Notes before the Twitch Stream
There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.
How true this is. Not necessarily for the psychic muscles (we haven’t come that far yet, officially), but for people in general. If they live an easy life, they won’t be tough. They live a hard life, they will grow up tough. And this isn’t limited to just the individual, but also to society as a whole. If people live the good luxurious life for too long, and get dumped into the hard life others are familiar with but they are not, they will eventually wither and die. Evidence of this can be seen with the Romans, who went on in dominance for so long their soldiers and civilians got lazy and they eventually fell(that’s a simplification, there were multiple reasons as to why Rome fell, but that is one of them).
As for psychic muscles, closest thing I can think of when it comes to exercising that is abstract strategy board games like Chess, Go, Arimaa, Zertz, Yinsh, and Tzaar (you are probably only familiar with the first 2 at best). Now before you make the argument, “But exercising mental muscles for gaming isn’t developing psychic muscles,” it should be noted that when you’re playing a game with perfect information (all strategy and tactics, no luck), the main element is outwitting your opponent, such as by predicting his/her future move(s). The further ahead you think, the better your odds of winning. If you’re able to peer into your opponent’s mind and know his/her thought process, that’s arguably developing your psychic muscles.
Page 265, describing the Baron Harkonnen:
The fat cheeks were two cherubic mounds beneath spider-black eyes.
Page 294, also describing the Baron:
Leto watched the fat hands, the glittering jewels on baby-fat hands–their compulsive wandering.
Herbert tends to use the physical attributes of a baby as a metaphor for describing the Baron, indicating he is a spoiled rotten brat, and was likely raised spoiled by his parents, whoever the hell they might be. But in being raised in such a way he falls under threat of the quote above, that people need hard times and oppression. Granted, the Atreides and Harkonnen have been at war with each other for a long while, but seeing how the Harkonnen’s operate vs. how the Atreides operate demonstrates that the Harkonnen’s are too used to getting their way to the point that they’ve developed an attitude of, “My way or the highway,” as indicated with how they treat the locals and the Fremen on Arrakis.
Pages 268-9 show instances of where the Harkonnens fear questioning by the Truthsayer(s), and thus wish to keep themselves clean of the affair of disposing of the Atreides. They accomplish this of being indirectly responsible for their deaths, having others do their work for them. Reminds me of politicians/leaders who do similar things, letting their grunts do the hard work, and either take credit for it, or if things go wrong than put the blame on the grunts, keeping the blame away from themselves.
Even when they’ve profited by me they despise me. — Dr. Yueh
We must try a new tack, he thought.
I’m honestly not entirely sure what this means. A new nail? Some new way of preparing or eating the food?
The day the flesh shapes and the flesh the day shapes. — Duke Leto’s last thoughts.
Page 304 and onwards, that is when the philosophical elements get kicked into high gear for the remainder of this reading section. Pretty much decided that my main focus for this blog series will be more on that and less on the plot, especially when Comic Book Girl 19 seems to be covering that so well.
Anyway, Paul’s Mentat abilities kicked into high gear and then some at the start of this chapter. To the point of fear and frustration. He cannot control the inflow of data, and his emotions seem to be dying, as if he had no use for them, or at the very least is no longer ruled by them. A step in evolution.
I loved my father, Paul thought, and knew this for truth. I should mourn him. I should feel something.
But he felt nothing except: Here’s an important fact.
It was one with all the other facts.
All the while his mind was adding sense impressions, extrapolating computing.
Halleck’s words came back to Paul: “Mood’s a thing for cattle or for making love. You fight when the necessity arises, no matter your mood.”
Perhaps that’s it, Paul thought. I’ll mourn my father later … when there’s time.
Also frequently the novel mentions Paul’s “terrible purpose”, always using those 2 words. He has a purpose, but who is it terrible to? To Paul? To his family? To those around him? To everyone? I suppose we don’t know yet why it is that it’s terrible. Perhaps because he’s losing his humanity in the process of becoming this newly evolved being?
He felt the inability to grieve as a terrible flaw.
“He felt.” Makes me wonder if Frank Herbert truly did believe that emotions are generally bad. I’ll allow Bruce Lee to retort:
People are the true strength of a Great House, Paul thought. And he remembered Hawat’s words: “Parting with people is a sadness; a place is only a place.”
Ain’t that the truth. This line makes me think back towards school, from elementary to high school, where I had friends that I have come to know throughout that entire period of my life. But once high school ended, many moved away. Eventually, I lost contact with all of them as they went off to live their own adult lives as everyone is bound to at some point. Probably one of the saddest moments in my life when one day I came to the realization, “They’re all gone.” That moment shaped me. It made me aware of a philosophy the Indians and Tibetans use, regarding the sand mandalas.
On annual occasions Tibetan monks create large and incredibly intricate sand mandalas over the course of 14 days. They are works of art to be shown to the public while they are being made, and at their completion. Each mandala signifies some sort of philosophical theme, something spiritual or significant. It could be made to represent compassion for all living things, or a representation of the afterlife. Then, soon after they are completed and publicly displayed, they are tossed into the river to be washed away, the work of art now forever gone.
The whole idea behind destroying these beautiful works of art is to emphasize the philosophy that nothing lasts forever. One cannot hold on to something forever, no matter how beautiful and endearing it is. One must learn to let it go. The sand making up the creation will wash away back into what it once was, bits of grain that are used to make up nothing, undergoing transformation throughout the course of time again, and again.
The point being, enjoy what you have while you can, while it lasts. And when it’s time to let it go, let it go. There will always be something else to behold and appreciate and value at another point in time, one way or another. Until then, the one thing left to value from all of that is the experience.
Quote from the comments section of this video: kids in africa could have eaten that sand
I conceived out of instinct and not out of obedience. — Lady Jessica
The mind goes on working no matter how we try to hold it back. — Lady Jessica
Regarding that last quote, I get that all the time. I mean, it mainly has to do with my mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder, but there are times where I can’t stop thinking of things (that’s bad for meditation). But there is something that helps. Edibles! I endorse it!
“I’ll never be a Mentat,” he said. “I’m something else … a freak.”
A freak huh? Like the mutants in X-Men? That’s another way of saying the next step in evolution that isn’t commonplace yet. Or maybe it is. A combination of Mentat and Bene Gesserit, and then some. Could just be natural to see the future simply because you’re able to accurately predict so many variables that are too complex or chaotic to just about everyone else. But in any case, Paul concludes that he’s not the Kwisatz Haderach. He’s a seed. Indicating that he’s not the Kwisatz Haderach yet? Or that one of his offspring will be?
Oh yeah, and one shocking twist. Lady Jessica is the daughter of the Baron Harkonnen. Part of the Bene Gesserits genetic plans which backfired when Jessica gave birth to Paul as opposed to a female. Guess trying to be gender fluid doesn’t exactly work in this universe. But it does bring up the idea that even something spawned from someone evil can turn out into something good. The Baron is wicked, Jessica is not.
After the Twitch Stream
Unfortunately I missed the Twitch stream, and it doesn’t look like part 5 is currently available on either YouTube or Twitch. I’m going to publish this article now, and update it if that changes. And with my current work schedule, I’m not going to be there for the live stream of part 6. Hopefully a video will be available afterwards that time.
The meaning behind Duke Leto’s last thoughts. “The day the flesh shapes and the flesh the day shapes.” People create the circumstances, but the circumstances also create the people.