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The power of words


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In reflecting on the events of my life that have impacted me, I returned to the night of August 1, 2006. I found myself in Row G of Radio City Music Hall in New York City sitting by my mother, not at all tired, although we had flown from Las Vegas to Syracuse the day before, and my family had driven five hours to the city for “An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp,” a charity event with readings by three authors. The excitement rushing through me kept me awake and alert; I was standing and applauding a tiny blonde woman with amazing silver snake shoes as she prepared to read.

The Harry Potter series was my gateway drug into my intellectual puberty. I was so fascinated by the Harry Potter world that my mother began taking me to academic conferences focused on the books. Beginning with The Witching Hour in 2005, through Lumos, Prophecy, Portus, and Azkatrz in 2009, I have attended presentations about the Latin etymology of terms and spells, the mythical tales of the artifacts, and the idea of literary alchemy. These books opened my eyes to the whole world, and to knowledge itself. They were the stimulus that kept my brain working over the summers. More importantly, they helped me adopt the philosophy useful in school and beyond, that there is always another way to do something, or to perceive an issue. With uncertainty and doubt, comes innovation and new ways to look at problems that may result in new, different, faster and easier solutions. And all this came from a little “magic,” from a book that many people see as a series for children.

Along with fans and students from many countries, I attended lectures about Ms. Rowling’s ability to beautifully craft the saga, with every painstakingly small detail connected to something else. For example, Dr. John Granger, a “Potter Pundit” who has written several critical and religious-based analyses of the books, reminded the audience that Harry’s (and his mother Lily’s) green eyes owe a literary debt to Dante’s Beatrice. From Jonathan Swift to Chaucer to Dickens and Austin, I learned that like all great books, Rowling’s stories fostered a connection across mind, body, and soul. Although the series has been criticized by those who believe it corrupts children and teaches witchcraft, I was able to hear discussions by those who purported that, like the Bible, these books teach wonderful messages if one goes beyond the literal level to the allegorical. It is my generation’s shared text; all college freshmen are familiar with the stories, and that gives us a set of common beliefs and ideas that can serve as a springboard to new learning.

As I sat surrounded by avid fans and scholars of John Irving, Steven King, and J.K. Rowling, it gave me hope that this country will not be consumed by the mundane. With so much emphasis on physical aspects of life, and the material and sexual focus of the messages thrown at us by the media, it would be easy to become jaded or depressed. But I am not worried. I have been surrounded by 6000 people, all of whom paid good money, not for a sporting event or a concert, but to hear authors read their work. I have evidence that words on a page can change not only my life, but the world.




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This article has 156 comments. Post your own!

lady red said...
May 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm:

welll i think that harry potter books are sooooooooooooooooooo lame and that are full of lies and crapy fanazy and i hate them they are boaring and preaty fat.... dont get but hurt i just dont like reading... dont take it personalll... j.k laters

 

 
BaabbiiGirll101 replied...
Jun. 7, 2011 at 11:30 am :
i agree with you..harry potter is a very boring subject to write about or even read as a matter of fact
 
kjohn102 replied...
Jun. 13, 2011 at 3:41 am :
Lady red, from the state of your spelling abilities, I'd say it's pretty obvious that you dont like to read. I mean, "boaring".. honestly?? I suggest you re-read the books, you might learn something from them.
 
Jessica G. replied...
Nov. 11, 2011 at 9:37 am :
When you say that you don't like reading in general, no one is going to take your opinion on any book seriously (especially not with that spelling).
 
That_BookaholicGirl replied...
Aug. 21, 2012 at 10:18 am :
So she writes "jk" at the end of her comment which in text talk means "just kidding". So does this mean she means the opposite of everything she wrote in her comment? 
 
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Michellex3 said...
Apr. 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm:

"These books opened my eyes to the whole world, and to knowledge itself. They were the stimulus that kept my brain working over the summers. More importantly, they helped me adopt the philosophy useful in school and beyond, that there is always another way to do something, or to perceive an issue. With uncertainty and doubt, comes innovation and new ways to look at problems that may result in new, different, faster and easier solutions. And all this came from a little “magic,” fro... (more »)

 
Michellex3 replied...
Apr. 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm :

OOPS! SORRY! I had just been on a college essay when I was linked over to this, so I thought that this was one too. My bad. Disregard my earlier comment.

 

ANYWAY, as an article, this was really well done! (:

 
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sincerely_anna This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm:
If words change the world, then soon we're going to have a very different world than the one we live in now. With public education in the U.S. failing a plethora of children, future generations will not have the skills to harness the power of words. In my college essay, which has been posted on this site, I discuss how a single school can be a microcosm of the entired failing system. Check it out, if you'd like.
 
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Vikram K. said...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 3:59 am:
decent essay, lacked a bit of personal touch
 
Sdf S. replied...
Jun. 14, 2012 at 12:14 am :
not constructive
 
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ascend said...
Apr. 15, 2011 at 9:02 am:
Well written, however, I personally don't see much substance or message in the Harry Potter books and think they can be a waste of time. Unless someone can enlighten me.
 
Jessica G. replied...
Nov. 11, 2011 at 9:44 am :
I wonder if you have really taken the time to read between the lines. I think that the series teaches great lessons about bravery, love, loyalty, and sacrifice. I think it also teaches that it's okay to be different, and that sometimes people that we perceive to be bad are actually afraid or misunerstood.
The substance in most books are going to be what you take out of them, just like any experience in life is what you make of it. If you don't try to look for deeper meanings to things, they... (more »)
 
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xobumblebeex said...
Mar. 16, 2011 at 10:44 am:
Your essay was outstanding! it really makes me want to read the harry potter series. This was amazing! you gave me inspiration.
 
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BitterSweet1993 said...
Mar. 10, 2011 at 8:45 am:
I have never picked up a Harry Potter book and completed it. I have of course watched all the movies. But you make me want ot read them. This was fantastic.
 
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BigJoe92 said...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm:

ENCORE

ENCORE

ENCORE

 
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vestling92 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm:
i would take out the very first sentence -- seems a little superfluous. i'd rather see you leap right into the narration.
 
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Mohammad samar said...
Nov. 23, 2010 at 7:41 am:
hey i like your essay,its pretty cool.good job buddy.
 
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crash said...
Nov. 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm:
wow what a wonderfull eassy
 
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kyle628 said...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 10:55 pm:
"The Harry Potter series was my gateway drug into my intellectual puberty." I found this hysterical. Awesome essay.
 
devinnmariee replied...
Mar. 21, 2011 at 6:56 am :

ME TOOOOOOOOO! :D

HAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! :D

 
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smiles365 said...
Nov. 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm:
I think its great that you were able to get your point across by finding somethign everybody could relate to (at least all the cool people, because who doesnt like harry potter!) Great work!
 
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