Dune Club notes part 10

Continuing from part 9 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19.


Source

Pages 591-650

Notes Before the Twitch Stream

Page 614:

But it’s well known that repression makes a religion flourish.

But on the other hand, paradise and peace make a society weak, as indicated when Jessica realizes that the Fremen weren’t originally from Arrakis, but came from another planet, where they did flourish, where they did become weak, and suffered for it when others who were stronger than them took advantage and drove them off of their planet. So the immigrated to Arrakis, a harsh desert planet, where in order to adapt they had to get tough. Will address more of this later, after the twitch stream.

Page 620:

“When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement becomes headlong–faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”

Hmmm. Looking at societies ruled by religion, this does seem to be the case. With the Middle East, they never seem to be able to become self-sustaining. They always wish to expand, violently, via a Jihad, because that is the only way to sustain themselves and better/expand their society. While as countries like North America, China, Russia, Korea, Japan (especially Japan) have made technological advancements, and contributed to the betterment of humanity in some form or another. Religion by itself does not do this as far as I can tell. I could be wrong, and if I am I would like to be shown that. Because the above quote supports the idea that a civilization ruled by religion is doomed to fail, one way or another.

Page 630:

“I am a Naib,” Stilgar said, “never to be taken alive. I am a leg of the death tripod that will destroy our foes.”

Callback to the political tripod being weak, from session 1, page 36: “In politics, the tripod is the most unstable of all structures.”

Page 630:

And he thought of how the Fremen were a people whose living consisted of killing, an entire people who had lived with rage and grief all their days, never once considering what might take the place of either–except for a dream with which Liet-Kynes had infused them before his death.

In order to pull away from a lifestyle of violence, one would have to replace it with something else. Just removing the “rage and grief” isn’t enough, something has to fill the void. Because rage and grief is a driving force for some. Taking it away leaves them nothing, except perhaps redirecting where they aim their rage and grief. There has to be a goal, a reason, for the change. In the case of the Fremen, they rage against all others because all others don’t care for them, don’t share in their dream to improve the living conditions. But give them a way to achieve that dream by means other than rage and grief, then you have a good substitute. Alternatively, you could also substitute the goal, the dream, for a different/better one which would also cause the actions of the society to change, but in this case I don’t see why making Dune a better place should be such a bad thing. What other alternative is there, keep it as a shitty place to live? Or have all citizens living their move to a more hospitable world and leave Dune for the corporations to exploit.

Page 637:

In what other society of our universe, she asked herself, could a person of my station accept an anonymous drink and quaff that drink without fear?

[…]

And she wondered what other society would have such a natural regard for her privacy and comfort that the giver would intrude only enough to deposit the gift and not inflict her with the donor? Respect and love had sent the gift–with only a slight tinge of fear.

Actually, this reminds me of old medieval Japanese society, which can be observed in the novel Shogun by James Clavell (also a decent miniseries). They lived in houses made of paper-thin walls and doors, not having much privacy, and thus trusting others to be respectful of others’ privacy. Granted, this is likely a side-effect of needing cheaply made homes due to earthquakes and typhoons and such, which always tends to destroy structures, thus its more efficient to have structures that are easily repairable. Even the Mongols, living a nomad lifestyle, tend to have this sort of thing regarding privacy.

Something to think about in this day and age where it’s almost impossible to have privacy wherever one has an electronic device. Privacy isn’t as easy to gain as it was in the past, yet others have lived without it in the past, depending on the country/culture/time period. Respect and love are the key (and a tinge of fear from those who are capable of invading another’s privacy).

Page 648:

The little raids, the certain raids–these are no longer enough now that Paul and I have trained them. They feel their power. They want to fight.

Paul and Jessica both responsible for building up the Fremen for the inevitable Jihad. Guess it’s both Paul and Jessica who have a terrible purpose.

Notes After the Twitch Stream

Woohoo! Comic Book Girl 19 answered a question I raised! My question:

Page 614: “But it’s well known that repression makes a religion flourish.”

I agree that repression and harsh economic (and sometimes political) times tend to make religion flourish and allow for the growth of fanatics. However, at earlier points in the book, it tends to encourage harsh climates for the benefit of society. Such as by stating that the harsh environment of Arrakis makes the Fremen tough, more tough than they initially were from their other origins off-planet; similar case for the Sardaukar. Plus this quote from an earlier section:

Page 263: “There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.”

So I’m seeing conflicting messages here. On the one hand, the novel seems to indicate that religion unchecked is bad, yet Duke Leto has a philosophy of religion and law being one for the betterment of society (page 444). The Fremen strive for a more hospitable planet, yet making Arrakis more hospitable would potentially make them weak again.

So, what is the society one should strive for if one is to consider all these points? Should society be ruled by a law of religion, or should it not? Should society have an amount of repression within it, or have none (at the risk of making the majority weak)? Or should the best society have a small amount of religion, and a small amount of repression, just to keep things balanced in a yin-yang sort of way? What is the the optimum image of a civilization that Frank Herbert is trying to push here, in your opinion?

PS: Sorry for the overlong lead-up to the question(s).

Her response (typing in a text response, because I don’t know if the Q&A video will be around for long, Twitch tends to remove them after a couple days, and she doesn’t always upload them to youtube, Patreon exclusive stuff; yeah, I’m a funder), at 1:56:35 of the Q&A:

That’s a really great question, The Anomalous Host, great question. Uh, and that’s the thing is like, going back to the other quote is, you know, the universe isn’t a problem to solve, it’s a reality to experience. And so, I don’t think Frank Herbert thinks that there is like… Again, like everybody has a pieces of the truth. There isn’t like one thing that we can do that’s going to create that Utopia because we’re always going to be, um, slaves to our lower selves. So his big thing is like: we just need to make people… people more aware, people more educated. And like he does see the beauty in the oppression of… I mean it is beautiful, the Fremen have been so oppressed that they created this beautiful society, and it is gorgeous. And that it’s a jewel. But that is so, all these other things, it’s just, it’s all part of the same thing and you can’t really control it. The best you can do, like the best you can hope for is just trying to get people past laws. You know, I think that he thinks that dogmas are bad, I don’t think that he’s down. Because he’s shown how dogmas is used, and how it’s… But at the same time he’s like, “This is the universe.” You know? There is no way around it. Like, we do just have to go through these wars, we have to go through this shit. It’s just, I don’t know. It’s a problem… It’s a reality to experience! It’s a reality to experience. But, arbitration’s awesome. Always trying to better yourself is great. Being more ecologically aware is great. I think that, he wants everybody to be more aware. You know if we can all strive to be more conscientious, a little more aware of our actions, the consequences of our actions, for our planet for our fellow man, you know. Then we’ll build a better place no matter what, as long as we’re doing that. And also, you know, don’t forget to focus on yourselves and don’t rely on technology. You know, that’s another one of his big things.

But, it was an excellent question. It was very well thought-out, and it was very well-written. I appreciate that.

It’s especially great to hear her say all that when dialing down the video speed to 50% normal speed:

So it would seem as if another part of the answer lies in another quote in the book, within the current reading section:

Page 616:

There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, and grace–those qualities you find always in that which the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, in the way sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote bush or the pattern of its leaves. We try to copy these patterns in our lives and our societies, seeking rhythms, the dances, the forms that comfort. Yet, it is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move towards death.

So perhaps perfection shouldn’t ever be achieved, assuming it could. Because perfection, at least in our universe/dimension, is something that one can only strive for, not achieve. But if it can be achieved, how long would it last? Even a painting that is considered to be perfection is inevitably going to suffer from the ravages of time. It also goes back to the whole individuality thing that one can pick up on from Ghost in the Shell, where a system made of individuals with their own uniqueness is more durable and lasting, compared to one where the system is composed of like-minded individuals who think/act alike, and is thus destined towards destruction because it is not as adaptable. Because the only perfect civilization that can exist is one where everyone thinks/acts alike, like robots. After all, like the saying goes, diversity is our strength. And, well, we know how the artificially intelligent robots turned out in this universe. Fuck the Matrix sequels and the last season of Battlestar Galactica by the way.

I’d like to close this on some quotes from commenters of the twitch stream.

MarkJake63: @stargazer1977 Is the universe not a problem to be solved?

stargazer1977: @MarkJake63 As an astrophysicist, my first instinct is to say… yes. 🙂

TheOldAtreides: @stargazer1977 , @MarkJake63 – I think it’s both the problem, and the experience – the problem is striving towards more perfect understanding, which should in theory give the experience deeper meaning.

drako_celeste: just do not embrace the chaos. thats like accepting the crazy shit around you. better yet, try to bring order to your society.

Referring to smartphones and the slave trade that makes them:

dianahascall: Are there any products not made by oppressed people. There may only be very few exceptions

stargazer1977 : Oppression and inequality is baked into modern society so much that it’s an impossible question to ask until there are great examples of truly non-oppressed comparisons.

Dune Club, it’s like that.

 

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