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Why was Harry Potter such a successful book?

QuickTwist

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Ya can't talk about what made a winner win without looking at the cemetery of losers. That cemetery just happens to be filled to the brink with stories just like HP. It's randomness, folks.
Nothing is random. Nonsense!
 

TheManBeyond

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i love trees and snow and the smell of firewood, combine that with magic, kids, mystical creatures, so on. i guess many people like to feel that warmth when christmas comes, movies were meant to be released on christmas season. my favourite was the prisoner of azkaban.
 

Serac

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Even having the same settings, the same archetypes and even story structure does not mean they have the same popularity potential and quality. There are many Shounen anime/manga which basically have the same settings,archetypes and story structure yet you can clearly see there is major difference in quality and virality potential.This argument make no sense, it like saying that if I draw a dragon it is the same as leonardo da vinci drawing a dragon.
Dafuq are you talking about, sir? Where have I made distinctions between archetypes and qualities generating popularity?
 

QuickTwist

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Hadoblado

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I like the perspective Serac is pushing, and think it generally under-represented.

I personally like to think Harry Potter was particularly well written, but there are alternate universes where it was written the same word-for-word and never took off. Life has an extraordinary amount of uncontrolled variance.
Just like in a poker tournament, you'll see the good players at the top table more often than their average peers, but sometimes they're knocked out early. Getting to the top table probably means you're good, but far from guarantees you're the most deserving player there.

For example, consider Alfred Wallace compared to Darwin. If Darwin didn't exist, Wallace would likely have the real big dick in the natural sciences but instead he's close to a footnote.
 

BurnedOut

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As far as I've seen, HP is a great example of confirmation bias, bandwagon effect and overpresentation. I've not seen one person in person analysing or critically appreciating the aspects of the book but noticed them as nothing more than a bunch of fangirls trying really hard to get accepted by using HP as the last resort. No offence to HP fans, I got bored after reading some 20-30 pages.

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Jennywocky

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As far as I've seen, HP is a great example of confirmation bias, bandwagon effect and overpresentation. I've not seen one person in person analysing or critically appreciating the aspects of the book but noticed them as nothing more than a bunch of fangirls trying really hard to get accepted by using HP as the last resort. No offence to HP fans, I got bored after reading some 20-30 pages.

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I've never read them, but man some balance in your analysis would be nice. You still seem to be in the "if something is popular, it must necessarily suck" phase... which is a typical INTP kick when we're young but tends to nuance out as we age and realize things are more complex and our tastes also seem to texture more.

I have watched all the movies, which obviously has a lot of material grounded in the books even if different mediums, and there's some decent, meaningful, thoughtful stuff there that can be profound for adults and easily profound for young readers. I'm glad to have watched a few of them (especially stuff directed by Cuaron and Gates), although I think the Chris Columbus stuff sucks basilisk balls.

I would agree with Hado, though, that it's hard to understand sometimes about SUCCESS -- when certain ideas and works of art become successes whereas many others with similar quality fail or do not really make a wide impact. I'm thinking with HP it was just the right idea at the right time... and Rowling lucked out. There are other writers with her level of talent or more who never left obscurity. But it doesn't mean she's untalented or didn't have some good ideas.

One thing I like is that the person considered the "worst" evil by many readers is not Valdemort but Umbridge. That's an interesting distinction and can generate a lot of discussion. Also, by story's end, those positioned as "good" vs "bad" reveal that each is far more complex.... people are more mottled than expected; I really like Dumbledore a lot, but damn he is a detached manipulator and veering into that "end justifies means" category, as one small example. Finally, the whole "Harry Potter prophecy" schtick generating the story isn't actually something with inherent truth; it ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because of one character's obsessive fears, whereas it could have easily been a different character who had prominence in the story. It's kind of a testimony that we generate a lot of reality from our "beliefs" but actually these beliefs might have no actual standing except what we give them; how much mess do we create simply by overlaying reality with our own misconceptions? Those aren't the only things, just three things I found interesting off the top of my head.

But yeah, I've tried to read the actual books a few times. My reading investment has sucked in the last decade admittedly, and I don't read much at all right now. (It's the rising dominance of the Internet and film media that is eating up all my attention.) So I've only managed to read 1.5 books. I would like to read them, I just can't seem to get past the inertia. My eldest (who is now 22) read them all, though, and loved them more than the movies.
 

BurnedOut

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I've never read them, but man some balance in your analysis would be nice. You still seem to be in the "if something is popular, it must necessarily suck" phase... which is a typical INTP kick when we're young but tends to nuance out as we age and realize things are more complex and our tastes also seem to texture more.

I have watched all the movies, which obviously has a lot of material grounded in the books even if different mediums, and there's some decent, meaningful, thoughtful stuff there that can be profound for adults and easily profound for young readers. I'm glad to have watched a few of them (especially stuff directed by Cuaron and Gates), although I think the Chris Columbus stuff sucks basilisk balls.

I would agree with Hado, though, that it's hard to understand sometimes about SUCCESS -- when certain ideas and works of art become successes whereas many others with similar quality fail or do not really make a wide impact. I'm thinking with HP it was just the right idea at the right time... and Rowling lucked out. There are other writers with her level of talent or more who never left obscurity. But it doesn't mean she's untalented or didn't have some good ideas.

One thing I like is that the person considered the "worst" evil by many readers is not Valdemort but Umbridge. That's an interesting distinction and can generate a lot of discussion. Also, by story's end, those positioned as "good" vs "bad" reveal that each is far more complex.... people are more mottled than expected; I really like Dumbledore a lot, but damn he is a detached manipulator and veering into that "end justifies means" category, as one small example. Finally, the whole "Harry Potter prophecy" schtick generating the story isn't actually something with inherent truth; it ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because of one character's obsessive fears, whereas it could have easily been a different character who had prominence in the story. It's kind of a testimony that we generate a lot of reality from our "beliefs" but actually these beliefs might have no actual standing except what we give them; how much mess do we create simply by overlaying reality with our own misconceptions? Those aren't the only things, just three things I found interesting off the top of my head.

But yeah, I've tried to read the actual books a few times. My reading investment has sucked in the last decade admittedly, and I don't read much at all right now. (It's the rising dominance of the Internet and film media that is eating up all my attention.) So I've only managed to read 1.5 books. I would like to read them, I just can't seem to get past the inertia. My eldest (who is now 22) read them all, though, and loved them more than the movies.
Ah, you missed out the point that I'm <b> inferencing</b> not particularly analysing. I didn't denounce the book, just finding the popularity of the book ridiculous. It is one of the finest but then there are many other books who deserve the same attention alas thanks to the rotten teenager world for the unprecedented imbalance in everything they do. Why not 'how to kill a mockingbird' or 'The sultans of Kabul'?

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Serac

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Devils in the details.
Survivorship bias makes you ignore the cemetery of losers – in this particular case the vast sea of books as good as, or even much better than, HP, that didn't get lucky enough to win the popularity contest. So you start looking at properties of the survivors, fooling yourself about what actually made them so popular.

In order to tell what made HP popular, you cannot just look at HP. You also have to show that the losers lacked those properties. As it happens, of course, I can walk into any book shop and find an array of books much better than HP but which didn't sell even 0.01% of the no. of copies HP did.
 

higs

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The time travel one is wicked.

She's a clever writer with plonky prose. The dialogue is good. It's funny. The world is rich. The way the story is put together is elegant, Chekov's gun. If you had the choice given to you, you would never be like "I don't want to be a wizard, I'll stay muggle thanks." It makes you dream. You grow up with the characters. You wish you were there with them.
 

Jennywocky

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Ah, you missed out the point that I'm <b> inferencing</b> not particularly analysing. I didn't denounce the book, just finding the popularity of the book ridiculous. It is one of the finest but then there are many other books who deserve the same attention alas thanks to the rotten teenager world for the unprecedented imbalance in everything they do. Why not 'how to kill a mockingbird' or 'The sultans of Kabul'?

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Thanks for that bit of profundity -- "popularity is not necessarily correlated with value." But yes, it's unrelated to the value of the HP novels or whatever else happens to be popular nowadays.

As a side note, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is still widely read decades later, and it's the favorite book of my kid who read all the Harry Potter novels. It's just not as easily packaged and marketed and merchandised. Which is one thing contributing to the financial and cultural success of an endeavor nowadays; it's about something's marketability. It's just how the current distribution system / channels work.

Man, if we have to discuss pop culture stuff that has become crap, let's start with TWD or something... lol.
 

BurnedOut

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Man, if we have to discuss pop culture stuff that has become crap, let's start with TWD or something... lol.
Let's start with some of the classics : <b>Fifty Shades Of Grey</b>

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Jennywocky

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Let's start with some of the classics : <b>Fifty Shades Of Grey</b>

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Jesus I didn't say fish in a barrel.

It doesn't help that the entire story started as the author's silly BDSM fanfic for Twilight characters...and somehow made her zillions of dollars and a trilogy franchise.
 

BurnedOut

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Jesus I didn't say fish in a barrel.

It doesn't help that the entire story started as the author's silly BDSM fanfic for Twilight characters...and somehow made her zillions of dollars and a trilogy franchise.
What about Jeff The Killer ? I heard it's a pretty awesome short story. It's enough to make you cry with annoyance (except for the picture)

Call this creepypasta crap and you'll get stoned on the internet.


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BurnedOut

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Even 'The secret' can account for one of the classics. So do most of the self-help books and not to mention ambitious books which talk about getting shittons of money, power, sex, etc. I tried reading 50 laws of power and I became a very successful person the very next day. My success has been described in my posts. Oh, how can we ignore the best of the classics - The (un)holy bible ! (Assuming everyone here tolerates atheism)

I remember my ex fighting with me and getting mad because I didn't believe in the ' Law of attraction'. She claimed that it made her very successful. I wish I could explain to her about the ' Regression to Mean' law. An excerpt from the law of attraction :
Simply put, the Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. It is believed that regardless of age, nationality or religious belief, we are all susceptible to the laws which govern the Universe, including the Law of Attraction. It is the Law of Attraction which uses the power of the mind to translate whatever is in our thoughts and materialize them into reality. In basic terms,*all thoughts turn into things eventually. If you focus on negative doom and gloom you will remain under that cloud. If you focus on positive thoughts and have goals that you aim to achieve you will find a way to achieve them with massive action.

This is why the universe is such an infinitely beautiful place. The Law of Attraction dictates that whatever can be imagined and held in the mind’s eye is achievable if you take action on a plan to get to where you want to be.
What these dickheads don't realise is that thought-action fusion ie the law of attraction is a symptom of OCD where the person keeps thinking about doing something and never does it. Sure, doing such things can attract and a lot of misery some day.

I can lampoon most self-help books like this. They are essentially based on 'The Laughter Treatment' they use in Japan to treat ill-patients. So yeah, they are technically self-help and I'm okay with this self-contradiction ;)

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Jennywocky

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The only time I read any of "50 Shades of Grey" was when it first came out. A few of my other female friends and I hung out in a Mexican restaurant on one of our birthdays with a pitcher of margaritas reading excerpts from PDFs on our smartphones and laughing hysterically because it was so terrible.

Since I try to be a fair critic, I did try to struggle through the first movie. I think I watched about half of it before I gave up. I wish it had been "bad" because at least it would have been memorable; no, it was just boring and forgettable and I couldn't stay awake.
 

Jennywocky

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Even 'The secret' can account for one of the classics. So do most of the self-help books and not to mention ambitious books which talk about getting shittons of money, power, sex, etc. I tried reading 50 laws of power and I became a very successful person the very next day. My success has been described in my posts. Oh, how can we ignore the best of the classics - The (un)holy bible ! (Assuming everyone here tolerates atheism)

I remember my ex fighting with me and getting mad because I didn't believe in the ' Law of attraction'. She claimed that it made her very successful. I wish I could explain to her about the ' Regression to Mean' law. An excerpt from the law of attraction :


What these dickheads don't realise is that thought-action fusion ie the law of attraction is a symptom of OCD where the person keeps thinking about doing something and never does it. Sure, doing such things can attract and a lot of misery some day.

I can lampoon most self-help books like this. They are essentially based on 'The Laughter Treatment' they use in Japan to treat ill-patients. So yeah, they are technically self-help and I'm okay with this self-contradiction ;)

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Ehhh.... the problem is extremity. There are no "laws" ... aside from cause and effect, and I hate how this shite gets packaged and marketed to people who want to control life to get as much success as possible. That latter bit is the problem -- people want life to be easy, they want it to make sense, they want to get the most they can, so they make up rules and follow them as if it were magical spells that will ensure a particular outcome.

There is a glimmer of truth in there. I think it's cause and effect. But not like conventional astrophysics or anything, where you can crunch numbers to a fine point of detail; real life and human behavior is more like ocean currents.

Basically, if you're a negative person who focuses on negative things in others, this is self-reinforcing... because you won't see the positive... and because then people will experience negativity from you and give negativity back (in general)... cause and effect.... and since you are focused on the negative, this will just reinforce your view of the world as a negative place, which will generate more negativity from you. People operate to SOME degree according to feedback loops.

Your attitudes also help you find people "like" you -- it's like a broadcast signal or homing device, if you are expressive of your attitudes. People who don't sync up with your attitudes will be repelled; people who do will be drawn towards you. As a minor example, the Internet is like a broadcast booster tower, it's why individuals who previously had no power if their culture shared a signal that differed from theirs nowadays have more power because they've been able to broadcast and locate like-minded individuals and combine their efforts. It's responsible for the resurgence of ideas that people thought were too powerless to have any impact on culture, both for good and ill.

Anyway, back to my point -- there's a lot of shit that people package and sell in order to gain power over what feels like the uncertainty of life. It seems like magic. It's not, it's less controllable than they pretend and it's really just cause and effect + our own internal perceptions either being strengthened or weakened, which then changes how we live.

Meanwhile, OCD is a psychological pattern of behavior that weakens the individual's ability to contribute to society and be content with life; it makes the organism less adaptable.
 

BurnedOut

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Basically, if you're a negative person who focuses on negative things in others, this is self-reinforcing... because you won't see the positive... and because then people will experience negativity from you and give negativity back (in general)... cause and effect.... and since you are focused on the negative, this will just reinforce your view of the world as a negative place, which will generate more negativity from you. People operate to SOME degree according to feedback loops.
<a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201111/the-uses-and-abuses-optimism-and-pessimism"> This almost explains why the notion of optimism and pessimism is essentially bullshit </a>. These two simple English concepts have spawned a 100 million $ industry. Although it's surprising why ante-test depression questionnaire was not given. It is highly likely that many of the pessimistic people are perhaps mildly depressed. There can be many underlying conditions to this condition, the biggest one being classical conditioning caused by continuous negative stimuli which conditions the person to avoid almost everything. However, in my case and in healthy INTPs and good strategists or people with a penchant for analysis (you are a systems engineer, so you can understand perfectly well.) use more of defensive-pessimism. This is infact very healthy to create a perfectible model of your desire because you try hard to not miss any crucial element. Other things that can cause pessimism is mostly social issues, sometimes hormonal imbalances caused by underlying mental disorders. I cannot prescient any other ways of how pessimism is induced. It is related to neuroticism which is almost 20-40% inheritable. However since the share is not so great, I suppose neuroticism levels can increase and decrease if we perform a bivariate analysis of circumstances and it's levels. In other words - pessimists are created, not born mostly if and if only they are free from genetic/traumatic ails.

These bullshit self-help books ignore every scientifically established fact to assert the bullshit of Scientism and funnily enough there are several people whose numbers are incredibly low, so low that they can't be considered for any kind of statistical study which will employ the ' The law of big numbers ' who claim about how the book changed their lives after a long time. Again, regressing back to the law of 'Regression to Mean', the resurrection of their good times is bound to happen nevertheless as time passes by. Sure, the books serve as anchors during hard times but then they are not of much use except feel some pseudo-trans-empathy emerging from the book itself by relating oneselves to 'some people who got out of the situations <b>miraculously</b>'. Rather spending money on such stupid things which consists of charlatanism, they can be taught some basic psychology, some basic analytical techniques and give them this advice - get your ass up and gain some positive stimuli and socialise more often.


I'm loving this conversation, this takes me back to the times when I used to voraciously consume large volumes of data related to psychology.

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Haim

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But people are stupid creatures and "stupid" things do work on them, other "stupid" things also on you, it just the way the brain works.
 
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