We Want MoR – Chapters 39 and 40

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Dumbledore consults Harry’s unique insight into Dark Lord thinking.


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Original chapters, written by Eliezer Yudkowsky, can be read here and the audiobook chapters, recorded by Eneasz Brodski, can be found earlier in this podcast feed and on the website.


Next episode we are covering chapters 41 – 43.


Album art courtesy of Lorec. Thank you!

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6 Comments

  1. There’s definitely plenty of people who think that death is good, just look at the Death Positive Movement : http://www.orderofthegooddeath.com/

  2. About Dumbledore phrasing things weirdly: Don’t forget that he is over a hundred years old. And in top of that sounding wise is a part of his job and image. So maybe he just falls back to that phrasing.

  3. Back when I first read this I thought Dumbledore here was being a stand-in for the people who think that atheists can’t be moral because they don’t believe in anything that gives intrinsic meaning to the everything.

  4. My parents and brother are real Deathists. My mother (54) repeatedly insists that she wants to die sometime in her 80s, despite her mother (74) agreeing that reversing aging would be awesome. My dad thinks he’ll get resurrected by God, though at least he doesn’t believe in souls.

    My brother is the most infuriating though. After a long argument, I’ve gotten him to say, quote, “I disagree with you, but I can’t think of a reason why.” He knows he has no reason to disagree with my arguments that death is bad, but he still insists the arguments are flawed! I really don’t get it.

  5. Sebastian Weinberg

    If “deathists” were such an outlier, then why is our entire culture full of fictional examples saying “immortality = Eeeeevill!!”?  This is so ingrained that merely mentioning a character seeks immortality is a lazy shorthand for signalling the audience “This guy is a monster who will do anything and kill anyone.”

    Then there’s the trope of the formerly good mortal character who BECOMES evil and/or insane, simply by living too long, because “Man was not meant to live forever, blah, blah, blah…”

    It ubiquitous to the point that, when I watched a Let’s Play video of Kingdoms of Amalur, the co-host of the stream INSTANTLY jumped to the conclusions that the Gnomes must be evil, because they were trying to create a resurrection machine.  He said, “Look, when has it ever been a good idea to be like, ‘I’ve invented a machine that can conquer Death!!’ ?”, not even noticing that he was basing his opinion on FICTIONAL evidence.  Although all of the above was done in fun to tease his co-host, I wrote a snarky comment:

    Yeah, well, a bunch of evolved apes who became sapient enough to comprehend mortality WOULD make up stories, where the moral is, “No, no, it’s GOOD that at the end of our short, miserable lives we die forever and nobody ever comes back. Trying to do something about that is what VILLAINS do,” or more often, “Actually, we don’t die at all. That’s just the invisible bit of you moving on to feast with the other worthy warriors/hunt on the eternal plains/play a harp. No, that’s totally not something I made up to stop crying myself to sleep every night, since the day I comprehended my own mortality. That’s something only a heretic would think…”

    While EXPLICIT “deathists” are rare, the underlying philosophy is very much part of the fabric of our culture, and remains an unspoken, not consciously realised conviction of a large percentage of people.
     

    Harry’s dismissiveness in the argument for the existence of souls or the afterlife felt entirely understandable to me, and even mostly justified.  He was not in a good mood to start with, when he asked for EVIDENCE and told Dumbledore in no uncertain terms, “Do. Not. Bullshit. Me.” — but all Dumbledore offers him in return is either vague woo-woo that has no possibility of testing, and therefor isn’t evidence at all, or conveniently out of reach (or possibly entirely fictional, for all Harry knows at this point) and therefor, once again, NOT EVIDENCE.

    Not to mention the circular reasoning of the type that totally sounds like a convincing argument to someone who ALREADY BELIEVES, but sounds like complete gibberish to a non-believer.

    I’d be pissed and dismissive as well — doubly so, if I were an arrogant little shit like Harry.

  6. Sebastian Weinberg

    When Harry flippantly says that Dumbledore wants everyone to die, and he replies that Harry greatly misunderstands him, that takes on a whole different meaning, in light of the spoilery revelations at the end of the book, about what game Dumbledore has been playing all this time, since before Harry was even born.  Dumbledore fiddling with his crystal ball prop in this scene was probably not a coincidence.

    In fact, I can confirm this is the most important thing in the book.
     

    When Harry talks about justice, meaning and fairness being up to US, because they are not inherent to the laws of the universe, he happens to express a philosophy I’ve subscribed to for many years.

    How often have you talked about some injustice or unfairness, only for the other guy to reflexively trot out the cached thought “Durr… Life isn’t fair”?  Every time I hear that, my reply is, “No shit, Sherlock.  Life and the universe don’t give a crap — That’s why WE have to do it!  It’s up to US to determine what’s just and fair, and implement it, because there’s nobody else who’ll do it for us.  That’s why I care about what’s fair – why don’t you?”

    Of course, the question is rhetorical.  I already know why they don’t care: they secretly think that the unfairness in question will benefit THEM; as soon as it’s the other way around, they suddenly care A LOT about fairness.
     

    To my mind, the canon books were incredibly stupid about the resurrection stone.  Its all just rote repetition of the usual tropes about contacting the dead.  It always goes terribly wrong for some reason, or ends in emotional torment, etc.  All of the stories along these lines have the pretty transparent underlying message of “Stop thinking about this!  The flimsy band-aid we use to cover up our fear of death will stop working and fall off, if you think too much about how this ‘afterlife’ supposedly works and why there has never EVER been a single credible, verifiable instance of contact with the dead.  Just take it on faith that there must be a really good reason why not a single dead person ever felt the need to contact us, no matter how important or helpful that would have been.”

    Supposedly it’s emotionally painful to be able to talk to your dead loved ones but not have them back fully alive?  What, MORE painful than them being gone forever and not knowing whether there is any afterlife or if they got into the nice part, if there is?  If that’s soOoO painful, then how about summoning people you DON’T have an emotional attachment to?

    Summon Fermat and ask him about that supposed elegant proof he had for his last theorem (Though the most likely answer is “Nah, I just THOUGHT I had a really nice and tidy one, but it turned out to be flawed; that’s why I didn’t write it down.”).  How about summoning the greatest scientists we’ve lost and letting them continue their work alongside their successors?  How about solving every unsolved murder case by summoning the victim to point at the culprit and confirm, “Eeyup, that’s the guy who shot me in the face.”?

    There are SO MANY good uses for contacting the dead, BESIDES emotionally harrowing reunions, that the most plausible explanation for concentrating obsessively on that ONE aspect is a deep need to *stop thinking* about this, and make others stop thinking about it, too.

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