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Harry Potterism in Fiction, Missing Egyptian Noses, and Justinian’s “Code”

Why are so many ancient Egyptian statues missing noses [1]? “‘Egyptian state religion,’ Bleiberg explained, was seen as ‘an arrangement where kings on Earth provide for the deity, and in return, the deity takes care of Egypt.’ Statues and reliefs were ‘a meeting point between the supernatural and this world,’ he said, only inhabited, or ‘revivified,’ when the ritual is performed. And acts of iconoclasm could disrupt that power. ‘The damaged part of the body is no longer able to do its job,’ Bleiberg explained. Without a nose, the statue-spirit ceases to breathe, so that the vandal is effectively ‘killing’ it.”

The drummer Hal Blaine “played on more than 6,000 tracks over the course of his career. He was also known to carry a rubber stamp saying ‘Hal Blaine Strikes Again’ that he would imprint on every record he worked on and every studio he played in.” He died [2] on Monday at 90.

Anthony Madrid has a bone to pick with fiction [3]: “I have only one. I call it Harry Potterism. Probably the word for it at Iowa is author’s-darling-ism. It just means the protagonist has no real vices. Or if the protagonist is allowed a couple, they will not be the source of any real problems. Real problems come from without. It’s like I say in my poetry somewhere: ‘Protagonists never do anything wrong; / They can only ever be thwarted.’”

Who was the real Saint Patrick? An evangelist or a tax dodger? [4]

Justinian’s Code [5]: “Less gripping than Procopius’ biographical slanders, less accessible than the tactical minutiae of the emperor’s wars, the legal reforms of Justinian’s reign are nonetheless the most important thing about it. His ambition was to create a single, up-to-date and definitive body of Roman law, superseding everything else and rendering inadmissible any alternative source of law. Not only would he reduce the tangled profusion of legal sources to sober order, he would surpass the achievement of every predecessor, which was motive enough in itself. The first step was to issue a Code compiling the laws issued by emperors since the second century…. From the 11th century on, it helped usher much of Europe from the world of customary and feudal law to that of written statute. And it is still with us to this day, from the fundamental laws of the European Union (rooted in French, German and Swiss civil law), to the Code Napoléon, which can still shape case law in a long since independent (and common law) jurisdiction like Louisiana.”

Essay of the Day:

Is the European Court of Human Rights anti-democratic? Luke Gittos argues it is [6] in Spiked:

“In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, many Remainers were keen to emphasise that leaving the European Union (EU) did not mean leaving the remit of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As they saw it, retaining the human-rights regime was a means to retain some vestige of what they perceived to be the progressive European project. It was as though they felt, in the aftermath of Brexit, that all was not lost as long as they could hold on to human-rights laws. Hence, human-rights proponents were keen to highlight the fact that the Human Rights Act was passed into English law by the UK parliament and did not represent a law ‘imposed by Brussels’ – a retort they find useful when the human-rights regime is called ‘undemocratic’.

“Aspects of this narrative are technically true. The EU and the ECHR are legally separate institutions. The UK did not join what was to become the EU, namely the European Economic Community, until 1973, whereas the European Convention on Human Rights came into force in 1953 and Britain granted individuals the right to petition the ECHR in 1966. The convention itself is now a part of English law through the 1998 Human Rights Act, which was passed by parliament under prime minister Tony Blair’s Labour administration. The presence of the human-rights regime in UK law cannot be attributed, therefore, to any foreign body, nor is there anything to say that leaving the EU entails leaving the ECHR.

“However, it is also right to see the EU and the ECHR as politically and historically aligned. Both developed out of the emerging European movement following the Second World War. This movement was motivated by conservative ruling elites’ need to manage democracy in the face of political threats, in particular the perceived threat of the spread of socialism from Eastern Europe (1). The existence of a human-rights framework owes everything to the attempts of postwar elites to centralise economic and political control over the European continent and to manage the democratic will of European peoples.”

Read the rest. [6]

Photo: Foggy Vancouver [7]

Poem: David Solway, “Leaf Blowing” [8]

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