Thursday, October 09, 2008

He Who Must Not Be Named

One of the ways that J.K. Rowling differentiates wizards from muggles is that wizards mostly have a mediaeval worldview, complete with mediaeval superstitions. One of the most significant superstitions is that of the name and naming.

Most wizards are scared to utter the name of Lord Voldemort. Standing out against this prevailing fear, Professor Dumbledore takes a modern enlightened position and advises Harry to call people by their proper name. Thus in the climax of the last book Harry finally addresses Voldemort by his original name: Tom Riddle.

Sailors are also superstitious folk. There is a traditional belief that if you call a fish by its proper name, you will never catch it. [Superstition is not just for ladies] And many actors avoid naming "the Scottish play".

So when Senator John McCain referred to his opponent as "that one", like Clinton's discourteous and deceptive dismissal of "that woman", are we supposed to think of Senator Obama as the most evil wizard of all time, the one who single-handedly caused the worst financial catastrophe since Herbert Hoover? Or do we think of Senator McCain as an ill-tempered prisoner of his own campaign, one whose natural qualities of sponteneity, charm and wisdom have been destroyed by the party machinery?

Links via Train Wreck Politics

No comments: