What Do Wizards Think When Looking at the Stars? 4 Slightly Overthought Questions About the Harry Potter Universe
I need to know! Well, not really but it does feel like I do.
There are a few fictional universes out there that capture one's imagination quite as vividly as the one J.K. Rowling created with Harry Potter. However, the thing with having your imagination captured by something is that it then tends to aimlessly wander around within that said universe. Often enough, to places that, while having pretty much zero importance on the overall story, refuse to leave one's head. So to went my mind at least a tiny bit, and I decided to put a few of them down.
Now, a quick side note here also. While I have been going through a bit of a Harry Potter renaissance recently, I'm not quite what you might call a super fan. Therefore, it's entirely possible that some of these questions might have been completely explained in movies, books, Harry Potter Wikia page or J.K. Rowling's Twitter and I have just missed them. So, feel free to correct me. Actually, I implore you. Really would be nice to get at least some clarity here. Let's jump right into it.
1. Why aren't witches and wizards doing space travel?
One of the most distinctive aspects of the wizarding world is the fact that on many practical levels, it is stuck in 17th century with no cars, highways, planes or electronic gadgets. Something, which of course does make perfect sense, as there simply isn't any practical need for these muggle sciences in a world full of magic. Well, apart from one glaring exception: space exploration.
Okay, granted, it's not like what's going on beyond stratosphere bears no effect on the wizarding world at all (just ask Lupin) and Hogwarts does have an astronomy tower. It's just that, to my knowledge, there hasn't been any actual organized nor sporadic attempt at space travel. And, well, this simply doesn't make sense.
First of, it is doable. We've witnessed some pretty epic magic during these stories and one has got to assume that there should be powerful enough spells that could in theory facilitate quite an ambitious space program if led by some extremely powerful witches and wizards.
Perhaps more importantly however, there's also a clear motivation for doing it. On an emotional level, let's not forget that they are still humans and it's easy to imagine a witch or a wizard looking at the stars at night and pondering what's out there. On a more practical level, it could be conducted for the purposes of uncovering new sources of magic (while generally expanding one's knowledge of the universe in the process) and maybe even looking for life outside of our planet.
So, I guess what I'm saying here is that wizard-kind should have really gotten their own version of MIB going on a while ago. I mean they are already halfway there with them "neuralizing" muggles left and right.
2. What's up with the human rights (and beyond) in the wizarding world?
Coming down to slightly more earthly matters, one of the perks of the wizarding world is the fact that—whether it be in terms of gender or racial equality—it's quite progressive on the human rights front (granted a vocal minority of pure blood enthusiasts does ruin that picture quite a bit). However, as it is, humans aren't the only highly intelligent life forms of the wizarding world. And, well, this is where we enter into slightly murkier waters.
Here's the thing, when talking about basic human rights, I don't think we're actually talking about human rights but rather, the rights of highly intelligent life forms in general. That, in turn, does make you wonder: is there some sort of a convention or a document that covers the rights of all the highly intelligent living creatures residing in the wizarding world (from humans to house elves, centaurs, giants, etc)?
Actually scratch that. Not just the living. What about ghost's rights? I mean, they clearly have feelings having retained their consciousness from their past life, and we know that they can be harmed (like Sir Nicolas was when confronted with the Basilisk). So, in that sense, them being dead should have nothing to do with their suitability for a slice of the human rights pie.
Now, granted, some of these groups do live in their own little societies complete with their own rules. Yet, they still all come into contact with one another (including humans), thus creating a very clear and practical need to guarantee each of them their basic and equal rights. Yes, we did have Hermione being her usual awesome self and initiating S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare). However, it wasn't exactly a hit, and one can't help but to think that things must be pretty bad when a school student must make that move.
3. Does organized crime exist in the wizarding world?
Shifting from legal maters to illegal ones, while there obviously are quite a few reasons to end up in Azkaban, I don't recall any of them being in relation to—for the lack of a better term—magic mafia. True that there have been some rather messed up fascists movements during wizarding world's history but an actual functioning crime syndicate? That doesn't jump to mind.
Of course, for organized crime to really thrive, it does tend to require some kind of a deficit in society (like alcohol, drugs, weapons or simply food and water). Something, which most probably has never been an issue in a world full of magic. However, what about building a criminal empire around stuff like creating your own gold coins through some kind of alchemy. Are there magical watermarks in the money to stop it?
Or, better yet, an illegal wand market. Ollivander can't be the only proficient wand maker around and there's got to be someone with the knowhow to start producing them in the black market setting. Actually speaking of wands...
4. How are the spells created?
Okay, I know I'm basically asking here how magic works. Which, is kind of like asking how the Force works: a highly fascinating question that perhaps doesn't need to be answered in great detail. However, there is a subcategory here that maybe does. Simply put, how did we get to the point where we have all these wands and books of spells that create roughly the same outcome when used?
You see, magic has obviously been around for way longer than the spells and wands that mostly produce it. In fact, whether it be Lilly saving Harry from Voldemort with her love or the concept of horcruxes, we've often heard of the term 'old magic' being thrown around in these stories. So, in that light, it's only reasonable to ask: When and how did they manage to create wands that can control and direct these powers and—perhaps more fascinatingly—is it possible to conjure up completely new spells? And if so, how?
So, what else could I be asking?
Well, maybe I should just draw a line here. I mean my next question would have been about whether prominent religious figures and/or famous magicians were actually just wizards and witches who figured out a clever way how to make use of their powers with the muggles. Or whether Mary Poppins was actually inspired by real events regarding a witch who decided to help broken families.
About the author
So, to put it simply (and slightly cheesily) I'm fascinated with life. And, well, writing about films, TV shows, video games, music, travelling, philosophy and Formula 1 among other is a fun way to explore it.