Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pop Culture and Philosophy: Ultimate HP

I still remember the first pop culture and philosophy book I picked up, the Simpsons one.  To this day, almost without exception, if I’m familiar with the pop culture, I pick the book up if it is made.  In some cases, the books are exceptional, in other cases, less so.  The first Harry Potter themed book was published before the final Harry Potter novels were released, and I felt it was incomplete and lacked punch, much like the Twilight book (though, in fairness…look at the source material).  This Ultimate Harry Potter book makes up for any shortcomings from the first edition, providing fresh takes on the same theories.

If you’ve never read any of these novels, there is a certain cadence that they all carry.  Most essays, and each book is broken up into twelve or more essays that range from any and all topics that are considered in any one series.  In the Harry Potter series, as with the novels, there are a myriad of topics that can be broached.  The editors tried to separate them based on similar subjects with mixed results.  In each book, there are always essays that are far superior to others.  In this novel, I found one out of every two or three essays were outstanding, while a few were uninspired.

The most compelling essays in the novel dealt with Harry’s brush with death and his moral character, citing his flaws and abilities to learn from them.  With this edition covering all seven Harry Potter books, it became clear that all most all the essays ultimately ended up spending great amounts of time on the sacrifices of characters like Snape, Dumbledore and Harry, spending far less time on any other characters.

I feel like I can never do an adequate job of summarising why the overall book is good or bad, relying on the feeling I got once I was done.  For the most part, the essays made me think, and that is what any good philosophy will do.  It isn’t about convincing you to change how you think, but to make you think at all.  This novel makes you think, and if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then you will find the examples compelling enough to hear out, but may get stuck when some essays drone on about the same thing.

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