Friday, September 29, 2017

A Slytherin? Really?

In a blog post a little while back, Twitter friend A.S. Akkalon discussed being sorted into Ravenclaw by the Pottermore website. In a comment, I proclaimed that I was also part of the Ravenclaw club. We congratulated each other's high degree of nerdom and moved on.

Why Ravenclaw you might ask? Well, frankly I'm not quite personable enough to be a Hufflepuff, not nearly brave enough to be a Gryffindor, and certainly not evil enough to be a Slytherin. Besides, "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure" is a motto I could get behind any day.

If you aren't a fan of Harry Potter, this entire post will probably
seem like nonsense. I apologize in advance for that
As time went on, I was intrigued by the notion of being sorted. My declaration of belonging to Ravenclaw bore no official sanction. I was yet another in a sad line of "self sorters" who were, in fact, nothing more than pretenders.

What Potter fan hasn't wondered and even fantasized about what their time at Hogwarts would be like? Would I be a quidditch captain and seeker and end up in front of thousands of cheering witches and warlocks at the Quidditch World Cup? Would I be a troublemaker and romp the castle grounds, probing its every secret passage like Fred and George Weasley? Would I be a clever, clandestine wizard, poking through the restricted section of the library and creating innovative and original magic?

Knowing there was a website, and one officially sanctioned by J.K. Rowling which seemed to lend it some credence, that would actually sort me into my Hogwarts house, how could I resist? I found myself visiting Pottermore for the first time, greedy to discover something of my Hogwarts future.

So the sorting quiz began...

"Your worst nightmare consists of..." "Which animal would you bring to Hogwarts..." "You most want to be remembered as..." The questions rolled on. Though sometimes I found myself stuck between answers (if I interpret it like this I would answer ___ but if I interpret it like that I would answer ___), I provided the most honest answers possible.

Otis is black but he resents even the implication of evilness
At last I reached the final question: "Black or white?" Hmmm... But what does that mean? Historically black is (perhaps unfairly) correlated with evil, and white with good. From a personal style perspective, however, I am not a fan of white clothing. I am much too adventurous and prone to staining for anything lighter than a tan-ish shade of brown. My closet is lined with black t-shirts. I always wear black sunglasses. My dog is black and, unless I'm even a few minutes late feeding him dinner, it seems hard to label anything about him as evil.

This strangely vague question of black or white seemed laden with gravity, like my entire Hogwarts experience might hinge on simple semantic interpretation. If it was meant to be figurative, a stand-in for the moral condition of my soul, then of course I would choose white. I like to think of myself as a person of good-intentions. I always side with the hero, not the villain. But from a simple electromagnetic spectrum standpoint (and the three simple words in the question's phrasing gave no indication it was anything else) I would have to say black fits me better. 

After too-long deliberating, I chose black and reluctantly hit submit.

The quiz was complete. My Hogwarts schooling career was about to begin. The time had come to find out to which House I belonged.....

SLYTHERIN!!! The Sorting Hat projected into the Great Hall. What?!? How could?!? But I...

I was aghast. I was angry. I was ashamed. Such a torrent of emotion did I experience that I leapt to my feet and paced around my living room until the shock wore off. It had be wrong. There must be some mistake. Somebody hacked into my computer while I was halfway through and supplied some devious, misleading and inauthentic answers. But after a amount of time spent feeling angry and disenfranchised, I had to accept the truth:

The Sorting Hat's decision was final. Like it or not, I was a Slytherin.

My new family crest, I suppose. The evil-looking snake
does nothing to assuage my fear of how I will be
received by my Hogwarts colleagues. As a member
of another house, would you still be my friend?
I was stuck with a vision of myself, wary in the corner of the shadowy Slytherin common room, on the fringe of a pack of snaggletoothed Crabbe and Goyle lookalikes, trying not to draw attention while simultaneously trying not to look like I was trying not to draw attention. Somewhere nearby a Malfoy-figure was holding a gathering of the wizarding world's version of the Alt-right and I felt obliged to voice my occasional disingenuous agreement simply in order to ride my broom under the proverbial radar.

Perhaps, however, if while the Sorting Hat rested upon my head, magically penetrating parts of my mind I didn't even know existed, I should have implored it "Not in Slytherin. Not in Slytherin" and it would have taken enough pity on my cause to throw me in Ravenclaw anyway.

I was consoled somewhat by the letter from my new house welcoming me into the noble line of Slytherin. The great wizard Merlin, the letter informed me, was a Slytherin. This is good. I liked the Sword in the Stone. If we are talking about the same iteration of Merlin, I could potentially get behind that.

So do I have some hidden evil in me that the Pottermore Sorting Hat sensed that even I am unaware of? Or perhaps is it that Slytherin gets an unfair reputation based on a few bad examples? Or is it just a silly website and I shouldn't take it so seriously? I never actually put on the actual Sorting Hat, after all. This quiz that functions as a Sorting Hat stand-in surely is little more than a cheap imitation.

Despite this reasonable logic and my numerous appeals to the magical kingdom for justice, however, I had to accept that I was sorted as well as an American muggle can be.

I am a Slytherin.

NOTE: After this blog post was written, I returned to the Pottermore website, created a different account and re-took the sorting quiz and was sorted properly into Ravenclaw as I was supposed to be all along. But was this cheating? Actual Hogwarts entrants get no such second chances.

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  1. I think you ignore such great Sytherin members as Snape. Remember even Dumbledore himself thought they sorted too soon...even Draco, if you have read the later plays.
    You do realise now I will lose so much time going to that site and seeing what I am sorted into? Oh well, there are worse ways to fritter away time.

    1. Very good points. Snape, after all, was in essence the true hero of the entire series and possibly the most interesting and three-dimensional character of all. I am curious to see what house you get sorted into....

  2. Don't worry, I don't think any less of you for getting sorted into Slytherin. I don't wear white either. :)

    1. I appreciate that. I was so sure I was a Ravenclaw.... Yeah, white is a terrible color for clothing. I just wonder how Pottermore factors a question like that into the sorting? Thanks for reading, and the comment!