Anyone entering the bewitching world of Harry Potter has discovered a limitless ride for the imagination. Author J. K. Rowling has created an...

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Anyone entering the bewitching world of Harry Potter has discovered a limitless ride for the imagination. Author J.K. Rowling has created an alternate universe, based on the modern world while saving her wizards world from the most unattractive aspects of Muggle (nonmagic) existence.

And this apparently includes e-mail.

Any superhero tale, which includes more than half of the movies I’ve seen lately, requires a certain suspension of disbelief. This doesn’t follow any logical path. Sometimes the idea that something could not happen comes from the fact that it violates the rules the writer has established within the alternate universe itself.

Anyone who ditched Harry Potter because they believe these events could never happen lacks an imagination, and should go back to reading the latest Grisham or Clancy. Those guys use e-mail all the time.

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This depends on the reader, but some may find Potter’s world is beyond the realm of any possible logic. Like the fact that we have several hundred smart and inquisitive teenagers who have no interest in computers or television; instead spending much of their lives actually learning while communicating through messages carried by an owl.

Magical owls are certainly faster than the typical carrier pigeon, but you can’t possibly think that one could ever beat an instant message.

This somewhat unbelievable characterization hasn’t exactly ruined my experience. I’ve been through all six Potter books one way or another, and this epiphany only arrived in the middle of the most recent. Like, couldn’t Harry just IM Dumbledore to warn him about Snape?

Rowling, who has channeled the ancient runic art known as “handwriting” to assemble her books, isn’t a likely author to work e-mail into the plot. In fact, the only Potter character to use modern entertainment technology is his dim cousin Dudley.

While Rowling has her own warm and wonderful Web presence ( it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t answer the e-mail that comes to that site. Or at least by our deadline. So we can only speculate about her motives.

Perhaps Harry and his pals’ ability to avoid e-mail addiction is a direct result of their ability to do real magic. Real people — Muggles — can’t change a match into a pin, or perform any other mystical tasks. So we need the Internet, as a magic substitute. Maybe the kids reading need to think they can do something Harry cannot.

More than likely, the “message” here regarding e-mail is straightforward and ultimately obvious. These books keep kids — and other people — off the Internet for as long as it takes to finish reading them. Even if they subsequently spend more time exchanging information online, they will learn that life offline is not wasted. This is a good thing.

If you have questions or suggestions for Charles Bermant, you can contact him by e-mail at Type Inbox in the subject field. More columns at