Bonus track 1: Yale University's 'Christian Theology in Harry Potter' course discussion with Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio
KH: Micah, Eric, and I are sitting with John Granger talking about his new work called The Hogwarts Saga as Ring Composition and Ring Cycle. How are you doing, John?
JG: I'm doing great. Great to be here, Keith.
KH: Great. Well we're glad to have you. We wanted to put this up on MuggleNet for you and go through this, but tell us a little about where you've been recently lecturing this theory.
JG: Well I gave this talk to LeakyCon last summer. The first place I gave it was a year ago in New York City to The Group That Shall Not Be Named (TGTSNBN - NYC-HP Meetup Group). They asked me for something special and I rolled this out for them. They insisted I put this thing up, just my lecture notes with the charts and stuff, and that's what's up on Lulu. Then I gave the talk at LeakyCon and I gave a similar talk at Washington & Lee just last month, and then at James Madison University's big Harry Potter conference From Wands to Quills. This is brand new and it's so new that I know that I haven't even done more than scratch the surface on it, so this is why I'm excited about talking to your friends at MuggleNet because few people--if anybody--knows the books better than you guys do.
ES: So how did you come across this information, or what prompted you to look up this topic in particular. What is this topic, specifically?
JG: Okay, I get into this, and I've talked to Keith about this before. I came into this because of something called literary alchemy, which Rowling pretty much signals with the title of her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It's largely a book about alchemy, and the book is laden with alchemical imagery: the names, the colors, and the themes all harken back to Shakespearian, hermetic artistry, and that's a long story, you can read any of my books to get more about literary alchemy. When I'm trying to track down the source for Rowling's literary alchemy, I come up on C.S. Lewis. I was giving a talk in, of all places, Oklahoma City where I'm now living, on C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy. While researching that, I find out that Lewis's Space Trilogy, which is an alchemical set with a Black, White, and Red novels much like the first three and the last three of Harry Potter, I found out that those books are written on what is called a ring composition, and there's four elements to every ring composition that Mary Douglas, probably the greatest anthropologist of the 20th century wrote in her book Thinking in Circles. Well, seeing that and knowing that Lewis was writing alchemical work I thought well, I know that Rowling is writing alchemical work, might she also be writing in a ring? So then I went down to my basement, took out the seven books, and read them in the weirdest possible order. I read the first chapter, then the last chapter, and tried to figure out what the center chapter was, and then read front to back, front to back, front to back with the chapters until I got to the dead center of the book and tried to see the parallels between the chapters which is a key characteristic of this. Now I'm not the first person to come up with this. Those people who know and have read anything by Joyce Adele or have gone to Muggle Matters and read the post there on literary chiasmus, which is the ring composition as The Bible is written in, called chiasmus, much like a ring. Those two writers have broken that code, especially my friends at Muggle Matters. So I just broke it down and sure enough, there it was. It reaches up and bites you right in the nose. Again if you believe it, you know that there is such a thing as ring composition and that it pervades not only all of Western literature from Homer, to The Bible, to Shakespeare, Chaucer, etc. all the way through to things like Tristram Shandy, Jules Verne, Louisa May Alcott--I mean, it's everywhere--it's C.S. Lewis. Then when you know how it works and you look at Joanne Rowling's novels you realize that the series as a whole is a ring, so one and seven meet up with four as the center. Then every novel in the series is also a ring internally, meaning that its beginning and end chapters hook up, its center resonates with the beginning and the end, and here's the kicker: every chapter has a parallel chapter, which is either reverse echo or a direct parallel with it on the opposite side of that dividing line that unites the middle with the beginning and the end as a loop. Basically, you'd imagine a turtleback structure where you draw a circle, you draw a line through it, and then parallel lines coming across like like a turtleback. That's what every Harry Potter novel, and the entire series as a whole, is set up as, as its story scaffolding.
KH: So, let me give you an example from your research then to see if I understand this correctly. So what you're saying, basically, is that each of the chapters intermingle with each other. In other words, let's say from the first book, Philospher's Stone, okay, we have Chapter 3: 'The Letters from No One', and then we have the second-to-last chapter, 'Through the Trapdoor', both of which are an adventure. We have Harry getting the letters from Hogwarts and going on an adventure to try and get this thing and ending up at the hut on the rock. Likewise on the return side he's going through the trapdoor and going through all the obstacles to get to the Philosopher's Stone, that's how you parallel those two. Then the next one you have is 'Keeper of the Keys' for Chapter 4 and 5 and 'The Forbidden Forest', where it's all about Rubeus Hagrid. Is that how you're basically paralleling all of these things?
JG: Right you have the Hagrid chapter set. The first book is fascinating on three levels. One, it's an immediate parallel with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe which is also 17 chapters with this pivot in chapter nine. Alright next you'll see that the pivot chapter in Chapter 9: 'The Midnight Duel' has Harry, at midnight, under the Invisibility Cloak, out of bounds. Think about the middle of Goblet of Fire. Harry is under the Invisibility Cloak...
KH: For the Triwizard Tournament.
JG: ...Out there looking for the dragons at Hagrid's insistence. Then in the middle of Deathly Hallows, he is under the Invisibility Cloak in the Godric's Hallow graveyard. Now you can think that's a happy accident-
MT: [Micah laughs]
JG: That the three pivots, the beginning, the middle, and this and that, have Harry underneath the Invisibility Cloak out of bounds, but think about really the whole idea of the ring as this resolution that you experience the front part of the story as sort of a question and your heart, which is reading this book, experiences unconsciously the parallel chapter on its opposite side as its answer. Now that's true not only of each one of the books, but it's also true of the series as a whole. There's a remarkable resonance between Books 2 and 6 and 3 and 5, which basically you have the Albus Dumbledore novels, excuse me, the Lord Voldemort novels with Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince and then you have the Sirius Black novels in Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix.
JG: This is much more complicated than a simple turtleback for the whole series, which I explain in the notes, but Rowling's fidelity to traditional formula here is striking. In that first book you mention the most obvious one that jumps out at you is Chapter 6: The Journey from Platform 9 Â¾ to The Mirror of Erised where you have Ron and Harry alone, basically exploring their psychological waste bin. They're both insecure about who they are, where they're from, etc. they meet on the train and there they are in front of the Mirror of Erised going through different sorts of trash...
ES: [Eric laughs]
JG: about their background, their real desire. But these are direct parallels, clearly, right? I mean this is not some sort of happy accident. That with The Midnight Duel, which if you recall, there is no duel in 'The Midnight Duel', Draco doesn't show up. Harry is caught there on the top there--but it happens at midnight, which is the turning point of the day, so it's the turning point of that book as it is in Goblet of Fire and in The Deathly Hallows. There's a duel, which is usually the play of contraries, you're fighting with somebody else, and there's going to be a victor. Rowling is saying that the whole book is a reverse echo. We see that most strikingly in Deathly Hallows where she gives us this symbol we have to interpret, this triangular eye of a circle which is split in half, a triangulated circle. If you draw that beginning, middle, end as the triangle, and the middle hooks up to the center, and you have the split circle, she's drawn a picture of a ring composition.
ES: [Eric laughs]
KH: Well, that's true, and also the circle in Deathly Hallows is, as you referred to, Harry's glasses - so it's the center of the whole story.
JG: Yeah, it gets to be really almost too bizarre. You go back and you do the âMy gosh, the whole story is experienced largely through Harry's point of view, and what is he looking through? He's looking through circles, and not only circles...â
ES: [Eric laughs]
JG: ...pairs of circles!â This gets even funnier, if you think about her name. Her name means moving in a circle, right? I mean, Rowling!
KH: [Keith laughs]
JG: John: It gets to be even goofier. Melissa Annelli, at Leaky Cauldron, her name in Italian means rings.
ES: Oh, lucky her!
JG: Yeah [laughs]. That's just goofy stuff. But you can go through the thing and to me one of the most wonderful symbols of the ring composition is Moody's trunk, which is the key point of the book that she says is crucial. She said that she couldn't wait until Deathly Hallows was published or the last book was published so that she could talk about Goblet of Fire and how crucial it is to the whole series. Well, what does Dumbledore talk about with Sirius Black at the end? He talks about the reverse echo effect. Well, all ring composition is essentially is reverse echo effect, and when we see in the big reveal at the end of the story - but this trunk that has seven trunks inside of it, each trunk of which is its own trunk but doesn't upset the integrity of the trunk as a whole...
ES: [Eric laughs]
JG: ...the ring composition series is, each one works as a ring inside of a series which is a ring as well.
ES: So I have a ton of questions for you. One actually I just thought of as you were talking about that, though. I think Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling has said before that Goblet of Fire is the one book she felt sort of most rushed to complete...
ES: ...You know, I think she's even admitted that she regrets not taking more time with that book in particular. So, are you finding that it's harder to make the case for that specific book...
ES: or, what do you think?
JG: In fact, Goblet of Fire is the simplest book, if you read it staccato style if you do, you know first chapter, last chapter, back and forth. Many of the books you have to bunch the chapters because it's just too hard a thing to do in just direct parallels, series. Goblet of Fire goes chapter to chapter right through the thing. It's the most mechanical of the books, and the parallels between it and of the first book and the last book are overwhelming. Not only do we have - I touched on the Invisibility Cloak at the center of the thing, but there are characters that only appear in those books. We only see Ollivander, for instance, inside those three books. We see dragons in those books. We have Norbert, who's the baby dragon. Then we see the Hungarian Horntail who's a mother with an egg. Then we see the Gringotts dragon who's the ancient of days. We see basically the three ages of man going through the things. The big subject is you have three adventures inside each one of those books, the Triwizard Task being the most obvious, but also in Stone and lectures, excuse me Hallows - I'm referring to my own books, too many books out there - each one of those trials has a magical plan, has a mythical creature, has a logic thing, has Harry being saved by his friends - I mean, each one of those final gauntlet things he has to run through has the same formula elements in it.
ES: I'm thinking of a story and I want to be a writer too, you know, I want to write more just in general and I'd love to be a storyteller more than I am currently - but I think of a story as having a beginning, middle, and end. So when I look at something like the Harry Potter series, obviously massive, I think of these things that we're talking about: Ollivander in Book 1 and Book 7, but at what point isn't that just good storytelling? To have the beginning reflect the end or the end reflect the beginning, rather. Isn't that just something that's become more of a common practice than necessarily this really in-depth alchemy?
JG: Absolutely. You can look at it this way. For example, let me see - Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, talks about the ringwork that she does in her works. You should know that Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins write in rings and they all have heavy alchemical elements, and you don't have to look very far to figure out where they got this. They're both very intelligent women and they realized what made Harry Potter work and they lifted it for their very different genre type writing, but their books have their success for the same reason Harry Potter does, it follows this artistry. But Suzanne Collins also wrote television shows and she said, "I like three act drama." I like things done beginning, middle and end, that's a good half-hour TV show formula for those things. When you include the specific resonances that - these direct parallel echos, that's more than just a beginning, middle, and end line up...
JG: Where you basically have a crisis turning a story then it comes back around again, basically I Love Lucy had the same formula as that, but the parallels where the chapters have the same story on that's going across and each and each and every chapter, that's more significant artistry to point to the meaning of the story, which again is this resolution of contraries, of subject and object, there's no accident that a key part of these stories is a magical mirror because that's the only natural object in which subject and object alide. Rowling is after that kind of effect where you enter the story and you become Harry Potter in large part, you experience what he experiences, and she uses the artistry, this hermetic artistry, which comes from Shakespeare and the metaphysical poets on. She uses that traditional symbolism, she's part of the English, imaginative, fantasy tradition after Coleridge that uses these elements to strong effect. Now we think of her still as the lonely mother pushing a pram on a doil type thing, but this woman has sold 500 million copies of her books not just because of happy good fortune and her wonderful sense of humor. She's done it because she has tapped into the strongest possible artistic elements that are well beyond just the simple story scaffolding of you introduce the characters and the drama, the big question to be resolved, have that drama come to a crisis, then resolution, deus ex machina, close it off. That's nice introduction to literature formula telling, but to use alchemy and to have an agredo, an albedo purification, and then rebedo crisis where you're using all these traditional symbols, gives Harry Potter that extra "wow!" that has lifted it to the mania, the reason that the four of us are sitting here talking about this.
JG: This has engaged us at a much different level than any story we've read - why?- and I think you have to go to this. Something that's fascinating, I don't know if you guys - I'm sure you - I'm talking to you guys...
MT: [Micah laughs]
JG: ...You guys have seen the extras on the movie - you probably saw them when when they first came out...
JG: ...But in the DVD extras, she points several times to the fact that she's got a ring going here. She talks about the Lily and Narcissa hook up - she has the beginning and the end where Lily sacrifices herself and then Narcissa is in the forest at the end protecting Harry again - it's a mother's sacrificial love that saves Harry in both cases. She talks about how she couldn't kill Hagrid even though she said it was natural for her to want to kill Hagrid, but she couldn't kill Hagrid because he had to be there to take him out of the forest the same way that he took him out of the house after the Dark Lord first killed him. Then she talks about - [laughs] She talks about how to kill Lupin - why'd she have to kill Lupin? Because she had to have a parallel double murder at the end that left the philosophical orphan in Teddy. So she's saying that these things seem arbitrary, but she has story-telling requirements that she is married to.
JG: She has said more than a few times, you guys know, that she is a character driven author. I want to - forgive me - to say B.S. to that. Character driven stories are stories that the character is - the writer is just sitting there with a pen channeling what the character wants to do in the story. There's no way that Lupin dies in these books, except for the story structure demands it. That is not character driven writing. That is story structure, shaped. She's not a prisoner to this form. In a way, it's liberating artistry. She knows what she wants to do in the front and the back halves, but to make this thing line up in the details that it does... For example, when you guys talk to your friends and say "What are your top favorite scenes in the books? What scenes really made your heart leap?", you get scenes like Sirius going through the veil in the Department of Mysteries. Well, the parallel chapter to that is Sirius in the House of Black talking to his insane female relation - his mother - behind a veil. He closes it off. In the direct parallel chapter, he gets blown through a veil by another insane female relation.
ES: [Eric laughs]
JG:: Now, there's a reason that death has a special resonance with us. It's because we've been set up in the way the story's told that way. How about when Dumbledore says he's not worried when he's being side-apparated out of the cave - he says, "I'm not worried Harry, because I am with you." Well, the chapter immediately across from it is when Harry and he go off on his adventure, and he says to Harry he doesn't need to worry because "you are with me."
JG: To have this back and forth reverse echo - that gives the story the punch that it has. The wow. When Harry winds up in the forest in Chamber of Secrets with Ron in the clearing with Aragog and the Acromantulas, we should expect to see the magical car appear - the wild Ford Anglia - because the chapter that is immediately opposite it is the only other appearance of the Ford Anglia in the entire series, when it flies them to Hogwarts.
ES: So, I've always thought of J.K. Rowling as a master, but this seems massive. What you're talking about is essentially no book could be completed until she'd written a parallel chapter for each chapter. I mean, this is something that would be a burden for anybody to do.
JG: [John laughs]
ES: Who in their right mind - or in J.K. Rowling - what kind of a person takes on something like this to do in their book?
JG:: A person whose mind is obsessed by patterns. One of the things - and you guys have gone all over her website, so you know - one of the things that J.K. Rowling is good at is a game called Minesweeper. Not only is she good at it, she's done the expert...You guys have all played Minesweeper?
KH: Yeah, absolutely.
ES: I was playing it long before I knew how to play it. [laughs] And then I found out, and I was like, "oh, patterns!"
MT: I still don't know how to play it.
ES:[laughs] It's okay, Micah, I'll teach you.
JG:: Rowling is this good that she has done the expert board on Minesweeper in less than 99 seconds. That puts her in the top 15 players in the world today. Unless she's lying through her teeth, and she doesn't strike me as the type of person who would lie about her Minesweeper score.
ES: [Eric laughs]
JG:: She has her insecurities, but I don't think she goes public with her Minesweeper score to defy us. She plays a lot of Minesweeper. She's said if she didn't play Minesweeper she'd be smoking, so, let her play Minesweeper. To be that good at it - those of you who play it know that basically Minesweeper is pattern recognition. You have to have instant recognition of pattern, a really almost intuitive recognition of pattern. And Rowling is borderline OCD with her patterns. For example, Eric, how about the scene where they come to Hogwarts - finally, they get Hogwarts - in Goblet of Fire. Do you remember what it's doing when they arrive at Hogwarts in Goblet of Fire?
KH: It's pouring.
JG:: It's pouring down rain, that's right. You lose a boy off the boat crossing over, we have Peeves throwing water balloons...they all arrive soaking wet. What's the parallel chapter?
ES: Hm. Keith? Do you know this?
KH: I'm trying to think of where that would be. That would be...
JG:: Think wet, guys.
KH: The second task.
ES: Oh, the second task!
JG:: The second task. This is not especially rocket science. After a while, you do the "Whoa!"
JG:: OH, that's why their all wet. What seemed to be arbitrary story elements instead are revealed as remarkable artistry. We can go book by book, if you want, and just pull these things out. They're all revealed in the charts that are in that pdf file.
ES: Oh, yeah...
MT: It's interesting though, because I'm looking at old show notes from MuggleCast - and this is back in 2007, shortly after Book 7 came out and the main discussion that we had was Book 1 and Book 7 parallels. I'm just looking at some things that were in the show notes. Talking about the Mirror of Erised vs. Sirius' mirror, The Man with Two Faces, Quirrell and Snape, anchors to life, the sorcerer's stone and horcruxes and hallows, and things like that. So...
JG:: Absolutely. I wrote Deathly Hallows...
MT: Those are just a few things...
JG:: I wrote Deathly Hallows lectures in 2007, published in 2008, and I had 35 parallels between the stories. When Ron does the Wingardium Leviosa thing, we've got - the whole story structure in terms of the escape on the motorcycle. These formula elements - there's more than 35, I think we're up to 47 now - direct story parallels between Stone and Hallows.
KH: Just to back up - Wingardium Leviosa, you're talking about is the troll in the dungeon, in the bathroom...
JG:: That's right.
KH: ...so when Hermione says to him "Are you a wizard or what?" and he has to Wingardium Leviosa the knot in the tree at the Whomping Willow, correct?
JG:: That's the parallel, because...
JG:: ...when they fall into the Devil's Snare, when they go down miles beneath Hogwarts, Hermione wants to start a fire - she starts looking for matches and wood and whatever, and he [Ron] says "Are you a witch, or what?" That - you have a double parallel there in that one scene. But again, if you go to the Deathly Hallows lectures, in the appendix I've got 35 of these things laid out. It's not especially subtle. This kind of beats you in the head, as Micah points out. The wild thing is to make the connections then with Goblet of Fire and see how this begins to line up. It's even more fascinating in - this is a discussion we've had on Hogwarts Professor, my website - about how the first book is the red stage of alchemy in reverse, that it's the rubedo. A lot of features with Hagrid in the first book, just as there is in the last book is the rubedo of being the crisis. The last book is the rubedo completed, the rubedo in the first book is just this failed experiment. They already have the philosopher's stone in the beginning of the book, but they destroy it - so the rest of the series is largely about its reconstruction, about the path to life. And what do we fine in the last book, is the real path to eternal life - it's sacrificial love that takes you to death. You die to yourself, then you rise from the dead. That's - she takes the entire series to bring us back to that philosopher's stone meaning in this rubedo echo. I'm sorry if that seems really heavy, but Rowling is operating - when she was interviewed by Larry King in 2000, you guys remember this, she was asked if she ever dreamt it would be this big. She since walked us back a little bit and said she did think it might be big - she dreamt it would be big - but to Larry King she said, "You know, I thought this would become a book that would be loved by obsessives..."
ES: [Eric laughs]
JG:: That people who were really crazy about - basically, I'll fill in the blanks here, that are crazy about details and structures. Not only does she have a host of symbolic hat tips and literary names dropped in here that obsessives could - that Star Trekkie-type fans could drool over forever - but the structures themselves are so detailed. That's, I think, believe it or not, her principal artistry. And she's pointing it out in her interviews. It's as if she wants to talk about it, but she can't. She talks about completing the circle in her DVD extra - she's not seriously being subtle. She's basically saying, "Hey guys, what does my name mean? Row-ling." Rowling, guys.
ES: So, seeing J.K. Rowling committed to this straight structure in the Harry Potter books, where was there room for her to grow as a writer? Because if you ask fans and readers of the series, everybody says, "oh my god, the books are so much - she got so much better at it, and the books are so intense". But I feel like if you're committed to this structure the whole time, how is that allowing yourself to really change? Because essentially, you're staying the same.
JG:: Right. And I think she found some frustration at the end. The series is driven by the last third of Deathly Hallows. Everything comes down to that walk into the forest at the end of the last book, and I think by the end - she's 15 years into experiencing this story. I think she's a little frustrated that she was locked in. She was on a railroad line. She had to write the finish as it had been planned. I'm not sure if as a person she was the same person that she was 15 years ago. I know I'm not the same person I was 15 years ago, praise God, and I'm sure you guys aren't either.
ES: [Eric laughs]
JG:: But she was locked into that, and she finished it off beautifully. Really, I don't know about you guys, but I was sweating thinking could this book be an absolute turkey? Can you say Breaking Dawn? Could this book be an absolute disaster?
ES: [Eric laughs]
JG:: Instead it was a symphonic conclusion. It was a finale that raised the whole series to an entirely different level, because it was really the beginning of the whole series. It's what drove the whole thing. How she grew as an artist was really with - for example, the ring composition of the last two books has a double beginning and a double middle and a double end. She has a parallel ring happening inside the books. The books become much more complex as you get to 5, 6, and 7. She's doing tap dances inside of her ring theory that she wouldn't even have attempted in Book 1. And Book 1 has 'Quirrelldemort' doing magic without a wand - I mean, we're talking about things that are really bizarre. She hasn't gotten her feet under herself yet really, so there are some mistakes. There are only 17 chapters - that may be because they cut a lot of it. But the way she saw the whole thing, it explodes really after Goblet of Fire. The artistry is significantly richer after Goblet of Fire.
KH: So you're saying basically she had more freedoms with...
KH: ...her writing at the end - because by the time 4 came out, she was immensely popular worldwide already...
JG:: No restrictions. Basically, you have successful...
KH: Yeah, exactly. No restrictions. There's very little editing going on at all.
JG:: To bring up Eric's point, this structure isn't limiting in any way. Basically you're saying when you say, "Gosh, she was a prisoner of this form", that's like saying the prophets of the Pentituke were prisoners of a form, or that Homer and Shakespeare were prisoners of a form. Yes, they used that form, but that form liberates them really, because it creates a reaction inside the reader that becomes so meaningful which is so powerful that it's not something you want to ignore or deny, but to let yourself to something better. This is a fairly - and again, this is Mary Douglas, the anthropologist - this is not just the west. She talks about the poems of Rumi, medieval Chinese novels - this is a universal story form, this turtle-back structure. Rowling is jumping into it, I think with the alchemical formula specifically, that string of English literature. But this is not a happy action, one tool in your box type thing. This is the prince of tools. What is that tool that the repair that the repairman has on their belt that has all the tools on it? This is that tool. What do you call that, a leatherman?
ES: A swiss army knife, or anything...
JG:: That's right. This is the magic box itself. Rowling's mastery of it, especially when she's liberated from any kind of concerns about being edited and such - what a remarkable thing. Here you have an artist who basically gets a lucky break and gets published, and the book by word and mouth and such takes off, she gets picked up because of Alan [Arthur] Levine's insight, gets brought to the United States, explodes into Pottermania...and now she's free, if you will, to write the books at the length and the depths that she wants to. And she's always said she wrote the books for herself. She didn't write the books for kids, she didn't write the books for anybody specifically in mind. She wrote them for herself. These are the books that she likes to read. Well, what are the books that she likes to read? She talks about A Tale of Two Cities having the best line in English literature - A Tale of Two Cities is literary alchemy, it's three books. It has the white book, the black book, and the red book, and it's all about resurrection imagery. He's writing basically a Shakespearean drama in the Shakespearean restoration of the early 19th century. Rowling loves that book, and she sees it in C.S. Lewis, she sees it in Jules Verne I'm sure, she's a French major. All the things that - all of Verne's adventures are ring composition with immediate parallels back across the thing. This is - Rowling just recognizes this. You...
KH: John, let me ask you a question really quick, on the turtle-back. I'm still confused about the difference between the turtle-back and the ring composition. Now, you're talking about what Ms. Douglas talks about with the turtle-back, correct?
JG:: Right. I mean, no, that's not my expression. She talks about a ring, and how it has to have these parallel analogies across the axis' of the book. So again, draw a circle in your head...
JG:: ...and where your finger starts is the beginning, and where it loops around again is the end. Draw a line that cuts that circle right in half, and the line on the opposite side from the beginning of the end is the middle. It's the big turn. And it's a pronounced turn, usually a secret place, or a hidden thing - but it's a big turn in the book. The chapters just before and after the beginning and the end, and the ones beginning before and after the middle - these chapters are in parallel. So you're going to see similar scenes, you're going to see the same set of characters. You're going to see action, which is either a reversal like a mirror, or a direct parallel that are across the ways. Now if you draw the lines in across that split circle, you have what I call a turtle-back.
KH: Okay, now I get it.
JG:: It's as if you're looking at a turtle from above. You have those lines across the top of it. And that is the principal story structure. Now, when you lay out a 38 chapter book, it looks a lot different then the 17 chapter book for Philospher's Stone. The longer the stories get, the more complex these parallels get. But you have absurd things, you have absurd stuff where the two really wild and crazy things that happen inside Deathly Hallows are the scenes where the terrible trio are out camping, and just by happy accident, they wind up next to the steam where there are a couple of magical creatures, and two wizard on the run. And they put out their extendable ears and listen in on their conversation. Now, as absurd as that possibility is - that in all of the United Kingdom, they happen to just land next to two wizards and magical creatures - but as absurd as that is, the parallel chapter is where the other crazy scene, is where Ron happens to say the right magical word at the right moment while waving his wand over his radio, his magical radio. And then he gets to hear the stories of the people that they listened to by extendable ears in the parallel chapter. Those two chapters...
JG:: ...are the height of the absurdity inside of this book. The beginning of that chapter is when Harry buries Mad-Eye Moody's eyeball. Well, what is the password for the end of the chapter where theyâre on the radio? Whatâs the password for the next time you want to listen in to Potterwatch?
ES:: Keith, you got this.
KH: I donât know, Iâm trying to think.
JG: Itâs Madeye. She has the beginning of the one chapter mentioned at the end of the last chapter - and again, these are direct mirror reflections of one another. They're backwards. I mean, these kind of things - you start to see them and you bang your head against the wall. They're just so funny. He gets to hear about all of the characters - he gets to hear the fate of all the people that were spoken about on the riverbank. He gets to hear them talking in the second one, and he gets to hear about the characters that were lost on the riverbank. Again, those kinds of things you can say just happened by accident - but that's really sort of a patronizing dismissal of Rowling's artistry, in that this is deliberate. I can't see how it could be anything but deliberate. Now, let's say it wasn't deliberate. Let's say Ms. Rowling comes out tomorrow and says, "No, I didn't mean to do that. All of those parallels were totally arbitrary. I have nothing to do with âI am with youâ, âyou are with meâ, that kind of thing..."
KH: Yeah, you're just looking too far into it.
JG: Yeah. That Dobby only appears in three chapters in Chamber of Secrets, and they happen to be the beginning, the middle, and the end chapters - totally accidental. Dobby isn't the overarching theme of that book. What would that tell us? One, the fact that Rowling wants to use this thing and that she just wants to downplay it - but I would just say, so what? Because what this tool does - and we won't know Rowling's mind unless she wants to tell it to us, and that really shouldn't be the focus of the conversation. What does the text tell us? The text tells us - the text screams at us - she's writing a traditional ring. She's a literary alchemist in a demonstrated tradition, which - Shakespeare is the foundation of the entire western canon. He's a profound literary alchemist. Romeo and Juliet, King Leer, Marc Antony and Cleopatra - they're all written on strict alchemical formulas, and the western tradition largely launches from that base, especially after Coleridge and the Shakespearean restoration. Shakespeare was largely forgotten for several centuries, but after Coleridge revives Shakespeare with the Romantics, we get this again as our foundation. So, McDonald, Tolkien, Lewis, Barfield, etc., Elizabeth Goudge, who wrote Little White Horse - they used these things to the max. Little White Horse is overblown with all sorts of alchemical energy, of the sun, the moon, silver, gold, etc. Rowling gets this. She hasn't studied this in school - she gets it as a serious reader, trying to figure out how to best tell stories, and she delivers this story for obsessives which has enchanted the entire world.
ES: Hm. So you're saying primarily with this ring theory, and a reason for writing it - because she is, as you say, obsessive - but also a reason for writing it as that a lot of people are responding to this ring format. That this is what works; that the greatest literature is done this way.
JG: That's right. Frankly Eric, when you write this way, do you ever write a different way? We know that C.S. Lewis - you take his Space Trilogy, his first science fiction novels, his first fantasy piece really - and each one of them are rings. It's a three set alchemical dance; black, white, and red. When you get to Narnia - well, Michael Ward has demonstrated that it's on a seven planet theme as well. He doesn't know about the alchemy, but there's no astrology without alchemy in literature.
JG: But each one of his books - you don't start writing in rings, and then stop. You write in rings for a reason. Because it delivers meaning - it delivers an effect. You want - because what happens when you read a book is alchemical. You elide with the subject inside the book. You identify with the characters - if it's a good story. You identify with the characters, you become them, and experience some shadow of what they experience. And Harry's experience every year is a resurrection. I mean, he dies a death in front of a symbol of Christ every single year, until the last book, where he rises as a symbol of Christ himself. And Rowling is delivering - again, this is English literature as Christian literature.
JG: And you can't - you don't have to be a Christian to buy into this, you just need have to - it's like Tibetan literature is Buddhists. If you want to object to Tibetan literature being Buddhist, you better study something besides Tibetan literature, because it's Buddhist. Christian literature really until the second world war is exclusively Christians writing for other Christians for the greater life in Christ. Now, Rowling - she's a dinosaur in a way, in that she takes elements from this. She doesn't have any philosophical or denominational baggage that she's trying to sell to anybody; there's no alter call inside of these books. But what she's delivering is the human longing for a victory over death through sacrificial love. And that's universal. That's not - Christians don't own that. What they do own is the imagery and the techniques to deliver this powerfully, and Rowling - she has that by the throat. She is the master. Stephenie Meyer is pretty good - she's writing an entirely different genre, in harlequin romance as opposed to schoolboy novels. Suzanne Collins in her Hunger Games books probably is a threat to Rowling as a master, both alchemical literature. Every one of her - the Capitol - The Hunger Games sets pieces of a black, a white, and a red thing, and involved a Christ figure in having a sacrificial death inside the books. It's a remarkable hat-tip to Rowling and the tradition, but that type of artistry, these type of writers, these brilliant women writers - they get that it works. Why would they use something else? I wrote about this in an article for Christianity Today - they said "What now?" after the last Harry Potter book, and I wrote an article for them called "Harry is Here to Stay', and explained how Rowling has really transformed two things. First of all, she's transformed our expectations of what we want from a book. We expect something now from a book that's greater than The Hardy Boys, or...
,b>JG: ...even the so-called literary novel. We expect to be transported and transformed inside a book. We expect a kind of alchemical high, or a "wow" from the book. Well, the only books that have come close to meeting that standard have been Twilight and The Hunger Games, and they both use formulas straight from Harry Potter. Everything from logo epistemology, literary alchemy, the ring composition, the soul triptych - the three character set piece or whatever. They take these things from Harry Potter because these smart writers understand that this is now what readers expect. This is what we want, and what we expect from these types of series. They borrow the same formula elements because they see that Rowling has tapped into the mother load. They use...
JG: They use entirely different genres, but they get similar effects.
KH: Let me ask you this, then. C.S. Lewis is obviously classical literature now, Shakespeare is obviously classical literature - all of these references you've given to us throughout this whole conversation are absolute literary classics. Do you think Rowling, based on the way she wrote this - not just how popular the series is but just the whole structure of her format - do you think this will live on as classical literature and be studied, similarly to how Shakespeare has been written and studied?
JG: Absolutely. Here's the thing - first of all, come on. Four of us guys are sitting here talking about these books, and we're the ones who are skeptical that these books will last? Obviously, these books have tremendous meaning and importance to us.
KH: Obviously we're not skeptical, but we hope that they last like that.
JG: James Thomas, the author of several books on Harry Potter - Repotting Harry Potter , etc. He's a professor for 30 years - an English professor at Pepperdine University in California. He said to Time magazine in 2007 that there are three hallows that keep Harry Potter out of the canon, and that is that they are too current, too juvenile, and too popular.
JG: Right now, those three big strikes are against Rowling. But 500 million copies speak to the fact that she has made contact with readers on a universal basis in a way that no other author in history - outside of maybe Chairman Mao, who had a different distribution system - has ever met his or her readers. This book - this series of books - has resonated with people not only in terms of their culture and of their postmodern expectations, but in really what it means to be human. The joke used to be that Osama Bin Laden was playing with Harry Potter action figures in his cave - this is a...
JG: I wonder if he was distracted in the raid, like "Oh my goodness, gotta grab my toys!"
ES: I've never heard that joke.
JG: Anyway - that's how universal her stories are. We all know stories of people that have gone to the absolute edges of the earth and found a kid there with a Harry Potter t-shirt. No running water, no electricity - and the kid's got a Harry Potter t-shirt on. That's reach in a way that speaks to artistry and media in a profound level. I don't see how anyone can doubt these books will be read as long as we're around, because we see empirically a connection between writer, reader, and story that is unparalleled. Nothing comes close. Maybe Dickens - and Dickens obviously didn't have the distribution, didn't have that kind of reach. But even Dickens didn't have the depth or the touch that Rowling did. She stopped traffic everywhere. This is an amazing event - do you really expect this will ever happen again in our lifetimes?
JG: No. Even Ms. Rowling - forgive me, I have to suspect is burned out - I think she's got Tolkien syndrome. She'll be telling parts of the story again and again, but 17 years of your life, the prime of your life, invested into one story...as magnificent as it is, where do you go from there? You go downhill - where do you restart on that? Now, I hope she proves me wrong. I really do.
ES: I was going to say, do you think she's afraid of that? Do you think she's afraid of - is that why she hasn't putting anything out, is that why we haven't heard about anything?
JG: She has nothing to be afraid of. One of the reasons I think she doesn't talk about ring composition - except obliquely - is because she's going to use it in her next book. And if you know, Eric, this is the formula, the first thing you do when you open the book is read it straight-through one time, but then you're going to go to the last chapters...
JG: ...and go back and forth to see where it meets in the middle. But writers love that, in my experience. I talked to Lev Grossman about The Magicians books. People that write at that level, they want readers to be admiring the backstory - the scaffolding that's holding the thing up. They want you go to back there and break open the lock and see how it works, because that's where most of their genius is. Rowling doesn't have magisterial language. She has common points, this and that - but there's never a point where you hear the angels singing, right? There's no great moment in there where you do the "Oh my goodness, that language, she's a poet!" moments. That isn't where her power is. Her power is in structure and planning. You guys have read the interviews. Every time she's asked what it takes to be a great writer, she says "planning, planning, planning". Well, what do you think she was planning?
JG: Was she really consumed with how she could deceive us all about whether Hermione would end up with Ron or Harry? Do you really think that was the big plan?
ES/KH:[Eric and Keith laughs]
MT: I was wondering though, because...
JG: You break this book down into rings, you can see the plan. When she had that interview she did on BBC3, she was talking to a man that was very intelligent, and was asked about the story's structure. She laid out - I think it was Order of the Phoenix - she laid out the whole novel on the table, and she said "This part meets with this part, etc., and I've got 12 points of parallel inside the story." Now, there she was, talking about it - but she wouldn't let him look too closely.
JG: It's in the planning, it's in the gut, and - I'm kind of embarrassed. Part of me is doing the "I read the books quite seriously for six or seven years, I've got several books published on the subject, and I missed the fundamental structure of the books until a couple of years after the last one came out?" That's kind of embarrassing. I'm not really offering myself here as the Gilderoy great revealer who has finally broken the code, but it is pretty important. This really opens the game of Potter studies, or Rowling studies to a whole new level, where we really have to understand these are not character driven books, these are not comic school-boy novels with gothic touches. This is ring composition, literary alchemy on steroids. She has to be cataloged with the real greats of the English imaginative tradition.
MT: One of the things I wanted to ask you off of what you were talking about just before with sort of the overall success of J.K. Rowling - how much do you think that has to do with the rise of the internet? Sort of at the same time as her books were being published and coming out, in terms of the reach of that - do you think that made a difference?
JG: The world has become a much smaller place, obviously. The four of us are talking - we've got a guy in Chicago, a guy in Pennsylvania, a guy in Long Island, a guy in Oklahoma City - and we're talking like we're at the same table having a few beers. This kind of communication that wasn't even possible, wasn't even imaginable really 20 years ago is now commonplace. Rowling, the fandom she invented - not personally, her fandom invented this really. When Twilight exploded, when Hunger Games exploded - it immediately took on the models of the Harry Potter fandom. You got a Twilight lexicon, you had a - I don't know if you had a CapitolHungerGames.net or whatever it is - but we see these parallels in the fantoms, that these things explode now because we can all talk about these books with friends from all over the world that way we never could have done before. Maybe never wanted to before, but now we have this paradigm. Certainly, that's a large part of the incomprehensible reach of these stories globally - but I think it's the stories much more than the Internet, because no other story has done it since. If it were just the Internet, then we'd be seeing it all the time. People who say that Rowling just got lucky and that this was by a great promotional thing - they misunderstand booksellers and publishers. If this were a function just of publicity, we'd have a Harry Potter every other week. This is a function of storytelling. And yes: marketing, and promotion, and movies and such catapulted to heights - to the stars - but you can't say that those things are at base the cause of this type of mania. The "Potter Panic," Harry Potter Mania" - it's the stories that make all those - the product that gives all those things their reach, or their stretch. Twilight has sold maybe a third of the books - and there are fewer Twilight books obviously - but it's only a sold a third of the Harry Potter books because it really isn't the artistry of the seven book set. Hunger Games is only three books, it's set all sorts of records on Kindle, I'm sure it'll sell a boat-load more when these movies come out. It may be even superior in the artistry - it's entirely different genre, there's no comedy in it at all, really.
JG: It's gruesome. But I walked away from Mockingjay, the last Hunger Games book, and I wasn't the same for three days. That book is a jackhammer to your forehead. But it's built in the same structures - the same story structure and formula that Rowling uses. Which, come on - Suzanne Collins has an MFA from NYU, she's no hack. This is no, "Hey, maybe I'll write a story about kids killing each other in a stadium..."
JG: This is a certifiable artist. She reads Harry Potter. You read the Gregor the Overlander books - the six Gregor the Overlander books that Suzanne Collins wrote before The Hunger Games - and there are a lot of Harry Potter parallels, the same story structure, scaffolding that she uses in The Hunger Games in terms of how many chapters she has in the three sections of each book or whatever, but you don't have any of the grabbing power that you do in The Hunger Games.
MT: But specifically what you were referring to - and I guess I'll say spoiler alert right here for anyone who hasn't read the Hunger Games...
ES: Aww crap! I'm gonna mute myself!
MT: If you want to put yourself on mute.
***SPOILER ALERT FOR 'THE HUNGER GAMES' BEGINS HERE***
***To read what Micah says - Highlight the next section***
MT: But you are sort of talking about the whole idea with Katinss going ahead and entering the Hunger Games on behalf of her sister, only for her sister to die at the end of the book.
ES: Aw, son of a bitch, I knew that though. [laughs]
MT: I did it ok? We issued a spoiler alert so weâre alright. Weâll black out this in the transcript and have people highlight over it if they want to read it.
JG: Not only do we have a series ring in what you just described in the death of Primrose. The big thing is the meadow that she opens with by going to the meadow to see Gale or whatever. She winds up in the meadow as a graveyard in the last book. Where she goes with the man she winds up with, I wonât ruin that for you Eric.
ES: I know itâs not the one she should have ended up with. Is that good enough John?
JG: No! She winds up with exactly who she should wind up with, believe me.
ES: Oh, the parallels say so donât they? [laughs]
JG: Hello? Hello?
ES: I know, I know!
JG: His name means bread. This guy she winds up with is the guy who saves her in the beginning and he winds up saving her in the end at the same place. I mean again, itâs a large ring and I know Micah sitting there doing the- aw I see it. Again, when you understand what a ring formula is you start to slap your head and do the âOh there it is!â
MT: Yeah exactly, itâs how you just said, itâs like a sledge hammer to your head because youâre reading Mockingjay and then it just happens and you say âWhat just happened?â
JG: It seems arbitrary and yet thereâs still some wild fascination and power to it that an arbitrary event wouldnât have. And thatâs ring composition. That means that your heart recognizes the beginning of the story being answered and finished and closed. Anyway, I donât want to say too much about The Hunger Games other than to say that Suzanne Collins is an artist of the first rank. We lose track of this again because of the âtoo popular, too current, too juvenileâ hex that are put on these series. You still canât say Stephenie Meyerâs name in serious company without people rolling their eyeballs or putting their finger in their throat as if theyâre going to heave. But she has made a connection with readers that the great great majority of writers only dream of.
ES: That's true.
JG: That people havenât looked at her books the same way makes these things work. Len Grossman of Time Magainze he dared to say, âHey we got to figure out why Twilight sells more books in one month than the greatest literary novel of our time sold in five years.â Why is that? And as serious readers and writers we have to come to terms with that. Itâs not just because these books are trash and people have no taste. Thatâs to demean a whole set of readers, adult readers, that do have taste, that are gripped by these books. The same way they are gripped by â you guys remember this. When being a Harry Potter fan meant that you had some sort of delayed childhood or that you had some sort of mental challenges that you were trying to deal with medication by Harry Potter. Suddenly though, around Goblet of Fire, they found out that they were selling more of those books to adults and the mean began to change. Where it wasnât just this stupid woman on a dole who wrote these books and crazies âit was all these girls right? Here are four guys talking about these books. There is not a woman present.
JG: And we remember the time when that was like Twilight. How is that possible, right? Well, again, we have to look at these books and ask ourselves âWhat are these books delivering? How are they being delivered that is causing this similar response across that kind of spectrum. And youâll have to go back to Harry Potter again and again because itâs got the source material, where the fabric of reality is intelligence or mind. Thatâs a theme right through Hunger Games and TwilightThatâs why Edward has his ability to read minds, is that thereâs this fabric of reality beneath all things. Thatâs why Harry when he gets to that place at Kingâs Cross and Dumbledore asks him that question that Rowling says is the key to the entire series. Itâs all about love and mind being the fabric of reality. âIs this real or all in my head?â âOf course itâs in your head why would you think itâs not real?â That line says that everything is essentially thought. Thatâs a direct lurch right back to the inside being bigger than the outside theme of the Narnia books. Rowlingâs artistry is now bleeding right into the culture. How many of you have read the Chaos Walking books by Patrick Ness?
ES: Oh, I must say I did not.
KH: Nope, me neither.
JG: Oh my goodness. Again, a bit gruesome, itâs a bit like Hunger Games with a dystopian series.
JG: But if you like The Hunger Gamesyouâll love Chaos Walking. In that book, hereâs the thing, they land on a planet and on this planet, all menâs thoughts can be heard as if theyâre speaking. But no womenâs thoughts can be heard. Alright now just on that premise, go from there.
JG: No manâs thoughts can be concealed. He writes a story with just that as a backdrop where your thinking is wide open and your thinking is what causes all things to happen. Again, thatâs English imaginative literature trope. Owen Barfield taught that to C.S. Lewis that the universe is mental, that all things are our participation in a cosmic logic. That how you think, is actually the metaphysical cause of existence. This logos, cause of existence. Thatâs in Narnia, thatâs in Harry Potter. Thatâs why the inside is always bigger than the outside in Harry Potter. Thatâs why Hermioneâs bag is bigger than a U-Haul truck.
ES/JG:[Eric and John laugh]
JG: The Weasleyâs car is so big on the inside, the tent is the Hilton Hotel, the Room of Requirement is bigger than Hogwarts. The inside being bigger than the outside is because whatâs beneath and behind and within things is what makes them come into reality. The inside is not just atoms and molecules, but really love and thought. Once you tap into that, thatâs why love is the greatest power as Dumbledore tries to continually tell Harry. Rowling's trying to drive that home. So Harry dies in sacrificial love for his friends. He has in that, not only vanquish the Dark Lord but conquered death. Heâs conquered himself! Heâs died entirely to his individual self and tapped into this reality which is the cause of all things. Again, hence the importance of Dumbledoreâs comment to Harry at Kingâs Cross. But Rowling, she never tells you what her books mean, but she gives you lines of sight. She tells you got to look at those epigraphs in Deathly Hallows. She tells you you got to read those scripture headstones. Really study Harryâs walk into the forest and that conversation with Dumbledore at Kingâs Cross. Thatâs the key to the entire series. What is Kingâs Cross? Kingâs Cross is the definition of the center. The center is what defines the circle. The Ravenclaw door thing, âWhich came first, the phoenix or the flame? A circle has no beginning.â
KH: No beginning.
JG: But âthe circle has no beginningâ is the origin of the thing, you canât see the origin of the circle, which is the center. Because itâs the cause itâs actually bigger, itâs greater than the circle that it causes. And whatâs the second Ravenclaw question? âWhere do vanished objects go? Into non-being, which is to say into everything.â And this goes back to the medieval formula that God is a sphere whose center is everywhere, whose periphery is nowhere. That the center is where he goes to at Kingâs Cross. What does the cross define? It defines the center point. Harry comes to Kingâs Cross, he knows all things. This is dull Harry, Harry who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, knowâs everything at Kingâs Cross. Dumbledore says to him fourteen times in seven pages, âAs you know, Harry.â Those comments alone show that Harry has gone to this big center. Now why is the center important in terms of this conversation about ring composition? Because, this whole novel is about this resolution of contraries. The beginning, the middle, the end, the left and the right parallels are all to bring you to that center. To bring you to that experience of metaphysics really.
JG: Of what brings you into existence. Thatâs what story is supposed to do. To make you step out of yourself, transcend yourself and come to some awareness of your heart, which is where this metaphysical center is. Eye of the heart, etc. That is the spiritual content of these books, which is what makes them so universally popular. And Rowling, because she uses these tools, is doing it deliberately. This is not a philosophical treatise, this is not a denominational alter-call. This is literature at its best.
KH: It is literature at its best. The passion that you have here is just unbelievable John. I think Eric is just going to be talking about this non-stop for the next two weeks.
KH: Seriously, heâs that type who will go on and on and talk about this. Is this okay for us to promote your book a little bit, to promote your pdf here for you?
JG: I donât want to make any money, Keith. Iâm not here to make money.
KH: No, no, no, no, no. But you know what? The passion needs to go out to the fans and however they need to get a hold of it, thatâs what we need to do.
JG: Again, I gave this talk to The Group-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. They were very generous and kind and said they were blown away. I went home, they asked me to send notes. I decided to just put the notes up, the charts and an introduction.
KH: Thatâs what we want to do for our fans. We want to put this together on your behalf, and get it available to these people cause this is dynamic talk here. It really is.
JG: Yeah, if you want the stuff on the eyeballs, and the Kingâs Cross stuff, the Deathly Hallows lecture has been out since 2008 and you can really get into the Coleridge stuff, and the C.S. Lewis. But the ring stuff specifically, if you go to lulu.com. Just google Harry Potter as Ring Composition and Ring Cycle youâll get a link to a site that you can buy the book, itâs a small paperback book, or you can just download it as a pdf instantly.
Part II (Very Short)
You have it Keith?
KH: Yeah, I do have a copy of it.
JG: Itâs available now, but again, I have only scratched the surface. Every time I open up these books, I find more because once you see it youâre amazed. And you realize this is a very intelligent woman who spent five years, and then the ten, twelves years writing the doggone thing, where she pulled it out and pulled it together in greater detail. The thing is weâll almost never ever reach the bottom of it. Now sheâs adding new stuff on Pottermore, this is endless.
KH: Well, Iâll tell you what, I think weâre gonna have this circle right here where you said that youâll never, ever read the stories the same way again. You said that in the very beginning and Iâm gonna say it right now. After hearing all this, I donât think Iâll be able to read these stories again in the same manner as I once did. All this material is just unbelievable, and all the research that you have in this pdf form, it has got to get out to the fans and weâre going to help you do that.
ES: Speaking of circles, weâd love to talk to you again either about this or whatever youâre doing in the future.
JG: Thatâs great! Obviously Iâve had a hard time here guys, this has been a really painful experience.
ES/KH/MT:[Eric, Keith, and Micah laugh]
KH: Yeah, right?
JG: Pardon my sarcasm. Seriously, four guys, sitting around a table chatting about this kind of stuff. I could do this forever.
JG: It gets back again and again to what story does, and this is something that we never talked about in school. You had to read books, but they never told you why, and we didnât have that kind of âwowâ experience ever in a book that was required. Believe me, none of us waited up at midnight for a new edition of A Separate Peaceto come out.
JG: This is not something that we got in school. Weâve experienced it inside Harry Potter. Mircea Eliade said that in a secular culture, story and entertainment serve a mythical religious function. And in the best of English literature because it has this metaphysical foundation and intention. It delivers that kind of mythical religious function in a way that nothing else does. Anyway, sure - anytime you guys want to talk, you know where I live.