[LMB] Jackson's Whole versus Slytherin, was Arthur Weasley is a corrupt official :)

Paula Lieberman paal at gis.net
Wed, 18 Aug 2004 12:09:09 -0400

-- Paula Lieberman
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael D Brazier" <mdbrazier at juno.com>

> On Tue, 17 Aug 2004 12:11:06 -0700 (PDT) Azalais Malfoy
> <tiamat at tsoft.com> writes:
> >
> > However.  If you look at the actual personalities of the
> > Potterverse characters, and compare them to the House traits,
> > then you begin to wonder why Hermione isn't a Ravenclaw, why
> > Crabbe and Goyle aren't Hufflepuffs, why Cho isn't a Gryffindor,
> > and why Percy and Ginny aren't Slytherins
> You might as well ask why Harry Potter isn't a Slytherin -- if we
> the readers didn't know.  The Hat takes the students' wishes into
> account; it wanted to make Harry a Slytherin.  Who's to say that

One of the things that bothers me about Rowling's work is that "You could be
great" comment of the Sorting Hat.  The view of the books are not wholly
from the perspective of Harry Potter, there OUGHT to have been -something-
showing some of the people who had been at Slytherin who had been Great, as
opposed to vile Voldemort and "oh icky how NASTY the Malfoys and their
Slytherin associates are!"  Why if there are no redeeming qualities to
Slytherin wasn't that house disbanded, and if there were Great Slytherins,
why haven't any gotten mentioned even casually by any of the characters, or
any inscriptions, etc.?   The character of Harry Potter doesn't have to
believe or notice positive comments about Slytherin alumni, but to not
have -any- references to Great Slytherin Alumni respected and looked up to
by the Wizardly World, strikes me as Poor Writing.

Even in books written in first person narration, the author can make it
clear that the character is misjudging a situation--the reader gets to
evaluate independently the the analysis of the viewpoint character if there
is a viewpoint character, the reliability of the narrator.  The "unreliable
narrator" is a not uncommon narration viewpoint.  Going to TV, a major
example of that is "Mr Magoo" where Mr Magoo, who's deaf, is the character
followed in the story but the viewer's ears generally are working better
than Mr Magoo's, and the viewer, with the same situation presented to them
as to Mr Magoo, receives and processes the input differently than Mr
Magoo--same input, different filters and different reactions.  Rowling does
not do that.

Lois does--not only does Lois let the reader see and decide for themselves
about characers and societies, her viewpoint characters tend admit their
biases to themselves and others, and directly to the reader.  The characters
give their biases "that idiot Ivan" being a prime example of something said
by people -fond- of Ivan but who find some of his habits annoying.  Mark
hates the system on Jackson's Whole and part of his goals in life include
collapsing it--but he doesn't see everyone who lives on that planet as Evil,
he sees the system and the people who are responsible for consciously
continuing it and making the lives of others miserable or shortened, as the
villains and the ones who need to be removed from power.  His dealing with
the Duronas is one example of showing that the doesn't see everyone from
Jackson's Whole as Evil.   For that matter, Mark himself is not a pure Good
fellow, he's got sides, and embraced them with e.g. Gorge, protecting Mark
from total personality dissolution and from surrendering into irredeemable
madness and despair.

Jackson's Whole's protrayal is a complex one--there are the vile Barons, but
there are also Mark's memories of the clone personalities who were his
friends before the clone cell donors had their vile old selves transplanted
onto the clone's fresh young body.  The clones were doomed, other than the
likes of Mark who was raised to replace the person he was cloned from, as
opposed to being a new body for the original personality, but though they
were doomed, they were still people who had grown up, to the age they were
personality-killed, on Jackson's Whole--the system was despicable, but there
were individuals in it who weren't.

The ambiguities in Lois' work are ambiguous because the characters have
their quirks and internal conflicts, their shortcomings, their
characteristics that have the both strengths and weakeness, their internal
delusions and biased views of themselves (think "Tien"), because the
societies are the same.  And some of the characters and the societies admit
to their flaws and shortcomings and inabilities.   In Curse of Chalion the
curse takes characteristics of those afflicted with the curse and makes of
especially their strengths,  implements of evil, intensifying and distorting
their personalities and values to where a virtue ceases being a virtue and
becomes constricting and choking and vile.  That happens in the real world,
too, where someone's desire to protect their family turns into a martinet's
controlfreak actions to them, where someone's desire to improve their lot
turns from striving for excellence into singleminded pursuit of some goal to
the detriment of all else.

Getting back to Rowling, the Sort Hat saying "you could be great" denotes
that Slytherin fosters greatness--but the is no support for that whatsoever,
other than the comment of the Sorting Hat  To me, that, again, is bad
writing.  In Lois' books the reader gets told by characters that Jackson's
Whole is bad because its ruled by plutcrats whose fortunes and continuing
operatios are built on providing services which especially include ones
outlawed as vile and despicable by the rest of the Nexus--Jackson's Whole is
viewed as a depraved culture pandering to depravities and
providing services which disgusts and offends the rest of the Nexus. People
continue doing business with Jackson's Whole if they're sociopaths, if they
can't afford Betan biologicals, if they aren't that bothered by moral
issues, and/or if they regard it as a price of doing business. Few people in
the real world boycott chain stores which get sued for failing to promote
women, or for hiring cleaning services paying subminimum wages employing
foreign nationals present who got into the country without the proper legal
processes and documentation.  Jackson's Whole might be despised by many in
the Nexus, but the people of the Nexus continue doing business with
Jackson't Whole anyway, and respect at least some of the work and products
that come from Jackson's Whole.  I don't see the same view of Slytherin in

> it didn't want to sort all those other characters where they seem
> to fit, but let itself be overruled by the characters' clear desires?