Rowling's Got God-problems
Jo Rowling, everyone. She's testifying in New York this week that an evil cabal of slimy opportunists has cranked up their small press to begin diluting her product with substandard Pottercopy.

(Call me a sleaze, but I would have so much sex with this woman that she would never again dream of broomsticks or Whomping Willows.)

She's a stand-up gal. I dig her. I think she does it for the right reasons: she writes from the heart, and she has created the most jolting and emotional "Castle" story ever penned. The Castle must be defended; the Castle has all the answers; the Castle persists beyond life and death; control of the Castle will always fall to those with the most noble nature. Good and evil are just words in the Castle: nobility comes instead from mercy, compassion, and love.

The "Harry Potter" books struck a powerful chord in America during the past decade. Why? Because during a time when America grew more and more shameful, and when American power and goodness simultaneously waned, darkened, and centralized, they posited a world where America simply didn't exist. A magical world without America? Americans love that shit. I guess Britons do, too.

She did good work. She did such good work that one day she woke up and discovered she wasn't human anymore, and that now she's got God-problems. These are problems that you and I can only speculate about. These are the sorts of problems that George Lucas, Oprah, and Steve Jobs have in life, and that Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were wise enough to die before getting. These are the sorts of problems that occur when the work that you create is so powerful that normally sane and rational people look around the universe we live in, pack their bags, and say: "Fuck it, I'm going crazy. I'm going to live in a different universe, one with a God I can email and who I can worship without people thinking I'm sick and demented."

Now, I'm not saying that Rowling is full of herself, or that she isn't fundamentally right about the bullshit work these guys are doing. In fact, I think Rowling's problem is that she is still thinking like a writer, like a workaday hack, like a humble acolyte of Story.

I think her problem is that she is still thinking like a writer when she should instead be thinking like a deity.

When you get God-problems, you can't be human about things. When your problem is that somebody has put together a concordance on your work so that people can better immerse themselves in the healing power of your life-changing narrative, you have to start getting God-sensibilities, because that means one less person is out screen-printing kitten t-shirts or molesting children. You've got to show magnanimity. Forgiveness. Playful detachment. Generosity. Forbearance.

Because when you've got God-problems, you can DESTROY people, and you may not even realize it. This guy -- this Vander Ark guy -- I guarantee you that he is getting 200 death threats a day right now. I guarantee you that his whole life feels like a lie, like a shambles, like a yawning void. He was just trying to write a good Bible using the Holy Writ of his Divine Avatar. And now he has been raised up and shamed before the altar.

Your fans are fucking crazy, Rowling. Surely you know that. Surely they creep you out, even as you try to be as nice to them as possible. What can you do? What options do you have? On one hand, as a writer, you will always feel that need to police your work, to make sure that the fruits of your imagination are being protected and that no one is invading your creation and robbing your characters of their purpose, strength, and meaning.

On the other hand, as the creator of something that you have gladly offered up as an alternate universe that accepts all emigres and foundlings, you have a duty to leave them alone, to let people subsume themselves in their obsession until they get what they need out of it, they die, or they move on to the next thing.

So, in short, YES you are right that this guy is probably stealing your shit. And I can can even buy that you are devastated by the assault on your Castle and the sacred things inside it. But you've got to let these things go.

We all know that you weren't prepared for this, and that you didn't want it to be this way. Writers almost never get God-problems, and so you don't have too many examples to guide you.

So just think about what Gandalf would do. Or Aslan. Or Sherlock Holmes.

They'd just fucking laugh, and everyone would laugh with them.

"I am but a simple (old man/lion/detective)! Who could ever want to STEAL from me? Ho ho ho! More mead! More fireworks! More cocaine!"


Posted by miracle on Tue, 15 Apr 2008 16:27:31 -0400 -- permanent link

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