I found this in an otherwise-empty journal, the only written page stuck somewhere in the middle. I can’t remember now if it was a legitimate journal entry or if it was intended as part of a fictional narrative. I find it strange to look upon now, given the events of the last month. I think it might have started as a navel-gaze then transitioned into something intended for a Savannah Stories rewrite or continuation, which was eventually abandoned and subsequently forgotten.
date: June 9 /08
“You can’t go home again.”
There is not one moment in which you become an adult: no one epic ceremony, no memorable kiss, no weekend coming-of-age. The process is much more Linnean. There is no single instant in which you grow-up; there is just that one instant where you realize you already have grown-up. It scares you shitless; makes you feel like you coasted through the years blind; makes you realize you’ve been taking the “good old days” — the days now referred to by radio stations as “Retro”– for granted.
My parents sold my childhood home. I guess they realized the child-rearing chapter was over and they could lose the split-level.
Also, my mother wanted a wine cellar. Now that house is bull-dozer fodder.
That sort of encapsulates it all, doesn’t it? Sometimes you just feel like you’re waiting. Like something’s around the corner, but you don’t really know what it is or when it’ll get here. Like the past is behind you and the future is stuck out there, but you’re just in a kind of limbo, a purgatory, a weird rock-and-a-hard-place kind of area. Just a little ‘meh…’ Nothing more, nothing less. Just in between.
I’m fully aware of issues people have with Banksy: that he’s somehow sold out. As in the fact that he is making tons of money through his canvas works, has made the Oscar documentary long list, and so on, and somehow that doesn’t jive with vandalism/street art (“potato”/”potahto”). I guess it’s not possible to be a darling of the art world whilst still an anonymous graffiti artist. While unconfirmed, some claim his identity has been revealed, and that he’s just a middle-class kid from Bristol.
I understand these critiques, I do. Their intellectual and emotional logic is sound. Yet… I still love Banksy. When I look at his work, I just *get* it. Like how I just *get* The Clash, even though some also claim Joe Strummer’s a sell-out. And, surprise surprise, he was middle class, too. Class issues are rife with debate and thick with backstory and ideological weight, but perhaps I *get* these artists because I too am middle class (lower middle class, but still middle class). I carry around both a lot of middle class anger and a lot of middle class guilt (because I’m not supposed to be allowed to be angry at anything). Sometimes it feels that being middle class somehow renders me artistically impotent. It’s an easy criticism for people to throw your way no matter what you have to say, ‘well, isn’t that so middle class?’ As if “Middle Class” were a synonym for “Cutesy” or “Hipster” or “Pastiche” or “Sctick” or “Anne Geddes.”
But I understand sometimes. I mean, at what point do you draw the line at being a middle-class WASP-descended Canadian trying to make a point about something before it becomes patronizing and condescending? I get it, okay. I can’t march on behalf of disenfranchised people in other countries without seeming like a knob… etc etc… something about self-determination…. But I can still have an opinion, can’t I? Can’t Banksy? I can do what I can to make money, right? I mean, there’s making art and there’s making money. If Banksy makes money off canvas art, it beats working a day job, right? Does it somehow invalidate the opinions he expresses in the street?
I think the best point Banksy made by being anonymous was that it didn’t matter who the artist was, it was the art that spoke for itself. And that’s kind the way it should be, but we’re a bit too much of a celebrity-based culture, where we need icons we can hold up above our heads like some kind of god (hence: “idol”), as if they are perfect and pristine little synecdoches for a culture. But they are people.
It’s difficult to offer a review of a Harry Potter movie without first providing a preface stating one’s biases. Are you a Harry Potter fan? If you aren’t, why are you going to bother seeing (the first part of) the last instalment now? Why are you even bothering to read a review? Perhaps you plan on making a game of it by bringing your binoculars and your “Who’s-Who-of-British-Film-and-Television” spotters guide.
If you are a fan, you will see this film regardless of what I have to say about it. With that said, you will love it. Being a fan myself, I find it difficult to imagine what it could be like watching these films without the plethora of knowledge about the wizarding world firmly ingrained in several wrinkles of my grey matter.
A quick google search reveals many Harry Potter and theDeathly Hallows Part One (or DH1 for the sake of brevity in this otherwise long-winded post) reviews, almost all of which are penned by non-fans. Within them run similar veins of criticism, which I can’t be bothered to summarize here. Rather than try to judge this flick as a film in and of itself, I feel compelled to look at how it fares as an adaptation.
In adaptations, what can possibly be gained by a faithful retread of the book? Is it simply to view the literal workings of the novel, verbatim? That ultimately cannot succeed, as it fails in matching the varied subjective imaginations of each individual reader, while simultaneously boring the non-readers. It’s like seeing the man behind the curtain. When you go back and watch the early Harry Potter films, you can see that this is what seems so bland and flat about them.
With the third film, The Prisoner of Azkaban, we see Alfonso Cuaron succeed remarkably in creating a master film and master adaption. Why? The Holy Triumvirate of any compelling adaptation: Tone. Theme. Character. It’s not about plot points, it’s about the feel, the ideas and the characterizations.
David Yates succeeds in bringing these forth, which I can only imagine is why he’s managed to stick around as director after joining the franchise for instalment number five. In The Order of the Phoenix, it was the delightfully disturbing non-canonical presence of Voldemort at the train station, and later within Harry’s own body, that really hammers home the Triumvirate. Adaptation Win.
In DH1, details regarding backstory and random MacGuffins are unapologetically left unexplained, because if you don’t know everything about them by now, there is far too much bogging things down already. For instance, do we really need it spelt out how Beauxbatons champion from the fourth flick, Fleur Delacour, ended up marrying a Weasley? Not… really. For those uninitiated, just go with it. The wedding is beautiful. Everyone is happy and together, until all becomes ruin in a fiery torment of the inevitable.
Fear not, the necessary talking points are there. All important plot points, all important character tics, all delightfully important story notes. But they are met with style and grace. For instance, The Tale of the Three Brothers, as read by Hermione, is intensely integral, but boringly expositional. Solution? A beautiful and haunting animated illustration, with gorgeous, wispy shadow puppets.
Any glossed-over divergences in adaptation are irrelevant when considering the important moments and feelings. The dark tone is of so much more than impending evil: desperation, frustration, confusion, anger, and all the other twelve steps of grief. This tone has married itself so well with the three main characters, who are far more fully realized here than they’ve ever been.
It is definitely with characterization, tone and theme in mind that Yates and writer Steve Kloves have created an instalment of the franchise that both takes us away from everything familiar in the wizarding world while managing to let every familiar place and face show up One. Last. Time. It feels like a “Harry Potter: This is Your Life,” but in a good way. All warm and fuzzy-like, while also blood-curdlingly terrifying. Early deaths in the films (as in the book) are shocking and barely feel real. We seem as in denial as the characters. This can’t be the end. And no one is safe when the owl bites it.
Like the book, what makes DH1 so appealing is one remarkable difference: they are not children anymore. Gone is the familiar structure of Harry’s school year at Hogwarts. Gone is Hogwarts all together. And gone, we are so sadly reminded, is Albus Dumbledore. We feel, just as Harry feels, that the security blanket is gone.
This is a road movie. We get to visit one gorgeous set piece after another. We get to witness one episodic adventure after another. It’s a coming-of-age genre, and this, more than any of the previous films, is a coming-of-age story. Lacking the structure of school and parent-figures, Harry, Ron and Hermione must come into their own, find their own way. The journey is frustrating and desperate at times, just as it can be.
They are finally adults. As scary as that is on its own (and as scary as it is to imagine that the cute little moppets these kids once were are now haggard grown-ups with stubble and “issues”) Yates keeps this theme firmly at the centre of the film. It’s subtle, but present. A good example is an added scene (only referred to in the books) where Hermione, in order to protect her Muggle parents from Voldemort, erases all memories they have of her, their only daughter.
This poignant beginning marks the primary importance Yates and Kloves have given to the characters. It’s the relationships between the three, Harry, Ron and Hermione, that forms the core of the entire Potter world, books and film.
Finally, Harry is more than The Boy Who Lived. His personality is at last defined by more than his position as the other side of Voldemort’s coin. As true of the archetype, it is only now, when his wise mentor (Dumbledore) is gone, that the classic hero (Harry) can finally come into his own. But he’s not a perfect hero. Like any seventeen-year-old, Harry is flawed and confused. Yates subtly showcases the complexities of Harry at this point in his life, from his apprehensive kiss with Ginny, to his nobility-masking-insecurity as he attempts to run away from the Weasley’s house. Despite all feints otherwise, we see how scared Harry really is, and how desperately he just wants to be somewhere safe and simple.
Ron, as ever, is still playing second fiddle to The Boy Who Lived. This, as always, manifests itself in his jealousy of Harry. This film, however, takes it deeper. Ron’s feelings are far more pained and multi-faceted, combining his feelings towards Hermione, his love of his family, his fear of death, his uncertainty in growing up. As shocking as it might be, it’s quite appropritate that what he imagines Harry and Hermione to be up to when the horcrux torments his souls is certainly quite adult.
In the films, Hermione as a character has always been more complex and nuanced than the boys (or perhaps she’s just the best actor), and here we see the deeper facets of her confusion and frustration. We firmly believe at all times that she’s dealing with her feelings for Ron, as well as her fears about Voldemort, as well as her assuredly rampaging emotions at having effectively rendered herself an orphan. An added scene of Harry persuading Hermione to dance to Nick Cave after Ron has left them reflects well their precarious positions on the edge of adulthood, including all their conflicts, uncertainties and desires in a simultaneously sweet and sad moment.
The grieving process is a strange thing. I don’t think anyone knows how it’s supposed to go. Perhaps it helps to realize what stage you’re supposed to be in, be it denial, anger, bargaining, and so on. But I don’t really think so. I think we all kind of muddle through. There’s no really set way you’re supposed to act. There’s no etiquette. No rules.
I have no idea what “stage” you could say I’m in. I think still denial. There’s some comfort in finding a familiar routine, as if upsetting the apple cart will tip you just over the edge, but then again routine can seem to ask too much of you.
I realized yesterday that I spent the last four days in the same pair of pants (my black pajama pants – so desirable because of their comfort and the fact that I can wear them out of the house without looking like I’m in my pajamas.). My meals were composed of grilled cheese when I attempted to cook for myself, or a menagerie of the different takeout venues along my street when I didn’t.
My patience is lower. My emotions are closer to the surface, I guess.
I’ve drank a lot of tea. But nothing beyond basic orange pekoe.
When I did see my mom last Thursday, it was interesting to see her fall right back into that knee-jerk Englishness she usually hides so well. A pot of tea was made and she clearly put up an emotional wall.
It was difficult.
I’m probably going to be writing a lot more. Either as a distraction or as therapy. I’m not sure which yet.
I am still in disbelief. I can’t even form a proper sentence. You were one in a trillion; larger-than-life. Unforgettable. You were more sincere and genuine than anyone I will ever meet in my entire life (I know this). You were always yourself, unapologetically and unabashedly. I will always keep you with me.
The stories and memories have been playing through my mind on endless repeat. Fourteen years of you. There are so many I don’t even know where to start; they keep popping up like some ridiculous window devoid of context, no chronology but just moments.
Pure, simple moments: your laugh, the way you pushed up your sleeves; that blue shirt you wore all through grade twelve because you thought (correctly) it looked smokin’; your lewd comments and loud guffaws; how I used to have to prepare people for meeting you (the “Jon Talk”); the way you called me a sister; the way you talked a mile a minute with your mouth full, rambling about pickles; the gel in your hair; your old, shitty car (“ole Bluey”) that didn’t go in reverse and you needed to leave the windows open or die of carbon monoxide poisoning; your bear hugs; the way you hit on my mom; and my sister; and my friends… a lot of my friends; and my aunt; and my godsister; the fact that your favourite series of Red Dwarf was series eight (seriously?); when you were five-foot-nothing in grade eight with that white turtleneck; you knowing all the lyrics to Baby Got Back and rapped it beautifully; seeing the Star Wars trilogy rerelease with you; going through the Lord of Rings gauntlet with you – extended editions and everything; the Full Frampy; you were the greatest character I ever wrote (and I didn’t even have to exaggerate all that much); the way you loved people… your family, your friends… you loved unconditionally and completely; the fact that you were always the first to comfort people… so right now I just don’t know what I’m going to do…
I will miss you forever. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to believe you’re gone.
Wow. Finally, that asshat Gordon Campbell is gone. The day that I have longed for oh these many years as a poverty-stricken student has finally arrived. I’m sure reality will set in soon enough, but I really want to enjoy this brief honeymoon period and possibly get staggeringly drunk.
According to his press release, he resigned party leadership “after considerable soul searching and discussion with my family,” which saddens me slightly as I was really hoping that he would rage-quit after finally reaching the end of his rope inconsolably weeping over one of the following:
* the taunts and jeers towards his (possibly brain-damaged) giggles during his red-mittened festivities at these past Olympics
* seeing his mugshot on one too many t-shirts gracing the backs of pot-smoking UVic students littering the lawns of parliament
* attending the last desperate production of an independent-yet-brilliant play by a local theatre company only to have the entire cast suddenly rear in unison upon his doughy face and shout a giant “Fuck you!”
You will not be missed. Retirement tip: take a nice vacation in Hawaii. Apparently you like it a little too much there.
(Author’s Note: My great-uncle once taught a college-aged Gordon Campbell and he proclaimed him to be the “sleeziest, most untrustworthy” student he’d ever taught. Fact.)