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Cold Days [SPOILERS]

Discussion in 'The Dresden Files' started by Jon, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    Butcher himself has chimed in and said that intentions matter little in terms of "corruption", especially in the face of results.

    I believe the analogy he used was shooting someone in an attempt to wound, but killing them anyway. You may not have intended for them to die, but you still fired a potentially lethal weapon at them. It doesn't matter if you didn't mean or want to kill them, what matters is that you did.

    Now, you may not agree with that philosophy (I know I have a few issues with it), but it is what Butcher has defined as causing the black magic corruption.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  2. KaiDASH

    KaiDASH High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    I think the thing about people with good intentions is that they're less likely to do it again and again, leading to the downward spiral, black robes and the like.
     
  3. Ravnius

    Ravnius Auror

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    Of course, the whole issue would vary on a case-by-case basis. Maybe Hannibal Lecter would immediately succumb to black magic corruption from one use, while Mother Theresa could drop its use and never break a Law again.
     
  4. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Nope. Not entirely. Using black magic, even with good intentions, imparts corruption. It may impart less corruption, but it is still black magic and doing it enough will still very likely drive you insane.

    Harry killed Justin DuMorne, thus breaking the Law. It's heavily implied that such an act is visible to the Sight and it is outright stated that you can feel the corruption of black magic in a Wizard's spells as he uses them (Harry notes that Cowl has a similar degree of corruption in his magic to Harry's own). So while Harry may not have been as corrupted by killing DuMorne as he could have been, he was still corrupted.

    Molly on the other hand is a more classic Lawbreaker. She used her magic to enforce her will on two other people, her unconscious anger at Nelson also inflicting severe unintended psychological trauma on him. This being on top of forcing them both to feel intense fear at the thought of using drugs again. That was a hideous violation of the Fourth Law and, given how often Molly has both suggested and actually used Neuromancy in the time since, I think it's fairly certain that even using black magic for 'good' purposes is just one step down the slippery slope.

    Harry says it best in White Night. Molly used her magic to reshape people to her will and she believed she was right to do it. Think about that for a moment. Even with the purest of intentions... I think Pratchett puts it best.

    That kind of thought is not one that leads to good places even with the best of intentions. It's not a long step between changing people for their own good and changing people because they don't fit your ideal of good. Hell, changing people 'for their own good' is a terrible idea to begin with, even without bringing metaphysical consequences and free will into picture.
     
  5. chrnno

    chrnno High Inquisitor

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    I think the point was that there is a difference between murdering someone with magic, accidentally murdering someone when you had no intention of doing such and using magic to something completely harmless which nonetheless through circumstances completely beyond your control still ends up killing someone. The first is the one which gives the most corruption, the second gives less but still dangerous and the last likely not.

    For example say someone who can't lie has said that if that vampire/fae/whatever dies a lot of humans will die.

    Does anyone disagree with the fact that if you know that and still kill such person you would be corrupted regardless of the reasoning you used? And does anyone disagree that if you don't know that you wouldn't be corrupted at all?

    There, a very clear cut example instead of all those ambiguous sentences.
     
  6. Red Aviary

    Red Aviary Hogdorinclawpuff Prestige DLP Supporter

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    While I enjoy the Dresden Files universe, the handling of black magic is definitely something I wish that could be changed about it. I think intention and willpower should play more of a factor in its corrupting effects. Having it be corrupting no matter what is so arbitrary it hurts.
     
  7. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    One problem with that: Only violations against beings with souls count as black magic.

    And if it was down to "kill that person or a bunch of other people die", you still get corrupted.

    It does not matter in the least what you intended, what you were thinking, or what that situation was. All that matters is that you used magic and as a consequence something with a soul died. That's it. You've now suffered at least some degree of corruption.

    Personally, I think it should almost entirely come down to intent, but I'm not the author, so /shrug.
     
  8. LittleChicago

    LittleChicago Death Eater DLP Supporter

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    I'm pretty sure it has to be that way to keep from painting the Wardens with the pure zealots brush, and even then Dresden himself has a problem with it.

    If it was only intent that mattered, only intent that caused corruption or degeneration, the every single violator of the laws would have to be found, dragged in, examined and judged, individually, which is an analogue to the modern western legal system (difference between involuntary manslaughter, second-degree murder, first-degree murder). Think Wardens-as-police.

    When it's the act itself, or the results that cause the problem, the Wardens can act as badass protectors of humanity with swords, and still be the good guys, because they're only killing bad guys, with total impunity. They're not killing people; they're killing monsters. Think Wardens-as-military.

    A comparison can actually be drawn to Judge Dredd; The police, such as they are, are hopelessly outnumbered and overwhelmed, so their powers are gradually increased over time until street-side executions are permitted. The Wardens are in the same situation; there simply aren't enough of them to patrol the entire wizarding population. Ergo, they need to have more power to handle things.

    In an ideal world, the Wardens would be able to protect and help every wizard, and stop them before they more than dabble in the dark side, but it's been stated repeatedly that it is not ideal. Not even close.

    I suppose another way of looking at it that once you've done something - anything, really - it's that much easier to do it again. I like to think most people couldn't even stomach the idea of killing another person. But once it's happened - even accidentally - it's that much less sickening. It happens again, that much less again, and so on. Whether there was intent or not the first time, there is still an effect on the person who did it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  9. chrnno

    chrnno High Inquisitor

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    I think either I was writing something completely different than I thought or you guys are talking about something else because Agayek's reply to me seems like he is saying every single wizard is already corrupted to the max?(completely puzzled here)

    Let's see if I can put it another way. Magic corruption only happens on a direct level. That is why while killing with magic corrupts but if you subdue someone with magic then kill him with a gun doesn't. Same way wardens can kill warlocks with their swords without problem even if magic was used during the fight. In other words, regardless of intent or whatever if magic is responsible for one of those actions you get corrupted, if magic is responsible for setting the scenario for one of those actions then you don't. It is not fair, just or such but it is clear cut.

    That was what I was talking about in my post. Magic corruption happens on a personal level, you did, you pay. Not on a level of you killed that being without a soul and now his relatives murdered thousands and it is as if you killed those yourself.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  10. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    There's some grey area here. I personally believe it works the way you've described, but Butcher has come out and said that if one were to use magic to say, throw someone off a building, you would get corrupted, even though your magic is not what's actually killing them (that would be the sudden stop at the bottom).

    Similarly, that same logic could theoretically apply to starting some Rube Goldberg chain of events that ultimately ends with someone dead. I don't believe it works that way, but I can see how the logic would be applied.
     
  11. Garlak

    Garlak Fifth Year

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    Eh, I think killing with magic and killing with magic ought to give the same amount (or lack there-of) of corruption.


    Which would either make anybody who has killed anybody in anyway corrupt; or would make anybody who killed others with magic only as messed up in the head as somebody who committed murder, man-slaughter, or was in a war.


    If there's going to be a "lives matter" sort of thing, that's the way it should be. Lives matter if they're taken, depending on circumstances, intentions, and methods; not arbitrary qualifications.


    Otherwise it's not a statement about the sanctity or value of life, so much as it is a statement about the mental mechanics of magic.
     
  12. Ravnius

    Ravnius Auror

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    I did a bit of re-reading on the passages in question.

    From what I can tell the directly user-damaging effects of black magic are about the corruption of what magic is. Magic is always defined as life, and I think a few times Butcher has made the comparison between life and freedom/free will. When you break a Law, you have taken a power of life and freedom, and used it to do something...else.

    Necromancy- Using life to play around with death
    Murder- using life to cause death
    Shapeshifting someone else- freedom to create slavery
    Mind fuckery- Using freedom and life to manipulate the mind
    Outer Gates- Using life and the natural order to invite in something even worse than death and completely outside our world's order
    Time- Using the natural order of things to break the natural order of time
    Enthrallment- See shapeshifting
     
  13. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    I'm reasonably certain it's the latter. Especially since Butcher has explicitly stated that the entire reason the Wardens carry their swords around is so that they can kill people without being corrupted.

    @Ravnius:
    That makes a lot of sense, and it wouldn't surprise me terribly if that was ultimately how black magic corruption works.
     
  14. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    The way I see it, cause and effect takes precedence. If your magic was the one to cause the situation in which a person died, it would count as breaking the First Law. Outright murder, arson and pushing someone off a building with magic would all fall under this umbrella. This means that reckless use of magic can be just as evil intent, which fits with what Butcher has said. A Wizard has to be responsible for his own actions.
     
  15. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Seventh Year

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    I think its also important to remember that the Laws of Magic have reasons other than the metaphysical. They are also a form of political control on wizards.

    As Anastasia says in Turn Coat,
    You might well be able to break the Laws of Magic (as set down by the White Council) and still avoid a magical backlash. I'm not suggesting that using wind to throw someone off a building falls into this category (I like the idea that doing that does break the First Law) but some of the grey areas might.
     
  16. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    There are grey areas to the Laws. Sleep spells skirt the borders of the Fourth Law, Sue skirted the borders of the Fifth, etc. It's just that most of them are legal qualifiers, not necessarily cosmic loopholes.
     
  17. Garlak

    Garlak Fifth Year

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    Right, but, collectively, it's the "taken a power of life/freedom and used it to do something... else" part that bugs me.

    Because it implies that a regular person doing, thinking, acting, deciding... doesn't qualify as a power of life/freedom.

    People are the ones who live, think, and choose, not some metaphysical force called "magic"... Basically, I would say that a human being is more a being of life/freedom than magic.
     
  18. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    I absolutely agree with you from a philosophical perspective.

    This isn't about philosophy though. It's about magic.

    And mundanes simply don't have magic. Ergo, they cannot suffer from black magic corruption, no matter what they do.
     
  19. Tylendel

    Tylendel Sixth Year

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    That's not true. In the Dresden Files, everyone has magic, it's just the amount of magic someone has that change.

    The alpha use that amount to change in wolves, Murphy's FBI friend can detect truth, Michael's wife old coven, etc.
     
  20. Ravnius

    Ravnius Auror

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    I'm just saying magic is a manifestation of those concepts. Its power is based entirely in the energy given off by life, and by extension free will.