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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!

Cinderella said...
May 20, 2010 at 7:25 am:
I LOVE HARRY POTTER TOO! It changed my life and opened my eyes to the world of reading! Without it, I wouldn't be reading as avidly as I am today! Great essay (great topic)!
 
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Teacher B said...
May 16, 2010 at 6:52 pm:
I find it humorous that the recent comments are negative, yet they are superficial. This is not the world's greatest essay, but it has a strong voice. It's a decent piece of writing.
 
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gorganzo1 said...
May 3, 2010 at 9:16 am:
not anything special
 
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fallingxup said...
Apr. 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm:

It's nothing special.

I'm just being blunt and trying to see it from a person who's trying to pick a good candidate.

I believe these comments that are here, are just as half-assed. They may be trying to encourage you, but as a heart of an editor, I think you could do way better than this. (;

 
Foxglove replied...
Apr. 24, 2010 at 11:57 pm :

Honestly, if you're going to criticize her essay, suggest an improvement.   Saying "I think you could do better" isn't helpful.

I really enjoyed the essay.  You were able to talk about yourself without bragging, and you conveyed an important message at the same time.  Well-written, engaging, and funny.

 
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SunshineGirl said...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 8:33 am:
This is really well written. I'll bet it worked well for college admissions. Did you get in?
 
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jamesg111391@aol.com said...
Apr. 6, 2010 at 11:44 pm:
Nice Essay i guess,you couldn't make any more boring email me and ill show you how to catch your readers attention.I promise you it will be worth your wild.
 
TJ Mullenator replied...
Apr. 16, 2010 at 9:52 am :
Try using proper grammar before giving constructive criticism. The author did a great job on this article and doesn't need help from people like you.
 
agreed replied...
Apr. 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm :
hahaha i completely agree. you should not take advice from someone who cannot even type a sentance correctly.
 
mojojojo replied...
Sept. 20, 2010 at 9:11 am :
sentence    
 
hockey59 replied...
Oct. 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm :
haha i like that you agreed and spelled sentence wrong
 
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TommyP said...
Apr. 6, 2010 at 10:56 am:
Nice. Why don't you write something else?
 
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TerryM said...
Apr. 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm:
Good essay! Cool description.
 
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Porter said...
Mar. 30, 2010 at 10:09 pm:
Such a great essay - I really liked it! Write more!!!
 
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lesliej94 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm:
This is a really GOOD essay...I mean I loved it so much one of my favorites.
 
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Tallmadge said...
Mar. 27, 2010 at 11:21 pm:
Lucky you. What else have you written - any creative writing or fiction?
 
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StantheMan said...
Mar. 26, 2010 at 8:35 am:
Great essay....what was Stephen King like?
 
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SunnyD said...
Mar. 20, 2010 at 9:07 am:
Great essay. You will do well in college if you keep writing like this.
 
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TommyT said...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm:
Wow! You write really well. This was cool.
 
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Runner said...
Mar. 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm:
Great essay. Did it work? Have you gotten into any of the colleges you applied to?
 
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