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The Magic of Harry Potter - Taure's updated headcanon

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Taure, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Many of you will be familiar with my old headcanon document, outlining my views on Harry Potter magic. For various reasons I grew dissatisfied with it and I have now got around to writing a revision, which is significantly more in-depth. The link is here:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/72wsc4yrwetp4yw/MHP Distribution Copy PDF 22 April 2018.pdf?dl=0

    This is incomplete. The sections from Charms onwards are yet to be written. However, the document is now at a stage where it is ready for provisional release as there is very little in the old headcanon document which cannot be found in the new one.

    And yes, this is the reason why Victoria Potter has not been updated for several weeks.

    I look forward to people's comments (including comments on typographical errors etc).
     
  2. Alistair

    Alistair First Year

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    Interesting stuff. I think that some of the 'social' aspects of magical power need expanding on though. Taking positions of authority, what defines that position? Is it an internal belief that you have authority? Can a person say, and genuinely believe, 'I am the Hogwarts headmaster, so I have power over the wards' and their internal belief makes it true? If so, would a confundus serve the same purpose? Or is it a component of other individuals acknowledging your power? We see in Ootp that Umbridge, whilst acknowledged by the Ministry as Headmistress, seems to have no additional authority over Peeves or the portraits or the gargoyle outside the headmasters' office. Is this because she does not believe subconciously that she is fit for the role, is it because the students and faculty are generally still loyal to Dumbledore, or is this defined by 'magic' itself?

    This is also interesting in terms of 'adulthood'. Fundamentally, adulthood is a societal construct. There is no major paradigm shift that occurs at 17, or 18 or 21 that makes a person 'grown up'. Biologically an argument could be made for anywhere between about 13 and 25. Is this different for magic? I would suggest that again, it's a function of the widely held belief of a population. Wizards in Britain believe that their 17th birthday is meaningful due to social pressure, so magic makes it so. That being the case, what of the muggleborns? Adulthood in the muggle world is obviously 18, could that hinder their 'ascension' to adulthood at 17? If so, how? What of a foreign wizard coming from a country with a different metric for adulthood? The US wizards run with 21 I'm assuming? Do they adopt the new standard of adulthood or retain their original societal construct?

    I only ask because this raises interesting questions about Tom Riddle and the Killing Curse. You take it as read that minors can't cast the curse purely by virtue of being minors, but based on my recollection of the books, it seems Tom could cast the curse before his majority, as shown when he visited daddy and through his creation of Horcruxes during his time at school (side point, are these examples canon? I don't have the books with me). Maybe this is because, even at 16 or whatever, Tom believed himself to be 'above' the petty restricitions of society, and becasue he fundamentally believed this, magic again made it so in some limited form, in this case by granting him 'adult' power as a minor. Of course, maybe I'm overthinking and he was just that good.
     
  3. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    To clarify, I do not mean to say that you have to be an adult to cast the Killing Curse, but rather than the further from adulthood you are, the less likely you are to have sufficient power to do so. I should edit that clarification in for the final version.

    With regards to social authority, I feel like any answer as to the specifics of what constitutes social authority would be pure speculation. To engage in speculation, however, I think both the individual and group definitions fail because they make magic too fluid. As is noted in the document, magic has a largely objective character and cannot be gamed by pure subjective intent. I simply think that magic will have an objective definition of authority "built in" to its rules, and an entity will either fit the bill or not (with some fringe cases on which wizards themselves debate because they don't fully understand the definition yet).
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  4. wordhammer

    wordhammer Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    You might consider tying this in to the way Thestrals aren't visible to someone who hasn't seen and understood death. One might even conjecture that only someone who has seen Thestrals could successfully cast a Killing curse -- not a sufficient criteria but a necessary component.

    I think this is a powerful and meaningful concept to consider, but the discussion of how authority is granted by a social group may take you far away from the discussion of magic. Potterverse magic doesn't usually give much power to group rituals or anything cultish, but that may be offset by the idea of people not generally being able to act as of one mind. The defenses added to Hogwarts for the last battle seem to have been a matter of cooperative assembly of similar component spells.
     
  5. 99redbloons

    99redbloons Second Year DLP Bronze Supporter

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    Very interesting. I particularly liked your ideas about the contributing factors of magical power as its something that I've rarely seen done well in any fanfic.

    However, regarding vanishing and conjuring do you think that it would be possible for someone to conjure something that someone else had already vanished? For example, could Harry (all else being equal) have conjured the mead that Dumbledore vanished earlier?
     
  6. Blinker

    Blinker Slug Club Member DLP Supporter

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    Regarding the permanence of transfiguration, and your position that the original object is no longer there, "underneath", what is it about an object that allows for untransfiguration? If it helps I'm thinking why some ferrets can be transfigured into Draco Malfoy, complete with memories, while others (presumably) can't. Where is Draco's mind/memory? Perhaps in his soul? Do animals have souls in HP?
     
  7. Dresden11

    Dresden11 Second Year

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    @Blinker: I would think that the ferret of Draco would contain his soul. Thus only that ferret could be transfigured back into Draco. And because the soul was there (with all his memories, etc), it would be easy to reverse the transfiguration. I would speculate that if a person had the willpower and magical power as Taure envisions it, that person would be able to resist being transfigured into an animal in the first place. Moody, who is much more skilled and 'powerful' than 14 year old Draco can enforce the transfiguration upon him, but if Draco was 19 and reasonably skilled he could have fought off the transfiguration from Moody. Though a Master such as Minerva could have still forced the transfiguration on him.
     
  8. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Blinker: as stated in the text, it is the fact that the ferret used to be Malfoy. Objects have history and there is always a magical trace.
     
  9. Newcomb

    Newcomb Headmaster

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    I fundamentally vibe with this bit.

    It's a real shame that so many stories miss this mark, because it's such a meaty, interesting, filled-with-potential narrative concept.

    Just the inference you can make from Tonks not being able to use her abilities when she's depressed is like, a single thread that could be used in any number of stories. What I find great about the concept as a whole, though, is that it's almost infinitely malleable to the story you want to tell, yet still fundamentally flavored like its own thing, so when the broad concept gets applied to something creative and new, it still feels like Harry Potter and not something else, or something generic.

    The cynical side of me wonders if JKR even fully understood the uniqueness of the thing she was creating, but she's always struck me as a very intuitive writer, so, maybe she'd didn't need to.

    Cheers, Taure. I'm only like halfway through this and it's immensely enjoyable
     
  10. James018

    James018 Second Year

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    Just powered through this. A great read. At this rate, when you complete all the subsections you have planned, you would have enough material to publish this as a book, if you chose to and got the required permissions (disclaimer: I know nothing at all about what that involves).

    Just a thought about the Transfiguration of food. You explained away Mrs Weasley's apparent conjuration of a sauce in GoF as her using a charm, but there is another possibility: she could have Vanished the sauce at some earlier point and then re-Conjured it. Given you convincingly argued Dumbledore did this with the mead he Conjured at the Dursleys' in HBP, it would seem this doesn't conflict with the exception to Gamp's Law, possibly because the "good food" or "edibility" already existed prior to its Vanishment. One could even conceive the Conjuration of a Vanished object as a form of Untransfiguration.
     
  11. Red

    Red Groundskeeper

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    Magical Theory and Where to Find it.
    I don't know if this idea has been mentioned, but I always imagined that she was merely getting it from somewhere else in the kitchen. As in there being a pot or jar in the fridge or cupboard and Molly is using something like a switching spell of conjuring the sauce from pot/jar/whatever.
     
  12. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    So, I'm not gonna read 54 pages in one go, but I did read the section on the Shield Charm rather thoroughly. We had a bit of a discussion specifically about Voldemort's silver shield last year @Taure. I find the summary you compiled agreeable. Any further interpretation would just be personal preference unsupported by canon evidence. Next time some douche tries to argue that there are multiple Shield Charms I'll just quote this doc at them.

    A+ work mate.
     
  13. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    In addition to such rules, there are is also theory about how that body of magic works:
    The second item is Harry's use [...] to create potable water:
    Edit: Huh. You learn something new every day.

    ----

    I'm not satisfied with the solution to the food issue: I dislike the 'magical tag' concept. It's clunky and appears to go against the idea of a rabbit being a rabbit being a rabbit. If one has nutritional value and the other does not, a rabbit isn't a rabbit, because it being edible and tasty and filling is part of what you mean with the idea of "rabbit". (Also, I'd totally walk up to Malfoy's property, set out many transfigured rabbits, and lol when they want to eat a nice roast but go to bed hungry after dinner. Also, what would happen with offspring of transfigured rabbits?)

    I'm not sure how much weight I would give the "good" food qualifier. Keep in mind Hermione responds to Ron, who claimed his mother can make "good food" first. She might simply have used his own words to make a point.

    In terms of "why didn't they just transfigure something in DH" you can raise ... why would they? Apparently, Harry caught the fish just fine (first guess: Accio Fish). If Hermione (and everyone else) has no idea how to cook tasty stuff, it's not going to be more tasty if they try the same with deer or pheasant instead of fish -- the base wasn't the bottleneck here, the preparation is. This is basically confirmed in the fungi line, which tells us they don't go hungry -- they have as much fungi as they want, which they can transform into anything else they want -- rather, they suffer from a lack of other things (company, news).

    What's left is to reconcile the potential to transfigure things into animals with Gamp's exception. I'm inclined to go with the narrow definition of "food", I think. We can assume that Hermione (as she always does) was basically quoting from a book. So the exception literally is "food", and not something else (say, "meat"). And you don't usually call a live animal "food". Food is what you have on your plate, not what runs through your garden -- or, for that matter, what grows there (if you consider e.g. wheat vs. bread).

    So the exception would say that you can't whip up a ready-made meal. You can transfigure a pig, kill it, carve it up, fry it, and enjoy dinner. However, apart from not needing a pig, you don't really gain anything in the process, it's every bit as cumbersome as it would be if you caught it/bought it/whatever: You can't create food.
     
  14. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    @Sesc I think potable simply means drinkable water, so I don't think it's a mistake. Edit: I agree with the narrow definition of food. HP is concepts made real by magic. Conjuring a rabbit is fine, but a rabbit stew is food. Cheating Gamp's law by thinking of a rabbit as food sounds in the same camp of "logically" explaining magic as "Killing Curse stops brain activity".
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  15. Zombie

    Zombie John Waynes Teeth Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Side question, since we're talking about magical food. I haven't yet to read the new headcanon all the way. I seem to recall, I guess its fanfic talking about how transfigured food doesn't sustain you. Because it turns back into whatever it was transfigured from. Or am I missing something here.
     
  16. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Nah, transfigured food turning back into what it used to be isn't it. That's HPMOR Transfiguration, where you can kill by making someone eat an apple transfigured from acid, because it'll turn back into acid. I think it's rather like Pirates of the Caribbean in the first film: Barbossa's crew could eat and drink just fine in their not-skeletor forms, but it didn't satisfy hunger and thirst.

    What about human physiology though: do you crap transfigured "unreal" food, or does it just not satisfy your hunger? Personally I'm prone to say that anti-Gamp food is unreal to the point that you won't even need the bathroom.
     
  17. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    @Zombie, yeah, have a look at the doc. Taure discusses this -- the nature of Transfiguration, as well as ways to account for Gamp's exception. My post was in response to that section.

    @ScottPress: When I say "can't" I mean you literally can't, though. It's impossible to transfigure a Steak Medium and Baked Potatoes. There's a grey zone obviously -- is a raw slab of meat "food" or not? -- but this would be entirely in line with the conceptual nature of HP magic.
     
  18. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Now I got to thinking about this slab of meat. What if Greyback is doing the conjuring? Let's assume that he would indeed consider a slab of raw meat food--not unprepared food, not almost food--exactly food. Is the concept of food set by magic itself, as in only exact dishes, edible by a typical human are considered food, or can Greyback conjure meat that will actually fill him up because he thinks it's food even though someone else might just consider it to be raw meat? If someone else, who doesn't think raw meat is food, conjures it, but Greyback eats it, is it okay as food for Greyback, but considered not-food for the conjurer?

    "Personal" definition of what is food opens up this can of worms. I think, to have some semblance of sense, we have to assume that there's a preset list of things that are food, and those you can't conjure, because that just opens problems that frankly I don't care about enough to have make consistent sense when writing fanfic.

    Now then, Gamp's law is stupid, but does it make the HP magic system worse because it's a headache, or does it add to the illogal whimsy of wizardry?
     
  19. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I find that a good way to escape these problems is often to use modal logic -- that is, using the concept "would". This allows you to capture things that are subjective without giving into making magic directly dependent on the caster's intent and therefore "gameable" by manipulating your intention. So, for example, if you say "food is any object which the caster would eat" then this individualises the magic without making it based on what the caster thinks at the time. It's a more general, factual statement about that person's preferences. You can't confound yourself around it, for example, because that would change your intention in the heat of the moment but not your established food-eating habits.

    I'm not a fan of the narrow definition of food because I think the broader approach outlined in the doc fits better with the DH quote (also also the idea of conceptual "tags" is going to occur a few more times) but if I were to go down the narrow route and had to define the meaning of food, I would go this quasi-subjective, quasi-objective route. The middle ground allows you to capture important aspects of both objectivity and subjectivity.
     
  20. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    So essentially, if you were summoning a glass of water, but in the moment of casting the spell you got distracted and looked at the salad bowl, the spell will still summon a glass of water, because that was your default. Only in this case the glass of water is the particular individual's food preferences and they're attempting conjuring instead of summoning--if I understood your point correctly. Essentially a middle ground between my speculation and what Sesc said.

    I'll just have to read that part of the doc myself later, because I'm operating from a secondhand account of Sesc's post.
     
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