Continuing from part 11 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19. This is the last entry.
Notes Before the Twitch Stream
“How could you do such a foolish thing?” she demanded.
“He is your son,” Chani said.
Jessica glared at her.
Heheh. But in all honesty, Jessica has made some questionable choices, what with drinking the blue Kool-Aid while pregnant, plus all the manipulations she causes to others, including Paul. She’s not in much of a position to judge in that regard.
Paul said: “There is in each of us an ancient force that takes and an ancient force that gives. A man finds little difficulty facing that place within himself where the taking force dwells, but it’s almost impossible for him to see into the giving force without changing into something other than man. For a woman, the situation is reversed.”
“The greatest peril to the Giver is the force that takes. The greatest peril to the Taker is the force that gives. It’s as easy to be overwhelmed by giving as it is by taking.”
This sounds familiar. Oh yes, that film Mother!. In that film the “mother” is a symbol for nature, something that gives and gives and gives until there is nothing left to give, and man/god/religion represented by people who take and take and take until there is nothing left to take.
But it is stated in the novel that there is a balance to be had here. That if one cannot give without taking, or cannot take without giving, then a balance is achieved. That it is ok to take so long as something that is given, and vice-versa. Seems to imply that man and woman belong together to achieve this sort of balance in their lives, assuming they cannot gain this balance on their own.
But what does it mean that the woman is a giver and the man is a taker? Women giving love and babies? Men taking that love? Taking control, taking the lead? It’s abstract, but something I’d like clarification on. Maybe Comic Book Girl 19 will provide some answers.
“‘Use of atomics against humans shall be cause for planetary obliteration.'”
Something tells me that will be worth remembering in this Dune universe.
“Tell us Gurney, why were the cityfolk down there driven from their homes by the Sardaukar?”
“An old trick, my Duke. They thought to burden us with refugees.”
Oh, well now. It seems as if Frank Herbert knows that an overabundance of refugees can become so much of a burden to a society that it could cause their downfall. A tactic that has been intentionally used in past wars. Surprisingly relevant today, likely more-so than when the book was written.
Jessica stopped in front of Paul, looked down at him. She saw his fatigue and how he hid it, but found no compassion for him. It was as though she had been rendered incapable of any emotion for her son.
Now this is another part that I would like more clarification on. Why does she have no compassion for her son now? Because she views him as less of a son and more of a monster, because of the actions he has been taking, because of the things he has been saying? More of a freak? Or is she becoming more like he was at an earlier point in the book, where he felt nothing for his dead father? Or is compassion something she currently can no longer give, indicating she is now less of a giver and more of a taker? Or neither?
This leads to an intense discussion between Paul and Jessica on pages 764-765. Of how ruthless he and Chani and others are, and how this disturbs Jessica who doesn’t want Paul to become as ruthless and political as his father. She doesn’t want him to make the same mistakes Leto and herself have made.
“Isn’t it odd how we misunderstand the hidden unity of kindness and cruelty?”
“But wisdom tempers love, doesn’t it? And it puts a new shape on hate. How can you tell what’s ruthless unless you’ve plumbed the depths of both cruelty and kindness?”
Jessica is also firmly against Paul taking the Padishah Emperor’s daughter Irulan as his wife for political gain and power. But then one must ask, what other possible alternative could there be to avoid all out violence and the potential destruction of Arrakis? It’s too late to try any other path, just as Paul now realizes this Jihad is now an unfortunate inevitability that was destined to come as a result of him regaining power. They have won, but they have also lost. Yet Paul has rationalized the Jihad in his mind now by stating, “There are no innocents anymore.” Is Paul becoming too ruthless? Or has his wisdom made him able to see the wickedness in everyone? As he said, wisdom tempers love, and how that is the case for both Paul and Jessica.
And he thought about the Guild–the force that had specialized for so long that it had become a parasite, unable to exist independently of the life upon which it fed.
[…] they’d chosen always the clear, safe course that leads ever downward into stagnation.
Living the life of a parasite is living a life that cannot possibly ever be independent, at least not once one has reached maturity. The Guild is a metaphor for oil corporations, which cannot survive without their main product, oil, and will thus do anything to keep taking and selling it. But this can also extend toward drug-addicts, people who continue to live with their parents well into their late-20s, late-30s, etc. Towards people on welfare. It can apply to many things. Hence why it was mentioned in an earlier session that one shouldn’t become overly dependent on any one thing. It’s bad to stay addicted to the Internet just as it is bad to only rely on your car/truck for transportation, bad to stay reliant on oil, to stay reliant on your parents, to stay reliant on the government, etc. Independence is a very valuable thing.
Anyway, so Count Fenring is someone to watch out for, as apparently he is someone who could’ve become the Kwizatz Haderach. And Feyd has a bastard daughter. And there’s also Alia. All of these individuals, plus Paul, are those the Bene Gesserit wish to influence for their own gain. The plans within plans continue, as do the political games. It never ends, even when a victory and/or loss is had.
And the book ends with a speech from Jessica. She seems bitter about the way things have turned out, in regards to the present. But there is some solace to be had for the future, for those who will remember them. “History will call us wives,” as opposed to their official position as concubine, for while they may be called concubines, they are known to be the ones the husband truly loves.
I have to admit, as the novel went on, I started to dislike Jessica even more. A part of me understands her bitterness, yet another part of me thinks that this is justified karma towards the Bene Gesserit for all their plans to control others via seduction or force or the Voice. Kinda would’ve liked more insight into her reasoning in the last section so that she can become more easily understood and sympathetic there.
Well, this does have me curious about the sequel.
Notes After the Twitch Stream
“Even though it is the men who sit in their positions of power, it is the scheming of women working together that truly shapes the universe.”