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And yet more on the Department of Mysteries - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
And yet more on the Department of Mysteries
Sorry. Before, I was trying to figure out who did what when. Now, I have to burn some time, so I'm trying to figure out what all is there.

There are a dozen doors in the circular room (p771, U.S.: "Meanwhile, the door through which they needed to proceed could be any of the dozen surrounding them"). Of these, we see:

The Brain Room (presumably representing the Mystery of the Mind)
The Death Room
The Locked Room (Mystery of Love)
The Time Room (with prophecies and Time Turners)
The Planet Room (Mystery of Space? The Universe?)

Another door is obviously the exit.

That leaves six doors in the circular room unaccounted for, unless I'm missing some that Harry runs through. I suppose they could be offices, but seems like each of the divisions has offices of its own, and it's the divisions that are accessed through the circular room.

So... what could the other six Mysteries be, and what would be in them? The ones we see are among the biggies--Mind, Death, Love, Time, Universe. What else? Life? Faith? The appeal of reality television?

My notions, argue or add at will
Life. If there's a Mystery in Death, there should also be a Mystery in Life. What would be in it? A spring forest? Animals?

Faith. Not so much the mystery of the nature of the universe--the stuff of science and theology--but the question of human faith and what underlies it. I could see artifacts from all the world religions, myths being retold, etc.

Good and Evil. The original mystery from Genesis, along with Life. (Sudden images of a pomegranate tree with a snake in it...) Two-faced figures, dark and light. This could be a fairly dangerous room.

Beauty/Charisma. What is it? Why does it make us stop and gasp? I can see artwork here, memories of beauty, but I don't know what all there might be.

Hmmm. Still two short.

Opening the floor...
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chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 14th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well... Magic itself, why it exists?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oo, interesting.
ashavah From: ashavah Date: February 14th, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the idea of Life as a mystery, simply because it is so puzzling and also as a counterpoint to Death as a mystery.

What of the soul? What mkes us us? Of course, that could bea part of Life.

Yours,

JK
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Identity as a mystery. I like it. It works. What could be in there? Magic mirrors? Could that be where the Mirror of Erised came from/ended up?
marukka From: marukka Date: February 14th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
For some reason I have doubts about Faith. It makes sense to me to throw in, but the HP books are so non-religious I'd doubt it just because it jars for me to imagine Harry opening another door and finding an image of Jesus. Or Pan, Isis, Odin, whichever :)

Perhaps a room for Logic? It'd be quite a mystery for most wizards, or so the books seem to imply...
From: falco_999 Date: February 14th, 2005 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are they non-religious? They sing Christmas carols at Hogwarts, after all. And JKR has hinted, if my memory isn't tricking me, that her Christianity does have an impact on the books. She's also a fan of C.S. Lewis.

Although I do agree that the HP books aren't overtly religious, they do often go into concepts that have a spiritual flavour; perhaps most memorably in Harry's discussion with Luna at the end of OotP, not to mention Dumbledore's "next great adventure" line. However, it is quite true to say that spirituality isn't the same thing as religion. :)
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: February 14th, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Life room would probably contain... ok, this is squicky, but... embryos? Of animals if not humans, at least? the WW seems to be libertarian, almost, and I doubt the study of embryos would be controversial. And what better way to study Life than at the moment it begins?

I, too, have my reservations about Faith.. but I think they could be studying something related: Hope, perhaps.

Soul is a good idea, magic's definitely a must. But you know what? I think they would also be studying physical science as muggles know it. Really. The WW certainly has catching up to do in this area..

So we need.. 3 more things to study? Hmmm...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Faith and hope are different things though (different theological virtues, which are often paired with the cardinal virtues). Faith appears to be an act of the mind, while Hope is an act of the will.
hobbitguy1420 From: hobbitguy1420 Date: February 14th, 2005 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
the Beauty room could concievably be as dangerous as the others, too - I imagine a place filled with so much glory that you wind up just standing there, lost in yourself among the beauty - possibly until you starve.
kokopelli20878 From: kokopelli20878 Date: February 14th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Other mysteries

The evergreen mystery of evil - if God is all powerful and loving, why do bad things happen to good people (that's the warm-up)

and

Free Will versus Predestination
xerne From: xerne Date: February 14th, 2005 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you do go with life and death being two different rooms, do you think "good and evil" would be one? I would think oppositions would either be separate or together.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2005 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I guess I have Genesis imagery in my head--the Tree of Life isn't the Tree of Life and Death. But the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is a single tree.
velvetmouse From: velvetmouse Date: February 14th, 2005 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Perhaps draw on some of the Greek muses here?
Music, maybe? Or the Arts in general? We don't really know much about art in the wizarding world, and I know that's a big topic of speculation in fandom.

Life, I think definitely. You need the balance for Death.

I think the Magic is a good bet too.
cleversimon From: cleversimon Date: February 14th, 2005 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
The door I'm most interested in is the one Sirius's knife couldn't open. I get shivers every time I read that part.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: February 14th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought the prophecies were in the room after the Time room. If they are separate, perhaps they represent Fate/Destiny? If a person's future can be predicted, that indicates some sort of path laid out for them.

I've always taken the room with brains to be the Memory room. There seems to be a lot of magic surrounding memory (the Obliviate spell, the Pensieve), and fiddling with memory is as dangerous as playing with time or death.

I suspect the study of something's opposite is implicit in the study of that thing. In other words, if there's a Love chamber, there need not be a Hate chamber. Same for Life/Death, Time/Eternity. So I think your idea of a Good/Evil room makes sense. But that's just my opinion.

These mysteries seem to be some of the great philosophical questions. Beauty fits well, because people have debated aesthetics forever. So how about Power? Ideas like Divine Right and the Will to Power were created to explain where it comes from and who gets to have it.

Really interesting question, Fern.
genesse From: genesse Date: February 14th, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
A Humanity room? I guess it would be more of an Emotion room, but I think that the ability for some people to be compassionate and humane and for some to be indifferent/apathetic is an interesting study.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 14th, 2005 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's a good one, like how human society works (think the arguements like Leviathin).
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 14th, 2005 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would consider Faith part of Love, but that's my religion talking. Magic, definitely, and maybe Music. It always reminds me of "Music...a magic beyond all we do here."
gehayi From: gehayi Date: February 14th, 2005 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now, see, I can't see a Faith Room even being necessary, because faith isn't universal. There are many, many people who believe in deities--and there are people who simply can't believe, no matter how much they learn about the religions in question. Besides, what would people study? That people believe stuff? That's a given. Why people believe stuff? Wouldn't that be more properly the provence of the Mind Room?

Faith, as a subject, just doesn't make any sense to me.

Studying magic makes sense, as that would be a reality in the lives of all wizards and witches, if not people.

Souls--well, that's possible. Souls do exist in the Potterverse, and they do go on to definite destinations after death, or else become ghosts. But isn't the biggest mystery about souls whether or not they exist? And the wizards seem to have that one nailed.

I think there might be two rooms, one for studying Good and the other for studying Evil. With an interconnecting room that allows the wizards to study the two together.

Life should be one of the mysteries, definitely.

So...Magic, Souls, Good, Evil, Life...one more. The Mystery of Nature and Science, maybe. If the wizards are going to study things like souls and love and death/the afterlife, they should also study physical bodies, the physical world, and knowledge about both.
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: February 14th, 2005 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, there's always Faith in a nonreligious way. Faith in a parent/trusted adult; faith/trust in oneself; faith that something will happen, even when one knows it won't...

It can still be a mystery.
calliopeia17 From: calliopeia17 Date: February 14th, 2005 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Has anyone said Justice yet? Or Truth? I suppose they might fall into the Mind category, but I see the Mind room as more of a study of the relationship between mind and body than of thought itself.

I'm not really sure what a Justice or Truth room would contain though- Egyptian mythology-style scales, maybe? That's sort of the imagery I get.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 14th, 2005 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
What about not just love but Emotion itself? Happiness, despair, love, fear - all of these have featured as prominant themes in the books. Despair in particular - could a study of dementors occur? And how does the Ministry control them? I think someone said free will but also free choice - choice is after all another great theme of the books. :)
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