[FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122

post by Gondolinian · 2015-03-14T16:00:55.035Z · score: 6 (7 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 167 comments

This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 122, which is the final chapter of the story.

Happy once-in-a-century Pi Day!  (3/14/15 == 3.1415)

There is a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.)

Spoiler Warning: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13. More specifically:

You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it’s fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that “Eliezer said X is true” unless you use rot13.

167 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by jbay · 2015-03-14T22:06:39.482Z · score: 17 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Really good ending chapter. The presence of Hermione's character totally changes the tone of the story, and reading this one, it became really clear how heavily the Sunshine General was missing from the last ~third or so of the story arc. Eliezer writes her very well, and seems to enjoy writing her too.

I thought Hermione was going to cast an Expecto Patronum at the end, with all the bubbling happiness, but declaring friendship works well too.

Irrelevant thought: Lasers aren't needed to test out the strange optics of Harry's office; positioning mirrors in known positions on the ground and viewing them through a telescope from the tower would already give intriguing results.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-16T00:10:11.330Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The presence of Hermione's character totally changes the tone of the story, and reading this one, it became really clear how heavily the Sunshine General was missing from the last ~third or so of the story arc. Eliezer writes her very well, and seems to enjoy writing her too.

Harry's world was bleak without Hermione. Harry's love for Hermione, and even love for Humanity in general, had been missing for a while. He largely went into young Tom Riddle mode for a long time, without Hermione's influence.

Harry:

Being friends with you means that my life doesn't have to go the way Voldemort's did.

Recall Quirrell:

“Then here is what I might have done at your age, if there had been anyone to do it for—”

Hermione showed Harry the possibility of both love and understanding. He had love from his parents, and understanding from Quirrell, but both from Hermione. The world became a different place for Harry when he came to know Hermione.

Maybe I was expecting too much adulthood from Harry, but in every meaningful way but romantic, he loves Hermione, and Harry's evasion of that admission was disappointing, if not entirely out of character.

comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-17T19:47:49.276Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And just a few lines before your last quote:

Quirrell:

"I did not have any friends like that when I was young." Still the same emotionless voice. "What would have become of you, I wonder, if you had been alone?"

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T21:05:14.375Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's a good one. For anyone knowing knowing about the Horcrux, it's an interesting nature/nurture experiment to muse upon.

comment by Random · 2015-03-14T18:19:43.385Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Great ending. The Hero walked his path and become a Mentor. Situation changed dramatically, something really happened as the result of the Hero's actions. But they still have challenges ahead, unanswered questions and things to do. It's much better ending than simple and boring "and they lived happily ever after".

Excellent work, Eliezer!

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-03-14T17:48:22.559Z · score: 17 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Nothing about Atlantis and the Source of magic?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-03-15T14:21:23.814Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I have come to the conclusion that keeping the ultimate Source of Magic an unknown (for the scope of HPMoR) was probably a premise taken by EY early on. Otherwise we would have seen much more experiments to discover it (and more foreshadowing). That many (me included) have been waiting for it patiently is probably more a sign of our wishful thinking and neglect of evidence to the contrary than an oversight by EY.

ADDED: I wonder whether there is such a thing as negative foreshadowing, i.e. indications the some information will not be revealed later. Could be a smart literary device to reduce disappointment in these cases. Can one make reader go "Aha, Harry's quote about the difficulty of experimets fits nicely to Hermiones final remark that their schedule will take six years when taking outside view estimates into account"...

comment by Astazha · 2015-03-15T14:54:51.928Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

This is really the only sense in which I am disappointed in this story. One of the things that really got me excited about HPMOR was that the protagonist did not just shrug and accept that magic is magic, he sought to untangle how it's laws work, and the results were as bewildering as I imagine quantum must have been to scientists of the early 20th century. That is one of the puzzles that I really wanted to solve about this story, almost more than I wanted to know how the cloak and dagger mysteries resolved. It felt to me like we were promised that magic would be somehow logical, even if it did not initially appear so. It may in fact still be, but we have few answers about this fundamental and intriguing aspect of the universe. In short: HOW DOES IT WORK??? HOW?!? TELL ME!!!

comment by dxu · 2015-03-15T16:20:00.691Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It felt to me like we were promised that magic would be somehow logical, even if it did not initially appear so.

But the premise of the grand-parent comment is that we weren't promised that, or if we were, we weren't promised that the true mechanism would be discovered within the scope of the story.

comment by Psychosmurf · 2015-03-15T02:42:33.226Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Great job on the fic EY. If you were to promise to write Ch 123, I would let you out of the box.

comment by JenniferRM · 2015-03-16T05:46:48.437Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I think the most interesting part of this ending (the thing that really surprised me the most) was the idea of Dumbledore not holding an idiot ball, nor being crazy, nor even being "apparently crazy just for the sake of complex strategically cultivated opacity"... but instead being the embodiment of the biggest point of departure from canon in that he knows every prophesy and thereby caused many other points of departure semi-intentionally.

Also, having Dumbledore essentially become the half-understanding servant of whatever it is that causes prophesies, turns the whole story into something that is fundamentally about time travel in a way I really wasn't expecting.

Maybe I should have. Eliezer's notes have mentioned that he thinks very highly of HP and the Wastelands of Time, but I thought that the time traveling themes would mostly be restricted to time turners, and time turners wouldn't be very powerful, because otherwise it would disrupt the rationality theme...

This makes me think that it would be moderately rewarding to read HPMOR itself again to try to examine Dumbledore's actions more carefully. Like... what if he said what he said during the feast on the first night (when Harry was drinking comed-tea) because it was what the prophesies said he had to do? How constrained was he? Was there really "crazy act" on his part, mixed into the prophesy hacking, to hide the prophesy hacking better? How much free agency did he have leftover? And for that matter, how much did Eliezer track such issues?

If this was just the finish of the first draft, rather than the entire and complete finish of the series, I'd expect editing to shore up the coherence of the necessities of time travel.

Knowing that the plotting was worked out the way a TV series is written it seems to imply that early content was probably optimized more to hook readers than to align with the rigors of plot. But still, my guess is that the core reason for Dumbledore to seem crazy was already in Eliezer's mind in the first few chapters. Sadly, there will be no more data to settle the question honestly, but it was a fun game while it lasted. I'm sad the data source has shut down, but happy to have played :-)

EDIT: Oh! Also it makes Dumbledore being outside of time (instead of actually dead) more interesting. Presumably he cannot be "raised from the dead" from this position. Also, it appears that there is some room for him to be causally related to the source of prophecies, from his position outside time... maybe? ;-)

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-03-16T07:09:53.055Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore receives prophecies.

Dumbledore acts them out.

As a result dumbledore winds up outside of time.

Dumbledore sends prophecies.

Profit.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-03-16T17:31:41.094Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I saw it as Dumbledore having chosen what persona to cultivate in order to best get away with his actions. Take, as a representative problem, that he has to make sure Harry carries his father's rock. He could try to assert authority and order it, but that would make him be seen as a tyrant. He could try to invent a good explanation, but he probably couldn't actually convince Harry, since he can't give the true reason and there isn't actually any other good reason. But by playing the benevolent eccentric, he can get Harry to humor him with minimal harm to his reputation.

comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-17T19:43:41.111Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What I love about this twist is how it changes the interpretation of so many other things that were said throughout the story. For example:

"Purposeless?" said Professor Quirrell. "Oh, but the madness of Dumbledore is not that he is purposeless, but that he has too many purposes.

It turns out PQ was right in that the madness of Dumbledore was not purposeless, however much his going around and "snipping all the threads of destiny" to constrain future events would, to anyone without all the knowledge of prophecy, look like many divergent purposes. Even Dumbledore himself didn't know how or why some of them fit into the whole picture. But it was all done in service of his one true goal. And if the service of that goal had involved killing Harry or framing Hermione? Well,

"Who knows what the Headmaster thinks he has reason to do, when he has found reason to do so many strange things already."

comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-14T16:13:42.311Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

The line from LotR actually goes:

The Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him, and his Eye piercing all shadows looked across the plain to the door that he had made; and the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash, and all the devices of his enemies were at last laid bare.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-03-15T14:27:30.019Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As EY mentioned somewhere: We writes Harrys parts by just writing down what he himself knows from memory. Now we have a datapoint about eYs recall of LotR.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-15T18:20:52.996Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As EY mentioned somewhere: We writes Harrys parts by just writing down what he himself knows from memory.

Yep. I, of course, looked up the actual text (which is what he does for Hermione).

comment by dxu · 2015-03-15T19:51:21.865Z · score: 13 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I was browsing /r/hpmor, and this guy's blog turned up.

Thoughts?

EDIT: Downvotes? Someone mind telling me if I did something wrong here? Or is just that people don't like the dude's blog?

comment by Nornagest · 2015-03-16T17:37:11.781Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I spent twenty minutes reading it in reverse chronological order before I thought to check the header bar for chapter reviews. That was a mistake. Dude spends way too much time responding to anonymous hate; it's not fun to read and it can't be fun to write.

Now that I have found the chapter reviews, it's flowing a lot better (though still not perfectly by a long shot). I can sympathize with a lot of the things su3su2u1 found frustrating; I think there's a deep tension between HPMOR as a didactic tract and as a commentary on the canon Potterverse and as porn for nerds, among other things Eliezer's trying to do, and I think the cracks show the most in the early chapters. Similarly for the character of HJPEV himself. Not qualified to comment on the physics, but I did occasionally feel like I was being bullshitted when I was reading the fic.

As to the downvotes, I imagine someone -- two someones, judging by karma -- thinks you're concern trolling. Don't let it bother you.

comment by tim · 2015-03-17T03:53:01.360Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't give you a downvote, but I certainly want to downvote the linked site for a header that responds in a particularly nauseating fashion to the scroll wheel.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-03-16T07:12:18.834Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely love it now that I've been pointed to it. Had many of the same thoughts myself. Still quite enjoyed geeking out and overanalyzing the story and figuring out what's going on and the occasional making-some-goddamn-sense of the Potterverse in between my more than occasional facepalms/ranting-at-friends about many of the same things this person complains about (writing and characters and bad science and author tract shoehorned ideology and Harry always just happening to come up with the right answer for no reason and other things they better articulate than I can).

And you're getting downvoted by the non-majority but most assuredly present personality-cult contingent.

comment by dxu · 2015-03-16T21:58:24.592Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I agree. HPMoR is entertaining, but it's not good as a didactic work.

That being said, is HPMoR really meant as a didactic work? It seems to me that Eliezer never really intended it to be a vehicle for teaching; see Chapter 1, in which he links to LessWrong at the very top of the page as a way "to learn everything the main character knows". To me, anyone really looking to learn rationality should look at the Sequences, not HPMoR--and from EY's disclaimer in Chapter 1, it looks as though he agrees.

Also, what do you mean by this part?

Harry always just happening to come up with the right answer for no reason

I don't recall that ever happening.

comment by bramflakes · 2015-03-17T00:15:16.984Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That being said, is HPMoR really meant as a didactic work?

We are talking about the fanfic where characters routinely block-quote from cogsci textbooks, aren't we?

comment by dxu · 2015-03-17T01:08:52.389Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, which could just as easily be an attempt to be faithful to the characters. We know Harry has read quite a bit of cog-sci, and that he likely hasn't quite internalized it to the degree where he can explain the concepts without the use of the terms themselves, and thus resorts to quoting more-or-less verbatim from the material that he's read. That's not to say the novel is intended to teach cog-sci, and in fact there are gaping holes in the cog-sci presented within HPMoR--holes that are not in the Sequences.

comment by bramflakes · 2015-03-17T10:51:48.025Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The science material is presented to the reader in good faith, by the protagonist, who is only ever shown to be wrong in his attempts to link the science to magic, not the science itself. If it's attempting to be faithful to the Harry's youthful hubris, then shouldn't there be parts when Hermione says "actually Harry, you've misunderstood Kahneman and Tversky on X, Y and Z ...", like what happens for magical topics?

There is a section on the site called "science" which reads

All science mentioned in Methods is standard science except where otherwise specified (IIRC, the only two uses of nonstandard theories are Barbour’s timeless physics in Ch. 28 and my own timeless decision theory in Ch. 33). Wherever possible, I have mentioned standard terminology inside the book to make Googling easier. At some future point I may compile a complete list for all the scientific references in Methods, but this has not yet been done.

and if that weren't enough, Yudkowsky explicitly states that the science material is meant to be didactic.

Furthermore, "but it's better in the Sequences" is a terrible excuse. How many people are going to read a fun work of fiction, vs a sprawling 888 series of contrarian philosophy essays? A significant fraction of people on this very site have not read them, and then imagine what the odds are for the average fanfic reader (of whom there are an order of magnitude or two more than LessWrong users). Thousands of people are reading this story and taking what Yudkowsky says on faith (did you independently Google every science reference in the story? I sure didn't), so if the science is wrong then that's thousands of people coming away worse-off than when they started, and Yudkowsky is aware of this possibility..

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-19T08:37:08.675Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The ironic thing about those exceptions is that bringing in Barbour's timeless physics is arguably itself one of the errors. In Harry's explanation of how he was able to perform partial transfiguration, there's nothing from Barbour except the phrase ‘timeless physics’; Harry's explication of that, as enforcing a relationship between separate time slices rather than performing a change, is the standard idea of a block universe, going back at least to 1908.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-16T05:18:31.139Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like the name ‘Hariezer’.

There are a lot of things about Hariezer in the early chapters that enrage this guy and that also slightly bothered me. Many of them end up justified later, some much later when we learn that Harry was overwritten by Tom Riddle while a baby (not made into a Horcrux). It's not just that Hariezer has flaws, but that he has them for a reason. (The parallel with Eliezer's April Fools story are striking.)

I think that this guy has a fair point, however: that Hariezer's flaws can interfere with the pedagogical purposes of HPMOR.

comment by dxu · 2015-03-16T05:22:36.298Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't really concerned with his points against the story, and his points against the story's didactic purposes felt weak at best. What I found most pertinent in his critiques were the points about HPMoR's science. I'm no physicist, but from what I could tell, most of it seemed pretty sound (though the thing about the levitation vs. cat transformation in Chapter 1 was, I felt, pretty lazy reading). Any domain experts around here that could chime in, specifically on the physics?

EDIT: Poor wording in the above paragraph. What I meant was that the guy's critiques seem pretty sound, not that the science in HPMoR seems pretty sound.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-16T09:25:33.939Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, the problems with the physics are right in there with bothersome things that Harry says that you could still justify, starting with the non sequiturs about conservation of energy when McGonogall turns into a cat.

I disagree with su3su2u1 (the tumblr author) about levitation; that doesn't violate conservation of energy if it's mediated by a force, and why shouldn't it be? On the other hand, turning into a cat violates conservation of mass (or would appear to, and that should be easy to check with a bathroom scale), which (via E = mc²) translates into a huge energy violation. But bringing up the quantum Hamiltonian? FTL signalling? Su3su2u1's analysis is correct.

The justification for this is that Harry is 11 and has only a vague idea about how physics actually works. But then it's hard to tell what we should learn from Harry and what we should ignore. (For that matter, I don't even know if Eliezer knows better than Harry or not.)

comment by AnthonyC · 2015-03-17T02:38:24.536Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"But bringing up the quantum Hamiltonian? FTL signalling? Su3su2u1's analysis is correct."

Is it? Noether's theorem implies the Hamiltonian is conserved. The Hamiltonian is the quantum operator that give you the energy of a system. If energy conservation is violated, either the basic equations of quantum mechanics don't hold, or (magical) physics is not time invariant. I'm not saying Harry is being technically precise but he's not completely wrong, either.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-17T06:04:16.050Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, he's certainly not completely wrong, but he's bringing up irrelevant complications and missing the main point. Quantum vs classical has nothing to do with it, for example.

comment by Plasmon · 2015-03-17T06:23:24.570Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The fact that quantum mechanics conserves energy is stronger evidence for the hypothesis that reality conserves energy than the fact that classical mechanics conserves energy. He is saying "our best model of reality conserves energy" which is very relevant.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-19T08:12:00.183Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If quantum mechanics allowed for small violations of energy conservation (which sometimes people even say that it does, on short time periods, although this is not really correct), then McGonagall's tranformation would still violate physical law as we know it. In physics, you don't always push everything down to the most fundamental theory, which is a good thing, since we don't actually have a most fundamental theory of physics. There is no such thing as ‘our best [single] model of reality’; there are some ways in which our quantum models are (so far) worse than our classical ones.

comment by Astazha · 2015-03-18T21:58:21.101Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lifting someone does work. Where is that energy coming from?

comment by Nornagest · 2015-03-18T22:47:45.015Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm no physicist, but I took that bit to mean that the difference in energy involved in lifting someone is so much smaller than the difference in energy required to convert a 135-pound woman into a 10-pound cat without leaving 125 pounds of squishy McGonagall-bits by the wayside that it's far more plausible for it to be coming from some non-obvious source.

Which seemed reasonable enough to me at the time. But looking back at it, I'm no longer sure it really holds water. Harry's family at that point is dealing with a process with almost totally unknown properties; if you can get energy out of the Source of Magic to levitate people with, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that you could also move mass into it and then back out. We don't e.g. see the floorboards creaking under McGonagall when she lifts stuff with her mind, so there's no particular reason in context to assume that the interaction has to involve local-ish forces.

comment by CronoDAS · 2015-03-14T20:32:18.852Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

For the record: The "mysterious" thing about the "smile" in the Mona Lisa painting is that it looks like a smile when you see it with peripheral vision but doesn't when you look at it directly. The effect doesn't work nearly as well when you're looking at a tiny picture of it, though.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2015-03-15T20:58:51.525Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This finally answers the question of why a shear transformation of the Mona Lisa appears on the Wikipedia page for eigenvalues and eigenvectors.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-03-15T09:15:01.653Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

[Googles for a pic of the Mona Lisa] Yes, it works for me. I guess it's because of something like this.

comment by higurashimerlin · 2015-03-16T02:31:20.139Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Harry forgot to give Hermione the most important quest item.

"This Hermione, Is your father's rock."

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-14T16:45:11.801Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Nitpick: It's unlikely that a British person would refer to bazooka chewing gum.

comment by shminux · 2015-03-14T20:35:01.554Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

There is very little British in this fic, except for repeatedly mentioning McGonagall's accent.

comment by avichapman · 2015-03-16T02:35:51.195Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Wow. I see now what EY meant when he said it wasn't fair to criticize HPMOR as sexist before it was done. I finished reading the last chapter with the feeling that this was actually an origin story for Hermione.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T01:49:03.818Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Even without the enhancements, in real world terms Hermione was the most admirable character. Harry was a young boy with an old genius's brain patterns and an Oxford professor of science to raise him. Not really a fair benchmark to compare a 12 year old with.

She got better grades than Dumbledore did at her age, was beating the young Tom Riddle with a time turner in class, and beat Harry and Draco in the first battle, with neither a mysterious dark side nor military training. It was Hermione who knew more than than Draco and Harry how to properly make use of her army. It was Hermione who formed and led a band of Mighty Heroes.

It was Hermione who was fundamentally decent and had a moral rudder. A leader, brilliant, brave, and good. As long as she lived, it was clear that the future would belong to Hermione. No sparkling required.

comment by Velorien · 2015-03-17T13:51:33.252Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It was Hermione who knew more than than Draco and Harry how to properly make use of her army.

In fairness, it was Quirrell who gave her the idea. She was flailing until he spoke to her and then assigned a deliberately chosen group of people to be her army.

Draco was confused.

Therefore, something he believed was fiction.

Granger should not have been able to do all that.

Therefore, she probably hadn’t.

I promise not to help General Granger in any way that the two of you don’t know about.

With sudden horrified realization, Draco swept papers out of the way, hunting through the mess on his desk, until he found it.

And there it was.

Right in the list of people and equipment assigned to each of the three armies.

Curse Professor Quirrell!

Draco had read it and he still hadn’t seen it—

-

It was Hermione who formed and led a band of Mighty Heroes.

It was Hermione who inadvertently gave a bunch of 12-year old girls the idea that they should rush headlong into danger against superior opponents, and then was forced to stick with them as damage control.

“Huh,” Lavender said, now looking thoughtful herself. “That’s true. We should do something heroic. I mean heroinic.”

“Um—” said Hannah, which very much expressed Hermione’s own feelings on the subject.

“Well,” said Parvati, “has everyone already been through Dumbledore’s third-floor forbidden corridor? I mean everyone in Gryffindor’s been through it by now—”

“Hold on!” Hermione said desperately. “I don’t want you doing anything dangerous!”

There was a pause while everyone looked at Hermione, who was suddenly realizing, much too late, why Dumbledore hadn’t wanted anyone else to be a hero.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-17T12:10:26.435Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure why having won one kind of lottery is more admirable than another. (Getting a good brain from genes vs inheriting useful brain patterns from Tom Riddle).

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T21:17:30.655Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's why I said "in real world terms". Not a lot of genius horcruxes to bestow in the real world. Or partial transfiguration powers to exercise. Or bigger, harder, longer, and more throbbing midichlorians pulsing through your blood.

Hermione has real world admirable characteristics. Real world Hermiones prosper, and help those around them prosper.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-20T06:43:17.764Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In real world terms, Harry competed at the national level and Hermione didn't. We saw her getting better grades at a school of magic, are we still talking about real world terms? He was going to be a world famous scientist studying molecular nanotech, and if she had any ambitions beyond passing tests, we don't know it.

The problem with this notion of seeing story characters in real world terms is that you have to apply it evenly. Translated to real world terms, while a HPJEV hasn't inherited a genius' brain patterns, he's still a prodigy for the ordinary reasons that produce prodigies in the real world. Which is why I spoke of lotteries.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-20T06:30:07.518Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I get what you're saying, but I dunno, in real world terms Harry competed at the national level and Hermione didn't. She did better than him at a school of magic.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2015-03-16T08:12:37.222Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Does it really nullify the criticisms of sexism? The Self Actualization arc remains mostly the same, Hermione is one of the characters that gets the least "upgrades" compared to canon for most of the story, so is McGonagall she's still fridged for the sake of Harry's quest (although I don't think that fridging is a good criticism), she ends up awesome through no actions of her own and her future is steered by Harry. People who criticized HPMOR for being sexist won't change their mind because of this ending.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-03-16T07:10:14.167Z · score: 4 (16 votes) · LW · GW

As Harry's pet?

EDIT To head off the inevitable need to clarify myself, I clarify now: This refers entirely to Hermione's current status as the not-in-the-know smiling gofer being handed her role by the ever so wise 11-year-old savior and master of the fate of the universe who is of course the only person who could ever guide the whole fricking world in such a way that it won't be destroyed and tell her what she should be because reasons. And of course she just takes it. I interpreted this not as sexism but as the exaltation of Harry over all others who are of course less than sane/rational/special/human/important/worthy/cosmically-significant for basically no reason other than Time Says So. And everyone just goes along with it. That whole aspect of this whole chapter (and the last several) made me cringe. For multiple reasons.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-16T09:27:17.488Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But at the same time, Harry tries several times to give Hermione her own agency and not reduce her to this role. Or at least he says that he's trying to do that. He's not very good at it yet.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-16T10:56:35.182Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I believe that what happens on stage is what's important in a story.

More generally, I think Harry should be doing more towards putting together a team. I hope that Eliezer more fully learns the lesson from how well HPMOR fans did with the final exam.

To be fair, HPMOR was a major achievement. Doing justice to fiction about a team of very smart people might be more than can be expected.

comment by falenas108 · 2015-03-17T04:00:28.876Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

More generally, I think Harry should be doing more towards putting together a team.

Which is a lesson he should have learned when Hermione beat him and Draco in the first battle.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T02:03:23.043Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think Harry should be doing more towards putting together a team.

It's Hermione who thinks of others as PCs who one could build a team out of, and has demonstrated that she can do it.

I hope that Eliezer more fully learns the lesson from how well HPMOR fans did with the final exam.

I hope we all do. And the rest of the world as well. Intellectual endeavors really should be able to iterate much faster than the paper publishing loop. Make intellectual work scalable in time and space and people.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2015-03-15T12:20:44.964Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

(copy-pasted from my tumblr)

The ending to HPMOR isn’t bad. It fits the story and, while open-ended still gives a lot of closure.

It just doesn’t measure up to, like, the rest of the book. Part of it is probably the hype. The final chapters probably fell a bit flat just in comparison to what people expected. But even correcting for that, I still find that it’s slightly disappointing. The best parts, for me, where the buildup to the “there is light in the world” speech and the Stanford Prisoner Experiment arc. They are both intense emotional moments. I literally cried while listening to the podcast version of Azkaban.

The other great parts are the cool, big action sequences.

The ending provides none of those. And yet it sorta promises them without ever delivering.

comment by Manfred · 2015-03-15T16:55:35.089Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Welp, different strokes I guess. I didn't like the Azkaban arc so much, and I quite like the ending. On the one hand, I agree that if a substantial fraction of readers are unsatisfied, there's probably something Eliezer could fix. On the other hand, I got mine, mwahahaha.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2015-03-15T23:16:10.245Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's not that i dislike the ending. I just don't think it's as emotionally moving as it should be/as I predicted it would have been. I was expecting something that would make me go "Yes, goddammit, yes!" while I start planning to improve my life and be a better person.

Instead I got an ending that was a completely functional ending for this story with some jokes in it.

comment by dxu · 2015-03-15T23:54:37.172Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was expecting something that would make me go "Yes, goddammit, yes!" while I start planning to improve my life and be a better person.

Something like, say, the ending of Chapter 27? (Just trying to get a feel for your position here.)

comment by MathiasZaman · 2015-03-16T08:26:06.798Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Something like that, yeah, although that particular example does little for me. As additional data points: The Sword of Good, the Humanism arc, the short "There is light in the world..." speech and I Shall Wear Midnight (by Terry Pratchett) were things that incited that sort of emotion in me.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-03-16T17:46:16.846Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is pretty exactly how I feel.

The closest I get to that emotional peak is when Hermione starts optimising, but even that feels a bit abrupt. Maybe it's because we're only seeing Hermione from the outside; my brain is not content to just interpolate her journey from being eaten by a troll to reinventing heroic responsibility in more humble language.

comment by Fivehundred · 2015-03-14T18:54:28.913Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I will write no sequel myself; I have said what I set out to say, and it is done.

I assume that, as Rowling did, you'll drop us a few paragraphs of writing in five/ten years, which naturally you couldn't keep to yourself. I would bet money, but will not remember (or care) for that long.

If there's a nit to pick, it's that the mockery of canon-Potter was way too blatant to be amusing. Otherwise, almost perfect work.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-03-14T19:35:10.807Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't see this chapter so much as mockey of canon-Potter, merely bouncing off of it, noting it's different. Canon HP is not this HP, mainly reasons for which canon HP cannot be blamed.

comment by falenas108 · 2015-03-14T21:20:35.416Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There was one part where they were talking about what would happen if Harry were not raised by scientists, and EY basically describes canon.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-03-15T21:09:12.746Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

... yes, and? They weren't making fun of canon, just joking about it. Canon!Harry could have made much the same jokes about Rationalist!Harry.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-15T04:51:34.263Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But it only matches canon halfway. They're describing Harry raised by James and Lily, not by the Dursleys. They suggest that Harry and Hermione won't be friends, although later suggest that they'll at least be allies. And … another difference, I'd have to look.

comment by Sjcs · 2015-03-15T02:43:04.671Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why does it being blatant mean it is no longer humorous? Sure, a subtle joke can be more humorous for its subtlety, but not being subtle doesn't necessarily preclude a joke's enjoyment.

There are many forms, and EY is probably trying catering to a range of people's sense of humour.

comment by Fivehundred · 2015-03-17T10:02:18.469Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You did actually read the part where Hermione says: "What if Harry Potter behaved exactly like canon, Quidditch, Ron Weasley, etc! Ha ha ha!"

comment by Velorien · 2015-03-14T18:24:34.512Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you so much for Methods of Rationality! That was a great ending to a great story.

comment by BrindIf · 2015-03-15T21:24:36.758Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, thank you for all the good times spent reading it, and then reading it again, and also for the thoughts and will to learn more that came with these readings.

comment by Locke · 2015-03-14T17:06:59.033Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Since it looks like we won't be getting a canonical answer, any thoughts on what exactly the Peverell Prophecy means?

"Three shall be Peverell’s sons and three their devices by which Death shall be defeated."

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-14T16:50:19.424Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

By Dumbledore, mostly, though Professor Quirrell the power to earn your own way in life is itself something you have to earn.

I think this is missing a word or two.

That's a very satisfactory ending. I'm pleased that Hermione doesn't have a goal of being a heroine-- it seemed to me that trying to graft a role on to one's personality was too artificial.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-16T00:22:27.804Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I thought faster than Voldemort, even though he was older than me and smarter, because... because I had a reason to think. Voldemort had a drive to be immortal, he strongly preferred not to die, but that wasn't a positive desire, it was fear, and Voldemort made mistakes because of that fear. I think the power that Voldemort knew not... was that I had something to protect.

This looks like a false to facts rationalization by Harry.

Voldemort actually didn't know about the partial transfiguration, right? Neither was he likely to know about carbon nanotubes. He simply didn't have the data to anticipate Harry's move. (Though I'm among those who think Voldemort should have taken Harry's wand prior to their chit chat.) If anything, Voldemort lost because he was lazy and over confident, not because he was afraid and therefore thinking poorly while all wands were on Harry.

And shouldn't fear and threat prime Voldemort's "dark side" at least as well as Harry's?

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-17T12:32:42.954Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed, I didn't buy it either. Felt a bit like a forced end-of-episode moral in a kid's show.

I see the point of the Something to Protect article as being about growing past your current conception of how you should think and act. That you need something more important to you than whatever is anchoring you to your current rules of thought, in order to do that.

Say, when Harry realized he could have used Lesath to save Hermione from the troll, instead of thinking that would have been "sort of Dark-lordish", that seemed like an example to me.

Or when Quirrel accepted Harry's lesson about strategies involving kindness, and decided to train himself in those "until my mind goes there easily". Because it was more important to him to achieve his goals than to indulge in his distaste for everything that reminded him of Christmas.

But in chapter 114 I don't see anything holding Harry back that he needs to see past. The nanotubes solution was a purely technical thing that Harry would either think of or not, and we've known since chapter 16 that Harry can think of creative ways to kill his enemies. It's as if a known chess master made a really good chess move - it may be technically impressive, but in some sense it's nothing new. If some kind of something-to-protect-like growth happened to make that possible, it's not obvious. If Voldemort woudn't have been able to think of it in Harry's shoes and with Harry's knowledge of science and partial Transfiguration, it's not obvious either.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T21:19:05.270Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see the point of the Something to Protect article as being about growing past your current conception of how you should think and act.

Interesting. I saw it largely as Canon:

Harry: That even though we got a fight ahead of us, we've got one thing that Voldemort doesn't have.
Ron: Yeah?
Harry: Something worth fighting for.

Basically Something to Protect = Something to Love.

Otherwise, doesn't Quirrell also have "something to protect", namely his life, and the world in which he lives it?

The difference seems to be the motivation. Which is what Harry is claiming. And he is correct in the general case. Quirrell isn't motivated by love or happiness. He doesn't really enjoy his life much (though he did seem pretty jolly after defeating Dumbledore).

The distinction between a Yes to Life versus a No to Death is a very common theme. I can see how the Yes to Life provides more motivation, but the claim that this made the difference in this particular outcome just seems false.

But in chapter 114 I don't see anything holding Harry back that he needs to see past. The nanotubes solution was a purely technical thing that Harry would either think of or not,

Let me give it the best interpretation I can. Wouldn't a Yes to Life be a much better defense against despair in that situation than No to Death? I can't cite studies, but that does seem plausible to me. It's not that Yes to Life makes you think better, but that it better keeps you thinking instead of giving up.

So, from Harry's perspective side, it's maybe true that having a more positive reason provided more motivation to keep him thinking and not just giving up, but "thinking faster" still seems like a mischaracterization.

And from Quirrell's perspective, I don't see that a heartfelt "Kumbaya" would have allowed him to overcome his ignorance of certain facts, which was a clear cause of his defeat.

The overconfidence that I would argue that Quirrell also displayed by leaving Harry his wand seemed very out of character for the hyper prepared but totally unloving Quirrell. How would a lack of love explain his failure to take the wand, given his general level of hyper preparedness?

comment by Nornagest · 2015-03-17T21:31:24.543Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

ETA: re: "something worth fighting for"

Amusingly, that's probably more true in MoR than in canon, even if our Harry would never phrase it that way (or speak to Ron if he didn't need to). Here Tom Riddle's a bored sociopath without any strong connections; the only thing he really cares about is self-preservation, and that's more adequately assured if he doesn't pick fights with major wizarding governments or do crazy things like set up alternate versions of himself to spar with. In canon he's basically just Snake Wizard Hitler, and Hitler had if nothing else the courage of his convictions.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-18T07:02:28.606Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly, this is kinda one of the reasons this Voldemort impresses me. EY writes that "more than your own life has to be at stake", but Voldemort was sane enough that caring about his own life was enough to get him thinking and to get him moving.

So much so, he ended up genuinely working to save the world, and indeed ended up doing so, or at least significantly helping (Harry's Vow). Sociopath or not, the fact that normal people aren't sufficiently motivated by risk to their own lives is not a strength.

Also, Riddle's care about his own life didn't look like a mere animal flinch away from death; he seemed to find meaning in his works towards that goal:

He paused in his Potions work and turned to face Harry fully; there was a look of exultation in the man's eyes that Harry had never seen there before. "In all the Darkest Arts I could find, in all the interdicted secrets to which Slytherin's Monster gave me keys, in all the lore remembered among wizardkind, I found only hints and smatterings of what I needed. So I rewove it and remade it, and devised a new ritual based on new principles. I kept that ritual burning in my mind for years, perfecting it in imagination, pondering its meaning and making fine adjustments, waiting for the intention to stabilise. At last I dared to invoke my ritual, an invented sacrificial ritual, based on a principle untested by all known magic. And I lived, and yet live." The Defense Professor spoke with quiet triumph, as though the act itself was so great that no words could ever do it justice.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T23:09:46.526Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

that's probably more true in MoR

"that"?

comment by Nornagest · 2015-03-17T23:35:23.524Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, either I got seriously ninjaed there or I wasn't paying much attention. I was referring to the canon quote near the top of your post, the one about "something worth fighting for".

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T23:59:36.610Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought your replay came really fast after my previous edit. Maybe I was editing while you were typing your reply.

But I think your comment stands, now that I know what you're referring to. Yeah, HPMOR sociopath Voldemort had less that he was fighting for, even in comparison to cartoonish canon Racist Hater Voldemort.

comment by Transfuturist · 2015-03-16T07:25:48.063Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The dark side is Voldemort's thought patterns. In other words, Voldemort is constantly in the dark side.

comment by kilobug · 2015-03-15T23:20:23.828Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The chapter 122 in itself was good, I liked it, but I feel a bit disappointed that it's the end of the whole hpmor.

Not to be unfairly critical, it's still a very great story and many thanks to Eliezer for writing it, but... there are way too many remaining unanswered questions, unfinished business, ... to be the complete end. It feels more like "end of season 1, see season 2 for the next" than "and now it's over".

First, I would really have liked a "something to protect" about Harry's parents.

But mostly, there are lots of unanswered questions : how does magic work ? What destroyed Atlantis ? Where do the Deadly Hallows and the Stone come from ? What is the thing threatening to destroy the world ? What exactly are the effects of all the transformations on Hermione ?

And many plots arcs not finished : will Hermione managed to destroy the dementors, and with which consequences ? How will the political landscape reshape, but in UK and worldwide ? How will Harry manage to find a safe way to save the muggles too ? How will Hogwarts evolved ? How will Harry manage the Elder Wand ?

comment by raecai · 2015-03-16T20:01:31.126Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You see, now EY provokes you into writing some rationalist HPMOR fanfiction before he publishes the epilogue.

comment by lwmdw45 · 2015-03-16T19:18:16.229Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't it a little out of character for Harry to blithely assume that Hermione can't possibly die in her dementor mission? He doesn't even know how Horcrux 2.0 works--is there any good reason to think that the Horcrux will preserve your life if you deliberately fuel your magic with your life to kill dementors? (It's basically just a body-hopping spell, not a life-preservation spell.) Would a horcrux restore to Harry the life and magic he used to revive Hermione?

It just seems suspiciously out of character that Harry has now suddenly turned into an optimist with regard to Hermione's survival. He even says to himself he would never let her risk the mission if he thought it was actually dangerous, which means that he apparently actually fully buys into her immortality.

It will be tragic for Harry if she is dead again, for real, next week. Not because death is tragic per se, but because it will utterly blindside him.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T02:12:59.546Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Presumably they would test Hermione out on a single dementor first. Harry made that point about Voldemort testing horcruxes, so presumably he would do that as well. Also, didn't Voldemort write down the directions for resurrecting Hermione in case something went wrong with her Horcrux?

But your point about the horcrux likely not restoring magic lost through killing dementors seems a good one. I'd consider that likely. But if she could get her magic restored, that would open up a lot of ritual magic to her.

comment by kilobug · 2015-03-16T21:00:49.901Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, it is a bit suspicious - but then Azkaban and Dementors are so terrible that it's worth the risk, IMHO.

And I don't think Harry is counting just on the Horcrux, I think he's counting on Horcrux as last failback, counting on the unicorn blood and the "she knows death can be defeated because she did went back from death", and maybe even Hermione calling a Phoenix.

comment by lwmdw45 · 2015-03-27T01:16:30.554Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that it's worth the risk, but apparently Harry doesn't.

'"I thought..." Hermione said. She sounded uncertain. "I thought for sure that after this, you and Professor McGonagall wouldn't... you know... let me do anything the least bit dangerous ever again."

'Harry said nothing, feeling guilty about the false relationship credit he was getting. It was in fact the case that Hermione was modeling him with tremendous accuracy, and that if not for Hermione having a horcrux, the surface of the planet Venus would have dropped to fractional-Kelvin temperatures before Harry tried this.'

I agree with you that unicorn blood is more likely to be significant than the Horcrux in this scenario, and until this last chapter was posted I expected HARRY to think the same way, which is why his thinking stuck out to me as memorably optimistic.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-14T18:12:46.416Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

When Harry used spidersilk as a targeting phase of his monomolecular engine of death, some people were reminded of Worm. When reading this chapter I couldn't help but think of another parallel in that Hermione is going to be the one-person special ops division of a world-saving conspiracy.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-14T18:50:01.956Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

When reading this chapter I couldn't help but think of another parallel in that Hermione is going to be the one-person special ops division of a world-saving conspiracy.

Well, hopefully this conspiracy will be a lot more effective and ethical.

comment by hairyfigment · 2015-03-14T19:14:58.973Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is it comforting to note that, due to future knowledge in the hands of the wrong entity, that other one was forbidden a certain level of competency? (Something far above that level might have been possible.)

comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-14T19:05:27.326Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

She was repeatedly running her fingers through her chestnut curls, as though, by organizing her hair, she could restore sanity to her life.

I was amused.

comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2015-03-16T03:41:21.261Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have tried this. Mixed results.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2015-03-16T12:31:46.320Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I definitely find that I can handle more of what life throws at me when I've brushed my hair.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-16T19:01:37.056Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree, brushing makes it harder for stuff to get caught in my hair when it gets thrown at me.

comment by Raemon · 2015-03-14T18:54:03.776Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Pretty satisfying. Good place to end it.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-14T18:00:01.344Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That was an excellent and superb ending to a wonderful story.

And now back to reality, for the fight against Death in this reality has barely begun. I hope we will look back on this story as helping the eventual victory.

comment by WalterL · 2015-03-14T17:42:08.834Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm with Harry, feel foolish for not realizing that the Vow saved the earth in the conversation with Bones and McGonagall. So easy to err...

comment by Val · 2015-03-14T23:16:48.730Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if we'll ever see the "shorter, sadder" ending.

comment by somervta · 2015-03-15T00:17:16.666Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer said this would just have been Harry antimatter-suiciding and Hermione waking up in a flaming crater.

comment by kilobug · 2015-03-15T11:21:27.285Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really see the point in antimatter suiciding. It'll not kill Voldermort due to the Horcrux network, so it'll just kill the Death Eaters but letting Voldemort in power, and Voldemort would be so pissed of he would do the worst he can to Harry's family and friends... how is that any better than letting Voldemort kill Harry and manage to save a couple of people by telling him a few secrets ?

comment by BrindIf · 2015-03-15T14:15:19.939Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The point is to destroy the Stone and Voldemort's body, which should earn time to the Order to react.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-16T04:09:17.637Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The longer explanation said that it was bungled, that the antimatter blew before the transfiguration was finished.

comment by Macaulay · 2015-03-14T23:05:28.986Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Now Hermione learns Patronus 2.0 and destroys Azkaban. So both the Boy-Who-Lived and the Girl-Who-Revived can kill dementors. Sounds like "surviving/defeating Voldemort" is a plausible cover for explaining the origin of the ability to destroy dementors.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2015-03-16T08:22:30.843Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

With Dementors out of the way, the cost of telling people the secret of the True Patronus becomes a lot lower.

comment by Vika · 2015-03-14T17:49:41.706Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A very fitting ending. It would have been nice to see Hermione cast the true Patronus, though!

comment by monsterzero · 2015-03-14T18:52:09.140Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, it would have been nice to see Hermione really start to fulfill her badass potential. But this was a pretty good place to end the story.

Trolls are bald, and I don't know if they have fingernails. If they do, then there's probably a set length up to which troll nails will regenerate without further growth.

comment by Unnamed · 2015-03-15T00:45:18.092Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It seems that the problem with Tom "Voldemort" Riddle is that, although he was ambitious, he had no ambition. He was Sorted into Slytherin, and was driven by fear and cleverness to grasp at any opportunity for advancement which he could imagine. But there was no great ambition that he was driven to accomplish - at best he could grasp his way upward into the role of a hero, or a Dark Lord, or into personal immortality, or some other position of merely personal success, never breaking the bounds of his own lonely existence.

True ambition was the power that he knew not, and his downfall.

comment by Velorien · 2015-03-15T10:09:56.293Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Let's not forget this:

But I knew the Muggles would eventually destroy the world or make war on wizardkind or both, and something had to be done if I was not to wander a dead or dull world through my eternity. Having attained immortality I needed a new ambition to occupy my decades, and to prevent the Muggles from ruining everything seemed a goal of acceptable scope and difficulty.

comment by Kindly · 2015-03-15T15:48:43.681Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think a good way of describing Voldemort's ambition or lack thereof is that he has no preferences about worlds that do not contain him, whereas Harry Potter does.

comment by shminux · 2015-03-15T00:49:30.337Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure what definition of ambition you are using but

a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.

seems to fit pretty well.

comment by LawrenceC · 2015-03-15T03:07:01.666Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think he's referring to the definition of ambition Quirrel uses in Chapter 70:

The Defense Professor's fingers idly spun the button, turning it over and over. "Then again, only a very few folk ever do anything interesting with their lives. What does it matter to you if they are mostly witches or mostly wizards, so long as you are not among them? And I suspect you will not be among them, Miss Davis; for although you are ambitious, you have no ambition."

comment by shminux · 2015-03-15T07:13:56.183Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I guess it depends on what one finds interesting. Clearly QQ/LV found taking over Magical Britain interesting enough.

comment by Manfred · 2015-03-15T17:01:27.535Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The claim is that he found being Lord Voldemort interesting, but he didn't find taking over Magical Britain interesting.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-03-15T06:01:04.642Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes - but achieve what?

He just... wants immortality. And then... that's it. No real idea of what he wants to do with it.

comment by Ixiel · 2015-03-14T20:15:43.718Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Many thanks for this. I enjoyed it greatly.

I can think of few authors who hit that high a mark on fiction AND as high a mark on nonfiction as The Sequences.

comment by Velorien · 2015-03-17T14:00:03.914Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"I am now too valuable to the world to ever risk my life adventuring again. Here, Girl With Three Different Immortality Powers, take my invisibility cloak - you need it more than I do."

Am I the only one who finds this act odd?

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-03-17T14:11:46.440Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Nah. There are better ways to keep yourself safe than invisibility, whereas Hermione will be running around adventuring. Sure, it's very hard to kill her, but if she needs to, say, rescue a hostage or something, that won't necessarily be relevant.

comment by Velorien · 2015-03-17T14:30:35.152Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There are better ways to keep yourself safe than invisibility,

Not many, especially for someone too young to have the raw magic for most powerful spells. When it comes to protection, having no one know you're there is the next best thing to not being there.

Additionally, Harry's first instinct when he realised how much personal danger he was in was to wear the Cloak 24/7. It seems odd that this instinct is 100% absent now that his survival also represents the survival of the entire world.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-03-22T08:10:08.846Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On the contrary.

The best way to keep yourself safe, now that Hogwarts no longer has literally Lord Voldemort in it, is to sit in the tallest tower of Hogwarts and never leave. Anyone that manages to get past the wards is not going to be stopped by the Cloak, Hallow or not.

comment by Velorien · 2015-03-22T12:13:33.737Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that's realistic. Harry's acknowledged that he needs to mature into a worthwhile adult in order to be able to save the world, and he's not going to gain the experiences he needs to do that (or indeed maintain a reasonable standard of mental health) by becoming a full-on hikikomori.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2015-03-23T07:20:54.560Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As dxu notes, Hermione is likely to use it more than he is. And if Harry does go out, he'll do it with Hermione, and can borrow her Cloak.

It's not "Harry will never use the Cloak again", it's "it's Hermione's now because she'll get the most use out of it."

comment by dxu · 2015-03-22T20:41:18.932Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's also worth noting that now that Lord Voldemort is gone, with Mad-Eye Moody, Amelia Bones, and the Hogwarts professors at his side, there is very little that can threaten Harry unless he goes actively looking for it (which, naturally, he will not). The Invisibility Cloak is useful, but it's not the be-all-end-all of protection, and letting it sit in his possession when Hermione could use it to do heroic things is a rather large opportunity cost.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-22T09:36:11.491Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's still one ring of safety less. If the story didn't require a "passing the torch" moment, I wouldn't have predicted that to happen; though I might see Harry loaning the cloak for sufficiently important missions.

comment by hairyfigment · 2015-05-16T19:59:13.894Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Belated note: Hermione had many protections against dying in Azkaban, but people were saying the Dementors might be a way to neutralize someone who has Horcruxes. The Cloak could give her an added layer of protection. Assuming Hermione figures out the True Patronus at all, it would be very odd if she didn't think of this.

comment by cousin_it · 2015-03-15T21:44:00.741Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That was a great fanfic. The characters were amazingly written, and many of the scenes were genuinely emotional and moving. What's more, the ending actually worked, in a way that I hadn't expected it to work. We didn't get a resolution to the prophecies about apocalypse, the prophecies about ending death, the nature of magic, the nature of time travel, phoenix fire, and many other things... but that actually feels okay. We've been reading an origin story all along, and a great origin story it is. Eliezer, thank you!

That said, now I have a wishlist for some other fanfics I'd like to read:

1) A fanfic where Harry and Hermione use the scientific method to research the nature of magic.

2) A fanfic where smarter versions of canon characters fight each other with complicated plots.

3) A fanfic where most of Harry's successes come from making surprising but rational decisions.

Much of the promise of HPMOR was that it hinted at being all of these things, but now I feel that it doesn't do any of them really well. Maybe my standards have gone up, or maybe the promise is still there to be realized by some other author. Or has it already been done?

comment by khafra · 2015-03-16T11:42:44.425Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

2) A fanfic where smarter versions of canon characters fight each other with complicated plots.

Hogwarts Battle School

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-15T08:06:01.548Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What about omakes? With the readers' solutions to the final exam, and other things?

comment by TryingToThink · 2015-03-15T04:40:21.552Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why, I was resigned to a bad or unfulfilling ending, so this completely blew my mind. It's... perfectly fitting, and it brings back the pacing the story had earlier on in a beautiful, almost subtle way. I absolutely loved it.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-14T21:38:45.604Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Please subscribe to the notification email list at hpmor dot com, if you want to see the separate epilogue when it appears (not for months, at least)

Separate epilogue? Does EY mean the "shorter, sadder ending"? or an expansion of the one we got?

comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-14T22:01:24.446Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I believe he means one set 6 years after these epilogues, i.e. when they would have graduated from Hogwarts.

comment by dxu · 2015-03-14T20:28:33.495Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So... any bets on if/when any recursive fanfiction will be posted now that the story itself is complete?

comment by imuli · 2015-03-14T20:58:22.318Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It started happening well before the story was complete...

comment by dxu · 2015-03-15T16:08:37.159Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but that was when the tension was still high, because the story was incomplete. Now that it is complete, the desire for closure won't be as strong, and so it's questionable if any recursive stories will be spawned.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-21T16:30:19.700Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Does this count?

(cough, don't answer that, cough)

comment by dxu · 2015-03-22T05:18:16.007Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

...I have no comment.

Instead, have an upvote.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-03-14T16:54:57.247Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I hope the Epilogue will feature Hermione in action. It sounds like she'll be perfect as a light side Dragon (TV Tropes) for Harry, as well as simply awesome in her own right.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-16T01:21:17.648Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore is now a much more interesting character-- what mental resources does he need to have made such a complex scheme work?

Is there plausible magic for increasing intelligence?

He reminds me of the Snakes and Spiders in Leiber's The Big Time. Even with time travel, humans can't change the past because time heals itself-- you need an additional set of senses? computational ability? to make the changes which will make a difference. (See also Leiber's "Try and Change the Past".)

Of course, the other answer is that Dumbledore knows he's in a genre story and is manipulating narrative logic, but that's probably not an interesting answer.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-15T17:29:06.781Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hermione says that she has an answer to Quirrel's question: if he was horrible for walking away from his fight, are the people who never even lift a finger still worse. That got my interest, because I think that's a good question.

But insofar as I can understand, her answer is not on topic. What she says may be a useful thought in its own right, but not an answer to Quirrel's question. Or am I missing something? Does she have a worthwhile point that I am failing to see, and what is it?

comment by Izeinwinter · 2015-03-15T19:27:24.087Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It does address it. What we call heroic action is high combat ability and resources deployed for good. Hermione's point is that privileging that particular class of good works is an error - The proper measure of virtue is if you do the things which fall within your reach. Thinking in terms of heroes is a distraction,

Note that wizarding britain still largely fails hard on this count.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-15T23:39:07.311Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There are just people who do what they can, whatever they can. And there are also people who don't even try to do what they can, and yes, those people are doing something wrong.

Sounds like an answer to me.

Most people simply didn't have the power to combat Voldemort. Doing what you can isn't getting yourself killed trying to do what you can't.

Meanwhile, QuirrellHero did have the power (under the fraudulent scenario where he was supposedly opposing Voldemort).

There are some problems with the moral theory "with power comes responsibility", but the application to Quirell's scenario is clear enough.

comment by Velorien · 2015-03-15T23:41:52.761Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Most people simply didn't have the power to combat Voldemort. Doing what you can isn't getting yourself killed trying to do what you can't.

There are plenty of things they could have done to support the war effort without fighting directly. Economic support, for example, which it seems from Dumbledore's Pensieve memory was limited to a few wealthy families.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-16T00:41:06.722Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And I think Hermione would say that they should have supported the war with the money they could give. It was wrong for them not to do so, but not as wrong as QuirrellHero refusing to what he could do, since he could do so much more.

I'm not entirely confident on my projection of Hermione's argument, but I still think her response is "an answer to Quirrell's question" regardless of how I interpret it, which was the original point.

comment by BrindIf · 2015-03-15T18:12:27.470Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are people who do what they can. And there are also people who don't even try to do what they can, and yes, those people are doing something wrong.

So according to her, someone who's walking away from a fight he could fight is wrong, as is someone who never lift a finger when he could have.

comment by TylerJay · 2015-03-15T09:09:27.423Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I couldn't be happier with the ending. So perfect.

"I think that you always were, from the day I met you, my mysterious old wizard."

Thank you so much Eliezer. It's been an amazing journey.

comment by Diadem · 2015-03-14T21:25:57.134Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I nteresting ending. I liked it.

Before I was hoping for more action. I wanted Hermione to take down Azkaban. I wanted to see here reaction to the whole story. I wanted to learn more about the source of magic and the mirror.

But this ending is fitting somehow.

And you know. Writing up those final parts could be an interesting community effort. Doubtless we'll see lots of meta-fan-fictions emerge the coming days.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-14T19:28:45.567Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

why, Professor Quirrell, why, the thought still stabbing sickness at Harry's heart

Minor point, but wouldn't it be better with "stabbed" rather than "stabbing"? It's a sentence fragment, and lacks a verb. Compare:

why, Professor Quirrell, why, something inside him asked for the hundedth time, the thought still stabbing sickness at Harry's heart

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-22T09:24:11.561Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Although wizards are advised to avoid being seen by their past selves. If you're attending two classes at the same time and you need to cross paths with yourself, for example, the first version of you should step aside and close his eyes at a known time - you have a watch already, good - so that the future you can pass. It's all there in the pamphlet."

"Ahahahaa. And what happens when someone ignores that advice?"

Professor McGonagall pursed her lips. "I understand that it can be quite disconcerting."

So what does happen when someone ignores that advice, on the assumption that history with time-travel is self-consistent in the way EY describes?

comment by dxu · 2015-03-22T18:13:02.507Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Probably nothing, but it would require a series of improbable coincidences (every atom in future!Harry needs to be in the same position that past!Harry saw it in), significantly complicating the loop. Such complications would make it simpler for the loop to not happen at all, and so it probably wouldn't. A precommitment to interact with your future self as little as possible would then maximize the probability that the loop occurs in the first place.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-22T19:45:19.947Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Probably nothing

So what do you think McGonagall meant by disconcerting?

comment by dxu · 2015-03-22T20:32:32.050Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not actually sure. "It's weird to see yourself", possibly? Though, in a world with stuff like Polyjuice Potion, I don't know how rare that sort of thing would actually be...

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-29T07:25:22.456Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm guessing something vaguely along the lines of the "do not mess with time" warning. Except I can't imagine it specifically, how that might possibly go in the case of someone who's doing what Minerva says not to do.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-16T01:24:28.827Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What strikes me is how very much the story is about FAI-- not just learning the skills people need to work on the problem, but how much Harry and Quirrell (at least) are like AIs of possible Friendliness which the other characters need to make good judgments about (and of course, they need to gauge each other), not to mention how much work Harry needs to do to hopefully become Friendly himself.

comment by TurnTrout · 2019-07-09T04:44:05.827Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell tried to create an aligned successor and failed. Hard. He literally imprinted his own cognitive patterns and shaped Harry the entire year, and still failed.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-03-16T07:18:30.713Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was repeatedly flashing back to a certain youtube Q&A session...

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-16T10:50:14.208Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Link?

comment by LawrenceC · 2015-05-29T02:15:48.456Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while.

For Gryffindors there's "Gryffindorks". Are there any similarly good insults for the other three houses?

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2015-03-29T07:20:12.899Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If Quirrel killed Hermione to "improve [Harry's] position relative to Lucius", what was the point of trying to persuade her to leave Britain for France, in chapter 84?

comment by Macaulay · 2015-03-15T19:02:21.075Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If the "tear apart the stars" prophecy just refers to Harry harvesting the stars for resources, then Voldemort looks really stupid for misinterpreting it.

comment by knb · 2015-03-15T20:56:27.937Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Star-lifting isn't well known even among sci-fi fans in 2015. In 1991 you would have to be a fairly serious space-geek/sci-fi fan to know about it.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-03-16T07:17:00.270Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And a far more serious one (certainly moreso than I) to think that it's a terribly likely thing in our future rather than just a fun notion.

comment by knb · 2015-03-21T03:13:48.206Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Off course, in-universe, Star-lifting seems absolutely doable, once you know about the concept.

Admittedly, probably more difficult than saying "Accio sun."

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-17T03:02:47.450Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Without going back to The Good Book, it was perfectly clear to Harry at the end "tear apart the stars" prophecy could just refer to Harry harvesting the stars for resources.

ok, I'll peak.

Unseen by anyone, the Defense Professor’s lips curved up in a thin smile. Despite its little ups and downs, on the whole this had been a surprisingly good day—
“He is here. The one who will tear apart the very stars in heaven. He is here. He is the end of the world.”

Does that mean that Quirrell knew the exact prophecy? And Dumbledore knew it too.

Were Quirrell and Dumbledore basing his worries about Harry destroying the stars on the prophecy?

Shouldn't they just have asked? "Hey, what could it mean if someone is supposed to "tear apart the very stars in heaven"?

But Dumbledore then tells it to him in his letter anyway. And Quirrell discusses his apprehension that Harry will destroy the sun, but doesn't mention the prophecy at the time. It seemed like there was a lot of heartburn over something Harry could have cleared up in a minute.

comment by hairyfigment · 2015-05-16T20:27:21.989Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The text admittedly doesn't give us any reason to think V considered the star-lifting interpretation. It also gives us no reason to think he would care. If the prophecy has two possible interpretations (each of which may be genuinely possible, depending on V's actions) and he has no real interest in a star-lifting civilization but great fear of his own death, then he should rationally try to prevent the latter.

The real question is why he thought he could prevent the prophecy from happening in any form. And I'm willing to accept that as in-story knowledge from Salazar and other sources, plus ignorance or incomplete knowledge of Dumbledore's role. (The latter seems interesting in that he knew D had knowledge of the future - maybe he failed to consider that D might be trying to protect everyone except the two of them? Or maybe this was just arrogance.)

comment by solipsist · 2015-03-15T00:05:54.092Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've left the part of the path that lets me be a hero

I think that you always were, from the day I met you, my mysterious old wizard

Was this added? I remember thinking these words, but I don't remember reading them.

comment by MathMage · 2015-03-14T19:18:38.559Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good thing we use M/D/Y calendars here in the States, otherwise we'd have to wait for 3 January 2041. Or, come to think of it, 3 January 4159.

comment by Transfuturist · 2015-03-16T07:27:46.449Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Or 3141 May 9.