Neither Sherlock Holmes nor Donald Trump are far from the television screen at present. Trump’s latest exploits share screen time with the return of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, the current series of which ends on January 15. But somewhat surprisingly, the two are also connected by the idea of anti-intellectualism.
If the trailers are anything to go by, we already know where to find fantastic beasts: Eddie Redmayne has a suitcase full of them in 1926 New York. But where did they come from, the dragons, unicorns and hippogriffs of the Harry Potter universe? Monsters and mythical beasts perform a role in JK Rowling’s work which transcends that of world-building: they add symbolic and psychological depth, as well as reminding us that we are visiting a magical place. Rowling is both an inventor and archivist of fantastical animals, populating her universe with a mixture of what one might term ‘classic monsters’ (trolls, centaurs, mer-people) and folklore staples (bowtruckles, erklings), alongside her own inventions (dementors).
On Friday night, Bob Dylan closed out his set at Desert Trip with the 1963 song "Masters of War," one of the most potent songs of his "protest" era. Given the state of world affairs and the painfully frightening candidacy of the Republican Party's nominee, it was no less powerful than when he performed it at the Newport Folk Festival, more than 50 years ago.