30 June 2007

Duum Dah Dah Dum

So some people on the study abroad guessed this was coming, and my family knew four days before I did (Heather, I may kill you later), but for the rest of you--I'm engaged to become the future Mrs. George Busby.

Now I'm going to go to sleep and hope this isn't a dream.

29 June 2007


Online Dating

I'm just glad I didn't do this back when this post was on the main page. It's apparently rated R. I suppose that makes sense. The best part about that post was that it caused my blog to be blocked by the firewall at George's parent's house. :D (Hat tip to Times & Seasons.)

HP7 Predictions: Is Snape Good or Evil?

Ah! I can't believe it's almost July! So little time to weigh in on important Harry Potter issues. Better get cracking on Scholastic's seven questions. The next question is one we all could see coming:

Question #2: Is Snape good or evil?

Well, this is it. The big one. The one we've all been waiting for. (We know Oliver's speech by heart, said George. Heh heh.) Although for most of us the answer seems pretty obvious, I'll list Scholastic's choices here just for laughs:

  • Good and still a spy for the Order of the Phoenix
  • Good but in too deep with Voldemort
  • Evil and has always been a spy for Voldemort
  • Evil but only because Voldemort is back
For me, this is a no-brainer. It only took a few hours after the initial trauma of finishing book 6 for me to figure out that JKR had set us all up. First, look at the ambiguity of the infamous chapter "The Lightning Struck Tower." Dumbledore never actually begs Snape to spare his life--what he's requesting of Severus is left purposefully unstated. All he ever actually says is "Severus . . . Please . . ." The implication is that he's begging for his life, but it's never actually said, a classic JKR trick, playing on our assumptions.

And why would Dumbledore use his last spell to freeze Harry in place? Perhaps he was trying to protect Harry, but in the previous chapter, Dumbledore makes it clear that he's willing to entrust Harry with both their lives. Since investing Harry with Dumbledore's trust was the purpose of that chapter, it doesn't make much sense for him to suddenly grow protective again. The next easiest explanation is that Dumbledore froze Harry in order to prevent him from interfering. Dumbledore knew what was going to happen would look bad to the impulsive, teenage Harry and therefore had to use his last spell to prevent him from disturbing what had to be.

The final key to Snape's innocence lies in the oft forgotten overheard conversation between Snape and Dumbledore. Hagrid tells Harry on page 405:
". . . I was comin' outta the forest the other evenin' an' I overheard 'em talking -- well, arguin'. ... I jus' heard Snape sayin' Dumbledore took too much fer granted an' maybe he -- Snape -- didn' wan' ter do it anymore ... Dumbledore told him flat out he'd agreed ter do it an' that was all there was to it."
More purposeful ambiguity. If we believed that Snape was evil, we might interpret this conversation as Snape's turning point, his warning Dumbledore that he took Snape's loyalty for granted and ought not to. But why would a double agent do such a thing? Snape would be of maximum use to Voldemort by remaining in Dumbledore's trust, not by warning the headmaster that he was considering defecting. (Although, I suppose there's a satisfying alternate interpretation: Snape's loyalties really were divided. Maybe he was sick of the double agent routine and just wanted to stop being used. Perhaps he wanted out. I think I would feel okay if that turned out to be the case.)

But if we consider this conversation in light of what what Snape had "agreed ter do" in chapter two--that is, complete Draco's task should he fail to kill Dumbledore--the conversation makes complete sense. Snape knows what will happen if he goes through with his promise: all that everyone's trust of him is founded upon will be completely destroyed. Snape is basically sacrificing everything by killing Dumbledore; he will have nothing to fall back on; he'll have cried wolf one too many times. Even if the real story came out, he'd have to work even harder to gain anyone's trust and friendship. Snape becomes a permanent outsider to the group he's already chosen to be loyal to.

Yet even killing Dumbledore was better than the alternative. Remember, Snape made an unbreakable vow. Had he not gone through with his task, he would have died. Granted, we have many questions on the exact implementation of the unbreakable vow--we don't know how the spell would tell the difference between not completing the task and not yet completing the task. The time restrictions aren't clear. But suffice to say, if Snape chooses not to kill Dumbledore, then Dumbledore lives, but the Order's only source of inside information dies. Frankly, Dumbledore's more dispensable at this point than Snape. Dumbledore's role as Harry's mentor has been fulfilled, but Harry has yet to accept that he must work with Snape rather than against him.

Just a week ago, I had my belief in Snape reinforced as my family drove around France and I listened to Half-Blood Prince on CD. The major theme of book 6 is how appearances can be different from reality: the ministry's campaign against Voldemort is mostly about public relations rather than progress; Percy's visit to his family isn't about love, but business; Draco's evilness turns out to be mostly fear about his family's safety; Harry tricks Ron into believing he's given him felix felicis; bottles from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes entering the castle in disguise; even the identity of the Prince. Appearances in book 6 are something to be questioned, which is a huge hint to how we ought to read Snape's actions in book 6.

Snape is good and still a spy for the Order of the Phoenix.

Need more Snape debate? Check out this video of a discussion panel that took place at Phoenix Rising, a Harry Potter convention in New Orleans.

13 June 2007

A Kiss for Abortive Wings

I feel bad about not updating my travel blog recently. I've been typing out things on my USB drive but can't find an internet cafe that allows USB connections. Gah! So, just so you don't all forget about me and because I miss blogging a lot, here's a poem I've been working on.

When we first meet
I see the seams across your back
and wonder whose needle put them there.
In time, I notice you stitch them yourself.
Your needful contortions sucher
gaps between muscle and soul.

I dare not ask about the wounds
for I fear finding them
self-inflicted or inflicting me.
Your eyes are glad for my silence
so I dumbly watch your soundless cries
as we move through the forgiving dark.

But when I bring my hand close
to weigh your burden in my palm,
your wince stings
and cloaks again well-nursed scars.
You ask me to embrace you
but forbid our atoms to touch.

Perhaps if I had light or voice,
you might be able to see. Look:
I don't want you to be happy, only whole.
Stop forcing scabs to bleed hot
and allow the flaws in your clay
to beautifully complete imperfection.

When we last meet,
I see the seams across your back
and learn our wants are not the same.
Still, I lean in to press your lips
and run my hand across
the scars of your abortive wings.

07 June 2007

On Coincidences and Prayer

In response to Ben's post on prayer:

Woah, I'm totally freaked out by this post. Not because you're marriage hungry (honestly, anyone who's been reading your blog for more than a month would know that) but because I had this exact conversation on the tube (read: subway) with my study abroad group after seeing the play A Matter of Life and Death at the National Theatre. (Yes, you should be jealous. Excellent play.) Anyway, it was the same conversation--minus some of the marriage bits--which wouldn't be so weird except that I also pulled out Christ's prayer in the garden as an example of how we can pray for things we want and still pray in faith. Creepy. Maybe we've been reading each other's ideas too much, and our minds have started to work the same way. Gah!

But on a more serious note, I think that trying to simplify prayer down to one aspect is always too, well, simple. I try not to think so much about what I should be praying for and instead just use it as a chance to talk with God.

Let's use the very apt metaphor of being out on a date. If you're always thinking about what you should or shouldn't be saying, it really undermines your ability to get closer to the other person. Everything feels contrived and second-guessed, and in the end, you end up with a relationship with your philosophy of what pleases the other person, not with the person themselves. Whereas if you simply speak your mind, you'll get to know each other for who you are, not who you picture each other to be.

I've started to take the same approach with prayer. I don't worry about how it's changing me or how I should be praying. I simply talk with God as I would to anyone else about my day--what I thought about things, what I think I did well or not, what I wish had happened differently, what I'm worried about--and trust that by actually just talking with God it is changing me. And as far as I can tell, it's working because I feel closer to God this way than I ever did when I was worrying about what I should be praying about.

This debate on prayer changing reality (or not) is much the same as the dilemma of omniscience and agency--very difficult to come to conclusions on, people have been arguing about it for centuries, yet the answer really has little impact on how you live your life. You must still continue to make choices, and in this case, we are commanded to pray. There are multitudes of different things we're instructed to pray for; I find it hard to believe we can simplify them all down into one category. How about we just rely on the Spirit and our relationship with God to tell us what to pray about, hmm? Just talk. Really.

(And no, I'm not back from England yet. Don't bother me to post more stuff. I will. When I'm done with London. And Paris.)