Yesterday (Wednesday) I stumbled across a post at Leah Libresco's blog, "Unequally Yoked," where she talks about the nature of love. Specifically she does it within the context of the Ron/Hermione relationship. (Leah thinks Ron isn't right for Hermione because he is ambivalent to something that is such a key part of her, her intellectual curiosity.)
Here's the bit that made me so happy:
See, this is exactly why I love culture-wide book clubs. I mention Harry Potter in passing, and you all start discussing the proper nature of love, and whether Ron/Hermione or any of the other case studies we’re all quite familiar with from the series, fit the mold.
Hello, welcome to fandom! Where the drinks are always flowing, the smiles are always warm, and everyone knows what you're talking about when you make "inside" references. When a close friend died years ago I had another friend --a fandom friend-- quote to me Aragorn's line on the hunt for Merry + Pippin, saying that if all they could do on finding them was sit down and starve beside them, they would do that. I knew what they meant immediately, and it meant more than if they'd had to explain it.
I've done similar things with Biblical references, when I was talking to other Biblically literate Christians. I might refer to the widow's mite or the aliens within your gates or the least of these - a simple phrase, but one that communicated a lot more. This was one of the real values of religion for me: it gives a way of talking about things, a kind of language of metaphors that says quite a lot to people who are "fluent." Without getting into a big debate over whether religion is good, this quote in Leah's blog reminded me of a lot of what I love about that part of my life: the metaphors. It's also what I love about Tolkien,and about my third language of metaphor, Plato and the neoplatonists like Anselm, which I can talk with other philosophers for hours on end.
It was nice to see someone outside the club really "get" why it's nice to be able to slip into that shared metaphor, so we can discuss something with other people coming from a similar place. Whatever the metaphor turns out to be.
Btw, here's my take on Leah's post, for the interested:
Leah, reading this I was reminded of Aristotle’s account of friendship in Bk VIII of the Nicomachean Ethics (http://bit.ly/Q06iIn). Aristotle makes the point that true friendship is based on goodness and virtue. Specifically, it’s based on me valuing what makes you tick, not because it brings me pleasure or satisfies some need, but because I recognize it’s good – good in its own sake, good for you.
Say that you’re generous to a fault – you regularly tithe, support several organized charities, and generally give in the best way possible. I on the other hand am stingy. I recognize that your generosity is good, and I am glad that you have this virtue. I may even want to develop this virtue myself (it’s a major way that we develop these virtues myself. The fact that I’m stingy rather than generous doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, because I recognize generosity is good and honor the fact that you have it, even if I’m not generous myself. On the other hand, if I’m stingy and think that’s every bit as valid a way to be as your generosity, I think there’s something missing. I’m undervaluing something good in you. I don’t think that would qualify as true friendship for Aristotle.
I wonder if that’s what’s giving you pause about Ron and Hermione? It’s not that Ron isn’t smart or is bored stiff spending time in the library. If he wanted to develop intellectual curiosity, or even recognized Hermione’s curiosity as something good in itself (rather than just good for him instrumentally), that would be fine. Instead, I do think the only way Ron values Hermione’s curiosity is as a tool for getting him stuff. Maybe this is being seventeen, maybe he’ll grow out of it – but I can see why the Ron/Hermione we’re given in canon wouldn’t seem like true love. It always bothered me, too.
Then again, I was always a Harry/Hermione girl myself, so perhaps I’m a bit biased. :-)
Also, Leah posted this snippet of a scene, deleted from the final HP film. Fun!
Today's (Thursday's) happiness involved an unplanned trip through midtown Manhattan. When I go to therapy at Columbus Circle, I usually take the two train down the west side of Manhattan. But there's construction on the track and the train followed an alternate route down the east side of the island. (Non-New Yorkers: Manhattan is a long island with Central Park in the middle. This means there are two halves that don't always work well together, public transit-wise.) They didn't tell us this until after we were actually on the subway meaning I couldn't look up a map online using my iPhone, and for some reason my train car didn't have a map.
I took a bit of a flyer and got off the train at 42nd street, which I vaguely recognized as Times Square (a major stop on the right side of the island) and thought I would be able to transfer to a different train line. Turns out ther eare two 42nd street stops and I was at the wrong one. Since I had an appointment I decided to hop in a cab rather than getting lost again and being seriously late.
The cool thing: at the cab queue I got put i9nto not an actual cab but a seat no bigger than a loveseat behind a bicycle. Open-air for the most part, and going slow enough that I could take in the scenery. I even saw some protesters in front of a bank headquarters. Lots of beautiful architecture, people sitting in plazas, women window shopping in boutiques - and all without having to fight the crowds. It was definitely off the tourist track, and was a part of town I'd never seen before - taken in quite by accident!