I was cruising the net today and found that I had been described as a loon on this site here: http://starwoman.streetprophets.com/story/2007/11/1/154133/383 The domain is streetprophets.com but the image says it is a Daily Kos community. If someone wants to explain to me the relationship I’d be open to it but I’m not going to go looking.
So, anyway, the article cites a blog entry I wrote some time ago when all this broke here: http://sntjohnny.com/front/archives/103
After saying “Tied for honorable mention among Nutter Harry Potter Homophobes are these winners, who have some real problems discerning reality from fantasy and are sure they know more than the author about her characters:” this writer then goes on to quote me, though actually ascribed to me something I did not say, first. At least the writer was good enough to put the link back so honest people could see the truth. Then the blogger says,
Someone needs to explain copyright laws and reality to these guys. Harry is FICTIONAL. He belongs to J.K. Rowling. She was nice enough to allow fans to publish fan fic about her characters—but, legally, she could have cracked down on them as copyright infringement, even if they weren’t profiting from it. Despite Johnny’s claim to the contrary, it has NOT passed into the public domain, and won’t until her copyright runs out. Dear God, how STUPID are these people? They think that, because they bought a book and read it, they now own the character.
Speaking of STUPID, we might wonder how well the blogger fits into the same category, but I think illiterate might be more appropriate. It is one of the more amazing things on the Internet when people who seem to be able to read and write still can’t grasp what they are reading. It was clear from what I did say that I wasn’t at all speaking about legal technicalities but rather, well, metaphysics.
Once the text is put out in final form, a ‘closed canon’ if you will, how much latitude does the original author have in modifying what the text means? I posed it as an interesting question and I don’t at all think that it breaks down along political and religious lines the way ‘IrishWitch’ says. I wondered, for example, if Rowling now said that Harry Potter was a space alien from the moon- though there was no indication of anything like that in the text- if that really means that we as readers should take that as new fact about Harry Potter. IrishWitch says, “In other words, if she says Dumbledore is a space alien or a robot, SHE IS RIGHT. She and only she has the right to make that determination because he is her character.” (emphasis her’s).
Now, I don’t know that I agree with that, but why should it be a ‘religious issue’? I think Irishwitch is likely an ideologue who was looking for something to rant about. It is not a religious issue, but rather a philosophical issue about narrative in general. I got some hint from her post that she is an author herself, but she must not really have thought much about the creative process. For example, Irishwitch is a liberal, and I’ll bet 100 to 1 she is not an ‘originalist’ when it comes to the US Constitution. Would she then say that what the Framers said the words, phrases, and concepts contained in the Constitution is the sole authority on what it means? 100 to 1 she will say no. That seems to be the implied answer when she tries to craft a distinction:
There was another idiot who compared Rowling to Clarence Thomas—as an Originalist. Umm,. The constitution is NOT the same as fiction. The AUTHOR owns fiction. She created the world and the people. What she says goes.
Apparently there are rules here that we should all know about. The Author owns fiction, but the Author… does not own non-fiction? Is that right? The Author gets to say whatever he wants and it is true in regards to unimportant storytelling, but once it is in an important legal document what the Authors say about the content is no longer binding? This sort of strange reasoning is what happens with unreflective individuals start writing.
So according to IrishWitch, Rowling word is gold in regards to Harry Potter being a space alien because it is FICTION and what she says goes, but what the framers of the Constitution meant when they said ‘the right to bear arms’ is questionable and open to interpretation by all of the rest of us because it is Non-Fiction. I don’t visit the DailyKos sites, but if I did, this is exactly the sort of thinking I would expect to find expressed there.
Now, I said that this is a larger question pertaining to the creative narrative rather than simply boiling down to political or religious differences. I found someone who I am pretty sure is an atheist (100 to 1, Irishwitch is an atheist) who took a similar line about Pullman’s Golden Compass:
That is an interesting thing to say, don’t you think? No matter what the author says? How curious. Of course, that puts us in a real pickle with Pullman as in interviews previous he has been quite clear that he is trying to undermine Christianity but these days he says he has no thought to do so. But leave that aside… an atheist saying that interpretation of a FICTIONAL work is not the sole regime of the author of that work. I guess it doesn’t boil down to ideological grounds, after all.
Now, I am an author of a fictional work and to tell you the truth I sympathize with Pullman and Rowling to some degree in terms of the writing process. Pullman himself seems to be more aware of these metaphysical elements to story telling. “The Story wrote itself.” I often found when writing Fidelis that scenes were writing themselves and the best writing happened when ‘I’ got out of the way. I think that raises very interesting philosophical questions. Just who is the author of my story, anyway? In ultimate terms, the Christian world view offers an answer.
Incidentally, I don’t care what anyone says, I think the ending of “Pay it Forward” is terrible. It is contrived and pathetic. I don’t care what ending made it into the final cut, it was not the ‘real’ ending.
If Irishwitch ever wanted to probe deeper into the inner workings of the authoring process I have a book I would like to commend to her. Really, I would suggest it to anyone. It is Dorothy Sayer’s “The Mind of the Maker.” It raises interesting questions about the things discussed in this post.
In trying to conclude her point, Irishwitch says, “Trying to explain that to Johnny, another fundy Christian, would likely be as effective.”
Of course, I am not a ‘fundy,’ but atheists usually can’t tell the difference between people who really believe religious tenets sincerely. A ‘Fundamentalist’ is actually a term with a precise meaning (one would expect authors, as Irishwitch attests to be, to care about meanings of words), and I’m afraid as thinking authors can attest, has absolutely nothing to do with the very interesting questions being explored here. I mean really, at the very least, hasn’t she ever heard of post-modernism?