Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Harry Potter Lexicon

Steve Vander Ark's Harry Potter Lexicon not only cannot be published in print form, but has been taken down. Yesterday I was angry about this. Today I am very sad.

What transformed the Harry Potter books from the poorly-written, under-edited, over-derivative things they are into a global phenomenon of communal joy and squee was the appropriative, taxonomic, and imaginative labour of readers and fans, who filled in the plot holes and filled out the characterization. The Harry Potter universe is a collaborative one, from the moment one child sits alone in her bedroom and opens Philosopher's Stone to the moment that the folks over on InsaneJournal create an archive of classic HP fanfic, nominated and voted for by fans. If 'Snape' is anything, he's the creation of Jill Murphy (Miss Hardbroom), Antonia Forest (Miss Cromwell), J K Rowling, Alan Rickman, Christopher Colombus, Alfonso, Cuaron, Mike Leigh, David Yates, Snaples, Telanu, and everyone else who's hated him or crushed on him or drawn him or wondered whether he's a good guy or a bad guy. And the Lexicon was a concrete manifestation of that collaborative, fannish, readerly, analytical work. I'm absolutely miserable that imaginative, as well as financial, control of that universe has been granted to Rowling/Bloomsbury/Warner Brothers.

And also, you know, I miss the Lexicon. It was a nice site, and it meant that when I needed to check the name of some character or find out how many people had been given the Order of Merlin and what for, I could find out without having to comb through three or four thousand pages of print. I should have figured out how to archive it, I suppose, but I never thought it would really be gone.

Thanks for all your work, Steve Vander Ark and all the other Lexicon contributors. It was a fantastic resource, and I'm really going to miss it.

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