Friday, March 20, 2009

WORDS HURT

My current light bed-time fare is Alberto Manguel's rather fun historical romp The Library at Night. He re-reminded me of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's 2003 comment to a writer of an anti-Harry Potter book (Herr R. currently occupies a post a tiny step up from cardinal n the hierarchy of the Catholic Church) :
"It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly."
First point: the Harry Potter series deal with magic, or so it is claimed. The idea that magic exists and works is not just "opposed" to the Christian faith, it is also opposed -- more directly so, I would venture -- to the idea of science. Yet I don't think I've heard any academic or engineer or researcher exclaim, a propos these books: "Those are subtle seductions and by this deeply distort the sense of logic and the thirst for experimentation in the mind, before it can grow properly." I kinda think we scientists simply assume that the young mind outgrows childish stuff and that by the time the prefrontal cortex kicks in comfortably, said mind turns its sense of wonder to the natural world, and applies thought to it. And neatly shelves HP as neat and wondrous entertainment.

Put differently: If the very foundations of your worldview can be shaken by mere words and thought (and therefore you have to ban such words and thought), maybe you should reconsider those very foundations. (Or at least give 'm some thought. He-he.)

Second point: unthinking Holocaust denial, dear Herr-Mister-Pontiff-Sir: Not as vile, dangerous, and distorting as Harry Potter, it seems, hm?

2 comments:

Patrick Carré said...

I'm looking forward to read your Opus Magnum in French : I put much hope in your traducteur who could deal with Vikram Seth's sonnets. I feel a kind of empathy for your writing, having myself committed some "philosophical historical linguistic psychedelic..." novels & going on Tibetan tantric kabbalah & Chinese Huayan Ω my work is to translate into French.... All the best. Patrick Carré ---

Anonymous said...

...wouldn't it be horrible, if a worldview CAN't be shaken by mere words and thoughts? [I think R. feels and fears the passion H.P. is written with] Best wishes :)