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Please, J.K. Rowling, More Stories

Please, J.K. Rowling, More Stories

The current Harry Potter moviefest that I’m enjoying with my son has inspired me to make a request of J.K. Rowling. I love these stores – we’ve read all the books multiple times – because they give me hope. It’s just that simple. They give me hope.

So, I navigated over to her website at and – sure, why not? – clicked on the contact link.

The Blair Partnership represents J.K. Rowling internationally and across all media. Please direct any queries to and a member of the team will be in touch directly. J.K. Rowling very rarely does interviews or public speaking, and when she does they are usually around a new project or charitable commitment. Please note that she does not undertake fee-paying public speaking engagements. Because of the huge volume of requests coming in, J.K. Rowling also regrets she is unable to…

Yada yada yada. Well, ok, fair enough. I sent the following email, but just in case there isn’t any analysis or reporting of the communications, I’m also posting it here. You never know, maybe they do some version of web analytics, social media harvest, or even a Net Promoter Score (put me in the “I would definitively recommend” bucket).

To Whom it May Concern:

I am aware that the illustrious J.K. Rowling could not possibly respond to the billions of her readers, but I am hoping that you maintain some sort of thematic statistics for her.

If so, may I add to the numbers of those who pray that she considers creating more stories that work at multiple levels for children and adults alike? I pray for very few things.

There are so very few such nourishing narratives that do (or can) burst into our mainstream cultures as they exist today. In the Potter books (and films – one must include the films) human complexity is better grasped in these contexts that show how important existential choices are (whether or not someone has quite enough information, whether or not situations are fair, whether or not you think anything you do will make a difference to yourself or anyone else). The stories allow us to feel (with the very deepest of empathy and intuition) compassion and pity and courage and friendship and trust and even alienation. That they do so with a marvelous reinvention of all the long-standing traditions of literature, fairy tale, and even institutional satire gives incredible depth to the world she crafted and creates the speculative but nuanced expansion of imagination that used to be the basis of all liberal education.

In short, the Potter stories give me hope during what I consider to be rather dark times.

My son Ben (now 12) has grown up with the Potter story. It has given us so many opportunities to discuss life’s issues and mysteries in a common language. I can tell you – definitively – that navigating the terrain of the characters and story have made a significant difference to his own evolving character and intellectual/creative/spiritual development. He understands being true to himself, and the meaning of friendship, and the gifts of love, awareness, grace, support. He has internal reference points for things that are difficult to articulate, but can be recognized. And he doesn’t simplify into simple dualities and sound bites. He learns to ask better questions. Thank you for this gift to my son, and to me, and to all the others, everywhere.

I love the woman of her personal history and of her effects in the world, but please – more stories. The world so desperately needs them.

Childhood Music, Take One

Childhood Music, Take One

I’ve been thinking about narratives, how people create stories about themselves – even (maybe even especially) private stories.

I’m not sure whether it’s our culture, or if it’s just me, but music anchors me even more than sight or touch. It rivals smell for the primal whole-self response. I had an idea to free-associate, to simply list the music I strongly recall enjoying. For almost a minute, I had the illusion that that I could make a whole list. I suspect that if I did this again, some songs would stay and others would fade back, replaced by others through a different train of constructive memory.

Tonight, at this moment, here is the music that I recall enjoying, as it occurs to me in a roughly autobiographical, chronological order.

All Through the Night
Star Light, Star Bright
I’m a Little Teapot
Good Morning to You
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
Home on the Range
Sweet Betsy from Pike
I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad
Oh, Susanna!
Au Clair de al Lune
Rose, Rose and Up She Rises
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
My Knapsack on My Back
Funiculì, Funiculà
Cool, Clear Water
Erie Canal
Shulamite Maiden
Sleeping Beauty
When the Bell in Lighthouse Rings Ding Dong
Oh, How Lovely is the Evening
Silent Night
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Have You Seen the Ghost of John?
Cruella deVille (101 Dalmations)
Someone to Watch Over Me
The Beatles
In the Summertime
Forward, You Witnesses
There Was a Rooster
Joy to the Word
If You Go Away
Where Do I Begin? (Love Story)
Hushabye Mountin
West Side Story
The Mama’s and the Papa’s
The Sound of Music
Cat Stevens
South Pacific
Jesus Christ Superstar
The Doors
Jackson Five
Tony Orlando
The Carpenters
Love is Blue
The Locomotion
Classical Gas
I Think I Love You – The Partridge Family
The Monkeys
Seasons in the Sun (and side b) – Terry Jacks
Helen Reddy
Simon and Garfunkel
John Denver
American Pie
Laughter in the Rain – Neil Sedaka
My Eyes Adored You
The Eagles
Barbra Streisand
Elton John
Tom Jones
The Bee Gees
Olivia Newton-John
Steve Miller Band
Crosby Stills Nash and Young
Rolling Stones
The Who
My Sharona
Maggie May / Rod Stewart
Starry Starry Night

Looking back over the list, I’m convinced that it must be so off, in a number of ways. I also laughed. It does get better than this eventually (smile).

Have you ever thought about the music that resonated with you at a young age?

Oh, thank you, package from

Oh, thank you, package from

Oh joy! Books! Books I ordered, but that now appear like a comic gift to me from Benevolent Deities Inc.

Happy sigh. Ahhhhh…. two for browsing at leisure, one for candy satisfaction:

Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings
Rob Brezsny

Diva Lion says:

Pronoia is a philosophy book of a most unusual stripe. It takes a lot of the ideas that Breszny has developed on the Free Will Astrology site and particularly that he included as themes in his amazing novel, The Televisionary Oracle, and expands on them, shaping them into a chaotically coherent philosophy of life. The style is undeniably Breszny– quirky, irreverent, soulful, linguistically athletic, challenging, hopeful.

The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark
Sera Beak


The Red Book” is a nothing less than a spiritual fire starter—a combustible cocktail of Hindu Tantra and Zen Buddhism, Rumi and Carl Jung, Mary Magdalene and modern psychics, goddesses and Gnosticism, shaken with cosmic nudges, meaningful subway rides, haircuts, relationships, sex, dreams, humor, and intuition. It’s a book that encourages women to live more consciously so they can start making clearer choices across the board, from careers to relationships, politics to pop culture and everything in between. For smart, gutsy, spiritually curious women whose colorful and complicated lives aren’t reflected in most spirituality books.

Making Money (Discworld Novels)
Terry Pratchett

Publisher’s Weekly review:

Reprieved confidence trickster Moist von Lipwig, who reorganized the Ankh-Morpork Post Office in 2004’s Going Postal, turns his attention to the Royal Mint in this splendid Discworld adventure. It seems that the aristocratic families who run the mint are running it into the ground, and benevolent despot Lord Vetinari thinks Moist can do better. Despite his fondness for money, Moist doesn’t want the job, but since he has recently become the guardian of the mint’s majority shareholder (an elderly terrier) and snubbing Vetinari’s offer would activate an Assassins Guild contract, he reluctantly accepts. Pratchett throws in a mad scientist with a working economic model, disappearing gold reserves and an army of golems, once more using the Disc as an educational and entertaining mirror of human squabbles and flaws.

Bamford Comedy on Cults

Bamford Comedy on Cults

Laughter, as the Reader’s Digest always said, is good medicine.

I’ve really been enjoying some of Maria Bamford’s comedy. Her routines on her sister and dad never fail to crack me up.

So I’m really savoring the synchronicity today as I came across this bit of hers on cults.

Laughing at Attempted Theocracy

Laughing at Attempted Theocracy

You’ve probably heard by now (via the attorney firing scandal, Monica Goodling) that the Bush administration has appointed more than 150 graduates of Regent (Pat Robertson‘s 29-year-old bottom-tier law school) to prominent positions in the US government. No?

Regent itself estimates that “approximately one out of every six Regent alumni is employed in some form of government work.” Their students aren’t interested in attending top-ranked universities which might challenge them. They want to become “God’s instrument” in changing the policies – and perhaps even the very nature – of the U.S. government.

Mark Crispin Miller comments on the danger of simply laughing off the agendas of schools like Regent while such institutions continue to place their (undereducated?) graduates in influential governmental positions.


I completely agree with Mark about the dangers of creeping theocracy, but I still enjoyed the comedic takes of Bill Maher and Jon Stewart. Humor is also a good way of spreading information; it’s more contagious.

Just a spoonful of sugar

Both of these examples were more informative than the network news programs that I saw. They both used comparisons to frustrate and mutate the stream of associations that people might have with the idea of the “university.” OK, the poke at Univ. of Phoenix was a little mean, but other than that…

I would be willing to bet a hunk of precious pennies that more Americans get their news and political information through satire and humor than via the news. They watch for entertainment, and they get some information too.

What’s the harm? It might spark an interest, and get them to research things for themselves. They’ll google it, they’ll check out the shelves at the library and the bookstore, and maybe even look through some other kinds of publications. They might try to reconcile conflicting information, collect evidence, make judgments. Independent thinking! Woo-hoo!

People need lines of flight – we are complex.

That’s why (for example) fundamentalists are all wrong to try to ban Halloween. Halloween already served their purposes by reframing and trivializing older religious traditions. If you follow the history of almost any community celebration, you’ll find all sorts of interesting overlaps and reversals. Halloween served to absorb and defuse those older traditions, overlaying them with new meanings. Now, by being “purist” or “fundamentalist,” they take away the carnivalesque, upside-down fun time. In Jungian terms, instead of embracing and taming the shadow they repress it and give it strength.

It is possible to take something heavily, and then a bit lightly. We do it all the time, and I believe it is probably part of the toolkit for human adaptability. Humor – and fiction – are survival tools. We tell stories, and we retell stories, and they change a bit in the retelling because the bits that are relevant are in a different context.

That is why there are traditions of the prankster and the jester and the representative of chaos. Life can only exist and thrive on the borders of order and chaos – either one alone will kill us. We live in the magical zone of transformations and patterns.

As others have pointed out, humor and satire can function to reaffirm the status quo by providing a little relief from order and law. Think pressure cooker. A little steam is let out to prevent an explosion. Some kinds of humor can even be hurtful.

Still, I’ve always thought that the complete lack of humor eventually helps to push a movement into its downfall. Think of how shrill people can become when they are focused on one issue that is very important to them. The more fanatical people get, the less they can laugh at themselves, and then humor can attack “from the outside,” so to speak.

Bill Maher and Jon Stewart and Lewis Black and SNL – and all court jesters – create rhetorical layers of understanding through exaggerations here and there. I’m all for it. Plant a seed.

I think we often take everything too seriously.

Performative protest that illustrates and entertains rather than sermonizes and dictates is sometimes more effective.

Billionaires for Bush
I like Billionaires for Bush, for example. And I like visual humor – there are some very intelligent and creative people doing editorial cartoons (see the blogroll under Humor).

Of course there have to be people who are able to provide the serious critiques, with all the details and proof and arguments, but these ought not to be drawn as incompatible with more humorous or entertaining approaches. They needn’t be.

They may create a resonating circuit of inquiry and reinforcement that helps to shape the milieu.

In this reality, many things happen at once. Patterns emerge. Networks intersect.