If you’re not a Potterhead and if you find the idea of buying movie-related merchandise absurd, you will find what I’m going to narrate here simply silly. If you are a Potterhead, I’m sure you will love it…
When I started teaching the Harry Potter elective and about two thirds of my class declared they owned each a personal wand, I realized I should have to get my own sooner or later. My students explained they had purchased (for 40 euros!) the ‘official’ wand ‘belonging’ to their favourite character. In my case, as they all know by now, this is Sirius Black. However, as I told them, I found it impossible to choose his wand as I don’t understand myself my strong emotional attachment to this very tragic figure (I’m working on it). I decided to buy instead Luna Lovegood’s, a character I like very much, or, perhaps even commission a tailor-made one from a sculptor that sells his wares on the internet. I never checked what each wand looked like, just how much they cost and who sells them (the Noble Collection, “the world’s premiere designer and manufacturer of high end movie prop replicas and collectibles”). And I insisted to everyone who asked me that I would never buy Sirius’ wand, that was totally out of the question.
On Saturday afternoon my husband and I went for a totally improvised walk in Barcelona’s ‘friki’ triangle (Passeig de Sant Joan/Bailén/Ali Bey). We first visited the new Gigamesh shop on Bailén street. Next we wandered into Norma Comics and the first thing we saw was this display, with fifty Harry Potter wands. About half had the name of character ‘owners’ on them, not the rest. I checked Luna’s but didn’t like it much, and I spent about 15 minutes going through the whole collection, not seeing ‘the one.’
My husband eventually pointed one to me, “that’s the one for you”, and I feel in love with it at once. I didn’t care whose it was –that was my wand. What a beauty. After procrastinating for as long as I could, for I sensed what was coming, we asked a shop assistant whose wand that was. He said either Snape’s or Hermione’s. Good, I said, either is fine for me. He asked a second shop assistant, though, and in the minutes that went by I knew it: “It’s Sirius Black’s wand,” he said. I promise I got what I can only describe as an electric shock. My husband blanched. The kind assistant smiled a smile which said “we get this here in this shop every day.” I purchased the wand, the assistant congratulated me when I explained it was not a present but for myself. Here it is now, in a place of honour among my books, below the Harry Potter set.
I felt weird for hours, enjoying very much this magical moment (and I must thank my husband for sharing it with me to the full). This really is, he said, a case of the wand choosing the witch –we laughed much. When we managed to rationalize a little this odd ocurrence, he theorised that perhaps I had seen the wand before and my subconcious recalled it (I don’t think so). Or that, I like this better, the wand designer had perfectly captured the nature of the character and I related to that again subconsciously, which was why I chose the wand (or the wand chose me…). I really don’t know what happened in that shop. Can an object represent a character this well?
You may call it a simple coincidence and dismiss the anecdote as a very silly accident that only shows how childish an adult (me) can be. Fair enough. After all, here I am, investing much emotional energy in possessing an outrageously overpriced piece of high-quality plastic, which is, in addition, mass manufactured. Yet if you go down that road, the world is a dreary place and I prefer going up the other road: the one suggesting that last Saturday afternoon I enjoyed the most magical moment in my forty years of reading. I’m sure all my Potterhead students understand me. Also, if you own a light-sabre you will understand me.
I don’t want to miss the little irrational moments –for this are the ones which, happening very often back in childhood or in our teenage years, finally led us to become adult literature teachers. That they were elicited by Don Quijote or Hamlet, and not by Sirius Black, is to me just a slight difference, though it may be immense to others. It’s all about the magic of reading (and seeing films, of course).
The wand I share with Sirius does have magical powers indeed: whenever I look at it in the future I’ll recall the happy time when I taught ‘Cultural Studies: The Harry Potter Series’… and the wand chose the witch.
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