Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 28, chapter 99-101

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 99, 100, and 101The previous thread is at nearly 500 comments. 

There is now 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.) 

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.

Also: 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12,  13,  1415,  16,  17,  18,  19,  20,  21,  22,  23,  24,  252627

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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.

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"Tell me, son of Lily, do the Muggles in their wisdom say that soon the skies will be empty?"

Interesting tie-in to:

"HE IS HERE. THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY STARS IN HEAVEN. HE IS HERE. HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD."

So the centaur and Trelawney seem to be reading from the same playbook. Any guesses to who the centaur approached sixteen years ago and what lines he crossed? Seems like a plausible time to be Lily, no? Could possibly be the payoff to this from Chapter 1:

"...And I begged her to use some of that magic on me so that I could be pretty too, even if I couldn’t have her magic, at least I could be pretty.”
Tears were gathering in Petunia’s eyes.
“And Lily would tell me no, and make up the most ridiculous excuses, like the world would end if she were nice to her sister, or a centaur told her not to – the most ridiculous things, and I hated her for it."

the world would end if she were nice to her sister

Plausible, if her being nicer to her sister is why Harry got the upbringing he did instead of the canon one.

Via: "Lily is nice to Petunia" -> "Lily makes Petunia prettier" -> "Petunia ends up with Michael and not Vernon" -> "Harry learns science instead of ptsd".

It's even worse if one believe that Harry is Harry!Mort.

“There is nothing above the folly of men,” whispered the voice from the emptiness. “There is nothing beyond the destructive powers of sufficiently intelligent idiocy, not even the stars themselves.

“The Sun is very large, after all; I doubt the Dementor would have much effect on it. But it is not a test I would like to try, Mr. Potter, just in case.”

“Is the Sun still in the sky?” said Professor Quirrell, still with that strange gentleness. “Is it still shining? Are you still alive?”

The destruction of the sun is a recurrent theme with Quirrell.

"...The stars themselves proclaim your innocence, ironically enough."

This seems to be the case. It all ties together to nicely not to be. Sixteen years ago, Firenze (I assume that is who the centaur is, from his views and attitudes) told Lilly that "the world would end if she were nice to her sister", based on the same prophecy based on which he tried to kill Harry: One that was similar to the one Trelawney made.

Remember also the twice-repeated wave of prophecies over the world, despite the fact that we are told that disturbances in time are never enough to cause more than a single prophecy. It would make sense that if any prophacy could be of such import, it would be one about the end of the world.

What puzzles me about this:

  • The centaur foresees that Harry is "the end of the world"
  • Quirrell has also heard that Harry is"the end of the world"
  • Quirrell is really afraid of this (it's the only credible threat to all his horcruxes)
  • The centaur is conveniently about to kill Harry

But then Quirrell saves Harry's life. Why?

Is the only reason because Quirrell has already seen future Harry in Chapter 100 (under the cloak), so knows that Harry has to make it out alive somehow, so he might as well do the saving?

If Quirrell wanted Harry dead, he would kill him. Even without being able to use magic against him directly, there are plenty of ways for him to do it.

I think Quirrell still wants or hopes something from Harry. Maybe it's just that Harry needs to be still alive for the "blood, bones, flesh" rituals, but I think it's something much more specific, linked to Harry's dark side and why their magic can't interact.

Personally, I think Quirrell killed Hermione, in the hopes of getting Harry to actually figure out how to defeat death - something no one else has ever done.

The reason he was happy when he heard the prediction that Harry would break the Universe is that this was near-confirmation that Harry would be successful.

In short, here is my version of Quirrell's plan:

1) For deniability reasons, be anti-resurrection from the start, and horribly worried about what Harry will do - tell Harry this

2) Kill someone Harry won't allow to stay dead (Hermione)

3) Become convinced by Harry to help with the plan - provide magic knowledge he doesn't have access to on his own

4) Use any means necessary (Unicorn blood) to stay alive until Harry is close to success

5) Harry is now the solution to whatever is slowly killing you

The reason he was happy when he heard the prediction that Harry would break the Universe is that this was near-confirmation that Harry would be successful.

That is the exact opposite of how he reacted.

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.”

His attitude after hearing the prophecy can be summed up by his words to McGonagall, which are consistent with everything he does thereafter:

And though it is not my own area of expertise, Deputy Headmistress, if there is any way you can imagine to convince the boy to stop sinking further into his grief and madness—any way at all to undo the resolutions he is coming to—then I suggest you resort to it immediately.

His attitude after hearing the prophecy can be summed up by his words to McGonagall, which are consistent with everything he does thereafter

I would say that his request to McGonagall is consistent with my theory - he knew that her attempts to stop Harry would have the opposite effect. I am guessing that Quirrell has some alternate interpretation to the prophecy.

One possibility for this is "The End of the World" corresponds to an change to the natural order that makes the world unrecognizable, such as the removal of mortality.

It is possible that instead of burning up his own life to destroy all the dementors or defeat death, Harry could burn up some stars, which could explain the rest of the prophecy.

I'm not saying that I am correct, but I still see no actions that are inconsistent with my theory.

I think part of the confusion is that we are interpreting the punctuation differently. I don't interpret your second quotation (first quotation from the text) as meaning that he was happy, until interrupted by hearing the prophecy, but rather that the prophecy was the reason he had smiled.

Regarding the sequence of events, here's how it goes:

Trelawney, who had been sitting behind him on the two-person broomstick that had just blazed through Hogwarts burning directly through all the walls and floors in their way, hastily pulled herself off and then sat down hard on the floor, a pace away from the red-glowing edges of a newly made gap in the wall. The woman was still breathing in gasps, bending over herself as though she were on the verge of vomiting out something larger than she was.

[Quirrell analyses the emotions he'd felt coming off Harry]

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."

(quoted from hpmor.com rather than the .pdf this time for greater accuracy)

I really don't see how you can get any sequence