Dune Club notes part 3

Continuing from part 2 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19.


Pages 60-105.

Notes before the Twitch Stream

Page 106:

For the others, we can say that Paul Muad’Dib learned rapidly because his first training was in how to learn. And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could learn. It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believing learning to be difficult. Muad’Dib knew that every experience carries its lesson.

When I read this, I think of the quote from the previous section:

“The truth could be worse than he imagines, but even dangerous facts are valuable if you’ve been trained to deal with them.” – Duke Leto Atreides

Self-doubts, the potential humans have to learn and adapt. What better trait can a parent have if not to teach their son how to learn, how to accept teachings, to teach your child that they are capable of learning. Obviously there are some exceptions, such as those born retarded, or having been in an accident that caused them to turn out retarded afterwards. But in being capable of learning, and having faith that you can learn anything, there are dangers. Consider that schools and teachers can have their own agenda, that they don’t want to teach you so much as want you to learn in a specific way, to learn and grow within boundaries that the establishment sets. Encouraging you (heavily) to follow along a strict learning path, as opposed to encouraging you to look at something worth learning using more than one perspective, more than one line of thinking. If everyone is to learn the same thing in the same way, where is the diversity? This reminds me of some of the philosophy to be found in the anime film Ghost in the Shell (not to be confused with the inferior live-action remake). Two bits of dialogue seem relevant in this situation:

“There are countless ingredients that make up the human body and mind, like all the components that make up me as an individual with my own personality. Sure I have a face and voice to distinguish myself from others, but my thoughts and memories are unique only to me, and I carry a sense of my own destiny. Each of those things are just a small part of it, I collect information to use in my own way. All of that plans to create a mixture that forms me and gives a rise to my conscience. I feel confined, only free to expand myself within boundaries.”

“No matter how powerful we may be fighting-wise, a system where all the parts react the same way is a system with a fatal flaw. Like individual, like organization. Overspecialization leads to death.”

I wonder if later chapters will dive into this concept. After all, one must consider Paul’s counterpart, Feyd. He is being taught as well (as seen in section 1), but not in the same way, and is receiving different lessons than Paul. What lessons should one teach their child? What about when the child, the student, disagrees with the teacher? Is the student allowed to disagree with the teacher and come up with their own valid point? Is the student encouraged to be an independent in that way? How intelligent can one be if they are not allowed to view their teachings with a healthy dose of skepticism and criticism? Because if the student(s) are only taught to think the same way as their teachers, this leads to overspecialization, which makes them less capable of adapting. This can be fatal, not just to the student, but to society as a whole.

It reminds me of another saying one of my teachers taught me. “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” In other words, it’s not enough to be taught. It’s not enough to learn. It’s how you’re taught, how you learn.

Page 110:
But we Fremen pay our debts–be they black debts or white debts. — Shadout Mapes

Come to think of it, I guess the following chapter also has a quote to go along with this philosophy of teaching (it can be taken multiple ways I’m sure, but this is how I currently take it):

Page 112:

Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test that it’s a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.

So, this is a Bene Gesserit saying that is implied to be what helped keep Lady Jessica going during her times of high stress and worry. It can be taken to mean to not always look towards the destination, but to see the details along the way, to appreciate the journey, and to make sure they path you follow is the right one. I also see this as a message on growing up, on learning as you grow. Don’t just learn with the intention of gaining that specific knowledge and only going just for that knowledge. See the other little tidbits around that knowledge as well. For example, if learning another language, sure you can just focus on the words, how to compose the sentences, and so on. But it would also help to learn of the cultures, to hear the difference contexts on how the words are said, how the words changed over generations, what sort of mannerisms to adopt when saying the words, what tones to use, what gestures should be made. Similar things apply to learning philosophy, learning religion, politics, etc. One shouldn’t be told why they should adopt one belief over another, rather be presented with the beliefs, their pros and cons, and why others have that belief.

Probably stretching things a bit with this focus on “learning.” It can be summed up as it’s not about the destination, but about the journey.

Page 113:

Mapes cast a piercing stare at the oval door, and Jessica thought she detected a loathing expression.

It’s not until a page or two later when I figured out why Mapes reacts this way. It’s because, behind this oval door, is a greenhouse, filled with plants and water to keep them grown and healthy. On a planet where water is precious. It’s interesting that the Fremen view such things with disdain, when some Fremen, and others, wish for the planet to improve. To improve, it needs greenery and atmospheric changes. It’s possible to do, but very expensive, something no single House is willing to pony up for, as they desire those finances to be used for their protection against other Houses, because they have no trust, because humans don’t get along with one another. There isn’t world peace, let alone universal peace. Many wish for Arrakis to improve, to be more hospitable to human life. But the hurdles to get there, the selfish nature, the fear of others. Very tricky situation, like trying to solve the world hunger crisis in our society. We are capable of doing it, but the priorities of those who have the means to make this happen lie elsewhere.

The sun isn’t yellow on Arrakis, it’s white, as indicated by Jessica’s thoughts on the greenhouse.

[…] the proximity of a desirable thing tempts one to overindulgence. On that path lies danger. — Margot Lady Fenring

The Fenrings, the previous proxy on the planet before the Atreides arrived.

You also gotta love Paul’s attitude towards the Harkonnens after dealing with the hunter-seeker.

“It’s the Harkonnens, of course. We shall have to destroy them.” — Paul Atreides

On page 123, Jessica notices light signals in the distance, the likelihood being that Harkonnen agents are signalling to one another about the failed attempt on Paul’s life.

Page 127, it is implied that Duke Leto walked deliberately into the Harkonnen and Emperor trap on Arrakis with the intention of sacrificing himself so that Paul could have a chance at a better life. How he planned on that playing out, I’m not sure. Especially considering how hopeless the entire situation feels. For the latter half of this section, practically no one has their hopes up. They don’t see a decent probability of coming out on top against the odds that were clearly stacked against them before they arrived on the planet. This is clearly indicated on pages 155-6, with how the meeting Leto setup ended, in a manner of confusion, arguments, and signs of desperation.

“The whole theory of warfare is calculated risk.” — Duke Leto.

“Justice?” The Duke looked at the man. “Who asks for justice? We make our own justice.” […] “But let us not rail about justice as long as we have arms and the freedom to use them.” — Duke Leto

There’s mention of a de-emphasis on shields on Arrakis. In that the Atreides don’t have access to very many vehicles and settlements that make use of shields. Leto suspects it’s a Harkonnen trick. I wonder if there’s some other reason.

Page 145:

“Our output the first two seasons should be down a third from the Harkonnen average.”
“There it is,” the Duke said, “exactly as we expected.”

Yes, they suspected that the plan for the trap was to sabotage the Atreides on Arrakis so that the spice output is reduced, which would give the Harkonnen’s an excuse to take it back over with force. And the other Houses wouldn’t support the Atreides because they would lose favor for having reduced spice production. Because the spice must flow. The spice is the most valuable element in the universe, as it allows for space travel, among other things.

Paul worries about their reliance on Thuffir Hawat. And over-reliance. Especially on someone so old and worn. Yet the rest of the Atreides family has faith in him. Paul is right to doubt. He even disagrees with the way Leto wishes to confiscate property to gain more resources. Paul knows this will cause locals to resist them. And the last thing they need is more enemies.

And on page 149, Stilgar, a Fremen leader, shows up. He is blunt, not possessing much manners. And his customs are different. The spitting onto the table, many would take that as an insult, but on Arrakis it is a sign of respect, sacrificing precious water to show it.

But here’s the one section that interested me greatly on this reading section. More than the learning philosophy, more than how a journey should be, more than anything else I’ve read in the book so far.

Page 151:

“Turok was the name of our dead friend. Remember that when it comes time to release his spirit. You are friends of Turok.”

What the holy fucking hell Frank Herbert? You bring up the greatest dinosaur hunter who ever lived, Turok, and you have him killed outside of the reading? That the reader only learns about this posthumously? That’s bullshit! I wanted to see the dinosaur hunter take on some fucking sandworms!

Seriously, he’s capable of taking on a sandworm.

On page 152, it’s said that Piter de Vries, the Baron Harkonnen’s Mentat, desires the crystknife, the sandworm tooth. I’m not clear on the reasoning for this, but I believe it has to do with making it easier to infiltrate Fremen society, because of how they view the tooth as sacred.

Page 165

I must rule with eye and claw–as the hawk among lesser birds. Unconsciously, his hand brushed the hawk emblem on his tunic.

Well, now it’s clear why the hawk is the symbol of the Atreides.

After the Twitch Stream

https://player.twitch.tv/?video=v161468573&autoplay=falseWatch live video from ComicBookGirl19 on www.twitch.tv

Wow, a lot of bugs and lags on the Twitch stream this time around.

So regarding that section where Shadout Mapes shows disdain for the greenhouse room, it is said she views it as a waste, as nothing but a display of wealth and power. I do wonder if there isn’t something more to it, to the room?

Faufreluches: the rigid rule of class distinction enforced by the Imperium. “A place for every man and every man in his place.” Surprisingly, I overlooked this word and this ideal upon my read-through. A rigid rule of class distinction enforced across the Imperium. This does not appeal to the Fremen, who are wild and chaotic, against controlled order.

Leto knows he is doomed, but continues to fight on until then, hoping to keep alive a future for his son.

The idea of Mentat’s being the result of genetic engineering.  Comic Book Girl 19 doesn’t agree with this idea, thinking that having 20,000 years to develop and evolve from where we are now would be enough to get humans to naturally evolve to that state.  But there is generic engineering going on in the Dune universe, something explored in the sequel Dune Messiah.

Dune’s message is about growing as a civilization.


Continued in part 4.

2 thoughts on “Dune Club notes part 3

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