bad guy himself who has probably gone mad and likely doesn’t remember what he was meant to do anymore.

Victims, fanatics and crazies.  You could say that the weight of the world has made them what they are.

Jung talks about this in his psychological studies.  Every child bears with it the pressures of the dead to succeed where countless millions have fallen down.  Those who have failed and yet still live, pray for deliverance before they die.

No wonder the books are so popular!  Talk about relevance to today’s moral problems.  The books are telling a story that the new mutants feel in their bones because it’s of their time.  One the professors of the sixties still hope will blossom into a rain-song sunrise.

Alas, in the Harry Potter books they are all doomed.  No one here gets out alive.  Have an earwax bean.

I believe that’s why I reacted so strongly against the series.  Even in the first book, it speaks of hope (projected images on the backs of youngsters rather than ourselves), but delivers inevitability (meet the new kid, same as the old kid — but with more obedience).  Starting at the very beginning, it perpetuates the illusion that there can ever be good without evil.

Can nature create an individual who can lead us out of darkness and redeem our previous attempts?  That is, can the terrible furor and despair of the times lead to a new imagining?  In The Road Warrior, it’s in the wasteland that Mad Max learns to live again.  Perhaps what is needed is a Parzival-like characteristic—a natural empathy, an opening up of the heart.