MuggleCast 58 Transcript (continued)
Main Discussion: The Veil
Andrew: Well, let's talk some Harry Potter now, guys. This week we're going to talk about the Department of Mysteries but, more specifically, the Veil.
Connections Between the Veil and Thestrals
Laura: Now, Micah, you told me that you got an interesting e-mail about this from a listener talking about what they thought the Veil was.
Micah: Yeah, I'm going credit them, too. Dana, 14 of Ohio, sent in a message saying, "On Episode 56 you put out the theory that Harry could get past the Veil using his Invisibility Cloak. That got me thinking of some way the two could be connected. I thought that maybe the Veil itself was made of the same material as the cloak. So, when people pass through, they don't die, they just become invisible. That can be why Harry and Luna can still hear the voices." And they were just wondering what they thought and, of course, they love the show.
Laura: Well, we all know that the Invisibility Cloak is made out of the fur from a Demiguise, which we all know very well, because of a certain trivia contest in Las Vegas.
Ben: You mean the one that we won?
Laura: Yeah, that one!
Andrew: Yeah, that one.
Laura: [laughs] Now, I was going through Order of the Phoenix and Sorcerer's Stone, and I looked at the descriptions for both of them and the Invisibility Cloak is described as being fluid, laying on the floor and gleaming folds, shining like water woven into material. Now when you look at the description for the Veil, it's described as being tattered, rippling, ragged. I got the impression of the Veil that it was just a veil. It wasn't woven out of any kind of creature's fur, not to mention it's black. The Invisibility Cloak was described as being silvery-gray. So what do you think about that, Micah? I just don't think that it could be made out of the same material. It's a good theory, though.
Micah: Yeah, it's definitely a good theory. Its just one of those things that you have to sort of take into consideration and, you know, sort of analyze.
Micah: But based upon the descriptions that you just went over, it's probably not, but I mean there's different forms of material - of the same material rather - you just can't rule it out because they're different colors.
Andrew: There still has to be something more to the Veil, though, because... Well, we'll get into this later on, obviously, there has to be, but - 'cause, why would Harry and Luna only be able to hear voices beyond it? If you're trying to relate it to the Invisibility Cloak...
Laura: That's interesting, though, Andrew, because...
Andrew: ...because they've both seen death.
Ben: The Thestrals.
Laura: Andrew because - sorry, Ben.
Ben: I'm saying, like, the Thestrals. You had to see someone die in order to actually see the Thestrals.
Ben: Maybe it has something to do with that.
Laura: But you know what? Do you guys think that Jo is kind of pulling a fast one on us here? Kind of assuming that we will think that the Veil is all about death because, if you remember, it wasn't just Harry and Luna, it was Neville and Ginny, too. It said that they were both staring at the Veil entranced. Ron and Hermione were the only ones who weren't affected by it. And we know that Harry, Luna, and Neville have all witnessed death but we don't know about Ginny. When would she have witnessed a death?
Micah: When did Neville witness a death?
Andrew: Well, Ginny was in the Chamber of Secrets, so maybe something happened in there.
Ben: Right, but I don't know if there was any death going on there.
Andrew: Are we sure that death has a direct connection to this, though?
Laura: That's what I'm saying, though. I'm saying that because of Ginny, there has to be some sort of different connection between those four people. Otherwise, Ginny would have had to have seen a death.
Andrew: She almost saw a death in Chamber of Secrets when Harry almost died.
Laura: But he didn't die.
Andrew: He almost died.
Laura: But that doesn't count.
Ben: But that's different, its like...
Laura: "Almost" only counts in Horseshoes and hand-grenades. [laughs]
Ben: Yeah. "I almost won a million dollars." Doesn't mean you're a millionaire.
Laura: But if someone close to Ginny died, wouldn't the chances be that that person was close to Ron, too?
Micah: Yeah, what about Neville, though? Who did he witness?
Laura: His Grandfather, I think?
Micah: Oh, okay. I just wasn't sure.
Laura: I remember during their Care of Magical Creatures lesson, they were looking at the Thestrals and Hagrid asked him who he'd seen die.
Micah: Oh, okay.
Was the Ministry Built Around the Veil?
Laura: But it just - there's something about it that doesn't seen natural. Like, when you think about it, there's no actual archway to the afterlife. It's not like, for instance, they go into the Department of Mysteries and there's this veil there. It's not like you walk into the White House and there is some sort of veil leading you to death. [laughs] It just seems bizarre to me that this would be here. Why did... Do you guys think that the Ministry built this thing, or...
Ben: Well, of course, I mean, it's not like it's going to just appear out of nowhere. If it's a veil...
Andrew: Well, here's the thing. And I hate talking about the movies because to me it sounds arrogant because I'm like, "I saw the set! Blah blah blah."
Andrew: But, they had an artist's rendering of the Veil on the set and we talked about this at the Leaky Mug, this is the only reason I'm bringing it up, W.B. [laughs] I'm not, you know, we're not going to spill all the details here but, from the artist's rendering, you can tell that it looks like the Ministry was built around it. That Veil was connected to the rock, this, this... It's hard to explain because... I was really surprised by it, because it wasn't like you're traditional veil. It looked very - the whole thing looked very old and tattered and looked... It was crooked and it was all weird, but it definitely looked like the Ministry was built around it. Because it was connected to the rock. The Veil was connected to the rock. The ground.
Micah: And you have to wonder what kind of input J.K. Rowling has when those things are created.
Ben: Well, I remember people saying that with the death scene - I mean, not the death scene, but at the beginning of Sorcerer's Stone in the movie where - like where Voldemort comes into Harry's house and he kills his parents or whatever. You see like. there's just this scene at the beginning. You know what I'm talking about.
Ben: Apparently, J.K. Rowling had a say in that. It was like very specific about what went on.
Ben: So, it could be likely that Jo said, "Yeah, the Veil is built - the Ministry was built around the Veil," you know. But to me, to me, what I think that the Veil is just a place where, like, I don't know, where they study death, you know? I've heard that theory quite a bit. And it makes sense because...
Andrew: It's not a theory. Jo actually said that.
Ben: Oh, did she really?
Ben: Well, then, yeah. Then...
Andrew: In the interview with Emerson and Melissa.
Ben: Sorry, I feel so out of the loop.
Andrew: Melissa said, "Was it used as an execution chamber or just studying?" And J.K. Rowling said, "No, it's just studying. The Department of Mysteries is all about studying. They study the mind, the universe, death, and in this case, where the Veil is was the Death Room," or something.
Andrew: It's called the Death Room or something like that.
The Veil is the Gateway to...?
Laura: Now, if we're assuming that the Ministry was built around this veil, this archway, what is it about it that they're trying to keep so secret? Because I don't really think that we can assume - I've seen a lot of people assuming that when you die in the wizarding world, you go beyond the Veil. And I don't think that's so, because if that were the case, then the Veil would be common knowledge. Like people would think of it as like going to Heaven or doing, you know, whatever a specific person's religion...
Ben: Yeah, something, something has to be special about the Veil itself for that to be in the Department of Mysteries. Like, what's so mysterious about it - when you go through the Veil, is it really the afterlife you're going to? Because I mean, does it make sense for them to hide it then? I mean, what's the big deal? Why is it hidden? What's so secretive about it?
Laura: Mhm. And...
Andrew: Well, it has to be protected because then anyone can just jump
through it and kill themselves.
Ben: Right, but you can kill yourself in a multitude of ways. It's like
saying we should get rid of all shotguns...
Andrew: But that way is so easy.
Ben: ...so people can't kill themselves.
Andrew: I mean, also, the thing is, they were transfixed by it. They were
attracted to it. It's not just that you can so easily die by walking through it, but you can also, inadvertently, become attracted to it. It pulls you in.
Laura: Yeah. So, do you guys think it's evil?
Andrew: How can it be evil?
Laura: Because if it - well, if it causes death. Harry said that - hang on,
I've got the quote here. It says, "Harry felt a very strong inclination to
climb up on the dais and walk through it." Now, if it causes death and it
makes you want to walk through it, I'm going to assume that it's not a good
Andrew: I don't know, it's like a cat. When it looks at something shiny it
wants to touch it.
Laura: Okay, but a cat doesn't die when it touches something shiny.
[Micah, Ben and Laura laugh]
Andrew: Well, Harry doesn't know that...
Micah: If it's a blender it does.
Andrew: Harry doesn't know if you walk through it you're going to die. So,
of course you might want to go up to it and be like, "Whoa, what's this?"
Laura: Yeah, but still, if it kills you - if it draws you in and unexpectedly kills you - it's kind of evil, isn't it?
Andrew: Right, well, right.
Micah: I think he raised...
Andrew: Yes, but you're coming to a conclusion that it draws you in. I mean
you could just... I see what you're saying, but I wouldn't consider it...
Ben: I mean it's natural, it's natural...
Andrew: [laughs] ...evil. It's a thing. That's like calling a tree evil.
Ben: Yeah, okay. Hold on, if you see a... No, hold on a second. If you see a...
Andrew: [laughs] "You're trying to kill me! You're not putting out enough oxygen!"
Ben: If you see, if you see a hole in the wall...
Ben: ...you're automatically going to be intrigued by it, interested by it...
Ben: ...regardless of whether what's on the - you want to figure out what's on the other side. I mean, the reason that Sirius fell through the Veil wasn't because, you know, he was like, "Oh my gosh, this is so interesting." It was because he got knocked back into it by Bellatrix.
Laura: Yeah, look. Listen to this. Order of the Phoenix, chapter 34
pg. 775, says, "On the other side Ginny and Neville were staring,
apparently entranced at the veil, too."
Ben: Was this after Sirius died?
Laura: No this was before.
Andrew: No, it was before.
Laura: Whenever they were exploring. And these four: Harry, Luna, Neville, and Ginny were all entranced by it, while Ron and Hermione were saying, "Come on, you guys, I can't hear anything, let's go."
Ben: Well, then it probably has to relate with seeing death, then.
Laura: Well then, doesn't that beg the question, who has Ginny seen die?
Micah: The Basilisk.
Ben: What about Tom Riddle?
Ben: Never thought of that.
Laura: He didn't die, though. He wasn't...
Ben: Yeah, he did. I mean, depends what you classify as dying.
Laura: ...a person. He was a piece of a soul, he was shattered.
Ben: I guess that's true.
Laura: And I've gotten the impression from Jo that whenever you, you know,
you break your soul up like that, you don't count as being alive anymore. Hagrid even said it, "he's not even alive."
Ben: Oh, he's alive, but just...
Laura: He just exists.
Ben: He's a fragment of what he used to be.
Ben: But something...
Micah: But to go...
Ben: Go ahead, Micah.
Micah: I just wanted to go back to what you said before about the Veil being the - is it the only barrier between life and death? It's interesting because if you think that it is, then that drawing that Andrew brought up kind of makes more sense because, then, if that is the only passageway, the Ministry, it makes sense for it to be built around it.
Micah: But if it's not, if there is some other passageway out there it kind of - you want to know, how did it get there?
Ben: Well, it's...
Micah: How did it get to the Ministry?
Ben: Right. Well, is it possible that the Veil could be, like where, you know, right now if I died, it's only - I can't come back from being dead. Do you understand what I'm saying?
Ben: So, is it possible, if Harry goes to the
Veil, tosses a rope down there, "Sirius! Sirius!"
Ben: Just pull him on out.
Laura: But the only...
Ben: No, no, not that, really. I mean, is it possible for Sirius to return,
since the way that he died was going through the Veil? If you know what I'm
Laura: I don't think so. Because if you look at the way the Veil is
described, it's not like it's a veil leading into another room. Harry went
around and looked at the other side of it. It was literally like he fell
through that archway and disappeared.
Ben: But, is the Veil a one way street or is it a...
Andrew: It's got to be a one way street because, otherwise, Lupin wouldn't
have said to Harry that Sirius is dead, he's not coming back. If there was a chance, if somehow people could come out of that Veil, I think he would have said so.
Micah: But it just doesn't make a lot of sense to me that, unless that is
sort of the passageway into the Beyond, that...
Ben: Then why would they keep it secret?
Micah: ...then every single wizard that dies, or witch that dies, is behind there. You know what I mean?
Laura: Yeah, but why wouldn't they know about it? You know? If that's where
everyone goes when they die, how could they not - how could it not be common knowledge?
Micah: But Lupin seems to know, though.
Ben: I don't think it's truly an afterlife. I think it's like a gateway to the afterlife.
Ben: I mean, it's not like saying, "Behind the Veil is..." I mean, it's like, behind the Veil will probably be like, your, you know, depending on what religion you are, your Heaven, your Hell, whatever, your Paradise, Abraham's bosom, or whatever you believe in, and I'm not sure that, like, they would think, "Oh, behind the Veil is, like behind the Veil is behind the Veil," like that's a location, you know? I assume they think when they die they go to Heaven, Hell, like their own form of their own afterlife, not necessarily, "beyond the Veil." They don't think of dying, going, "beyond the Veil." If you know what I'm saying.
Laura: Do you think it's a sort of Purgatory? Maybe? I'm thinking about if
it does lead somewhere, what if it's kind of a Limbo between two worlds?
Like, what if you're sort of stuck there? You know what I mean?
Micah: But didn't Lupin - you just said that nobody else seems to know about it - but Lupin seemed pretty confident that Sirius was dead.
Ben: Because he grabbed Harry, and he said, "He's gone, he's gone."
Andrew: And I mean, Sirius knew what the hell was about to happen, too, because he... [sighs] Laura, do you have the page open? I was just reading it earlier.
Laura: Oh, no. I closed it. It said something like...
Andrew: [sarcastically] Oh, Laura. You - ah - geez...
Laura: No, I remember the quote! I remember the quote.
Andrew: No, off my show. Off my show.
Laura: I remember the quote! Shut up!
Andrew: Harry... No, I'm just kidding. It's not my show, I hate it when people say that.
Laura: It said something along the lines of, "the laughter had not quite died from his godfather's face," and all this stuff.
Andrew: Oh, I'm getting it. Right, right.
Laura: He was shocked.
Andrew: Oh, you wait one second. I have my...
Andrew: ...U.S. paperback. Yeah, "The second jet of light hit him squarely on the chest. The laughter had not quite died from his face, but his eyes widened in shock." So, it seems like he knew what was about to happen.
Laura: Well, I always attributed that to just being stunned.
Laura: Like I'm not sure if he was really thinking about, "Oh, crap, I'm about to fall backwards through the Veil."
Andrew: But, "The laughter had not quite died from his face." That's what lead me to think that...
Laura: Well, yeah, because he was laughing at Bellatrix.
Ben: Why would he laugh in the face of defeat? I don't get that.
Laura: No, because he'd just been laughing at her a few moments before.
Ben: Okay, yeah.
Andrew: Because he said, "Come on, you can do better than that," when she tried to put a jinx on her, I think it was.
Ben: And he was probably shocked because he was kind of being arrogant saying, "Oh, pretty much I'm better than you, there's no way you can beat me," and then, BAM! He gets nailed. [laughs]
Why Didn't Harry Ask More About the Veil?
Micah: Something else that is interesting is, why doesn't Harry ask more
questions about what exactly it is?
Laura: Yeah, I thought that in Half-Blood Prince he would have...
Andrew: Yeah! That's what bugged me, too! [laughs]
Laura: ...wanted to know. I figured we were going to learn so much about the Veil in Half-Blood Prince, and we didn't.
Ben: I really didn't expect to, because I thought - I don't know. It just didn't seem like - I thought the Ministry would be saved for the last.
Laura: Well, I figured - I didn't think we'd find out, you know, exactly what it was, but I figured we'd hear more about it.
Laura: I don't even think the word 'veil' was in that book.
Andrew: [laughs] Yeah. Well, it leads me to wonder, why didn't Harry just ask Dumbledore at the end of Book Five when he was talking to him in his office?
Micah: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: What gives, Harry?
Ben: Because, maybe it didn't come to mind, and maybe JKR...
Andrew: Yeah, but it was Sirius!
Ben: ...needed to keep that detail out until the last possible moment. [laughs]
The Veil in Book Seven
Ben: So, what about the Veil in Book Seven? I mean, do you think Harry is going to use it? I, personally...
Andrew: It's got to be brought up.
Laura: Oh, yeah. He's going to have to go.
Ben: Of course, yeah, she has to tie that up somehow. And, you know, throughout Book Seven Harry is going to have to do a lot of investigating, just in general, acquire as much knowledge as possible, you know. There's talk about he's going to return to Godric's Hollow, all these places, and the Ministry of Magic has to be one of them in order...
Laura: Mhm. There's been a lot of talk about Harry going back to Hogwarts to do research, and I don't think so. I think if he does research, it's going to happen at the Department of Mysteries. Because that's the place that holds all of the answers that he needs; especially the one door that he couldn't get open, that had "the power of love" behind it, allegedly.
Micah: But, if you look at a lot of the different sort of heroic tales, there is always that journey into the underworld.
Micah: Before he can finally complete his quest, there's always somebody there that knows some piece of information.
Back to Comparing the Veil and Invisibility Cloak
Andrew: Getting back to the Invisibility Cloak, did we really answer this?
Laura: I, personally, don't think that they're one and the same.
Micah: They seem to have similar qualities.
Andrew: Yeah, which is interesting, but what was that girl's theory, Micah, that it just makes them invisible?
Laura: That room would be pretty crowded, though. [laughs]
Andrew: Yeah. Well, if it makes you invisible...
Micah: No, no, no, that's not what she said.
Laura: It just seems like, if that were the case, then there would have been no issue with Ron and Hermione hearing any of the whispering.
Micah: Well, if it's a big Invisibility Cloak, it's just covering what's beyond it. You know what I mean?
Andrew: It can't be a big Invisibility Cloak. That sounds so goofy.
Ben: Yeah, because it isn't like there's a... It isn't like if you look behind there, there's going to be like, a million people standing right there.
Ben: It doesn't work like that.
Micah: She just said that, the Veil may be made of the same material as the Cloak. So, when people pass through the Veil, they don't die, they just become invisible.
Ben: I don't think...
Laura: But why wouldn't Sirius come running up and be like, "Hey, Harry, I'm invisible!" You know? [laughs]
Ben: Yeah, and JK Rowling said that she had to kill off a character in Book Five.
Laura: Yeah, she did, actually.
Andrew: That is close to Harry.
Ben: She was very upset about it, and I doubt it was, in Emerson's words,
"Martin Miggs the Mad Muggle." I'm pretty sure it was Sirius. I mean, there's no doubt. [laughs]
Tangent: Seeing Sirius Again
Micah: Well, it doesn't mean we won't see him in some form.
Laura: I don't think so. I'm not one of those that subscribes to the...
Andrew: No, we have to.
Laura: ...the theory that...
Andrew: He's his godfather.
Laura: Okay, but... [laughs]
Andrew: And people question, why did he play such a big role in Book 3 and then
killed off in Book Five? There has to be something more to it, like in Book Seven he, I don't know...
Laura: Because there was nothing else to do with him.
Andrew: Well, here's a question.
Laura: Even Jo said that he had become a brooding presence in the books. He was done. [laughs]
Andrew: Here's a question. How could Sirius come back? The two-way mirrors? We've sort of discussed that. The portrait?
Ben: I think that has to relate to it somehow, the two-way mirror.
Laura: I don't know if Harry's going to use that to communicate with Sirius, necessarily.
Andrew: Well, it all comes down to, if he had his two-way mirror with him when he fell through, which...
Ben: I don't know. I seem to think we're missing our guess about the two-way mirror thing.
Laura: You know what I think it depends a lot on? What exactly death is in the wizarding world. All we know is that when you die, you're dead. We don't know if you choose not to return as a ghost, if you have any afterlife, or if it all just goes black. I mean, we don't know. If that's the case, then there is no way Sirius can communicate with Harry.
Micah: Does your soul travel down...
Micah: [laughs] ...to the Department of Mysteries?
JKR Defining Death
Andrew: It seems like Jo tries to stay away from explaining death.
Laura: I don't know.
Andrew: Because it's a very close and touchy subject.
Ben: Well, it depends on...
Laura: Well, it was...
Ben: I don't know. Because she said, well, Dumbledore said that there are things much worse than death. And you hear in the Department of Mysteries, you hear Voldemort say to Dumbledore, "There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore." Blah, blah, blah.
Andrew: Although, could you imagine if she started talking about what would happen after death?
Ben: Oh yeah, of course! She can't define what happens after death because then the religious radicals really are going to go nuts.
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Ben: Because, that's too much, I mean...
Laura: I'm calling you out, Laura Mallory. Calling you out.
Ben: [laughs] Yeah.
Laura: No, the thing is, though...
Andrew: We should talk about her again for a second, later.
Laura: If she doesn't define death, then there's absolutely no way that we're going to see Dumbledore, Sirius, Lily, James, or anyone else who has ever died in the series.
Andrew: Right, but we could still see them in another form.
Ben: Well, I don't know.
Laura: Yeah, this is true.
Ben: That's a good point, but what I don't see... I don't know about... She's not going to define death in a way, in a religious sense, you know what I'm saying? Because then she's...
Ben: Because that's when she'll cross the line in the eyes of many people, like Christians, Muslims, whatever religion you are. Then she may cross the line. But as long as it's sort of like a vague representation of the afterlife, I don't really see there being really much of a problem with it. I mean, it is a fantasy book. Gandalf came back from the dead - that's
not possible, you know? Except I have a thing, Harry Potter has just gotten a lot of notoriety.
Micah: We know it's not possible for Dumbledore.
Micah: That we know. We don't know about anybody else. And until she actually says it herself, I'm...
Laura: Well, Jo said Sirius is dead. [laughs] I mean...
Ben: Right, but another thing is, it's important to remember is...
Micah: It doesn't mean he's not going to make an appearance.
Ben: ...that we cannot bring people back to life.
Ben: You know what I'm saying? But Jo - I keep referring to Jo, to Dumbledore as Jo, because it's really her words - but Dumbledore said that those who love you, even though they may not be there physically, they truly haven't left. You know? It's that type of thing.
Ben: Their presence will still always be felt.
Ben: Harry's always going to remember what he learned from Sirius. Sirius is always going to be in the back of his mind. So, it's not like Sirius truly is dead - he's dead in the physical sense, but in a personal sense he's still Harry's godfather. He's really - he's still there, in a way. His influence remains, just he's no longer there to add any further input.
Andrew: What I'm saying is that, if he does come back, he'll come back in a different form, because maybe the Veil didn't really kill him, but in Bono's words, he'll be "all that he can't leave behind."
Ben: [sings] It's all that you can't leave behind...
Laura: Yeah, the only thing is, though, I'm not sure how I feel about...
Andrew: Laura, shhh. [sings] All that you fashion, all that you...
Ben: Sorry, sorry.
Laura: [sighs] I can't believe you were shushing me.
Laura: Here I am, talking about Harry Potter on a Harry Potter show and you shush me to sing.
Andrew: Hey, hey, hey, we haven't had a U2 moment in a while, we had to have one.
Laura: Okay, no, you had plenty of U2 moments before we recorded. Thank you very much. Now, as I was saying...
[Andrew fakes crying]
Laura: Now, I can't even remember. [laughs] I'm sorry! I'm sorry.
Laura: Anyway, the thing is, Voldemort fears death so much that I don't think that the series can finish without us learning about what death is in Harry's world.
Andrew: Any final conclusions from anyone? I mean, I guess we covered all the bases here. So, we really covered everything about the Veil. [laughs]
Andrew: And there's not much to cover in the first place, but we covered everything there is. So...
Micah: Well, wait. I'll ask one more question.
Andrew: Oh, okay.
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