Showing posts with label Harry Potter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harry Potter. Show all posts

Friday, March 7, 2014

"Why Don't They Just Use the Time Turners to..."


The following video about sums up the way most people think of the Time Turners.

Why don't you just use them to travel back and kill Voldemort?  Or even Hitler?  As Snape says, you'd save countless innocent lives in the future.

I have never held back from criticizing Harry Potter.  Actually, I have kind of a hate-crush on the series.  Despite my sometimes overzealous criticism of everything about Harry Potter, the function of Time Turners as seen in Prisoner of Azkaban is the best depiction of time travel that I have yet encountered in any fictional medium.  It is one of the primary things in the series that I have to say, Rowling did perfectly.

Which is weird, because it's the most obvious point of criticism from everyone else.

Whenever you want to ask yourself the question, "Why don't they just go back in time and ...", stop, and ask yourself instead:

"Why don't they just not go back in time and rescue Buckbeak?"

Maybe that's too abstract at the moment.  Let me try something else.

You can go back and try to kill Voldemort.  Just get a Time Turner and spin it back a billion times.  Go ahead.

Most wizards are terrified of time travel.  The effects are supposed to make you go mad.  Wizards are cool with literal ghosts living in their rooms, and with dragons in their banks, and with actual fortune telling, and with lifting objects off the ground with magic, but they are absolutely superstitious about time travel.

Why are they superstitious about it?  Because weird, looping oddities occur that cause all of the wizards to experiment with time travel to go crazy.

from SMBC
Point is, most wizards avoid time travel.  Those that experiment with it are eccentric, even by wizard standards.  So it's possible that someone has actually used a Time Turner to kill Voldemort.

It just didn't work.

It's possible every time wizard to ever exist has gone back to kill Voldemort.  But it never works.

It will never work.

You can go back in time to kill Voldemort.  But you won't.

I know you won't, despite all your effort, because Voldemort doesn't die until the time of the story.

It's not like your free will is impeded.  You can try all you want and do whatever you want to kill Voldemort.  No mystic force is going to tug at your insides and prevent you from pulling the trigger.  If you think about it, there is nothing impeding my free will when it comes to wining the Olympics.  But I'm never going to.  And you're never going to kill Voldemort.

Its physically possible to kill him.  Your bullets won't bounce harmlessly off of his chest, or stop in mid-air right in front of him, or whatever.  Not like you'll get far enough to find out, though; if your bullets were about to hit Voldemort, then they would hit Voldemort, and he would die.  And Voldemort doesn't die at that time.  So your bullets won't get close enough to prove they could hit him.

You're not going to kill Voldemort, because you're just not going to.  There's no better explanation.  You just don't.

If you did, he wouldn't be the antagonist of the book series.  And yet there he is, Avada Kedavra-ing people all over the place.  So whatever plans you make to kill him in the past, they just aren't going to work (and may just exacerbate the problem), and you should move on and try something else.

Please note how the causality works here.  I am not saying
Voldemort is alive in 1994 ----> You can't kill him in the past.
I am instead saying
You don't kill Voldemort in the past ----> Voldemort is alive in 1994.

So back to the original question:
"Why don't they just not go back in time to save Buckbeack?"

Think of what it entails that they do go back to save Buckbeak.  During most of the events leading up to the Shrieking Shack, there are two copies of Harry and Hermione.  One copy follows the other, and the two interact to a substantial extent.  We don't see the second copy because they stay hidden, but we do observe their actions as unexplained anomalies that occur to the primary copy.

By the time the group gets to the hospital room and Dumbledore advises them to use the Time Turner to save Buckbeak and Sirius, those events have already happened.

This is important.  The copy of Harry and Hermione seen by the protagonists when they travel back in time is not some fictional, hypothetical alternate timeline Harry and Hermione.  They are seeing Harry and Hermione.  That is, they are seeing themselves.  Just a few hours ago.  We just read about these parts.  These are the Harry and Hermione.  There are no Timeline A and Timeline B versions of the two; there's just Harry and Hermione, and the things that they cause to occur have already, in fact, occurred.

We saw these events forward, then reversed, then saw them again from a different perspective.  We did not switch tapes.

And here we have a situation that speaks to the reverse of the usual time-travel paradoxes.  The most famous, namely the grandfather paradox, asks what would happen if you went back in time and killed your grandfather (or yourself), thus ending your existence before you can go back in time to end your existence.  Another, related paradox asks what happens if you go back in time to kill Hitler, or save the Titanic, or whatever; if you succeed, then you erase your motivation for time traveling in the first place, so you would never time travel, which means you would never make the change, which means you would time travel.

This time we ask a weirder question, sometimes called an anti-paradox: what if Harry doesn't travel back in time, and therefore doesn't save himself from the Dementors?

Clearly, by the time we get to the part where Dumbledore recommends time travel, Harry doesn't have a lot of options.  If he decides not to, then he must already be dead.  But Harry isn't dead.  So Harry is going to decide to travel back in time.

However, it isn't just limited to Harry.  If Harry decides not to travel back in time, then Buckbeak must be already dead.  But Buckbeak isn't dead.  So Harry is going to decide to travel back in time.

And it isn't limited to who's alive and who isn't.  If Harry decides not to travel back in time, then those rocks in Hagrid's garden don't get thrown.  But the rocks in Hagrid's garden do get thrown.  If Harry doesn't, the blades of grass he stepped on won't get pushed down in quite the same way, but they do get pushed down in quite that way.  If Harry doesn't, the molecules of water in the lake won't get stirred up like they do, but they do get stirred up like they do.  The oxygen molecules he breathed wouldn't have been turned in to carbon dioxide, but they were turned in to carbon dioxide.  The entropy of Scotland wouldn't have seen any contribution from Harry's metabolism, but entropy did increase from Harry's metabolism.  On and on.

Every single infinitesimal impact Harry had on the universe would not have occurred, and they all did occur.  Maybe humans didn't notice each little thing like entropy and O2 --> C02 reactions, but physics is notoriously unconcerned with human cognizance.  Those things did happen, and in fact we "saw" them happen on screen the first time through, before Harry and Hermione decide to go back in time.

So that's why they don't use the time turner to stop Voldemort.  Because everyone to use a time turner to stop him fails, has failed, and will fail.  It's a plan that never works and will never work.  There isn't even any reason to try, and anyone who has tried to do anything with time travel has gone insane or worse.

As to why our heros don't at least attempt it, maybe it's because if they did, then the story would be about their colossal failure and collapse into madness, which isn't the sort of thing that tends to make it in to books.  At least not children's books.

So, despite everything else I've said on the subject, when it comes to time travel, I really have to tip my hat to Rowling.  She did it very well.

Of course, the real question is why wizards would take literally the most dangerous item they know of -- so terrifying that people accustomed to conversing with ghosts leave them locked in a special, secret vault deep underground where no one can find them -- and lend it to a 13-year-old girl so she can get to her classes on time.  But that's another post.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Do Wizards Even Do?


The Malfoys are very rich.  The Weasleys are very poor.  However, they are not nearly as poor as the inbred and horrible Gaunts.

Why?

This is again part of the same basic problem with the series: Rowling never bothered to figure out her universe from the perspective of the characters who live in it.

How do wizards generate wealth?

As revealed in the books, there are really only so many things a wizard or witch can do professionally.  You can make wands.  You can make magical pranks.  You can manufacture magical candy.  You can sell books or robes.  You can teach at Hogwarts (and there's only a dozen positions there).  You can work for a news publication.  Or you can work for the Ministry of Magic.  That is the entire wizarding economy.

For instance, when the students begin taking their OWLS and deciding their classes for future employment, almost every single job opportunity considered is at the Ministry of Magic.  Harry becomes an auror, but what else was he going to become?  An accountant?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Upon Reading "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality"

There's a certain feeling you get when you find someone who has had the same idea as you, and who has carried out his idea with some success and to some amount of fame.  On one hand, it's a feeling of deep camaraderie to see someone else who has apparently reached into your private mental space and shared in your genius.  He, too, has thought as have I; perhaps this is the most basic bond that forms society.  But then, on the other hand, you think, "[expletive]! The [expletive] stole my [expletive] idea!"

So it goes for me with the popular fanfic, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

I have always been dissatisfied with the Harry Potter as a work of speculative fiction, because it seems as though absolutely no one in the wizarding community understands their own universe.  Everyone, from the lowliest Squib up to Dumbledore himself, is completely unreflective and unobservant of their situations.  They spend no time analyzing the way magic works and so seem completely baffled when magic does work.  They seem to have absolutely zero common sense.  The creative and engineering aspects of human nature seem entirely foreign to wizards and witches, who do not use their abilities to reverse entropy and violate conservation of energy for anything besides, apparently, making housework slightly easier and playing magical pranks on people.  Some guy actually invented a substance that causes infinite money and eternal life, and no one ever bothered replicating the formula, or even seemed to care that much about it, really.

A friend recently recommended the "Methods of Rationality" to me, telling me about how the obstacle course in Philosopher's Stone is analyzed as being absurd from beginning to end, and that is when I got very excited about it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Actually, the World Is Split into Good People and Death Eaters...

If there's one main criticism that childrens' books receive, it is their overly simplistic division of characters in to "Good" and "Evil".

In a children's book, this sort of thing is really necessary to an extent, as part of the goal of any good book for children should be to instill virtues.  Otherwise, it's all cows on farms going moo-moo.  There should be clear heroes who should do clearly good things, and evil jerks who act like evil jerks, so that children can learn the difference between what is valued and what is deplored in society.

In the Harry Potter series, Dolores Umbridge is, for a time, an interesting character in that while she is cruel and heartless, she actually has nothing to do with the Big Bad of the series.  Rather, she comes in with the Ministry of Magic, the primary Government institution for Wizards, and is supposed to represent the alleged good.  Unlike most of the Death Eaters --- who are either in it for the Evulz or who believe in a kind of Nietzschean ubermensh ethics whereby their power as a wizard grants them right to assert their own rules --- Umbridge honestly believes that she is doing what is good.  She believes that she is helping the students by teaching them discipline and to trust the Ministry of Magic - the good guys, that is.

There is a persistent theme in Harry Potter, arguably one of its better ones, that the Government's help isn't worth the loss of freedom it's printed on.  Right in the beginning of Chamber of Secrets the Ministry starts bungling things bad.  In Goblet of Fire, we learn about Barty Crouch; Crouch is trying to destroy the Death Eaters and is actively opposing Voldemort, yet resorts to tactics of law enforcement that leave a little bit of ambiguity as to whether he can really be called good.

Dolores probably represents the height of this.  She is a loyal follower of Cornelius Fudge who appears on his behalf as the new DADA instructor, in part to keep an eye on Harry and Dumbledore.  The latter she believes to be rebellious and trying to undermine the Ministry, while the former, Harry, she thinks just has histrionic disorder.  She wants for the children to stop believing in the lies that are frightening them, and her goal really is just to keep everyone calm.  To ensure this, Umbridge keeps enforcing more and more legislation and acts of the Ministry to give her more and more disciplinary power.  Her biggest fault, really, is probably being an idiot.  Apart from that, she's a self-righteous do-gooder who can't keep her nose out of everyone's business.  She wants discipline, but more so she wants obedience.

I've had plenty of teachers like her.  In American public school, they're ubiquitous.  I had one teacher in Spanish who gave us a vocabulary quiz on irregular verbs.  It was a list of English infinitives, and we had to write down the equivalent Spanish infinitive that corresponded to an irregular verb when conjugated in the 1st person present indicative.  One of them was "to know".  In Spanish, there are two verbs for this, conocer and saber, both of which are irregular in the first person, both of which translate as "to know".  So I wrote down both.  She took off points for me doing that, and when I asked her why, she said that conocer wasn't on the study list she gave us; it's an irregular Spanish verb meaning "to know", but the quiz was about her study list of Spanish verbs and not Spanish, so I have to lose points.  I've had plenty of teachers like McGonagall and Lupin and Sprout, sure, and none like Snape, but definitely lots of Umbridges, too.

In the Order of the Phoenix where we first encounter Umbridge, there is a scene between Harry and Sirius that I think is supposed to explain her character and open up the story for a deeper development of moral themes.  Dolores has just forced Harry to write over and over and over again that he will not tell lies, which scratches the words in blood upon the back of his hand.  But also, Harry's lightning bolt scar has been hurting more and more, and Dumbledore has not been around to consult about it.  Desperate for someone to speak to, Harry write to Sirius, asking for some advice.

When Sirius shows up in the fire of the Gryffindor common room, this is the conversation that he and Harry have, about his scar hurting and about Umbridge:
"Well, now he's back it's bound to hurt more often," said Sirius.
"So you don't think it had anything to do with Umbridge touching me when I was in detention with her?" Harry asked.
"I doubt it," said Sirius.  "I know her by reputation and I'm sure she's no Death Eater---"
"She's foul enough to be one," said Harry darkly and Ron and Hermione nodded vigorously in agreement.
"Yes, but the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters," said Sirius with a wry smile.  "I know she's a nasty piece of work, though --- you should hear Remus talk about her."
This statement by Sirius is meant to broaden our perspective on the nature of evil.  It isn't just black-robed evil murderer types, but there is also a more subtle cruelty of knights templar protecting us from our own selves.  Dolores might be terrible as a Death Eater, but she's nothing like them.

Except that... well... she is a Death Eater.

This might be one of the worst failures of the series.  Despite Sirius' claims, the world of Harry Potter is literally split in to good people and Death Eaters, and even the character meant to explicitly contradict this, is, in fact, in league with the Death Eaters.

At the moment it's cool and trendy to have "grey" morality in stories, to make sure there is no one good or evil side.  Works like Lord of the Rings or Narnia that do feature clear good and evil get a lot of criticism for it.  I think it is definitely interesting when a book shows things from the villain's perspective, or gives the villain actual motives, or even good motives.  But I have no problem with books that don't.  I like books with clear good and evil just as much as I like books with ambiguous factions.  I certainly don't hate books just because they have black/white morality.

It is one, thing, however, to have simple black/white morality.  It is another to have black/white morality and explicitly criticize black/white morality, to introduce characters to break the mold of black/white morality, and to still cave in to black/white morality anyway.

Every single villainous character in the entire series, from start to finish, is in league with Voldemort.  Even when it makes no sense or isn't necessary.

For instance, consider Draco and the allegiance of House Slytherin to Voldemort.  Draco is introduced in the beginning to just be a bully and a spoiled rich brat.  There's no reason he has to have anything to do with Voldemort or blood purity for his character to be effective.  He can be mean and cruel and be in Ravenclaw.  As it turns out, Draco is in league with the Death Eaters and later becomes a Death Eater, and as it turns out House Slytherin is in league with the Death Eaters and later almost completely takes Voldemort's side in the battle at Hogwarts.  Turns out the school bullies in the clique at Slytherin are black robed wizards of evil.

There are good people (Harry and Gryffindor House) and Death Eaters (Draco and Slytherin House).

Dolores Umbridge, of course, is the main example here.  Dolores is allied to the Ministry and is meant to actually represent a faction fighting Voldemort.  Her purpose is to show how even that can be bad.  Yet we learn of her history of blood prejudice (a Death Eater trait) in the 5th book, which very quickly lumps her in with Draco, Slytherin, Voldemort, and every single other bad guy in the book.

And when Umbridge wishes to organize an Inquisatorial Squad to keep order in the hallways, she doesn't select people like Percy, goody-two-shoes who love order and discipline as much as herself.  Rather, guess who she picks.  Yep, she picks Draco, the other villain, despite the fact that Draco's dad actually works for Voldemort (who she supposedly opposes) and that Draco is mostly a troublemaker who causes fights.

The unity between Umbridge and Draco is bizarre.  The two share almost nothing in common, really, besides that both are enemies of Harry Potter.  And so that is my point, really; every enemy of Harry Potter is a Death Eater, everyone who opposes him ends up, in the end, supporting Voldemort, even people from completely disparate factions.

So now Umbridge, a cruel disciplinarian, and Draco, a troublemaking bully, have joined forces to torment Harry Potter, and it is around this time that Sirius assures us that the world isn't divided in to good people and Death Eaters.

Later, after the fall of the Ministry, Umbridge is seen organizing the Muggle-Born Registration  Committee, enforcing blood-purity laws.  In this capacity she directly works with several Death Eaters such as Yaxley and Travers, doing their work for them.  There's no direct statement that Dolores is in Voldemort's ring of followers, but even if she never puts on a scull mask, it's clear that she's with them.  She supports Voldemort and his followers when he's in power, she does his bidding to suppress muggles, she works hand-in-hand with the Death Eaters.  She does everything they do, with as much cruelty, and in the same organizations, along with them.

So Dolores is in league with Draco who is in league with Slytherin who is in league with the Death Eaters who are in league with Voldemort.  All of the bad guys make one big group, versus Harry Potter.  They're all together.  Anyone not a good person, no matter what their sympathies or allegiance, in the end, is actually a Death Eater.

Again, this wouldn't be a problem if she didn't make it a problem.  Rowling pointed out that there is more to good and evil than Death Eater/not-Death Eater.  Then, I guess, forgot, and made all the bad guys Death Eaters.  Rowling is the one who made separate factions of bad guys, then Rowling is the one who collapsed all of the factions into a single one.

So, there you go.  Despite what Sirius says, actually the world of Harry Potter is split up, into good people, and Death Eaters, depending on how you get along with Harry.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Harry Potter and the Council of Rejects

The second book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is the only one of the series that I read when it first came out, which was when I was 11.  When the third book came out, I felt less than eager about reading it.  So I didn't.

Rowling maintained throughout the entire series this notion of how incompetent the Ministry of Magic is.  They are a bunch of paper-pushing bureaucrats who mindlessly follow rules and ordinances, and they have a tendency to insulation and confirmation bias, in particular Cornelius Fudge's refusal to acknowledge the return of Voldemort.

But I don't think Rowling ever realized just how incompetent the Ministry really is.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Ending that Would Have Made Harry Potter


I've spent a lot of time criticizing Harry Potter.  Just before the last book was movie-fied, I watched all of the movies on some HBO marathon special with my family, and spent the next several months abusing the series to anyone who would let me talk about it, for about as long as they'd let me talk about it.

I have recently finished reading all of the books (thereby eliminating that excuse for fans to ignore me), and my opinion of the books was elevated slightly.  It was.  The people who pestered me in to reading them have convinced me that Rowling put a good story together with good characters.

The books will obviously be around for a while, essentially owning their own table at Barnes and Noble, and may get inducted in to the Fantasy Hall of Fame with Tolkien and Lewis, and so no matter what I say the books are already a classic.  And no matter what I say, Rowling is the millionaire author with seven books and eight blockbuster movies, while I just have an internet connection.

But I think she really dropped the ball in the last book.

The ending we got was, basically, the ending that everyone would have expected from the very first chapter of the first book; it's the ending we would have expected from only the knowledge that it was about a prophesied chosen one and a powerful Evil Wizard set on destroying the world - no further details needed.  Spoiler alert: the prophesied chosen one wins.

Which obviously isn't bad.  I like the archetypes in fantasy fiction, otherwise I wouldn't read it.  I like "orphan farmboy runs away on adventure, becomes knight, kills dragon, rescues princess, rinse, repeat."  I would not get tired of it, and that's precisely the point of these archetypal stories.

But I think Rowling had the opportunity to do something completely, stunningly mind-blowing with the ending to her seven-book series that would have made even me swear by the series.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Who Don't Understand Magic


So I've blogged before about how Harry Potter; in particular I've blogged about how the Sorting Hat is either intentionally destroying the wizarding world or completely incompetent, but also a more general point on the nature of the series.

The first book is unmistakably a children's book; when it came out I was 10, and it was the hottest thing at that time.  I was actually in the same grade as Harry Potter when it came out, and all my friends were reading it.  Yet in just the same way the 7th book is unmistakably not a children's book.  For one thing, the later books are all well over 500 pages. They also touch on such topics as death, torture, and making out.

In children's books it is okay that adults are blundering idiots, that kids get away with nearly dooming the entire world to destruction, and that villains and heroes both time their moves exactly with one another.

Yet in adult books, all of that is inexcusable.

So when characters in the 5th book refer back to the events of the 1st book, they should be able to refer back to them and see how they acted completely oblivious to the existence of magic or of magicians who could perform magic, and how the three kids then lauded as heroes actually came inches from handing the key to immortal life to the most evil wizard in memory.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, we meet Harry and follow him to Hogwarts where he learns magic, and watch as he tries to uncover the mystery of what is hidden in the forbidden wing and who is trying to take it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Sorting Hat Is a Jerk


I've posted before summarizing, briefly, why Harry Potter is terrible.  Essentially, it is this: she took a kids-book fairytale world and slowly moved it in to the realm of adult speculative fiction.  Plot elements that existed for no other reason than to entertain and light up the imagination now were expected to conform to some kind of sense, so some kind of sensical explanation was fabricated post-hoc, and those explanations fail to explain.  Partly they fail because the explanations don't really make sense if looked at, but they primarily fail because characters in earlier books behave as though they are entirely unaware of the way that their own universe is supposed to work.

Total Jerk
Let's look at one of the more iconic characters in Harry Potter, the Sorting Hat, which (who?) is charged with sorting first years in to their respective houses.

Either the Sorting Hat is objectively bad at its job, or the Sorting Hat is an actively malicious and evil entity bent on destroying the wizarding world.

Friday, July 20, 2012

From The Magicians

I recently read The Magicians by Lev Grossman.  The story is sort of a commentary/deconstruction of childhood fantasy novels, especially Harry Potter and Narnia.  I suppose I have more I could say about it, but I was really struck by this quote:

Penny chose Oslo -- not even New Oslo, just Oslo, as if they thought they came up with it first -- for its total lack of anything that might distract him.  He arrived in mid-September and had no trouble renting a small farmhouse on the outskirts of town on a one-lane rural route.  His landlord was a retired schoolteacher who handed him the keys and then fled to his winter in South Carolina.  Penny's nearest neighbors on either side were a congregationless one-shack Pentecostal church and an out-of-session summer camp for disturbed children.  It was perfect.  He had found his Walden.

He had everything he needed: silence; solitude; a U-haul trailer packed with an enviable library of magical codices, monographs, chapbooks, reference books, ad broadsheets.  He had a sturdy desk, a well-lit room, and a window with an unscenic view of an unmown backyard that offered no particular temptation to gaze out at it.  He had a manageable, intriguingly dangerous research project that showed every sign of maturing into a genuinely interesting line if inquiry.  He was in heaven.

But one afternoon a few weeks after he arrived, as he sat at his desk, his watery blue eyes trailing over words of consummate power written centuries ago with a pen made out of a hippogriff feather, Penny found his mind wandering.  His large, usually lineless brow crinkled.  Something was sapping his powers of concentration.  Wa he under attack, maybe by a rival researcher?  Who would dare!  He rubbed his eyes and shook his head and focused harder.  But his attention continued to drift.

It turned out Penny had discovered in himself a weakness, a flaw he never would have suspected himself of in a thousand years, an age to which, with a few careful modifications that he would look into wen he had the time, he had every intention of living.  The flaw was this: he was lonely.

The idea was outrageous.  It was humiliating.  He, Penny, was a stone-cold loner, a depserado.  He was the Han Solo of Oslo.  He knew and loved this about himself.

This describes me almost perfectly.  Sometimes I want cloister myself off and just read and study and solve problems, free from the oppressive burdens of human interactions... but I just can't.  I can go with very little human interaction, but very little still isn't none.  And it has been interesting to learn of my own possession of the weakness of needing human interaction.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Why Harry Potter is a Terrible Series


In modern fantasy fiction, there are essentially two prototypes of approach; that of Lord of the Rings and that of Narnia.  Not that every work will copy one of these or be like one or the other or any other generalization that pedants will feel the need to scold me for, but that there's two basic, classic approaches to fantasy worlds.

The Narnian approach is simple, and usually followed by children's books.  There's some hidden land of fantasy magic, it gets discovered, and you go on a fun tour through your imagination.  It's almost an extended dream sequence.  There's trolls and goblins and witches and elves and fairies and satyrs and... and it goes on.  The magical creatures are there because they are magical creatures and this is a magical world.  Nothing is really supposed to make sense, so much as present a fun escape from boring reality.  The narrative space of the story is just a big bag for holding mythical creatures.  It's fun.  You're supposed to feel wonder at all the incredible surroundings, and not really think about why Medusa moved to New England and why no one has called the cops for missing persons.

It's pleasant, and there's nothing wrong with it.