Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison

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Pottering around some more

Inspired, this time, by sinick's reply to my previous post.

My thanks to Professor Snape for his lively examination of the first of my Pensieve records. That was, of course, the introductory lecture in the course on Analysis of Dark Arts, and therefore only touched lightly on some of the more controversial aspects of the Theory of Negative Enlightenment.

As some of you may know, my desire to join the staff at Hogwarts is based, not only on the excellence of the research library, the quality of the students, and the generous stipend for the position of Professor of Defense Against Dark Arts, but also it is based on the opportunity to further my development of the theory for publication to a wider audience than academia. The opportunity to have my work subjected to the strenuous eye of a luminary in Dark Arts like Professor Snape is also a powerful motivator.

It surprises me, though, to see him draw a conclusion from that lecture which is not stated explicitly in the materia - to wit, that there is an equation of enlightenment with collectivism, or Dark Arts with solitary endeavour. Magical connection is not collectivism, nor is the disruption or perturbance of that collection likely to inspire preference for solitary action.

I can only attribute this mistaken analysis to an incomplete presentation of the material, and his own natural potion-master's associative and interpretive skills filling in for the gaps.

In order to clarify and correct this misunderstanding, I would like to elaborate on several of the points he makes by simply referring to the later record of lectures. This excerpt comes from the fourth lecture following the introduction which was previously reviewed.

<The Pensieve record opens: The classroom from before is now full of students wearing american-style informal school costume, which seems to involve a bit more freedom of expression in the hairstyle and decoration of the shirts, at least, worn under the black uniform robes. The room resembles a Muggle chemistry classroom with lab facilities: the back of the room consists of work-stations with setups for cauldrons, frames for glassware, scales, and various other potion-making supplies; the front has six rows of uncomfortable chair-desk units, facing the instructor's podium and greenboards.>

Class, attention. Those of you who have successfully cast the Spasticolonic Exsanguination, congratulations. Those of you who have been subjected to that spell, you may now drink the Recuperative Elixir that we prepared at the beginning of class. You, Mr. Dinkum, since your elixir did not meet standards, are excused to go to Miss Ratched in the Infirmary. Do not stop on the way, as I am certain that undue delay will only prolong your discomfort. Miss March, since you were his partner for the exercise, you may accompany him to ensure his arrival, but do return to us, we would be bereft without your profound insights.

<A tall, square-built, flat-chested girl with black ribbons woven through her pale hair escorts a pale, bleached-out, weedy-looking young man of about 14 from the room. She stops at the door to glare at the professor when she thinks he isn't looking.>

Now, has everyone recovered themselves? Excellent. Resuming the discussion of what Enlightenment means in the context of Dark Arts, how do we differentiate between religious, philosophical, and spiritual, and of course, Magical meanings of Enlightenment?

Mr Grayden, I'm sure that your rat will not require the full human dosage of Elixir, so if you will stop trying to pour more into him, and put him back in your desk, you can tell us all what makes religious Enlightenment different from Magical enlightenment.

<Uh, er, God?>

And how, precisely, does that make a difference?

<Well, God is a person, so being enlightened to God is like getting really super-aware of that other person, but Magical enlightenment is more of a feeling, like, you know you're connected to the whole world, like there's lines of magic going from you to everything else, especially the alive stuff.>

Surprisingly coherent, Mr. Grayden, although you have a peculiarly Occidental concept of God which clouds your argument unnecessarily.
Still, given that your examination of the sensual aspect of Magical enlightenment as opposed to the religious variety is close enough, but why then is that different from what happens when using a Dark Arts spell?

Miss Vore? If you don't stop waving your hand like that, it's sure to fly off of your wrist and then you'll be reduced to holding your wand between your teeth. When Mr. Grayden finishes his answer, be assured I'll call on you. Well, Grayden?

<uhm, I don't know, sir.>

I see. Miss Vore, before you erupt and spew the answer over the entire classroom, let's see if anyone else can elucidate? Mr Boblink? Mr. Catterskie? Nobody else has any idea? Very well, Miss Vore. Expound.

<It says in the lecture notes you gave us, that Dark Arts spells make the caster want to use the connection to dominate and extinguish, and that it's due to the inherent alienation in using magical power to harm other people or things. But, I don't get that. Whenever we eat meat we hurt animals, right? So it can't be from hurting things. It's gotta be something more subtle.>

Well, at least one of you is thinking about the question. Do go on, Miss Vore, tell me about the subtle difference.

<Uh, well... It seems more like the connection thing would be broken, wouldn't it? I mean, you said that in the first lecture, that the Dark breaks the connection?>

Your recollection is excellent, as always. So what are the expected results of that broken connection?

<Uhm... Wouldn't it mean the Dark Wizard would end up working alone?>

And, do you remember from our examination of the histories of Dark Arts, how many of the truly powerful Dark Lords through the centuries have operated in solitary fashion?

<Well, most of them had armies of followers.>

And what does that disprove? Anyone? Grayden, you've recovered your wits?

<Well, sir, it means that they don't change their nature as social beings? And homo magus is a social species, even more so than our muggle cousins. So, the connection isn't destroyed, but twisted?>

Very good, Grayden. However, I recommend you not grow too enamoured of Professor Hister's alternate taxonomy. The fact that muggle and magus arise spontaneously, each in the other's pure lineages, means that we are, for all purposes, a single species, and his studies of the muggle sciences of heredity are fundamentally flawed by his refusal to consider that fact.

Now, as we've mentioned the muggle sciences, I would like to bring to mind the muggle explorations into the workings of the human mind, especially the researches of a Russian muggle named Pavlov. It was his researches into animal behaviours and what he called 'conditioned responses' that coalesced some of my early researches into how the Dark Arts work, and those researches are included in the extra-credit portions of your class readings.

The phenomenon which I have been calling 'enlightenment' is actually a powerful and complex functioning in the brain, and as has been discovered by muggle and wizarding researchers, it is accompanied by a strong burst of pleasure. Pavlovian studies discovered two types of reinforcement for behaviours: positive and negative. Of the two, positive reinforcements are far stronger at embedding behaviours.

My personal inspiration came in tying this together with the works of the Squib researcher Jung into the common elements of muggle and magus psychology - that's the muggle word for the study of the mind - and to the groups who worked with him. They categorized common personality traits and found independent of culture or upbringing in all human communities, and certainly the wizarding society is a human community. Besides identifying healthy personalities, they also described several varieties of unhealthy personality, one of these being the narcissistic personality.

Miss Vore, you may have one minute for the comment which is clearly so important that it merits interrupting me with that inane handwaving.

<Sorry, sir. But wasn't Jung's primary thesis the shared unconscious mind and the archetypes and forms?>

Yes, that was his strongest personal contribution, and as a model of magical thought it has numerous applications. However, the identification of personality types and pathologies was, as I said, done largely by his students and fellows. I bring him into the discussion because he was, as a Squib living in muggle society, able to bridge the cultural gap. Perhaps I go too far in assigning the entire opus, but it was through his work that I came across the typologies.
And, he was the one who introduced them to the Wizarding community.

Now, before we stray further into a class on Muggle Culture, let us examine the qualities of the personality formation called 'narcissism'. The name of the disorder came from the classical Greek myth, a blurred recollection of an event in the days before the separation of Muggle and Wizarding societies.

A young muggle man named Narcissus who was possessed of extreme physical beauty was the subject of the infatuation of a leading wizard of the time, who was later identified with the sun-god Apollo. The wizard was being courted by the famous witch Circe, who had not at that time taken up her extensive and foundational researches into Transmogrification. She became jealous of the attention her Apollo was paying this Narcissus, and enchanted a pool that the man passed daily, with the Fascinatio Profundis curse. Keeping Apollo distracted for two weeks was sufficient, and he found his friend near death from hunger and thirst, yet unable to tear his gaze away from the perfect reflection in the water. That was how Apollo found him when he finally recalled him.
Breaking the curse, Apollo discovered that the man's mind, never his strongest feature to begin with, had become vegetative, so to save his life he transmogrified the poor muggle into a flower, hoping to be able to restore him at a later date.

Thus, the fascination, indeed the obsession with one's own perfection acquires its name - the narcissist is one who appears to love only the self and nothing else. This differs from healthy self-esteem because the narcissist has no self-esteem, indeed being unable to actually love anything, not even their own self. They have, for whatever reasons, become stuck in their emotional development at a stage where they do not yet recognize that other people are in fact people, rather than parts of the environment whose only value comes in their usefulness to the narcissistic personality. Insecure and unable to comprehend the motivations of others, they assume that those motivations must be the same as their own. Learning that the appearance of something is as good as the thing itself, they develop the ability to mimic the behaviours of others, but only when it benefits them. A narcissist will be respectful only of someone they fear can hurt them, or of someone who has something they want. As soon as the fear is gone, the desire satisfied, they may even go so far as to attempt revenge on the other.

Because this is a developmental pathology, every one of us goes through the stage of being a narcissist, usually around the age of five or six years, but most of us develop past it.

What does this mean with respect to the Dark Arts? Simply that the use of the magical connections to dominate, to control, and to harm, when applied by a person who has a narcissistic personality, for whom the connections are understood only as tools for their personal acquisition of power and control, results in a much stronger positive reinforcement than in a person who uses them reluctantly. The sense of self-affirmation from achieving the goals of control, of instilling fear, obedience, and pain in others, is peculiarly addictive to the chronic narcissist, who lacks that self-esteem.

For the remaining ten minutes of the period, you will all please write down the sensations and emotional responses you felt when you were successful with the Spasticolon Exsanguination, and if you have time, the way you felt about the person who cast it on you.

Ah, Miss March. Welcome back.

<End of Pensieve record>

- Vladimir Bathory, P.D.A.(SIM)(visiting)

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