— Thoughts on Dumbledore by marinarusalka, from hp-essays (via pottersir)
“… “You must have shown me real loyalty down in the Chamber. Nothing but that could’ve called Fawkes to you.” That’s the very first thing Dumbledore thanks and praises Harry for. Not for rescuing Ginny, or saving the school from the basilisk, or for keeping Voldemort from coming back, but for loyalty.
Dumbledore judges the people he works with based first and foremost on how loyal they are to him. Not because he thinks he’s all that, but because, as I said, he views people as game pieces, and you can’t have your game pieces acting up, can you? He values his pieces. He wants to advance and protect them. But he doesn’t want them running off beyond his sphere of influence and doing their own thing. I think there’s something very ambiguous about Dumbledore’s habit of seeking out desperate, socially outcast people and doing them one or two huge favors that leave them bound to him for life. Remus, Hagrid and Snape all fit that pattern, and Trelawney and Firenze appear to join the ranks in OOP. It kind of makes me wonder what Dumbledore has done for Fletcher, Moody and Shacklebolt.
…The problem with Sirius is, he’s not loyal to Dumbledore at all; he’s loyal to Harry. From Dumbledore’s point of view, it’s as if he’s playing wizard chess, and one of the knights suddenly decides that he doesn’t care what happens to the king, he’s just going to take care of that little pawn on the left. So Dumbledore does the only thing he thinks he can do — he sticks his recalcitrant knight into a safe, isolated corner of the board and keeps him from making any moves. Perfectly sensible and strategically sound, as long as you don’t expect your game pieces to have any pesky emotions or psychological issue that need to be taken into account.
…Dumbledore’s actions at Hogwarts are another symptom of his general approach. He doesn’t treat it just as a school, but also as an instrument in his strategy. People like Snape, Hagrid and Trelawny — all lousy teachers, in very different ways — are given their jobs as perks, because of their past of future usefulness to the Order, and because it strengthens their bonds of loyalty to Dumbledore.
OTOH, look at Lupin, who is a talented teacher. Why wasn’t he hired before Harry’s third year, especially given the difficulty of finding qualified DADA professors? My theory is that Dumbledore didn’t consider it necessary. As far as he knew, Lupin was already totally loyal simply because Dumbledore had allowed him to attend Hogwarts. There was no need to bribe him with a job. He was hired only when his familiarity with Sirius became an important factor. Once Sirius proved not to be a threat, Lupin was allowed to resign…”
The actual essay is very insightful and I enjoyed the comments as well. It’s great to see people linking back to old LiveJournal essays. Fandom appreciation FTW!
While working on a post in my Wordpress-run blog - a post that’s been in progress for a couple weeks - I thought, “Why do I slave over these?” The amount of time I spend on those posts is in such contrast to my Tumblr posts. I am a terrible perfectionist when writing blog posts; more than anything, this is why I end up publishing so few posts every year.
When I write on Tumblr, I’m making myself write for an (arguably invisible) audience on a more regular basis. What this does, is make me worry less about my writing - style, structure, content, etc - because on Tumblr, people doesn’t expect complete posts. You can completely go ahead and write a single paragraph, a fragment of your thoughts, and then add on to this afterwards - either by reblogging it, or by using a common tag. And even with the tagging approach, there is no real expectation that readers will trawl through your archive, judging by the number of “asks” I’ve seen where people didn’t bother looking for a previously asked question.
I mean, it is okay to do this with “normal” blogs - write short posts - and people have done it, using short posts to express “this is what I’m thinking now”. But I am not sure now this is how blogs are expected to be written now. There seemed to be a point in time (warning of anecdotal evidence here) where blogs became more of an online portfolio of posts - self-contained posts, complete articles. Any corrections or updates were added to the same post, so as to better keep the conversation together, but also to make them more discoverable by search engines.
This is how I now view my blog, and that is why I spend ages writing things on it, wanting this feeling of completed articles. And that is why Tumblr came as such a relief, enabling me to be less of a perfectionist, to learn to just let go and sometimes accept that my posts on Tumblr could be part of some ongoing thought process, that my thoughts on a topic could be developed overtime.
That said, I still have an instinct to treat my Tumblr posts as those “blog” posts. I noticed that my post about rereading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had a blog-type structure to it, as I really endeavoured to put all these points into a single post. The Tumblr way is to write a post for each separate point, or to be a succinct summary of a larger point, judging from the #harry potter meta tag or the @harrypottermeta Tumblr. This is microblogging and I thought I got what it was all about, but didn’t realise I was trying to fit my older concept of blogging into Tumblr - posts are shorter than traditional blog posts so that they are easier to write, and easier to share.
The illustrator of The Shadow Hero, the new graphic novel about an Asian American superhero written by Gene Luen Yang, writes about representing Asians in comics.
By Sonny Liew
It took me a second to realise he was shouting at me. This complete stranger, white, male, red-faced, and very likely inebriated. In his teens or possibly early 20s, sitting in the back seat of a car with his head sticking out the window, just on his way with his friends somewhere in Rhode Island.
I’d lived most of my life in Singapore, with its population made up of 70% ethnic Chinese. You could make sub-divisions, of course — Hokkiens, Cantonese, Hakkas, Teochews and so on … but that for the most part would be quibbling. The Chinese as a whole dominate the social, economic and political landscape here, despite fairly serious gestures towards multiculturalism. And being part of a majority shapes the way you think about race — or more accurately, not think about it at all. There’s much less need for introspection when every other face on the streets feels familiar; when you’re living in an environment where your race is hardly ever a barrier to entry or a source of discomfort.
The years I spent studying and living in the UK and US took some adjustments. Sure, my real problem with skin was fitting comfortably inside my own, still caught up in the awkward adolescent years of not-quite-fitting-in. But beyond that, there was still this brave new world, a minority all of a sudden, all those years of listening to the Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen, and reading the Beano, Dandy, and 2000AD somehow not quite anywhere near helping me fit in.
You became acutely aware of race as a means of identification, the way others looked at you, and the way you saw yourself.
Those were also the years when I started taking drawing comics seriously, and fed by this newfound awareness/paranoia, it soon became apparent how little representation there was of Asian characters in the comics mainstream. Or any other medium, really. Outside of martial arts exponents and fetishized women, they felt near invisible. And what was more — it was clear how much of a non-issue this was for non-Asians. It was simply how things were, a sort of casual, institutionalized racism that you didn’t really have to think about. The white faces felt familiar, after all.
So when it came time to draw my first comic for DC Vertigo (“My Faith in Frankie”), about a deity named Jeriven whose sole worshipper is a young white female, I convinced Mike Carey and Shelly Bond that we should make Jeriven Asian. It was to be my own small battle in favour of diversity in comics. Of course the script was already written, and Mike had his own ideas for the story, so aside from a visual representation of ethnicity, it wasn’t ever really an issue explored in the comic.
Having returned to Singapore since those days aboard, other divisions have come to the fore: rich-poor, citizen-immigrant, liberal-conservative etc. But in drawing comics, I still wrestle with visual ways of depicting Asians. Ways of avoiding caricature without losing recognisability. The size and slant of character’s eyes, the shape of their noses, it’s always something that needs thinking about. Sometimes it was an issue that never came up (“Sense and Sensibility,” “Wonderland”), other times it was something of paramount importance (“Re-gifters,” “The Shadow Hero”).
Maybe there’ll come a day when all divisions are dissolved, when we’re human beings first and everything else second. In the meanwhile, we’ll fight for our own corners, as we’ve always had.
Sonny Liew is a Malaysian-born comic artist and illustrator based in Singapore. He is best known for his work on Vertigo’s My Faith in Frankie together with Mike Carey and Marc Hempel, and Marvel’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. The Shadow Hero, a graphic novel written by Gene Luen Yang, is his most recent work.
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The Shadow Hero, written by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew, is available July 15th from First Second Books. We’re thrilled to share two sneek peek pages with our DiYA readers below!
I am halfway through this, courtesy of DailyLit. I keep noticing how people’s faces are being described:
"The face of a gentleman", "elfin lines", "eyes that looked mistily" sound like positive facial characteristics. On the other hand, "crafty" eyes and being "obviously of the very dregs of society" give an immediate signal to be suspicious. What does it mean to have a "weak face" or a "criminal jaw"? Are these descriptions supposed to be the final word on your personality?
This book is 92 (!!) years old. Is it just a sign of the times, or normal fare for crime novels? (I confess I don’t read enough Agatha Christie to know if it is her style.) Tommy and Tuppence seem kind of naive to me, and I am waiting for the rug to pulled out from under them. It is a crime novel, so it would not be surprising if some of the characters have hidden motives, whether criminal or virtuous.