(Some snipping for length, but if you didn’t already read vegacoyote’s post, do. It’s a really good bit of writing.)
It’s not so much knocking down the sandcastle, as wanting to be able to play with it in a different way. Seeing the world be like, “Look, magic!,” some people react by being like “Magic? Wheeeeee! Explosions and poofings and unicorns!” And that’s fine, it’s awesome, but some other people are more like, “Magic? Wait how’s it work?” and part of the “Wheeeeee!” has to involve “DO SCIENCE TO IT! YAY!” or it feels unfulfillng.
And it shouldn’t have to mean destroying the magic or the world or being shitty to the characters, if you want to stop and say, “Wait, where does the rest of her go when she’s being a cat? Is her mind the same?” or “But WHY does the unicorn have silver blood? How does it work?” or “Wait, go back and tell me more about garden gnomes. Are they a kind of primate like us? Are they like weirdly bipedal gophers? Are they actually walking potatoes that bite?” The reward for me wasn’t watching the protagonist get away with being a such massive little shithead. In the case of what I (used to) enjoy about MoR, Harry initially just becomes a vessel for transporting Science to Hogwarts, because we want to play with how and why it works.
I’ll say now, I’m actually pretty much in your camp about it at this point- I tolerated the gross stuff at first because I found enough other to be clever and engaging and fun, but… it started to become clearer and clearer that the schoolfeeding I kept expecting to happen to Harry, the one about respecting other people and not manipulating them and not throwing tantrums every time someone won’t admit that you are obviously RIGHT- was never going to happen.
Because, and I think this is the thing that makes the whole thing so deliciously ironic to me:
The author does not realize that “people should listen to me because I am right” is itself actually totally irrational. Not because it’s not rational for people to listen to true things, but because reality informs us that people are, in general, not capable of being consistently rational. Rationality is cool, but expecting people to be rational all the time, or even to be able to be rational all the time, is disregarding reality. It is irrational! So the more angry someone gets about other people not being rational, the more devoted they are to showing off how awesome rationality is, the more biting the lack of self-awareness is.
This is really hard for me to write. I don’t want to be like, “Owh maw GERDH, he TRIGGERED ME, how DARE!!!1!!” I know he was not responsible for the fact that I read that chapter at a time when I was psychiatrically vulnerable. But it bothered me, and I wanted to discuss it. So I started composing a response. And then realized I couldn’t do it, because, in wanting to explain to him that, no, I actually know what death means- I kept flashing back to her. How she was gone, and she was never coming back, and there was nothing I could do. My dog, not Hermione. I wanted to explain to him that it wasn’t because I didn’t hurt enough that I disagreed to him, and that hurting people more with the simulated death of a character they loved… wasn’t going to change their minds, because contrary to what he knows in his heart, people aren’t actually completely fucking stupid. But I realized I couldn’t get any of it down, because I was crying so hard my eyes were swelling shut and my throat and sides were aching.
He understood that death was bad. You grokked it in fullness. He did not have anything to teach you there.
I pretty much can’t stand people who put so much stock in being right about everything that they gotta knock down some kid’s sand castle and lecture the kid who was building it about how, ACTUALLY, sand castles aren’t structurally sound places to live and would have never passed code on inspection, and furthermore any idiot knows you can’t build a real castle with a shovel, so stop wasting your time and go get a degree in mathematics already!
That’s how I see the MoR series. Some flawed AI bot once read about fun in a children’s story and didn’t like it very much, and took it upon himself to deconstruct that story by writing an insipid cardboard cutout version of himself and sending it around inside the story to sneer at everything that isn’t scientifically accurate and gloat about how it doesn’t measure up to his walls of text about human nature and those rapey brown countries who weren’t descended from the Enlightenment.
And oh my god, the cheesy, shoddily written dialogue!
STRAWMAN!PROFESSOR: Magic spalz are done liek this ok wach and lurn *does magic, which violates all natural law*
AWESOME!SCIENCE!HARRY: Yes, well, I’m afraid I must disagree with you on your methodology, and in fact your entire worldview, as, in my opinion as an eleven-year-old boy, the very notion of waving a stick of wood around and spontaneously generating observable physical effects therefrom is utterly preposterous. I’ve studied all the spellbooks and none of the Latin used for the basic incantations is correct—although I’m sure someone like you wouldn’t be able to comprehend that, would you? *politely scoffs* And my goodness, I believe I can safely theorize, utilizing Muggle Osmicus Bublbat’s fourth dissertation on the dissipation of particulate odors and my own thorough studies of the olfactory processes of a standard eleven-year-old boy wizard, that you have had an accident within your robes. *politely smirks* This is, naturally, what comes of living an irrational life. Look at yourself, and your choices, aren’t they inferior to the way I live? You know, any God that created a world like this, where magic and “fun” are perceived as something less dangerous than a theist lie to be toppled and overthrown is a flawed God, and probably female, as well. *polite chuckle* I would despise and overthrow such a God on principle, were she to exist, and show her the error of her ways. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t anyone?
STRAWMAN!PROFESSOR: I… never seed it that way! I so confuse! Science… good?
AWESOME!SCIENCE!HARRY: *polite smile* Oh, naturally you would agree with me without having the slightest comprehension of the sentiments I’ve just expressed. It’s human nature for weaker and emotionally permeable lesser intellects to sense the existence of a superior mind and philosophy, even if he is only the tender age of eleven, as I am, and flock to his defense. Yes, friend, yes, science good. *polite chuckle* Do try to embrace it!
STRAWMAN!PROFESSOR: U teech mai class smartboy?
AWESOME!SCIENCE!HARRY: No, sir, I am afraid that’s not possible. I am, after all, merely a eleven-year-old child who knows a few small things and is only too happy to make this school and all the experiences found within more relatable for those of us who are too smart and too rational to foolishly tumble into the pit trap of “fun”. My name is Harry Potter, and I am an atheist. Now go and shower, Professor, and please use soap this time when you wash the feces from your buttocks!
DRACO MALFOY: Rape rape rape.
AWESOME!SCIENCE!HARRY: *sigh* Malfoy, when will you learn that it’s enough to merely humiliate one’s inferiors with words?
it’s like watching someone masturbate.
Also, I realized that it was grounds for anyone with his value set to dismiss pretty much everything I might ever have to say, Because Irrational.
But that, of course, is itself irrational on the part of the people with that mindset. It’s the same determined refusal to acknowledge an unwanted thing about the world. They can be all smug about how other people stupidly don’t think death is as bad as it really is, but their belief about how people can be rational is no better justified, and no more consistent with reality. A decision to believe what you want rather than what seems to be true is not suddenly made rational just because what you want to believe is that you are rational.
I have a really hard time with irrationality in people. It’s easier for me to be rational than it is for most people (yay autism!), I’m less overwhelmed by emotions in general, and frankly I tend to think people are stupid and dislike them. But I’ll tell you this: I’d rather hear you talk about loving your dog and missing her than listen to some half-assed misanthrope whining about how people aren’t rational enough. You may not be totally coldly emotionless, but you are honest. You value the truth even when the truth is not simple or convenient, and I consider this significantly more important as a kind of rationality than sitting around doing moral calculus on the back of a napkin.