Week in Review

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A bit late this week and light on the work…I think burnout is catching up with me. Still moving though, and that’s all that matters now. Keep the momentum, no matter how feebly. I’ve been re-reading some old stories of mine…typically they start off strong and then get muddled with all manner of weirdness until I don’t know how to end them. Still, there were good moments. Also, reading the Harry Potter books again along with some of my favorite LJ groups, catching up on the pre-2009 posts (before I joined) along with whatever I missed since 2012, when my involvement dropped off. Its my version of a mental vacation as the seasons change and I add another birthday to the roster.

Week in Review

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Tough week for drawing for some reason; continuing dental problems, severe arthritis pain and an unpleasant day in jury duty seem to have distracted me. The life studies on my lunch breaks started off strong, then tapered off, interrupted by talky oddities and security guards suspicious of my work. The weekend was not productive, either–except for Harry Potter drawings–though the weather was beautiful and I got tons of gardening done…not that that helps with the drawing at all. But summer looms, with its life-consuming yardwork and its vitality sapping heat and humidity. The way I complain about winter cold and summer heat, maybe I need to move to Tasmania. Here’s to hoping for a better working week ahead.

Week in Review

2014-04-28 Connie listens sm  2014-04-30 Lunch miscellany2014-04-29 sketches  2014-04-30 Babies Three figures 2014-05-02 Reader2014-05-03 HP characters_0001 2014-05-02 Three tones 2014-05-04 comics sm

A new week of drawings… quite a few successful and interesting drawings from life and just as much fun doing drawings from photos, like the babies… studies from old masters and looking at comics…even a look back at Harry Potter! I had a lot of fun with that and took a lot of pleasure in my lunch break sketch at One Oxford this week. I should be content… but am I ever?

Quidditch reveals all…or does it?

towards-the-great-peace Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

Reading: Ralph Adams Cram, Towards the Great Peace (1922)

“The only thing that is left in the line of emotional stimulus is competitive athletics, and for this reason I sometimes think it one of the most valuable factors in public education. It has, however, another function, and that is the coordination of training and life; it is in a sense an école d’application, and through it the student, for once in a way, tries out his acquired mental equipment and his expanding character—as well as his physical prowess—against the circumstances of active vitality. It is just this sort of thing that for so long made the “public schools” of England, however limited or defective may have been the curriculum, a vital force in the development of British character.”

That’s Cram discoursing on one of the few things he likes about public education in America and Britain, c. 1922. Believe me, he didn’t like much; and interestingly, in the intervening 92 years, schools are still bad in a lot of the same ways they were then. Cram was a religious-minded architect who built Gothic-style churches and university buildings in the first years of the 20th century, and I came to his writings while researching a restoration project that had come to an architectural firm I was working for at the time. He is extremely insightful in his diagnosis of the ills of his (and our) era, and well worth reading for that, though I can’t say his solutions were too practical, but I think he knew it. As I read this comment though, the Harry Potter books sprang to mind, but then, a lot of things remind me of Harry Potter. Just wait till I start talking about David Copperfield!

Harry Potter gains popularity early on in the series when he takes up Quidditch, a sort of irrational, flying rugby on broomsticks, for which he has a natural gift. The books have been criticized for the centrality of this goofy sport in the lives of the entire wizarding world from student to the highest levels of govenment, but those critics must never have lived where the fortunes and failures of the local football heroes provided the social and emotional core of a community. Or maybe they wished they didn’t… Even Rowling supposedly rued the day she injected Quidditch into the books, primarily because she found it tedious to try to conjure exciting action for each match that she wrote, but sport was always a part of the boarding school book tradition from which Harry Potter sprang, so there had to be a wizard equivalent. QED Quidditch.

So how do the characters in Harry Potter demonstrate Cram’s ideas? Most of the characters played Quidditch; it was a huge social factor in the school. Excellence in studies… less so. Sic erat scriptum Hermione. I was the same. Harry Potter, our erstwhile hero, came from obscurity to discover he had the makings of an athletic superstar. In Cram’s terms, this was a literary sign of his character and potential, and the books proved this out. His parents had risked their lives to save others and he grows up to become the same sort of man. Harry’s nemesis, Draco Malfoy, was also a skilled player, but his lack of character was made plain in his cheating, lying and generally underhanded methods of manipulating the game. His father, acting in the world of politics, operated in the same way. Harry’s buddy, Ron Weasley, had enormous potential when his self-doubt didn’t cripple him, which it mostly did. That was the view of the world his parents had taught him to see–poverty standing in the way of active participation and serving as an excuse for weakness and shortcuts. Exposed to stronger personalities like Harry, Hermione and Neville, Ron has a chance to grow, but his path is often an unhappy one. The only character that stands apart form this paradigm is Neville Longbottom: an orphaned loner who struggles for success in everything he attempts, Neville never played the sport, but nonetheless became a hero of the same stature as Harry. And with less outsized praise and more dignity, for my money.

Me, I was never very good at school athletics; I was not encouraged in it at home–and how many girls were, back in the day?–but I wanted to be a part of it, I wanted to get better, but mainly it was just the catalyst of anxiety attacks. Small wonder that Ron Weasley was my favorite from the books. But since athletics was not going to be the way for me, and surely cannot be anymore, perhaps I ought to study the Path of Neville. Own my differences, judge for myself, enjoy the victories of my friends. Maybe we all should.

 

 

It’s the little things

George handed the hairpin to Ron and, a moment later, Hedwig soared joyfully out of the window to glide along side them like a ghost.

 
Being a critic is easy.It can even be productive if it deepens our ability to appreciate fiction or sends us off to write stories of our own. But once you know the story as well as many of us do, I think there’s fresh joy in finding the thousand brief moments like this. One by one, they add up to make a rich fictional world and a plot that has a feeling of inevitability.

I’m loving Harry Potter all over again.

Catching Up

The weather acts like it’s April, but without robins and flowers. It’s been a dull, confused season.

Still, I’ve been trying to work a bit on Rattman Road, last year’s NaNo novel–well, I’ve been taking notes and organizing things, at least–and have resumed my Harry Potter readings, carefully making my way through Sorcerer’s Stone at the moment.  Not many surprises there… not that I expected there to be. It’s just fun to be back in the HP world, even a little.

Ever since the last movie was released, it seems that fandom has fallen into a bit of a slumber. (Me, too.) A few writers are still are still prolifically posting fics, thank heaven! I keep toying wth the idea of finishing a few stories, but all I do is re-read them, tinker, and decide they aren’t ready.

A dull, confused season indeed.

Quotable

“In reality, every reader, as he reads, is the reader of himself.”–Marcel Proust

 

If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now….I love Proust. I am so sad that I am nearing the end of his amazing À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. It’s not quite as long as the Harry Potter saga, so don’t be intimidated, HP fans! But it is exquisite, especially for those of you (and me) who aspire to write.

Over the years it has taken me to read the novel, I have collected about 8 pages of favorite quotes, but the one I found today I may like best. It’s a truism perhaps, but as a beta, I am constantly running into the widely differing visions my fic writers and I have of the very same, solid, printed books authored by JK Rowling. Perhaps it is those individual visions, with their intimate glimpse of the soul beneath, that makes me love the business of the beta. And writers, perhaps you will want to take Proust, the crowned King of Procrastinators, as your patron saint. Of course, you won’t know how true that is until you read these books.

Pick up Proust

Restoring My Faith in Government

The life of a temp is never dull!

A passing co-worker stopped by my supervisor’s cubicle to talk about books, of all things: their backlogs of To-Read books, their love of re-reading books, which then became the Harry Potter books… Of course I couldn’t keep my nose out of that!

It was not at all what I expected from a DoD-funded research center….

Drawing

ronbig Ron half ron

Another Rupert-as-Ron from a Deathly Hallows 7.1 photo. What I really need is to sketch from live models, from real people hanging out, but I’ve got this annoying cough and it just isn’t nice to go amongst the throngs when I’m all yuck, so…

Yeah, photos don’t really complain a lot. They’re so nice that way.

Yet another scribbly sketch with markers. I’m still not perfectly pleased, but there are some things here I like, so I’m adding a detail.

 

Drawing

Fireside Fireside - detail

Another sketch from last evening, not quite as scribbly as the one of Ron. Markers and a bit of digital manipulation. It feels good to get a chance to draw a bit.