I’ve been hanging around the HPMoR subreddit lately, and had to share two particular posts.
The first is Why Self Actualization is my favorite arc in HPMOR (spoilers and cursing, lots of cursing) which leads to this essay. It’s long so I’ll just zero in right on my favorite part:
Hermione’s growth is triggered by frustration and helplessness in the face of collective insanity, just like Harry at Azkaban and Draco upon realizing the delusions of the blood purists. It’s rationalist fiction, bitches
I love this line, because it gets right at what – to me – this is the emotional core of most Rationalist Fiction. “People Are Crazy And The World is Mad”, followed by the hero rebelling against that in a effort to not be swept away by the accepted social insanity. Many thanks to Writingathing for helping to cement that in my mind. Previously it had just been a vague emotion without any physical grounding.
The second is a rather hilarious request by someone who’d stopped reading for the community to summarize chapters 63-101 for him. :) This is the most brilliant reply:
The following is a quick summary of ch 63-101, avoiding spoilers.
ch 63 — Lying is dangerous, because you have to keep telling more lies to cover it up.
ch 64 — Don’t forget to get some sleep.
ch 65 — When you don’t want to believe something that’s true, it’s easy to get into the habit of lying and thinking other people are lying. Growing up happens not as a result of age, but of being through hard adult experiences.
ch 66 — Hesitation is always easy but seldom useful. Decide right now what information you will need and what decision you will make depending on the information you get.
ch 67 — Aim for the head when fighting someone wearing body armour. Don’t keep trying strategies that aren’t working.
ch 68 — People disagree on what it means to be “who you were meant to be” but think it’s a good idea.
ch 69 — People don’t always achieve their potential because they get bad ideas from their environment. Helping people feels good, but being a true hero isn’t fun or easy.
ch 70 — It isn’t sexism if they act that way with everyone.
ch 71 — Feminism should be about women being free to be who they want to be, not trying to pretend they don’t care at all about men.
ch 72 — If you lie too much, people won’t believe things you say. If you refuse to answer questions, people won’t know what to think.
ch 73 — Making every other paragraph a flashback makes the story hard to understand. Knowledge is better than ignorance, because not knowing about a problem doesn’t make it go away.
ch 74 — You should think before you do things.
ch 75 — When you try to be sensible, your friends might not understand you. Consent is important. Being a hero means doing whatever you can to help, not worrying about whose fault it is or whether it ought to be someone else’s job.
ch 76 — Sometimes you can get good ideas by talking to well-meaning clueless people.
ch 77 — Sometimes it’s better to “lose” a small conflict than escalate it and raise the stakes. But some things are worth fighting for. Memory-wiping magic is OP.
ch 78 — Unflinchingly discard ideas that are appealing in some sense but ultimately flawed.
ch 79 — Sometimes people assess the quality of an argument based on who they usually hear using it, rather than its quality.
ch 80 — When you think of someone as “bad” for some reason, it’s easy to keep seeing more bad things about them. People are too quick to heap hate on unpopular people when they should urge restraint.
ch 81 — It’s hard to give up large amounts of money, even for a good cause.
ch 82 — Sometimes we act contrary to game theory to protect those we love.
ch 83 — Rumours aren’t always true.
ch 84 — People like to do what everyone else is doing, even if they know it’s wrong.
ch 85 — It’s really hard to say what’s good and bad, and what’s justified in pursuit of a good cause.
ch 86 — Consider multiple explanations and use Bayes’ Theorem to consider the likelihood of each.
ch 87 — A lot of the things we do are because of small rewards and punishments. Evolutionary psychology is a bad topic to bring up when someone asks you what your relationship with them means.
ch 88 — Don’t waste time thinking about things that aren’t helping you solve the problem.
ch 89 — There is no God.
ch 90 — Sometimes people act like they imagine the person others see them as would, rather than doing what is actually smart.
ch 91 — You can’t learn from books what it’s like to be Severus Snape. It sucks to live in a society where you have no rights.
ch 92 — It’s a good idea to think of doing things before it’s too late, rather than after.
ch 93 — Sometimes people will step outside their “roles” and exceed your expectations.
ch 94 — Life isn’t fair and it’s really scary to fight people who are smart.
ch 95 — Just because someone doesn’t do something that would help others doesn’t mean they don’t care about them.
ch 96 — Throughout most of history people have been unable to stop death. But maybe we can.
ch 97 — Getting a lawyer is a good idea.
ch 98 — Don’t let your real enemies trick you into fighting people who could be your friends.
ch 99 — Apparently we’re doing the forbidden forest scene.
ch 100 — Consider the worst thing that could happen and take precautions.
ch 101 — What actually happens will probably be worse.
About the chapter 89 summary, it’s ironic to say there’s no God in this context, because we in the audience know that there’s an author making all the plans and calling all the shots, and that author probably cares about the characters in the story and justice and all that.
But we’re also keenly aware of the author’s additional motives, such as producing an engaging narrative and communicating a central point. Whether that point is that the human world is fragile or that humanity can overcome its fragility, well… actually, the point pretty much has to be both. We’ve seen both points as major running themes already. The biggest narrative question before the last arc is which outcome the author will choose. Will it be the ambiguous position so close to our position in reality? A clear victory for human progress? A clear failure?
The answer almost has to be the most poignant, but this is not a trivial assessment to make. The first candidate is the most relevant, but also not satisfying. The second is gratifying and inspirational. The third is cautionary and all too easy to forget if it’s not drilled in. We know Harry is supposed to be flawed, and the author’s already stated an opinion on the likely outcome when someone smart-yet-flawed tries to change the world. However, we also know that Harry is growing rapidly, now more than ever, highly aware of what he needs to protect.
The author’s perception of the audience’s maturity will also factor in. Specifically, which maturity target does the author wish to hit most profoundly? The greatest danger and greatest boon is in the most mature people, who would get the most out of the saddest ending. But there’s also power in numbers, and the author seems intent on spreading this updated rationality to any who might listen.
Whatever factors I locate, the details about it are too balanced for me to hazard a guess without a wasteful time investment. Especially considering that the author claims to have decided the story’s outcome before beginning the work.
Oh wow, I feel so flattered to have people I respect quoting my silly Reddit posts!
(Love the work you do on this podcast; it’s how I first experienced most of HPMoR and I listen to every episode multiple times. :)
Thank you! I’m likewise delighted when I learn that cool/witty people listen to my podcast! :) To me I feel like some guy at home with a microphone, I’m still amazed people listen to this.