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  1. I think you’re doing just fine explaining you point of view: my responses are tailored to a differing dynamic which I’ll explain better in a different post to one of your responses. In short, I agree with pretty much everything you say, and was actually agreeing with you above, too. If Harry didn’t feel like he needed to protect everyone – meaning denying them information which could ‘get them in trouble’, or not spending time with people, or treating them as equals and not victims, etc, etc…

    Of course, this has been an ongoing problem throughout the series, and he’s made some progress, but it’s not the same as what Mercy does right from the outset, by example.

  2. Greg: This is a case where I can’t help but wonder if I’ve still not effectively communicated the concept I’m trying to form in my head. I will not disagree with the various story elements you mention — but I will argue that Harry considers none of them to really be his community, i.e. his friends and peers. Indeed, one of your examples is the one I mention somewhat disparagingly above: Harry giving money to Elaine so she can do the work of setting up the Paranet, so he has less work to do defending them. While the Paranet certainly is an excellent idea, he sure manages to make it sound like it’s an imposition on his time to deal with “lessers”!

    Another example: Harry finds out about the Za-lord’s guard because he decides to check and see if Toot-toot owes him for all the pizza! Even when he finds out how well things are going on that front, he maintains the hierarchical status Toot sets up, and doesn’t try to be friends with the fae — he’s the lord, they’re just his vassals. Michael is Harry’s peer, and even he has to nearly bust his chops to be friends with Harry. Frankly, I think Michael’s wife has the right of it: Harry’s certainly sincere enough, but he’s not really a good friend; at best he’s one hell of a loose cannon. A sadder example: Harry starts treating the werewolves better after he involves them in something that gets one of them accidentally killed. Frankly, I don’t think true friendships should be built mostly on guilt, you know? ;-j

    I could go on, but I think it’s clearer to simply state it bluntly: Harry’s “community building” has a distinctly hierarchical feel to it — and he’s always on top of the hierarchy. There are plenty of people who’d like to be his friend, but he seems to see them only within his personal ranking of power levels: those weaker than he, whom he must defend even though he doesn’t want to be a black cloak… and those equal in power to him, about whom he often seems quite ambivalent. I find it telling that Turncoat, the story where he actually starts treating a lot of these individuals better, is also the story where he meets a single individual (the skinwalker) who is dramatically more powerful than he. Is it the shock of the realization that he isn’t the biggest and baddest, and he needs friends, which causes him to re-think his mental hierarchies? I don’t know… but it’s an interesting consideration.

    Jonathan: Good point! I forgot that; thanks for the reminder.

  3. Interestingly, Andrew Koestler attacked those same ‘long held scientific beliefs’ in psychology, though for a different and likewise inane reason: In addition to the poor choice of demographics for most of those tests — young white male college students, which is where most of this psych research came from — the backlash from many of these experiments led to behavioral psychologists turning to other groups for their tests… namely pigeons and rats! And thus a whole science forms theories on human psychology, literally predicated upon the observations of… avians and rodents.

  4. While I realize this part of your post has only begun, I yet again feel the need to interject, and add detail to your assertion about what Harry does and doesn’t do.

    Now…on the positive side of the ledger, he actually has been cultivating community for at least a few books. It began when he finally started treading Murph as an equal, and letting her in on all the things he kept secret. It continued with the werewolves from book 2, although to be frank, he still kept them at arms length right up until the most recent book, Turncoat. He positioned Marcone, a man he hates, into a position of power in the supernatural community as a further buffer against potential enemies. And he, as co partner with Elaine, set up a network of paranormal folk as an intelligence sharing resource…not just for him, but all those involved, in order to prevent a particular assault on them from happening again with no one knowing about it. Michael and his family, Toot and the Za-Lord’s guard, Waldo Butters…the list goes on.

    In one book, he even mentions to his brother why he’s cleaning the front steps of his apartment building of ice and snow, while there’s a crisis all around his ears: even while things are coming to a head, he does something simple and kind for the sake of the elderly folks that live in his building that would have a hard time doing it themselves, and partly because he feels like he owes the landlord something for keeping on having issues with property damage around the area. This does show an awareness beyond himself.

    Okay, there’s the carrot, and here’s the stick. The problem is that even as he does all this work to cultivate allies, work with past enemies, so on and so forth… A) He still is mouthy, all the goddamn time, and it even annoys his friends, and B) He constantly sets himself apart from it. He has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into telling people about What’s Going On. He constantly tries to make it so he’s The Chosen One, the ultimate line of defense, the protector of women, children, and fuzzy animals. And Murphy, among others, cosntantly calls him on it. He has an arrogance that is almost…well, hell it is! PATRIARCHAL.

    If the Paranet, and all of Harry’s other allies are the Hebrew Faithful, then Harry is Yahweh. And that’s the biggest mistake he makes. In his rush to protect, to martyr himself, to take all responsibility on himself, he constantly forgets that that’s a bad idea. That the whole point of building a community is do do everything together, instead of keeping trying to push them behind his cloak, to do what No One Else Can.

    I’ve been thinking, for a little bit, why it is Harry is this way, and I think I’ve figured it out: it’s a power balance problem. Most of the allies that would actually be considered a part of Harry’s community are not, themselves, wizards. They’re normals, or supernaturals, but they don’t tend to have the awesome power or versatility of Harry himself. And it was this way even all the way back in book 1, where he was far more a scrappy Spider-Man type. These days, he’s taking on more and more powerful opponents, and he been himself has levelling up considerably. When it seems like you’re Superman to everyone else’s Lois, Perry, and Jimmy, it’s also easy to feel like you have to take it all on yourself. Even when Harry has to rely on friends to help him out, even when someone as normal as Murphy manages to save him from a greater creature of the Summer Court, it keeps coming down to that simple belief.

    Anna, Mercy, and I suspect, some of the other characters you like, don’t have that luxury. While they may be puissant in other areas, they are not Juggernaughts. They know this, and don’t try to be. And that also shapes how they do things. Anna, in particular, her strongest power is nurturing and using the ties to her pack to the benefit of all. Her very nature is what saves everyone, in the end of the first book.

    But…go on! Pretend I’m not here! ;D

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