Pottermore: The Potter Family

24 Sep

LOTEN: So, Pottermore is changing into something else, apparently. It’s now the ‘digital heart of the wizarding world‘. As far as I can tell this means it’s had a tablet/phone friendly redesign which is a pain to use on a computer, and is still going to occasionally give out new shit for us to laugh at, though it’s going to be much harder to find since the story format and navigation seems to have gone out of the window.

They’ve also scrapped the whole Houses thing, temporarily, which apparently means I’ll have to go through the Sorting etc again at some stage. I’m pissed at losing the wand it gave me. Apparently eventually we’ll be tested for our Patronus forms, which could be kind of interesting.

Today, the origins of the Potter family. They’re descended from an absent-minded 12th century wizard nicknamed ‘the Potterer’ (I don’t think ‘pottering about’ was a phrase in the twelfth century, and also absent-minded people plus Potions equals messy death…) who made herbal cures for his Muggle neighbours, who unaccountably did not accuse him of witchcraft. Also he invented Skele-Gro (so much for our hope that it was a cheesy brand name and not the actual thing) and Pepperup and tons of other stuff, because of course he did and those are totally twelfth-century names for things (though it’s completely plausible there have been no medical advances in nine hundred years), and most of the family’s money came from selling his amazing potions to other wizarding folk. Anyway, his eldest son married Ignotus Peverell’s granddaughter, magic cloak, bla bla bla. Various descendants made it to government level and the family often married Muggles – er, Rowling, are you forgetting the definition of PUREBLOOD? You’ve said numerous times that they’re a pureblood family. There’s also no reference to them being related to the Blacks, which was mentioned on the stupid tapestry in Grimmauld Place.

One of their descendants, Henry-known-as-Harry, really liked Muggles, you guys, and argued with the mean nasty government about the whole casually abusing them thing, because he was awesome like that. He then named his son Fleamont for some reason (Henry’s mother’s maiden name, apparently) and Fleamont quadrupled the family’s stash of gold by inventing Sleekeazy hair potion before he and his wife produced James. They both died of dragon pox sometime between James and Lily getting married and Harry being born. It also specifically states that James didn’t inherit the cloak until Daddy snuffed it… one presumes he stole it to use at school to bully people and show off with, then.

So… the family of amazing potioneers and healers (lol yeah right; interesting how Slughorn never mentioned all these famous ancestors, isn’t it) dwindled to the point where two of them died of basically chicken pox. And then James died of stupidity.

I can’t help but feel this is some sort of judgement on them for occasionally marrying Muggles…

MITCHELL: Wow. This is… I’m really not sure what to say about any of this, honestly. The “digital heart of the wizarding world” thing just sounds like more of the same kind of thing as it was trying to do before (e.g. with the Quidditch World Cup and so forth), pretending that the wizarding world actually exists and presenting everything as documenting in-universe things? I really don’t know why they insist on writing things that way, but then I honestly don’t know anything about the people who go there or what the mainstream HP fandom is like these days, maybe it is mostly people who want to roleplay as if this stuff actually exists. Anyway, regardless, you’re quite right it’s more to laugh at… though mostly right now I feel more like finding something hard to bash my head against than laughing.

Hmm, interesting. That surprises me because I’d have thought people would be attached to that… then again, I always thought it was silly.

I really don’t know what to say about any of this supposed history of the Potter family, though, aside from the fact it makes no fucking sense and contradicts pretty much everything she’s written before (like she always does). That said… I did a bit of quick Googling on “pottering about” and I got the impression that that phrase seems to date to the 16th or 17th century at the earliest. Typical. I’d also have said that a nickname like that doesn’t seem to me like the kind of thing that’d end up becoming a family name… but then we’re talking about Britain here, home of Roger the Navel-Fucker, so I’m really not sure any more.

I like your point about how Slughorn really would have commented on these famous ancestors, especially where Potions-related, if they weren’t such an obvious retcon. And also the pureblood thing; does she pay even the slightest bit of attention to her writing any more? (Also let’s notice how the potions they’re credited with inventing are a few of the ones with more memorable names, but all of these are things we already knew existed from canon; it’s not like she’s going to present actual new content… that would require effort. It’s just so transparently lazy.)

LOTEN: Well, the people roleplaying there are shit out of luck now, all the forums and places to post have gone too. I assume to save money on moderators. And yeah, people really were attached to the Houses thing… I quite liked collecting random items in the interactive updates too, not just reading shit – there doesn’t seem to have been much warning that it was all going to be taken away, only a few days’ notice at best.

Yeah, it’s the usual nonsense broken retcons. Only minus the pretty art and ability to interact with any of it, so even less fun than it was previously. And the name origin really is stupid, why couldn’t they have been descended from a Muggle who was a potter, which is where the surname actually comes from in the real world? Or hell, no reason why wizards can’t be into pottery if she wants to keep insisting they were purebloods while saying that they’re actually not. It would make more sense than all the Potions retcon crap.

It honestly seems as though Rowling has basically nothing to do with this site any more, except for the fact that fans would take more care not to contradict existing canon…


Posted by on September 24, 2015 in loten, mitchell


Tags: , , , , , ,

10 responses to “Pottermore: The Potter Family

  1. liminal fruitbat

    September 25, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Didn’t she say that Henry Potter wanted the Ministry to intervene in World War One? Because introducing magic into that would have made things *so* much better…

  2. Loten

    September 26, 2015 at 7:06 am

    She did, but I chose to ignore it because there’s only so much stupid I can tolerate and it’s been obvious from book one that the world wars didn’t happen in the Potterverse.

  3. janach

    September 27, 2015 at 4:28 am

    To my mind (as a Baby Boomer) the idea of treating a fantasy world as if it were real goes back to Tolkien. In the Sixties and Seventies, this was a really cool and radical way of dealing with fantasy and science fiction, which had the advantage of being delightfully confusing to the Mundanes. I remember, when I was in college, explaining to someone, with complete seriousnes, that Tolkien had written an account of the actual history of Middle Earth. I was quite pleased with my auditor’s apparent uncertainty about my sanity.

    It worked with Middle Earth, however, because (1) at the time this was not a commonplace of fantasy and science fiction as it is now, and (2) Tolkin spent his entire life working to make sure that the history of his sub-creation (as he called it) actually made sense. Unlike JKR, he read and re-read and refined and re-wrote his own work, making sure it was coherent and consistent, in terms of plot and character and history and philosophy, even as his own conception of his creation grew and developed and changed in radical ways.

    This is why I absolutely hate Tolkien fanfiction: only JRR Tolkien could write those stores; even his own son couldn’t quite handle it. JKR, on the other hand, is the opposite: she has created a universe that a good number of other writers have proven to handle much better than she does, even though they couldn’t have created it to begin with themselves. I am, myself, not a fan of the Harry Potter books; I am a fan of Harry Potter fanfiction—or strictly speaking, Severus Snape fan fiction.

    • Loten

      September 27, 2015 at 6:59 am

      That’s a great way to put it. 🙂

  4. All-I-need

    October 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    I usually see what happens in the tumblr-based part of the Potter fandom and let me tell you right now that half the people who read this Family History thing now honestly believe that Severus was never any good at potions and that all the notes in his potions book are actually stuff he overheard James say to Sirius during potions class.
    I want to cry at this level of willful stupidity and ignorance.

    Anyway, this entire family history is obviously bullshit and my wish to list all these contradictions and show them to her and ask “What the fuck, Joanne?” is increasing every day.

    • mcbender

      October 5, 2015 at 12:50 pm


    • Loten

      October 5, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that all these retcons are precisely to engineer that reaction in the fandom. We had the bad grace to like Rowling’s therapy-characters she created to loathe, so she’s going to retcon and change everything until we think the way she wants us to think, damnit.

      I suppose she imagines that since she clearly never re-read anything she’d written before publication, we’re not going to re-read it either, so in her mind whatever she has said most recently will become current canon until it suits her to contradict it again later.

      As I said on my other recent post, I’m constantly surprised at how much she seems to hate her fans.

  5. drashizu

    October 12, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    I haven’t finished reading the whole thing yet, but your suspicion about the phrase “pottering about” is correct: apparently, use of the verb “to potter” with that meaning is recorded from 1740, meaning it’s probably, at most, a couple decades older than that in common use. Apparently it’s also distinct from the kind of “potter” that refers to pottery making, instead arising from an earlier term meaning “to poke repeatedly,” and the shift in meaning mirrored “poking about.”

    I don’t know why Rowling wouldn’t just give the character the name Potter the same way people in real life got that name: by being a potter. The surname dates from the 12th century, so it even fits her timeline. But her proposed etymology is ridiculous.

  6. drashizu

    October 12, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Also, I’m consistently surprised at how much she wants to twist her worldbuilding back on itself like an ouroboros. Can’t she come up with any other potions for him to have invented? *Must* it be the two potions we’ve seen Madame Pomfrey use in modern day/90’s wizardom? Is there any reason that he had to invent those potions specifically, or is it just because she doesn’t have any desire whatsoever to deepen the HP universe?

    Tell us he invented a potion we’ve never heard of which is no longer in use and let us guess why. Tell us he invented a potion that can no longer be made because one of the key ingredients is from an extinct species. Tell us he invented a potion that did the same thing as a modern potion but was twice as difficult to make, and 200 years later a completely different formula was discovered and no one has used his potion since. At the very least, tell us he invented a rudimentary form of a modern potion which has been tweaked over the ages to be more effective, but the basic formula is the same and he’s credited with the invention. Show us that potionmasters improve on each other’s work over time, and that the whole of your world hasn’t been stagnant for close to 1,000 years. Please, Rowling. Something. Anything. At this point, I’m begging.

    • Loten

      October 13, 2015 at 7:12 am

      I know. At this point I don’t think we have any option except to believe it’s laziness and disinterest on her part. I shouldn’t think there are any fans left who are pure canon slaves, I think we all see her work as the vague skeletal outline that we can build our own proper world on. Because goodness knows she won’t.


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