ETA: please give proper credit if you cite this or any of meta, cos this stuff takes time and effort y’all.
So yesterday when I made this post, many people wanted to know why Voldermort’a pet snake being named ‘Nagini’ was racially problematic. I was surprised that people hadn’t considered this, but then again desi issues/culture are hardly visible in mainstream media. But today I kept getting anons either professing complete shock about Naagini’s* significance, OR telling me that my interpretations were wrong. So I decided to write this meta on Naagini, the HP verse and mythological snake symbols. But first I’m gonna give some you some backstory about why Naagini bothers me so much and how Rowling seems to have missed out on some cultural context.
One of my favourite stories as a child was the one about Buddha and Mucalinda, the Snake King. Shortly after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is travelling through a forest when he gets caught in a terrible storm. The great serpent, Mucalinda, shelters the Buddha by spreading it’s vast seven-headed hood over him, and permitting the Buddha to sit on his coils. Many statues depicting this scene are found throughout Sri Lanka. There was one at the junction close to my school that I would always stare at. The sight of the Buddha serenely meditating under the protection of a huge and powerful cobra is a striking one that captured my imagination as a child. Years later, I’m still moved on a deep, wordless level by this image.
Aaaaaaand NIMONA IS LIVE! Five new pages are up on my shiny new site, brought to you by the wonderful Stephen Warren, who set it all up for me! The next update will be on Thursday, and updates will be every Tuesday and Thursday after that.
Right, so, first and foremost: y’all should know that this is about as close as I ever get to an angry screed! But it’s an angry screed in the name of positivity, so that’s something, right?
Here’s the deal: today I saw a post—a series of posts, in fact—positing that the overall quality of the work available at the Ao3 was decreasing, and arguing that there had been at one point a mission of “quality control” at that archive (which, for the record, there never was). I am not linking to those posts, because more capable and knowledgeable people than I have already responded to them, and because, at the end of the day, those posts aren’t really what this post is about. The post is about the increase I’ve seen in comments like this, about the folks I see mocking “badfic,” about the sense of betrayal people seem to feel if a piece of fanfiction is not up to their individual standards, about the rather shocking volume of people who seem to have come to the conclusion that fandom exists for their personal pleasure. Which, don’t get me wrong—fandom does exist for the pleasure of fans. But it’s a collective thing, with each individual contributing to the whole, and the degree to which that knowledge seems to have slipped—along with the remembrance of the fact that every handle represents a living, breathing human being whose importance is not hinged on the quality of their fanworks—is starting to freak me out.