The Hogwarts Debate

Crest_HogwartsA couple of weeks ago, I saw the headline: Hogwarts opens in Poland.

The article was about a wizardry college called Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry which has opened in southwest Poland. No doubt this news has  been met with a broad range of reactions.

How you react to the news of a real life Hogwarts opening really depends on who you are.

If you are a straight-laced career person who wears a tie with short-sleeved shirts to work, you no doubt roll your eyes. Then you scoff the attendees, call them ridiculous, childish, and foolish to waste money on this sort of thing. You might channel your father and say something about growing up and being responsible. And I guess that’s fair.

If you are a devoted Harry Potter fan you squeal with joy, weep into your Slytherin scarf, and immediately look up the entrance requirements. ($345, no previous wizardry experience necessary, supply your own wand). You probably also drag your dusty Nimbus 2000 out of the closet and do your Quidditch stretches. No matter how overjoyed and excited you are about this, you are not alone.

As a Harry Potter fan who is a responsible adult (I know, I know…), I did a little of both. Thus began the debate.

The responsible adult in me made a Marge Simpson groan in his throat, the kind I make when I’m trying to understand a David Lynch film or do long division in your head. Why? Because like most Harry Potter dorks I love the idea of Hogwarts. But the best – and worst – aspect of Hogwarts is that it’s a place that lives in the imagination. It’s a mythical and mysterious place whose nooks, crannies, and chambers we have lost hours mentally poking around. But we must cope with that fact that, aside from amusement park facsimiles, there is no Hogwarts, whether we like it or not. The day I came to terms with the fact that I would never get my invitation-by-owl was the most crushing disappointment I’d felt since I realized I’d never accidentally stumble upon Smurf Village.

So the fact that there was a Hogwarts in Poland was a bit jarring.

I needed details.

The first red flag appeared when I read that invitations to this Hogwarts came via mail. No owl. Who ever heard of an invitation to Hogwarts coming in the mail? I mean, get it together, Polish Hogwarts. Moreover, they have added a house. So upon your arrival, the sorting hat can put you into five houses: Faust (Knowledge and Power), Molin (Loyalty and Cunning), Sendivogius (Courage, Honor and Diplomacy), Durentius (Diligence and Valor), and Libussa (Foreseeing, Daring and Creativity).

My closeted Ravenclaw (aka Libussa) wondered if there were great rivalries and battles between houses. The skeptic countered that when “battles” entail throwing snowballs at each other and sending angry texts, it takes a little of the magic out of it.

A similar debate arose over Quidditch, which is played at Hogwarts U in the far less exciting ground version. The responsible adult rolled his eyes as he pictured a bunch of IT guys and ad executives chasing a ball around with broomsticks betwixt their legs. The devoted fan imagined the loads of women he would swing after casually mentioning his successes on the Quidditch pitch. Sadly, however, after a desperate effort to accept ground Quidditch, even the enthused Libussa knew it would be a big disappointment. Plus, how would they work out the golden snitch?

Then there were the program’s details. The responsible adult moaned that it’s only a four-day program, and wondered how anyone can learn to wizard in four days. It took Harry and his friends seven years and they were motivated by constant threats to life and limb at the hands of supernatural monsters and You Know Who. The devoted fan didn’t care and just planned to befall some sort of debilitating flu when the next program comes up, which is November 16-19 (NB: if you are my boss, disregard. I really will be sick.). The responsible adult automatically made a reminder to check whether the trip could be written off.

The subjects are Muggle Studies, Charms, and Defense against the Dark Arts, or in everyday lexicon, sociology, poetry, and dealing with Republicans. Both the adult and the devoted fan wondered how these might apply to life after graduation, but we both studied English in college, so we’re used to degrees which are deemed useless.

It’s a tossup over who “won” the debate. The devoted fan conjured some lovely fantasies about hanging with Harry and Hermione and whipping Malfoy’s pasty butt. The responsible adult let the devoted fan have his fun, but was sure to rein him in when he got overzealous. Besides, neither of us has $345 or a wand (one of these is a lie).

Still, maybe they’re hiring English teachers.

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