Sunday, July 15, 2007

Being Dumbledore

"You know who I want to be like?" I asked a friend tonight. "Dumbledore."

"You want to be like Dumbledore?" Doug said. "You mean, dead?"

Which wasn't quite the point.

The point – to the extent there was one – is that as much as I can admire a fictional character for anything, I admire Dumbledore's ability to take things in stride, to somehow be above it all.

I just finished The Halfblood Prince tonight (yeah, yeah, two years after everyone else), and I found that I was surprisingly moved by the ending. When Sirius died at the end of book 5, I found I didn't really care: Rowling hadn't done enough (in my opinion) to really make me care about him as a character. Lupin was much more interesting and sympathetic. But I was genuinely saddened by Dumbledore's death. It had to have been quite difficult for Rowling to kill him off (much like it must have been difficult for McMurtry to let Gus die at the end of Lonesome Dove). I will miss Dumbledore.

The thing that made him so interesting to me is his ability to be in charge of a situation, completely unthreatened by anyone else, while maintaining a bemused but quite genuine humility through the whole process. Granted that it's easier to write that sort of character than to be that sort of character, it's still something to which I aspire. I invariably get defensive in an argument, and it almost always works against me. The ability to keep your cool while defending your perspective is as rare as it is valuable. It's rather odd that this equanimity is so difficult to find: and even more odd that, although I recognize its value, it's still so difficult to achieve.

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