Speaking Time and Room No.: 2006-9-23 11:00-12:30 Room I
Speaker: Su Wenqing (China)
Harry Porter and Intersubjectivity Philosophy
— The inspiration of ecology to the contemporary fairy-tale creation from Harry Porter
(Institute of Language and Literature of Jianghan University, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China 430056)
Subtract Many comments and controversies on Harry Porter show its rich and plural connotation and this pluralism is indeed the concrete manifestation of intersubjectivity philosophy. The intersubjectivity expressed by the relationships of Children and adults, fairy tales and novels, enchantment and disenchantment, gives valuable inspirations for China’s contemporary fairy tale writers and researchers to the problems such as the relationship between children and adults, between instruction and children’s principal position, between children inclination and adult inclination, or how to adapt to the times for the literary genre, fairy tales.
Key words intersubjectivity, fairy tales, inspiration
The good sale of Harry Porter incurs different perspectives from different angles, even diametrically opposite comments. American Library Association believed Harry Porter to be the most controversial book. In religion circles, the New Mexico Association of Christian lit "torch" burning Harry Porter, while the U.S. Catholic News Association listed Harry Porter as children’s compulsory reading. Philosophy professor Scott Moore of Baylor University said, “If you read this serialized books, you will find that they are not evil, they are on good moral, and full of religious overtones.”  In China, Ye Shuxian dedicated to exploring the postmodern features of Harry Porter from the perspective of modernity; many children’s literature critics made a multi-faceted deep analysis of Harry Porter from the angles of children’s literature theory, psychology, pedagogy and theories of narrative; Wang Quangen made a dual interpretation of Harry Porter from the perspective of children’s literature and adult’s literature; the 30th International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Congress 2006 in Macao, China will open a sub-site devoted to the exchange for all the “thinking of Harry Porter phenomenon”…Many comments and controversies on Harry Porter show its rich and plural connotation and this pluralism is indeed the concrete manifestation of intersubjectivity philosophy.
The intersubjectivity philosophy appeared in the postmodern context and was accompanied by the reflection and criticism of modernity. The so-called “intersexuality”, also known as hermaphroditism, is originally a term in biology that some allo-biological male or female living things contain hermaphroditic characteristics. When the word “intersexuality” was introduced to the theory research field of humanities and social sciences, as an important category of ecological aesthetics and ecological philosophy, it emphasized the close relationships among the universe, dissimilar from the original meaning in biology, in addition to the similarity “you in me, I in you” to biology. [p89]
Since modern times after the end of the “ignorance” era of mankind original myth thinking, the world view of mechanism that regarded heart and thing, human and nature, subject and object separate and opposite dualism, stressed monism of “heart”, “people” and “subject” and transformed the correspondent “thing”, “nature” and “object” was believed to be right worldview. This worldview, emphasizing the principal position of human and the control of human over nature, made its own contribution to the capitalist industrial civilization. However, it also developed the doctrine of human center when stressed the human’s principal position. Various anti-natural modern production methods led the complex ecosystems people -- community –nature non-sustainable and put the human development in a tight corner. Thus, the humans began to reflect the rationality of modern science. The intersubjectivity philosophy came into being as the main strategy for the west to dispel the mechanic subject philosophy. The intersubjectivity philosophy weakened the subjectivity but emphasized the concordant contact and communication, just like opening another ecological harmonious window for human thinking. We have to explore Harry Porter from an ecological perspective that stresses communication rather than confrontation.
As a whole, the features of non-realist aesthetic character and the images’ typology of Harry Porter declare its fairy-tale property,  but the obvious difference from the general fairy tales exists in its very clear intersubjectivity. Thus the modern thinking way of monism is not fit for further research. This thesis, considering Harry Porter to be one ecosystem, tries to understand and explore the inspiration to contemporary fairy-tale theory and creation from the intersubjectivity aspects of children and adults, fairy tales and novels and enchantment and disenchantment.
? Children and adults
The establishment of children’s principal status is a theoretical cornerstone of modern children’s literature, as well as the outstanding contribution for children. Compared to adults’ literature, children’s literature is special in the separation of the creative subject and the receptive subject. From the day of its birth, modern children’s literature has been committed to the construction of the literature of “the children’s own center position”. The “center position” is also known as main body, core or heart. “the children’s own center position” means that children’s literature should serve the children and consider the little readers’ interest, hobbies and understanding as the starting point of creation. Zhou zuoren’s statement held more representative, “Children’s literature sees only children as its center, nothing more standard.” [p54] Lu Xun, Guo moruo, Zheng Zhenduo, etc. all expressed similar views. Zhou Bangdao said more specifically, “The so-called children’s literature, that’s to say, the words are made up for children as center. Children can feel them through their bodies and then pass the feeling directly to heart, in other words, easy to understand and interesting to read. Children love and can enjoy themselves by reading this kind of literature.” As a creativity subject, adults should accept children as center, after all children are the receiver. Thus the relationship between children and adults turns to be a difficult problem to deal with.
In fact this is a question of intersubjectivity. Husserl’s intersubjectivity theory (the intersubjectivity phenomenology) provides us with a useful inspiration. Husserl thought that different subjects should establish mutual knowledge and consensus. This establishment required the subject to target others as intention object. The grasp of others’ subject, first originated from the physical perception and experience, in a way of hypothesis “If I were there, how was my body?”, by making “there” of others into “here” of myself in the mind, made the other’s body reproduction of my “firstly established origin” physical body, thus I entered the other’s center of “personal behavior” and understood his body as a living organism as me. [p9] In this way, “ Through co-occurrence reunification my original ego—it never asks for or allows co-occurrence to realize its own identity—constructs another myself different from the original one. Thus, what cannot coexist becomes compatible with the original.” [p905] Husserl also attached great importance to the consensus between the main subject and the object, the world and the culture. He believed that different subjects might jointly construct the objective world, the world of people and the world of text; there was inner harmony in the intersubjects.
In a sense, Harry Porter practices Husserl’s intersubjectivity theory well. J.K.Roling wrote children-centered Harry Porter with her own childhood memory, the experience of three children’s mother and other feelings and experience about children’s lives. And the children in the world were also keen on understanding all the information on Roling’s life and called her “magic mother”. There has been a good interaction between Roling and readers. The works’ rich and diverse content is being continually constructed by the intersubjectivity.
Husserl’s theory and Roling’s practice tell us: in order to handle properly the relationship between adults and children, the intersubject must first establish mutual understanding and then form consensus. To understand children and treat them as center, the creation subject must enter children’s physical bodies on the level of imagination, and make the children’s “first established origin” physical bodies into the reproduction of the creation subject’s physical body. Thus the creation subject can enter children’s “personal behavior” center and understand their bodies as the living organism the same as their own. This means: on the one hand, the creation subject’s “first established origin” childhood is the base for adults to understand and experience the children’s lives; on the other hand, the creation subject should also learn the childhood’s life experience of others as an organic part of their lives and try to fuse children’s physical feelings, psychological feelings, moral, cultural judgment and aesthetic needs into their own lives. As acceptance subject, when facing the works created by adults, by way of considering adults and text as principal position and putting themselves into text and adults’ physical bodies, children take the life experience of adults passed by text as one part of their own living organism and try to find the “first established origin” children’s bodies of text and then find the adults’ experience that they never had. Children thus put them into their own bodies and lives to reconstruct the text. The reconstructed text, based on adults and children’s mutual understanding, is the product of consensus. Now adults contain children’s experience while children contain adults’. They mix together and coexist ecologically and harmoniously. And the reconstructed text “probably belongs to the third world, which is beyond adults and children’s world, also a world mixed with adults and children. (Zhou Zuoren)” 
Zhu Ziqiang expressed similar views. He said, “Real children-centered children’s literature not only serves, understands or respects children, but also recognizes and explores the precious human value from children’s lives, liberates and develops children from their own original life passion. Another hand, adults should mix themselves into it to preserve and enrich the precious quality of their humanity. That’s to say, during the creation period, adults and children achieve mutual gift.”“The mutual gift between adults and children” is a manifestation of intersubjectivity thinking.
With the internal life experience replacing the outside copy from the general sense, adults may not create children’s literature as if they were benefactor or guide. So the mutual center position, mutual knowledge and consensus may solve the long-term vexatious problem whether children’s literature should tend to cater to adults or children.
? Fairy tales and novels
Lu Shuyuan thought literature and art to be a growing organic open system. He believed that there were many “species” in the field of literature and art, such as novels, poems, essays, fairy tales, etc. Because of the large number of "species", “The ability to self-regulate is traditionally strong in the field of literature and art. Different subjects of art can often fuse, complement or swallow.”[??][p63] The literary genre of Harry Porter embodies the inter-existence between two different “species” of fairy tales and novels, which can fuse and complement. I have distinguished Harry Porter carefully between fairy tale and novel. If defined the nature of it as fairy tale, at the same time I found that it had a novel trend in the narrative. Many researchers and I have the same predicament. Now I understand that this is the puzzle that modern thinking way of monism brings. Today, when we use the intersubjectivity theory to define the literary genre of Harry Porter, no matter it is fairy tale or novel, it is no longer pure fairy tale or novel, but a fairy tale with novel element or novel with fairy tale element. Here fairy tale and novel can penetrate and integrate each other. The so-called “big fantasy literature” must be a generalization of inter-existence. I would prefer to see Harry Porter as a fairy tale with novel element, and thus find a way to develop, expand and transform traditional forms of fairy tales.
"fantasy literature" comes from the English word "fantasy". In the "Oxford Encyclopedia of the World's Children’s Literature" (1995 edition), it is interpreted as “different from oral literature, it refers to fabricating literature that is created by the specific writer, usually has a length as novel and contains supernatural, non-fiction elements of the reality.” Peng Yi thought that “fantasy” translated as “fantasy fiction” was more accurate than “fantasy literature”, and defined it: “by way of the realistic style of the novel to create a long fantasy story that does not exist in reality.” ][p95] Whether the explanation from the "Oxford Encyclopedia of the World's Children Literature" or the definition of “fantasy fiction” from Peng Yi, both point out that this inter-genre exists between novels and fairy tales. Harry Porter should belong to their alleged target. In my opinion, Harry Porter does not exceed fairy tale’s scope to the renaming stage. In the market economy in China renaming is usually a marketing strategy whose goal is “to reveal contemporary hot art form, to announce the birth of a new theory, or to assume some center topic.”[p53], little to do with literature itself. Concerning children’s literature theory, it’s not easy to sort out the relationship between “fantasy literature” and other existing forms of literature; concerning children’s literature creation, it’s much more difficult to create a new “fantasy literature” than modify, expand and develop the familiar traditional fairy tales.
Before Harry Porter that contains inter-feature, traditional fairy tales including folk fairy tales and literary fairy tales (or art fairy tales) whose representative was Hans Christian Andersen, were relatively short, served mainly little and young kids, did not pursue complicated plot or portray typical characters but dedicated to judging truthfulness, benevolence, beauty, falsehood, ugliness and evil and pursuing pureness, glory and poetry. Fang Weiping summarized its spiritual values “human’s new realization channels and manifestations of poetry desire after the disappearance of myth times”, “refuge of human’s spirit, and state of soul vision”, “the roosting manner and habitat of modern and contemporary people’s wandering soul” like poetry. 
Frankly speaking, the traditional fairy tale is not so creative in contemporary China, and has a declining trend. The reasons can be concluded easily: Limiting to little and young kids the readers’ scope is small; In market few top quality works can match with foreign classical fairy tales; The works can not mirror our own modern times; As a whole pragmatism and utilitarianism enhance while romantic spirit wanes; Talented writers and commentators seldom participate in it. Then how to solve these problems in the maximal potential scope of literature?
With its creation practice, Harry Porter provides China’s children’s literature with some reference model: By breaking the limit of existing literary genre of fairy tales, integrate the techniques of novel into the creation of fairy tales. First, when we continue to use some narrative techniques of traditional fairy tale, we can consult the narrative techniques of novel and replace the traditional fairy tale’s narrative style of narration & comment with objective and lifelike narration. This intersubjective feature may enhance fairy tale’s connotation, upgrade its aesthetic level and expand the reader’s scope to junior, senior pupils or higher grades. Secondly, we can integrate the realistic aesthetic character of novel into non-realistic character that can pull back the illusive paradise of fairy tale to reality, blur the boundaries of reality and fantasy, make fairy tale be fantasy version of realism, and narrow the distance with times. Thirdly, we will integrate the times elements such as the realistic education, ecology, sports competitions, technology etc. into ancient witchcraft culture, then truthfulness, benevolence, beauty, falsehood, ugliness and evil can contest in the same arena and an ecological world full of tension and rich diversity comes out.
If fairy tales expand the reader’s scope, shorten the distance with the times and have an ecological world full of tension, fairy tales will overcome their existing limitations, expand their influence, and make them unlimited possible just like excellent adults’ literature. Then more good writers will be attracted to create more good fairy tales and more readers and researchers will also be attracted. Thus a fine ecological chain will be formed and complete its ecological succession.
Of course, here we only talk about the possibility of traditional fairy tales’ breaking their own limitations. Not all stories must be written in the style of such an intersubjectivity. Because this kind of fairy tales may no longer become “refuge of human’s spirit, and state of soul vision” when they try to cater to readers and market. Fairy tales is no longer a sweet world. Good and evil forces contest in the same arena and are well matched. Fairy tales may not necessarily bring about some mental loss. In the kingdom of ecological fairy tales, there should be a variety of different ecological spaces, such as fairy tales for little kids, for children, for juvenile, etc. The literary genre of inter-feature is more suitable for children and juvenile, while the fairy tales for little kids can still maintain a pure land to be the spiritual home of mankind poetry.
? Enchantment and Disenchantment
In the metaphysical level, fairy tales are inter-existence between enchantment and disenchantment. “Disenchantment”, according to Max Weber, refers to “let rational thinking cast off the control of witchcraft and mythology and win paramount authority.”  While “Enchantment”—against the anti-capitalist excessive rational call, “is a completely different requirement, and it does not call for re-mystifying the world. In fact, it requires that we break down the artificial boundaries between man and nature so that people can understand that either of them is a part of single universe connecting through time. ‘enchantment of the world’ is intended to further liberate the minds of mnkind.” [p81]
The “Enchantment” of Harry Porter has been fully developed by researchers. In the background of “a new era” campaign in Britain, the U.S. and other countries (“the coming of a totally different era, the advent of post Jesus, is to rebel against the capitalist modernity which pursues material prosperity, revolts against Christian values and resists the official ideology”), Ye Shuxian researched Harry Porter. He thought that its “enchantment” tendency reflected together on the wizard worldview that man and nature could not be distinguished, on the eulogy of sorceress and on the criticism to the modernity that the Muggles represented. His reasonable ideas received much agreement of many researchers. But this is only one aspect of the problem.
The other aspect of the problem is that there is also “disenchantment” factor in Harry Porter. First, we can easily see from the works the appreciation of modern science and technology. For example, Ron’s father Weasley, always as a positive character, was very fond of modern tools such as telephones, cars in the Muggles. Later his own possession of a car helped Harry and Ron return to school on time, but he was punished by Ministry of Magic. Here we do not see the slightest criticism of modernity, but rather it criticized the reasonlessness that the Muggle world excluded modern science and technology. Second, modern education thinking is clearly seen. For example, the portrayal of Harry Porter reflected American modern pragmatism educator John Dewey’s education thinking “learn by doing”. Like the majority of the children, Harry Porter did not love learning very much. The author does not explicitly criticize this tendency of not loving learning, but always let him feel the inconvenience of lacking of knowledge in practice. Or let Hermione help him and teach him at times or learn by himself at times. All these embody Deway’s education thinking that respect students’ interest and individuality, let students do in practice and learn knowledge and develop capacity from doing. Modern education thinking itself is a concrete manifestation of modern rational ideology and one integral part of “disenchantment”. Third, modern science and technology embody widely in witchcraft. For example, the wizards’ mounts upgrade from the ordinary brooms, “Nimbus 2002” to “Firebolt”, similar to the speed escalation of computer processors from Pentium?to Pentium?.The panoramic telescope that Ron uses to watch sports games, can adjust speed arbitrarily according to his own demand, which can speed up or slow down the speed of players to appreciate. If a player fouls moves, the caption will appear on the scene. Speed adjustment and caption appearance obviously go beyond people’s imagination level of original period, which can mirror the use of modern digital cameras in ancient witchcraft.
Although in history the “disenchantment” process was so bloody, “enchantment” and “disenchantment” were the expense of life and it’s too light for us to mention “enchantment” and “disenchantment” together. From the angle of inter-philosophy, “enchantment” and “disenchantment” not only coexist, but also interact. Liang Hai and Wang Qian pointed out, “In the world of witchcraft, Roling showed great attachment to modern technology. Modern high technology provided prototype for Roling’s witchcraft and made it more unpredictable. Magic rituals achieve through technology.” I think that this assessment is very pertinent. It reveals the inter-feature of coexistence and interaction between Harry Porter’s witchcraft and technology, enchantment and disenchantment.
Even the binary opposite categories of “enchantment” and “disenchantment” that contain life’s sacrifice can coexist and interact in the postmodern visual threshold. Why can not the platitudinarian problems of children’s literature such as education and recreation, child-oriented and adult-oriented coexist or interact? The problem of China’s children’s literature creation is that the thoughts expressed in the works are too pure, too straight, too explicit, and too simple. No matter what creative thinking of the authors are, it will be shown clearly, singly and exclusive. In a word, it’s because of the limitation of the authors’ modern monism thinking. They cannot create a text world full of rich and plural content and ecological tension. Then the works lose reading attraction.
The significance of subjectivity philosophy lies in that the writers and researchers may reject the monism paradigm of original linear successor, alternative or replacement and adopt the new paradigm and outlook of multi-uproar that pluralism and multi-discourse coexist. Then they can rethink the creation of China’ contemporary fairy tales and the distance to Harry Porter. The intersubjectivity feature of Harry Porter provides the explanation for intersubjectivity philosophy and also gives useful insight to the problems that perplex the creators and researchers about China's contemporary fairy tales’ creation, such as how to deal with the relationship between children and adults, between the instruction and children’s principal position, between children inclination and adults inclination and how the fairy tale style adapts to the times. The insights are:
1. Only when adults and children access the level of life experience can they achieve mutual knowledge and consensus. It’s not enough for children to see with eyes and to hear with ears.
2. If breaking the limitation of literary genre and adopting the techniques of novels, the creation of contemporary fairy tales may reduce the distance to the times, widen the receiver groups and strengthen fairy tales’ vitality.
3. Fairy tales need instruction but not too utilitarian, too direct, too simple. Fairy tales first must ensure their own richness and integrity, and then can make other possibilities possible. Instruction and other contents of the works should be an interrelated organism. Both the contents and word patterns of the works should contain pluralism theory, and either element should coexist and develop together.