From Moaning Myrtle To Dolores Umbridge

We previously discussed the tendency of contemporary jesters to desire more than merely to entertain. There is, for example, a great deal of video and posts that was saved before it was scrubbed for a new subcabinet official in the current administration of the United States government. Among them includes a video where the young woman openly wonders who she has to sleep with to get some power in this country, a sentiment that was previously expressed and acted upon by our current vice president when she was but a lowly political figure in the state of California. Given that someone who once aspired to be a yoga instructor now seeks to control disinformation (except that which she and her political allies in government and the media produce at an extraordinary rate, it may be assumed) within the United States, she clearly seems to have gotten her wish.

What is most curious about our would be Minister of Truth is that she was once a bit of a jester herself, a musical theater kid in a group that called themselves the Moaning Myrtles after a Harry Potter figure who is herself a martyr of the violence of a basilisk under the control of baddie Lord Voldemort and who haunts the bathroom where she was killed decades after she was killed as a ghost. One wonders again if the choice of that name was made for a double entendre or not, but I will leave such speculation to others. At any rate, if one knows anything about Harry Potter and many other recent literature that is aimed at teenagers and young adults, one knows that the villains of the story are typically those who seek control and domination over others while the heroes are simply fighting for the freedom to be who they are in a world that seeks to control them. This dynamic is most prevalent within dystopian literature but it is far more familiar than that and quite true to life as well as art.

What is it that made a jester of modest talents so ambitious for power when she should have been sensitive thanks to her appreciation of the arts that the search for power is one that brings misery to other people because those who seek power are almost always evil in literature. In life, sometimes people forget that it is not only fictional villains who seek power. It is almost a given that someone who does not want the other side to be able to declare what is and what is not fake news is going to be less understanding about avoiding the same behavior when they seek the power to declare others as fake news because it is supposedly disinformation (but not really) or even malinformation (that which is true but embarrassing). Hypocrisy seems to be a common element among the behavior of people in the public sphere at present, and all too often hysterical outrage over what someone else is doing is merely outrage that one does not have the power to do it oneself instead of outrage over what is being done.

It is worth asking those who fancy themselves to be artistic sorts of people why it is that their search for power comes with such a lack of self-awareness? When someone who has spent many hours of their life expressing a love of Harry Potter ends up becoming like one of that series’ ugliest villains, the officious and dishonest Dolore Umbridge, who sought official power to support a dishonest worldview that was enforced to protect her power and reputation at the harm of innocent people, we have to ask ourselves why it is that a devotion to such literature does not include grasping any of the lessons that this work presents. Do we think that we are exempt from the evils that come from seeking domination over others and the enforcement of a misguided worldview? Do we only think that the follies and evils of tyranny are on the other side and not our own? What is the point of seeking to cultivate an appreciation of art and culture if we do not take in the lessons that this art comes in terms of self-criticism and self-examination?

When we read 1 Samuel 8 or Joshua 9, we can recognize that the Bible itself contains numerous criticisms of those who seek power and that those whose work is beautiful and useful seek rather to continue doing what they do, leaving those whose lives and work has no value to seek power for its own sake. Similarly, when we read Harry Potter, we can see that the main character was praised by Dumbledore for having leadership pressed on him rather than on seeking it through his own selfish ambition. What value is being someone focused on art and literature and music if one does not seek to examine oneself and recognize the commonality that is within humanity? It is not merely that it is wrong for jesters to seek power because they are bad at wielding power, but because it is a betrayal of the wisdom in humor that gives jesters a valuable role at all. Entertainers have worth because they can provide truth and insight from a point of view that does not cause offense. And everything entertainers are doing in the contemporary world is causing them to lose this privileged position of being a truthteller and of avoiding offense. One wonders if this situation can be reversed.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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