It's a kind of magic
November 13, 2014 6:45 AM   Subscribe

"We have a clean, green, and infinite power source! and we use it to make some fucking candles hover around!"

French cartoonist Boulet takes on the wizarding world of Harry Potter. His archives, meanwhile, are not to be missed.

[Scientific deconstruction of Harry Potter previously.]
posted by Sokka shot first (80 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
i think the mention of middle ages peasants rejecting gas in favor of unheated houses is spot off. We like to treat the middle ages as "the dark ages" where everyone was kinda dumb, superstitious, and ignorant. But really, I'm sure the people were just as smart as any other people, and no more superstitious than anyone today. The real causes of "the dark ages" were political, and environmental.

And I think the same thing is true of the HP universe. Maybe to a teen protagonist who knows nothing about wizarding history, it looks like all the wizards need to do is stop their stupid navel gazing and go fix the world. But I've got news for ya... that's exactly the same thing we could say about the muggle world! Why don't we eliminate lead from the air? I'm sure we could do it, if we just forced companies to filter their exhaust. Why don't we plant more trees? Don't need magic to do that.
posted by rebent at 6:55 AM on November 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


Here's the relevant TVTropes article. This is pretty well covered territory.
posted by graymouser at 6:56 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]




There is a sense in which Harry Potter world is a bit like a Saudi Arabia of infinite oil.

But I think really the reason that magic and science don't mix is that magic in fiction is the physical embodiment of will, and therefore obeys the logic of human emotion, our intuitive sense of symbolism; there is no underlying physical law to which the ritual can be stripped down.
posted by Diablevert at 7:01 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Much like superhero comics, any modern fantasy followed to its logical conclusion very quickly creates a world unrecognizable to its reader. There's a place for that, but it's not really what most people are looking to read.

So yeah, the wizarding world has a sort of Atlas Shrugged quality to it where it's just understood that the muggles are going to burn and take every other non-magical species with them, and you just sort of accept that as the price of admission.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:01 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I strongly suspect that based upon the completely befuddlement that some wizards have in regards to muggle technology there is an existential conflict between the sorcerous mind and the scientific mind, i.e. if you progress to far down either route you risk basically being unable to comprehend the basics of the other technology. Kids particularly mudblood children can freely use muggle technology but if they really really try to understand say how a computer or a cellphone works that would impact their ability to comprehend some magical alternatives.

After a certain point in time the scientific knowledge does defuse into wizarding culture thus the use of 1920s era steam locomotives but anything much newer than that is very very tempermental in the hands of a wizard see the Weasley car or Hagrid's motorcycle.

I suspect that the wizards keep the squibs around mainly to handle the small amount of technology that they are capable of using.
posted by vuron at 7:05 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've never understood what could be attractive about the Harry Potter world. Even taking away Dementors and Voldemort, it's a world that is inferior in every way to ours, despite having the power to change the laws of reality. The wizards are less than useless, and their magic is of the Uri Geller type, where we mystifyingly bend spoons despite having easier and more reliable ways to bend spoons and also we don't need spoons bent. As with the Jedi in Star Wars, they are their own worst enemies and exist in a world that has no use for them. Any Voldemort that couldn't take this world over in a day isn't an evil warlock worth following.
posted by Legomancer at 7:10 AM on November 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


Magic comes with it's own narrative logic usually involving Terrible Costs for going Too Far, so go down this path and it's not long before you have Magic Chernobyl to go with Magic Hitler.
posted by Artw at 7:14 AM on November 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


I've never understood what could be attractive about the Harry Potter world. [...] The wizards are less than useless, and their magic is of the Uri Geller type, where we mystifyingly bend spoons despite having easier and more reliable ways to bend spoons and also we don't need spoons bent.

You misspelled 'Ringworld.'
posted by plinth at 7:16 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Grindlewald was Magic Hitler though I believe or at least had been if Dumbledore hadn't taken decisive action to end his threat. Basically it's kinda like the decision faced by the Chamberlain government in regards to Hitler.

At some point in time though Dumbledore's hands were tied vis-a-vis Voldemort and you had Magic Hitler come to power although initially it came in the form of a magical Tory government. So maybe Voldemort is more Magic Thatcher?
posted by vuron at 7:18 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


For those of you who haven't watched Legend of Korra, they are dealing with precisely this kind of issue. There are visible, obvious, spiritual/magical powers in that world. But not everyone has them. Also technology like cars and steam engines and magnets. Some people are trying to harness the spirit power for technology-like purposes (weapons, energy sources) and that is driving part of the plot this season. In the first season, people without magical powers were using technology like electrical shocking devices and mech suits to fight/protest against the magic-powered people who were oppressing them.
posted by emjaybee at 7:23 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've never understood what could be attractive about the Harry Potter world.

They would give me a free green and silver necktie
posted by Greg Nog at 7:33 AM on November 13, 2014 [24 favorites]


i think the mention of middle ages peasants rejecting gas in favor of unheated houses is spot off. We like to treat the middle ages as "the dark ages" where everyone was kinda dumb, superstitious, and ignorant. But really, I'm sure the people were just as smart as any other people, and no more superstitious than anyone today. The real causes of "the dark ages" were political, and environmental.

Are we not in a similar dark ages? I'm going to have to think on this, given the parallels to current times and similar political and environmental issues.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 7:36 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


There are some appealing things about the Harry Potter world! I would like the ability to travel great distances more or less instantaneously and for zero dollars.

Dude may have meant the "sorted into Hufflepuff" at the start as a throwaway gag, but honestly his whole rant struck me as very Hufflepuffian. This is coming from a Hufflepuff fan btw. Sensible, practical-minded, focused on reducing suffering and bettering everyone's lot not through big showy heroics but through unflashy hard work and compassionate application of common sense. Sorting Hat did not make an error.
posted by erlking at 7:42 AM on November 13, 2014 [23 favorites]


As for HP, I agree to a point with rebent, we're sort of in the same place that Harry was in the first book: looking with wonder and awe at the potential. We don't see the cost, the problems, etc.

However, one theme that was always present but never really deeply explored in the books was that there was also a strong tendency in wizards to withdraw, to look down on muggles, and to go with the Way Things Always Have Been. Frankly while the wizards have problems, they've also got (for themselves anyway) a set of solutions that give them a pretty nice life. Those solutions aren't really scaleable, but for the wizard population they work as well as technology.

Want your house heated? Enslave some elves to light fires for you, why bother with central heating? That won't heat the homes of everyone, it does jack shit for muggles, but if you're an aristocratic minded wizard who doesn't care about the muggles then it works fine.

And in some areas they have vastly superior solutions to technology. Teleportation across long distances beats flying in an airplane any day. Same with medicine, the wizards have a cavaleer attitude towards injury that seems shocking, bordering on child neglect in some cases, but they have that attitude because for the most part they can truly fix injuries and illnesses and do so quickly. Harry had a broken arm that the school nurse, not even a real doctor, said she could fix in five minutes; Lockhart made it worse by making all the bones in Harry's arm vanish. Among muggles that would mean a lifetime of being crippled. Among the wizards it meant an uncomfortable night while a potion regrew the bones in less than 12 hours.

I do think the wizards could do a lot more. I think we might be overlooking some of the problems, or making the solutions seem easier than they might be, but I think the wizards could impove the world. But mostly they don't care. The aristocrats of the old world could have made life easier for the peasants back then, but they didn't because they didn't care. And the wizards are nothing if not aristocratic in outlook.

Even the Weasleys for all that they do present a more sympathetic face tend to see the muggles as sort of stupid lumpish inferiors. They object to those stupid lumpish inferiors being abused, but none of them are out there looking for ways to improve the world, or even really improve muggle things. Mr. Weasley tinkers a bit, but mostly he's like a steampunk aficionado, he doesn't care about the underlying technology he just likes the aesthetics.

emjaybee, but in Korra they were also using the spiritual/magical powers to make the technology go. Remember that the electricity in Republic City is apparently supplied by firebenders zapping lightning at giant contacts in the power plant. The roads the cars run on are laid down by earthbenders, etc. I'd be surprised if the water supply wasn't at least partially run and purified by waterbenders.
posted by sotonohito at 7:45 AM on November 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


magic : floating candles :: internet : Kim Kardashian's bottom
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:49 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


(I mean, we in the wealthy developed world could also do a hell of a lot more to make the planet better for the majority of people who do not live in our comfort and do not have access to our conveniencnes . . . . but most of us just want to live our normal nice lives)
posted by erlking at 7:51 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Are we not in a similar dark ages? I'm going to have to think on this, given the parallels to current times and similar political and environmental issues.

We absolutely are, in a very unbalanced sort of way though. I can literally order nearly anything I want from the comfort of my heated home and expect someone to drop it on my doorstep in two days, where it will sit undisturbed until I pick it up. My ability to go about my day without being murdered or assaulted literally doesn't even register in my daily consciousness. I shit in drinking water.

Meanwhile there are millions of people (mostly women and children) whose job is literally shoveling shit, with a life expectancy decades shorter than everyone I know.

The magic is that this is imbalance is almost completely invisible.
posted by odinsdream at 7:57 AM on November 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yeah, this always gets to me about Harry Potter, but more in the reverse, oddly enough. What I mean is, I can understand their not wanting to mess with the Muggle world, the general idea being that it will just end up with them being dictators, or having a fight with the Muggle world. But why don't they adopt Muggle inventions themselves? There's some mention that a lot of electronics don't work right around magic, but there must be some stuff they could use. Wizards in the books talk dismissively about Muggle science, but it's fairly clear that they don't understand how far its come. They're still flying on broomsticks, while Muggles have gone to the Moon. They're horrified that dark wizards are able to kill a few dozen people with giants, not realizing that Muggles have weapons capable of instantly incinerating a city. In school they're studying the stars using telescopes, while Muggles have hyperspectral imaging of stars throughout their life cycle. It's true that in most practical aspects (medicine, etc) the wizards are ahead of Muggles. But for how long? Most of the spells seem to have been around for ages. This means that science is advancing, while magic is standing still. Magic's in the lead, but sooner or later the Muggles are going to catch up.

If you want an in-universe explanation, you might put it down to a combination of xenophobia, poor education, and culture. Hogwarts has only one Muggle culture class as an elective, and it's not popular, and presumably doesn't receive a lot of resources. There are, as far as we know, no classes in physics or math. Muggleborns are anxious to fit in, so they presumably keep their mouths shut (Hermoine and Harry, for example, never seem to talk much to students like Ron about what the Muggle world is like).

There's a bigger problem in that the Wizards are very tradition bound. It's not just that Wizards don't use technology. It's that there isn't much emphasis on experimenting or trying anything new. You saw this in Half-blood prince. Harry gets a used potions textbook, and finds that a previous student wrote instructions in the margins that were better than the Official Way of Doing Things. In other words, everyone's doing things the good old fashioned way, like they've been done for generations, instead of trying to do things better.
posted by unreason at 7:57 AM on November 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


So, French for Hogwarts is Poudlard.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:02 AM on November 13, 2014




They're horrified that dark wizards are able to kill a few dozen people with giants, not realizing that Muggles have weapons capable of instantly incinerating a city

So I'm not the only one that read Harry Potter and kept thinking of that Buffy episode where the Judge proclaims that no weapon forged can defeat him and Buffy wastes him with a rocket launcher. I mean once you get all the horcruxes eliminated, Voldemort could just be taken out by a sniper.
posted by Ber at 8:11 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Magic Wands! That could kill people in the wrong hands!

In fairness they also seem able to kill people when they are in the right hands.
posted by biffa at 8:12 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the best things about the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman is that it's a lot more explicit about the Magicians' world being mostly a playground for idlers. Some magicians do get involved in politics and causes, but secretively and with intentions similar to high-society philanthropists.
posted by rikschell at 8:15 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


The hovertext says it best: "For me the time-turner is the moment when Rowling nuked the fridge. I mean, SERIOUSLY? A magical thingy that REBOOTS THE WHOLE UNIVERSE THREE HOURS BACK? what about USING THAT AGAINST VOLDEMORT? Oh? No one had the idea? Never mind."
posted by Mchelly at 8:20 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's true that in most practical aspects (medicine, etc) the wizards are ahead of Muggles. But for how long? Most of the spells seem to have been around for ages. This means that science is advancing, while magic is standing still. Magic's in the lead, but sooner or later the Muggles are going to catch up.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is also a series that is for children. It's a story. It's fiction. To ask why the internal world is not utterly rationalized seems to miss something subtle and important.
posted by clockzero at 8:20 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


The hovertext says it best: "For me the time-turner is the moment when Rowling nuked the fridge. I mean, SERIOUSLY? A magical thingy that REBOOTS THE WHOLE UNIVERSE THREE HOURS BACK? what about USING THAT AGAINST VOLDEMORT? Oh? No one had the idea? Never mind."

The entire stock was destroyed in the Ministry of Magic fight a book earlier. /nerd
posted by Artw at 8:24 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


One of the best things about the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman is that it's a lot more explicit about the Magicians' world being mostly a playground for idlers.

I was just about to comment that Grossman's Magicians is way ahead of this guy. For instance, one of the characters makes it her thesis project to capture a single photon of light, which she manages without any problems. Except nobody can prove whether she did it or not, so they give her an 'E' for effort.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:27 AM on November 13, 2014


The time-turner paradox is never explained just like why the Fellowship never used the Eagles to fly to Mordor is never explained.

Sometimes you gotta assume that there is some unwritten internal logic at work that pretty much prevents all the awesome time-saving plothacks from actually being viable because otherwise Dumbledore or Gandalf being smart chaps probably would've figured that shit out.
posted by vuron at 8:27 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


The part that permanently unsuspended my disbelief was when Hermione was changing muggle money into wizard money and it struck me all at once that there was literally nothing underpinning the wizarding economy and that the Weasleys were only poor because it was plot-convenient that they be poor. There were absolutely no fundamental resource constraints that would end up with rich and poor wizards.

But you can't go too far down the road of making fantasy worlds make sense or you end up at a dinner party complaining bitterly about the impractical, wasteful redundancy of the Island of Sodor's transit system and nobody wants to sit next to you.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:57 AM on November 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


If you start talking about the wastefulness of the Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hat and why he puts up with the awful awful classist steamies that basically just run around being dicks all day instead of being useful engines at a dinner party you will either get shunned or pitied as being a parent of one of those kids (Thomas obsessed boys).
posted by vuron at 9:05 AM on November 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


But you can't go too far down the road of making fantasy worlds make sense or you end up at a dinner party complaining bitterly about the impractical, wasteful redundancy of the Island of Sodor's transit system and nobody wants to sit next to you.

Or the dictatorial and incompetent reign of the Fat Controller?

Setting aside the fact that he kills beings he knows to be sentient as soon as they stop being useful, what kind of person builds a giant statue of themselves?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:08 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I presume anytime someone from the wizarding world approaches muggle politicians with potential solutions to societal problems, they are told to piss off.

Just consider how real-life politicians in the United States react when 98% of climate wizards tell them the world is going to come to an end if we don't do some simple, non-magical things to save ourselves.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:10 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


The kind of person who has faced a lifetime of persecution over his weight and learned to love his physical self?
posted by biffa at 9:13 AM on November 13, 2014


Train Hitler would have worked too.
posted by Artw at 9:15 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


He does make the trains run on time afterall
posted by vuron at 9:17 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the best things about the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman is

LMFTFY

the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman is One of the best things

Wait still not right

the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman is One of the best things

Better
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:21 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


why the Fellowship never used the Eagles to fly to Mordor is never explained

Ringwraiths would have detected and defeated them. The ring (and the wraiths) had to go first, before the eagles could safely enter Mordor.
posted by sidereal at 9:27 AM on November 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


The first book is set in 1991 though, muggle technology was still kinda primitive anyway.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:45 AM on November 13, 2014


But you can't go too far down the road of making fantasy worlds make sense or you end up at a dinner party complaining bitterly about the impractical, wasteful redundancy of the Island of Sodor's transit system and nobody wants to sit next to you

Leotrotsky and Eyebrows McGee, I would sit with you. So long as we could also discuss how neither the human behavior nor the science (at least the biological science) of Wall-E make any goddman sense.
posted by emjaybee at 9:56 AM on November 13, 2014


Ringwraiths would have detected and defeated them. The ring (and the wraiths) had to go first, before the eagles could safely enter Mordor.

Pity Tolkein forgot to put that explanation in the book.

I think whatever way you slice it, on the facts as we have them in the book(s) as published, giving the ring to the Eagles is a better plan than the one they settle on. Sure, there's the possibility of the Eagles being spotted and the Nazgul defeating them, but it's not as if "simply walking into Mordor" is without risks.

But to harp on these things is also to miss the point of fantasy fiction, which is not to construct a world of pure self-consistency and logical unassailability. Fantasy worlds, I would argue, are illogical to some extent by design. You write a fantasy world so as to bring certain themes and issues into the kind of stark relief which they simply can't have in the muddled and conflicting constraints of ordinary reality. The skilful fantasy writer is simply the one who manages to keep those contradictions or absurdities sufficiently in the background that they don't overtax the reader's suspension of disbelief.

If it weren't for the internet making it a meme, only a tiny, tiny percentage of Tolkein's readers would ever think twice about "why didn't they give it to the eagles"? So I think he did a reasonable job of not rubbing our noses in the problem. Rowling courts reader resistance a little more actively with the cavalier way she tosses magical solutions at problems without ever seeming to stop and ask herself "if they can do this now why wouldn't they do it all the time?" but looking at the enormous popularity of the books one has to concede that there's still only a few readers who get seriously troubled by those lapses.
posted by yoink at 10:25 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


The other thing not to be overlooked is that the whole point of having magic in a book is to make global problems human-scale. The connection between magical worlds and ersatz medieval-ism is in part that by reaching back to a world before the gun, before the microscope, before the printing press, you also reach back to a world where the fighting prowess of a single individual could turn the tide of a battle, and therefore perhaps a war, a world where kings really rode at the head of their legions, where the right man in the right spot swinging the right sword could be enough. In a magical world you can have your Achilles back, your King Arthurs. Just with a wand instead of a sword. The power of a gun is that it takes no talent to pull a trigger --- you don't have to be special. Every foot soldier just as capable a killing machine as any knight.

Of course, I'm speaking here at a level of abstraction --- I'm sure real medieval armies used tactics as complex and sophisticated as any modern fighting force. But a big part of the appeal of any magical world is that re-scaling of problems, to get you back in a situation where one individual's personal courage and skill can truly control the fate of the world.
posted by Diablevert at 10:46 AM on November 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


I always thought that the cons of using the eagles were so obvious Tolkien never raised the issue. In addition to the problem of the Ringwraiths, there is the nature of the Ring itself. Only Bombadil and the hobbits showed any resistance to the damn thing. Giving it to a being as powerful Gwaihir would mean immediate corruption.
posted by Ber at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Diableverts points actually dovetail pretty neatly with the many oddities of Superheroic universes as well.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on November 13, 2014


Giving it to a being as powerful Gwaihir would mean immediate corruption.

A) there's not all that much evidence to suggest that he would be corrupted in the few hours it would take him to fly to Mt. Doom (he doesn't have to wear the ring, after all, just carry it in a bag).

B) if that's a real concern you have him carry Frodo+ring to Mt. Doom.
posted by yoink at 11:22 AM on November 13, 2014


Yeah the question of "why not use the eagles" never entered my mind because it seemed so obvious. Sauron would detect it quickly and dispatch a ringwraith.

I wouldn't expect Tolkien to waste time explaining why they wouldn't just catapult the ring in either because that's also an immediately bad idea.
posted by Twain Device at 11:25 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


The entire stock was destroyed in the Ministry of Magic fight a book earlier.

Yeah but they were available at the time that Lily and James were killed, so why not go back a few hours earlier and lie in wait for Voldemort and kill him then. I assume there is some handwavey thing about how the individual using the time turner can only use it to affect their own timeline, but it is definitely amongst the many many aspects of the wizarding world that I want hundreds of thousands of explanatory footnotes and references and dissertations on, all canon-compliant of course.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:31 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oglaf (Comic SFW, website extremely NSFW) had a different take on the eagles question.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:34 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Give the Ring to the Eagles" misses the entire subtle point of The Lord of the Rings. The One Ring had a will of its own. If you put Gandalf, Frodo and Sam on eagles and had them fly into Mordor, the Ring would've fallen off and betrayed them just like it did Isildur. It was only by keeping it around the neck of a Hobbit of absolutely heroic willpower that they had any chance at all.
posted by graymouser at 11:53 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


But really, I'm sure the people were just as smart as any other people, and no more superstitious than anyone today.

well, that's only because the Internet hadn't been invented yet.
posted by sneebler at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2014


When Harry and Hermione travel back in time at the climax of Azkaban, everything they do is consistent with previously observed events. More than that, much of what they do was necessary to cause the previously observed events. It's possible that the Time Turners are unable to change history, and that they only exist because non-paradoxical time loops occasionally crop up in the wizarding world, and the universe needs a mechanism of some sort for kicking those off.
posted by Iridic at 12:22 PM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, except for the death of Buckbeak, which is a pretty big change in the historical timeline, considering it prevented both his and Sirius' deaths.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:44 PM on November 13, 2014


So also like superhero universes, introducing time travel is just asking for trouble...
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on November 13, 2014


A commonly used explanation of why magic isn't used for space exploration is that it only works within a biosphere

Although at least some muggles and know of the existence of magic (like the Prime Minister) I'd imagined if it became common knowledge (ie through space programs, new mass energy sources) paranoia would soon set in and warfare would follow.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:56 PM on November 13, 2014


Maybe space is just boring or full of Mi-Go.
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, except for the death of Buckbeak, which is a pretty big change in the historical timeline, considering it prevented both his and Sirius' deaths.

True, but remember, they'd never seen Buckbeak die, just assumed it had been killed. So it's actual state in the timeline was unknown and therefore they could save it without changing anything else. Sort of a Schrodinger's griffin.
posted by unreason at 12:58 PM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Basically the rules Doctor Who (mostly) operates under these days.
posted by Artw at 12:59 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hm, I think they did see Buckbeak die in canon but it just wasn't shown explicitly in the movie? But otherwise that seems like as good an explanation as any, really.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:03 PM on November 13, 2014


Very much offstage in book and movie.
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2014


I think it's all about whether or not they're trying to change something that they know for a fact actually happened:

Bill: Ted, you forgot to wind your watch again. And after you reminded yourself not to.

Ted: I better remind myself again. (to his past self) Don't forget to wind your watch!

Ted then proceeds to forget anyway.
posted by unreason at 1:23 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


The best bean-plating comment I ever read re HP was about the scoring system of Quidditch making no sense and that JK Rowling 'should have hired a game's designer/expert' to work it out properly
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:35 PM on November 13, 2014


Movie Quidditch makes fuck all sense. Book Quidditch is slightly better but still very Snitch-centric.
posted by Artw at 1:39 PM on November 13, 2014


And yeah, penniless Rowling writing The Philosophers Stone in a coffee shop was not going to be hiring anyone and probably wasn't thinking nerds might be moaning about it years later.
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if she knew exactly what she was doing. She has said "It infuriates men...which is quite satisfying given my state of mind when I invented it."
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:15 PM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


to get you back in a situation where one individual's personal courage and skill can truly control the fate of the world.

Though it's possible to go 'forward' to those things with powerful world-smashing technology, or technologically-produced isolation where suddenly one person matters again, and thus we are forced to respect the author's ideas about government.
posted by fleacircus at 2:35 PM on November 13, 2014


You misspelled 'Ringworld.'

I'm fairly sure you misspelled 'Discworld'.
posted by ringu0 at 3:08 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stackexchange offers a couple of definitive-ish answers regarding the use of time turners.
posted by archagon at 3:23 PM on November 13, 2014


And no, nobody saw Buckbeak die in the books. Going back in time did not change history — it was already changed.
posted by archagon at 3:25 PM on November 13, 2014


Although at least some muggles and know of the existence of magic (like the Prime Minister) I'd imagined if it became common knowledge (ie through space programs, new mass energy sources) paranoia would soon set in and warfare would follow.

e.g.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:47 PM on November 13, 2014


Harry Potter manages to avoid the worst paradoxes of time travel by making it so that if you go back in time, you make something happen that was always going to happen - i.e. you can't change the present from the past.

There are still problems, if you could send a message to yourself back in time, you'd be able to transmit information to someone outside your present light-cone, and use that to violate causality. If you start making those kind of arguments at dinner parties though, people will be begging you to talk about the Island of Sodor's transit instead.
posted by Ned G at 2:42 AM on November 14, 2014


I confess I did not click every link in the thread, but I searched for the title and various permutations of it and was quite surprised to see no results, so I'll just leave this here:

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
posted by thedaniel at 3:47 AM on November 14, 2014


I'm fairly sure you misspelled 'Discworld'.
posted by ringu0 at 3:08 PM on November 13 [+] [!]

Nonononnononononononono. In Discworld we know that we can't over use magic due to the danger of Things from the Dungeon Dimensions breaking through. Might as well go around saying the number that is two times four all the time.
posted by MattWPBS at 4:31 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thirding Methods of Rationality. A lot of the frustration and thoughts being brought up here are addressed and beanplated in it.

Also, it is hilarious and MoR-Harry is frequently just as baffled by this illogical fuckery as you. It's just deeply satisfying in that way, even though I love canon and movie Potter as much as anyone.
posted by pseudonymph at 6:33 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


(dang, I missed the previously link in the post)
posted by thedaniel at 7:31 AM on November 14, 2014


I am now arriving at Chapter 13 of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, and I am in danger of staying up all night. This is good.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:46 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm ripping myself away to go to bed now. Gah. I haven't wanted to stay up all night to read for quite some time.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:47 PM on November 16, 2014


I'm now at Chapter 33, and while I'm still having fun, I have to say I'm disappointed with this guy's ability to write women. (Both in the sense that, even for his changed version of the story, it feels like he's got Hermione all wrong, and also in the sense that the only female characters who actually show up on the page for any length of time are Hermione and Prof. McGonagall.)
posted by ocherdraco at 4:20 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


That thing looks Dresden Kodak as hell.
posted by Artw at 4:33 PM on November 20, 2014


Without getting into any spoilers, further on there will be multiple women who make a lengthy and reasonably prominent appearance in MoR, ocherdraco. Probably not coincidentally, Hermione becomes far more well-written around that time, also.
posted by pseudonymph at 5:54 PM on November 20, 2014


I've just finished Chapter 81, and I am now reasonably satisfied that this guy has figured out how to write women as people too. And this is gripping.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:35 PM on November 25, 2014


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