Dune Club notes part 12 (Final)

Continuing from part 11 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19. This is the last entry.

Pages 651-709

Notes Before the Twitch Stream

Page 719:

“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.

Page 722:

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.

Page 731:

“‘Use of atomics against humans shall be cause for planetary obliteration.'”

Something tells me that will be worth remembering in this Dune universe.

Page 732:

“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.

Page 763:

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.

Page 766-767:

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.”

Dune Club notes part 11

Continuing from part 10 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19. Second to the last section!

Pages 651-709

 

Notes Before the Twitch Stream

Boy did this section have some great lines regarding politics and religion.

Page 651:

You cannot avoid the interplay of politics within an orthodox religion. This power struggle permeates the training, educating and disciplining of the orthodox community. Because of this pressure, the leaders of such a community inevitably must face that ultimate internal question: to succumb to complete opportunism as the price for maintaining their rule, or risk sacrificing themselves for the sake of the orthodox ethic.

This is demonstrated in this section with Paul not wanting to follow Fremen tradition and killing their leader to replace him and lead the tribe. In this case, Paul replacing Stilgar. Paul knows that this is the wrong thing to do, and that it will harm the Fremen far more than it would benefit them. An outsider’s perspective, another point of view, to improve upon what is already there.

When it comes to all orthodox religions, they are established at a time when they only know as much as they do at the present time, along with important things from the past if they are lucky. The problem with this is that new knowledge, new wisdom is gained as time goes on which has a high likelihood of making beliefs and traditions (not necessarily all of them) outdated.

I think I’ve bashed on Islam and Muslims enough in previous entries, so now I’ll take a shot at Christianity, and Catholicism. So in the Old Testament the philosophy tends to be “eye for an eye,” (I know that’s generalizing it, but if I’m to dive into specifics that would make this post longer than I want it to be; and I just don’t feel like it). In the New Testament the philosophy is “love your neighbor as you would love yourself.” A contradiction to be sure, but it can also be seen as an evolution of the religion with new knowledge/wisdom gained. Plus there’s the whole stoning of gay people, while as today the only sort of stoning that should be done to them is giving them some THC to smoke/consume. Hell, that could be a win-win considering that when you’re high enough, you become to lazy to have sex anyone, so there won’t be any homo butt-fucking or scissoring going on which ought to make everyone as gay as someone from the 20s (you know, the old definition and all).

But there are those who still believe in Old Testament teachings to this day, ignoring the wisdom found in the other teachings, and pretty much follow the belief of, “Thou shalt not stick thine own dick into another man’s asshole,” among other things. Don’t think they’re too popular these days.

And then there’s times when orthodox religions try to be hip and cool to attract the newer generations. I’m not too sure how often they fail and/or succeed, but man is it fun to see them try. Especially in the 90s:

But in all seriousness, these quote is all about the religious orthodox and its regard to living alongside politics, whether it should be separate from it, or a part of it. The problem with being separate from it is that it’s, well, impossible, because sooner or later politics is going to invade the religion bubble, or religion will invade the political bubble. The politicians will want taxes and/or having the religious followers vote for whomsoever, as well as abiding by certain laws regardless of whether or not the religion claims to be above the laws, should be an exception to the laws, etc. The religious leaders will want exceptions from laws, or laws to be bent/broken/changed to fit the religion. Because in a society, not everyone will want to follow the religion anymore than everyone will want to follow the laws. If a law is broken, that usually means jail time for the individual. If a religious rule is broken, what consequence is there for that in this lifetime? Would making a religious law
an actual law be a way to get incentive for citizens to follow the religion? Even if making such a change would violate some religious teachings?

Page 663:

When law and duty are one, united by religion, you never become fully conscious, fully aware of yourself. You are always a little less than an individual.

In other words, an individual shouldn’t be ruled by religion else they cease to be as independent as they once were. They must adhere to religious guidelines or suffer jail-time. I believe this is demonstrated in A Clockwork Orange, even if in that situation a priest decries the whole process that “cures” the individual.

Page 688:

How often is it that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him.

I get that sometimes. I think everyone does to some extent. For example, “It’s time to get up. But I don’t want to get up!”

Page 690:

“Prophets have a way of dying by violence.”

“Prophets” is a loose term here that can refer to anyone trying to lead a movement, a revolution. It happened to Martin Luther King Jr., it happened to Malcolm X, it happened to Ghandi, it happened to Jesus… It happened to plenty of individuals.

Pages 700-709, those pages are likely the most emotional moments of the entire book. Having old friends and family members threatening to kill each other over a misunderstanding, and how it’s tearing Paul Atreides apart inside, and how he’s trying to remain strong and not show his emotions (and failing in regards to his perceptive mother). The best part of all this is Lady Jessica finally admitting both to herself and to her son how she has become too much of a manipulator, has let political thinking cause her to stray too far from her humanity.

“Paul,” she said, “there are other awakenings in this universe. I suddenly see how I’ve manipulated you to set you on a course of my choosing … a course I had to choose–if that’s any excuse–because of my own training.”

[…]

“Paul … I want you to do something for me: choose the course of happiness.”

Something that even Duke Leto Atreides wished. Perhaps both he and her have realized now that leading this life of plans within plans, of political and religious manipulation, is not worth it in the end if it comes at the cost of happiness. Because both religion and politics, even if they aim to preserve happiness and good, tend to have a bad habit of destroying both. The corruption of Yueh, the fall of the Atreides House, all those close to or within the Harkonen House, even the Padishah Emperor, all corrupted and losing their happiness due to political games and/or religious influence. Because politics and religion, regardless of their claims, all have one thing in common. Power and control. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Or at the very least…

 

Notes After the Twitch Stream

Coming soon…

Edit: here it is:

 

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.

Continue reading

Dune Club notes part 9

Continuing from part 8 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19.

Source

Pages 521-587

Notes Before the Twitch Stream

Page 521:

The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future.

What this line means to me. It makes me think of Lord of the Flies, and the double edged sword of technological advancements. For instance, consider a society that hasn’t made any technological advancements for the past several centuries. Like some societies in Africa, or the Middle East. They tend to be war-torn countries, either due to infighting, or from foreign invasion by societies that have a technological edge. In the case of the Fremen, they fight using an old (but effective) style in the wilderness, and make slow progress towards making the wilderness more friendly towards human life. That progress provides them a goal to unite them. But what then? What happens if they achieve it? Sure it becomes more habitable to humans, but that invites more humans from all over to go to these lands.

As in Lord of the Flies, if there’s no progress being made towards a better future, we witness ourselves returning to a savage tribal nature. Because at our core, we are savages. We would tear each other apart if there wasn’t something out there that would cause us to unite against, whether it be an enemy, or a goal, something to strive towards defeating or achieving.

Regarding progress and technological advancements, technology is usually made to make life easier or more amusing. For instance, the Internet certainly makes things much easier with access to information and online stores, and means of instant communication with someone who isn’t physically in front of you (unless they’re one of those assholes who calls you on their cell phone when they’re only one room away from you). But the other side to that coin is that it also allows the terror to arrive in another form. With the Internet, it is easier for individuals to steal your identity, to track you down, to mess with your bank account, to threaten your family, etc. There is always a downside to progress, but there’s usually an upside as well. In the world of this novel, there was the rise and fall of artificial intelligence.

In any case, progress allows a distraction from the core issue that “us” as human beings have yet to overcome. The fear of each other, the terrors that we can inflict upon one another. A fear and paranoia that has grown with access to all this information online. A fear based primarily on, “What he/she can do” vs. “What he/she is going to do.” A fear based in pessimism. I’m a pessimist, but even I have some faith in humanity. At the same time, I’m cautious of others who I don’t know.

Page 533:

“I ah-h-h am filled with um-m-m only with a hm-m-m sense of anticipation, yes,” the Count said. “Always in the ah-h-h proces verbal, one um-m-m ah-h-h must consider the ah-h-h office of origin.”

The Baron did his sudden stiffening of surprise by stumbling on the first step down from the exit. Proces verbal! That was a report of a crime against the Imperium!

Proces verbal. According to the terminology: a semiformal report alleging a crime against the Imperium. Legally: an action falling between a loose verbal allegation and a formal charge of crime.

I’m not clear as to the meaning behind all this, what just transpired between the Baron and Fenring. I’m guessing that either Fenring or someone else reported a crime the Harkonnen’s committed (likely with what they did on Arrakis), and Fenring is toying with the Baron about it. I’m not sure.

Page 563:

Still she hesitated, staring at him.

“What is it?” he demanded.

“You’ve not the eyes of the Ibad,” she said. “It’s strange but not entirely unattractive.”

“Get the food,” he said. “I’m hungry.”

She smiled at him–a knowing, woman’s smile that he found disquieting. “I am your servant,” she said, and whirled away in one lithe motion, ducking behind a heavy wall hanging that revealed another passage before falling back into place.

I guess Paul isn’t quite ready for the temptations of women, at least not as much as I thought from the last reading section. You can tell she’s flirting with him, teasing him with sex, and attempting to get Paul to put her in a position to where she’s more than just a servant. Granted, it’s likely not going to work, because it’s not what Paul wants. But if he gives into the temptation of seduction, then that’s going to make things very tricky.

Page 578:

Why should a fall of sand from a clifftop stick in the memory? she asked herself.

Jessica doesn’t see/understand the significance of this the way Paul does. She doesn’t see time the way he does, and how any tiny rift in the present affects the future, that even a grain of sand can affect things significantly in the future. Even with her new awareness, as a Reverend Mother, Jessica still doesn’t have Paul’s power.

 

 

I guess the philosophical ramblings are more limited for this session.

 

 

Notes After the Twitch Stream

Hah! So I’m not the only one who was thinking Count Fenring was channeling Jeff Goldblum! With all his “Uhm…Ah uhm uhm huminaahuhm.”

 

 

Dune Club notes part 8

Continuing from part 7 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19.


Source

 

Pages 448-520

 

Notes Before the Twitch Stream

Page 448:

[…] how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What of the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy? Does the prophet see the future or does he see a line of weakness, a fault or cleavage that he may shatter with words or decisions as a diamond-cutter shatters his gem with a blow of a knife?

How easily is it for one who sees the future to alter it? Seeing the future could be enough on its own to alter it. It has already been implied in the previous reading section that there was already a missed opportunity, for Paul and Jessica to be with Idaho rather than just by themselves. Seeing the future can be enough to change things for the better, but it could also change things for the worse. And, of course, there’s the question of whether or not Paul is seeing the future at all with this quote, but I would assume he is seeing the future, considering his prediction for being called Muad’dib is pretty damn precise.

It also makes me wonder if quantum physics has gotten into subject matter such as this. I don’t know about future prediction, but they seem to be coming up with way of potentially affecting the past.

Pages 461-462:

“To save one from a mistake is a gift of paradise,” Stilgar said.

One of the things I live my life around. One of the main reasons I like getting involved in debates (online anyway, so that both sides are able to finish their sentences without getting interrupted). Providing one knowledge and/or wisdom so that they don’t make a mistake based on misinformation or a flawed logic, that is something that makes debates worthwhile. I had my life changed through such debates, and I’m grateful to each and every person who has shown me the way in the past. I try to return the favor to others, and 95% of the time it doesn’t work because most are in it only for confirmation bias. But that 5% is enough for me.

Page 462:

“Beginnings are such delicate times.”

In more ways than one. When I read this line, I think of newborn children, or even those still in the mother’s womb. How delicate must the mother be with her diet and her environment? How delicate must they be with the child when it’s born? What should the newborn be subjected too that is still considered acceptable? How sheltered and safe should it be? When should it become less sheltered? Letting the child grow up to do what it wants vs. what the parent wants it to become.

Page 466:

[…] the self-imposed delay between desire for a thing and the act of reaching out to grasp that thing.

Words to live by, especially in a capitalist, consumer-based, society. When shopping at a store, or online, I tend to not head directly to the checkout after seeing something I want (some film or book or whatever). Even if I pick it up to carry around, I tend to wait a while, browse some more and walk around, before deciding to go ahead with the purchase. Because during that time I start to second-guess myself. “Do I really need this? Do I really want this? Was it really that good? Would the money be better spent on something else? What else could I get with the equivalent amount of money?” That line of thinking has gotten me to return several movies/books/games to the shelves (or deleted from an online shopping cart) and saved me a bunch of money. Plus it’s the fact that I’m very picky about what I want that helps.

For instance, it’s not enough that there is a movie out that I want to see. I also want the best possible release for it, with the most special features and the best video/audio quality. Take the original Star Wars trilogy for instance. I want the original non-post-80s-Lucas-tampered versions of them. As they were when they originally hit theaters. And then there’s The Black Stallion. Sure there’s regular DVD/Blu-Ray versions of them, but the best-of-the-best when it comes to versions of that film is the Blu-Ray Criterion edition, because Criterion is second-to-none on video releases. And, hell, to bring it full-circle, the Dune movie by David Lynch. There’s a few versions out there, but my preferred release is the DVD that contains both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film. Currently, it’s only on DVD when it comes to an edition containing both versions, not on Blu-Ray.

Having high-standards in such areas of consumerism has, for me, proved to be a money-saver. Of course, this isn’t the only area this quote applies to, though it can be applied to consumerism. It can also be applied to one’s diet, the foods they eat. Or to someone one may wish to date and/or have sex with and/or marry (though, speaking as an average to slightly below-average looking guy, I wouldn’t mind having hot chicks settle for less on my account).

Page 470:

“We change it … slowly but with certainty … to make it fit for human life. Our generation will not see it, nor our children nor our children’s children nor our the grandchildren of their children … but it will come.” He stared with veiled eyes out over the basin. “Open water and tall green plants and people walking freely without stillsuits.”

So that’s the dream of this Liet-Kynes, she thought. And she said: “Bribes are dangerous; they have a way of growing larger and larger.”

“They grow,” he said, “but the slow way is the safe way.”

Finding a way to slowly improve the planet’s ecology for the sake of making it more fit for human life. The safest way is by doing it slowly; but that is difficult, as there are many things that could interrupt the process. In this case, the Guild wanting more money, or other organizations who wish to keep the planet inhospitable and chaotic so that only the select few rich organizations/corporations/factions can benefit from it. Makes me wonder how similar this can get to the subject of climate change in our present time. Or how much the Middle East has changed from back then to how it is now.

Page 473:

“A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people. He maintains the level of individuals. Too few individuals, and a people reverts to a mob.”

Hmmm. Is this an argument against socialism/communism? The idea that the individual is a necessity in order to make a group more than, or something other than, a mob? A group should be composed of individuals who have differences, yet are united for a cause. As opposed to being a group composed of faceless individuals blindly fighting for a cause. The larger the group, the more difficult this becomes. The individual can disappear among such a giant wave. Let the giant group have multiple leaders to take charge of different sects so that the “individuals” can be maintained and relevant, and that would solve the problem.

It’s also like going to a local bank as opposed to a giant franchise bank. Locals tend to recognize one another more easily, and have friendly chatter, and resolve things more easily. A franchise, however, tends to not give a damn about the individual because there are too many of them.

small store chain
I was going to insert something fancy about small stores being better than large store chains, but the fact that these results came up on YouTube gave me a chuckle.

Page 478:

[…] the one-eyed vision of the past, the one-eyed vision of the present and the one-eyed vision of the future–all combined in a trinocular vision that permitted him to see time-become-space.

I see some similarities to the three-eyed raven from Game of Thrones here. Looks like George R. Martin took some influence from here, considering this predates it. Then again, I do have to wonder how long this concept has been around, as I doubt this novel is the first to touch upon the subject.

Source

Page 481:

My mother obeyed her Sister Superiors where the Lasy Jessica disobeyed. Which of them was the stronger? History already has answered.

This quote from Princess Irulan, discussing her Bene Gesserit mother compared to Paul’s Bene Gesserit mother. The interesting thing here is that the Bene Gesserit’s plans that they crafted via genetic manipulation, mothering their choice of a son or daughter from men of high positions of power for the sake of gaining control/influence over powerful offspring. And how it all fell to ruin because of one dissident. Not only that, but Paul Atreides would end up using this to his advantage, eventually taking Princess Irulan as his own for political power, turning the Bene Gesserit’s plans against them. Ironic that their plans for control and power would be their undoing. If they never dictated that the Emperor should have a daughter rather than a son in the first place, Paul wouldn’t be able to force political leverage in this way, as implied in passages before the final few pages, much less the last pages of the novel itself.

Page 494-495, after Paul has killed Jamis in a duel:

Now is the terrible moment, she thought. He has killed a man in clear superiority of mind and muscle. He must not grow to enjoy such a victory.

[…]

It must be done now and swiftly, Jessica thought.

She compressed ultimate scorn into her voice and manner, said: “Well-l-l, now–how does it feel to be a killer?”

“who does not know the evils of war cannot appreciate its benefits” ― Sun Tzu

“No leader should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no leader should fight a battle simply out of pique. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life. Hence the enlightened leader is heedful, and the good leader full of caution.” – Sun Tzu

“It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Page 500:

[…] he could still sense the green and black Atreides banner waving … somewhere ahead … still see the jihad’s bloody swords and fanatic legions.

It will not be, he told himself. I cannot let it be.

This seems to be his “terrible purpose.” Being responsible for the rise of a jihad that will rage war on Arrakis and cause the bloodshed of many. Something Paul is trying to fin a way to avoid. Currently, he sees no alternative. But eventually, maybe…

On a different note, this seems to be the general plot for that film Lawrence of Arabia. Another thing Frank Herbert seems to have used as inspiration for this.

Page 518:

And Paul […] felt that a vital moment had passed him, that he had missed an essential decision and was now caught up in his own myth. […] He felt a new sense of wonder at the limits of his gift.

[…]

Through it all, the wild jihad still loomed ahead of him, the violence and the slaughter. It was like a promontory above the surf.

With all his power, still making mistakes, still missing vital opportunities, and moving ever closer to what seems to be the inevitable as other paths become closed off with each passing moment, with each decision (or lack thereof) made. I do wonder though, what is this vital moment that passed? Something to do with Jamis’ dead body and his water, and how Paul accepted it. Perhaps accepting it differently, making some other statement. I’m not sure. Maybe Comic Book Girl 19 knows?

Page 520:

Paul sat silently in the darkness, a single stark thought dominating his awareness: My mother is my enemy. She does not know it, but she is. She is bringing the jihad. She bore me; she trained me. She is my enemy.

Ah, so Paul suspects that it is in the way his mother is training him, teaching him, raising him, that causes him to act in such a way as to bring about this jihad. I also believe Jessica underestimates him in some aspects (as well as fear what he is becoming). Earlier in the novel, during the portion where Paul is attending a dinner/meeting with others, and this one girl is trying to lure Paul with sex, he sees through this and acts accordingly. His mother isn’t aware of Paul’s insight, and thus acts as if he didn’t know what was going on. Now, in this reading section, she wishes to act on a similar motivation. She wants to warn Paul about women, especially about Chani, that he shouldn’t become too invested with her, and not marry her, and be prepared to use her for political leverage much like how the Duke Leto used her for such a purpose. Yet she is also aware of how much of a political monster this makes her out to be. So it’s possible Paul sees that his mother is a political monster, and thus desires to use Paul’s influence to take back Arrakis and restore power to the Atreides house. The way Jessica wants to get things done vs. how Paul wants to get things done.

Who is right? Who is wrong? How much does Paul know? Does he know as much as his mother in this regard? Does she underestimate Paul? And is Paul right to view his mother as an enemy? Only time will tell. Time, and the next reading section.

Notes After the Twitch Stream

PS: Finally got around to setting up a Patreon account. Feel free to donate there if Paypal isn’t your thing. I was going to do Google AdSense or something like that, but their terms and conditions are too restrictive for this site. Long live the fighters!

Dune Club notes part 7

Continuing from part 6 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19.


Source

 

Pages 371-447

 

Notes Before the Twitch Stream

Page 371:

What do you despise? By this you are truly known.

Fair enough, time to get to know me. I despise pickles; social justice warriors who bitch and moan about the pettiest things that shouldn’t be a big deal until they made it one; political correctness; being taught to be fine living without independence; big fat motherfuckers who are fat because they can’t control their diet; closed minded pricks who are only about confirmation bias; a lot of politicians from all sides; news media that skewers the news, doesn’t check their facts, and promotes intolerance; dipshits who censor speech and art that shouldn’t be censored (from movies to games to books, and those who just want to bring up their philosophical/political/theological/societal opinions); monopoly (both the game and the cocksucking corporations who actually have a monopoly on something, like those people who control the diamond industry) and people who are a lot better than me at games than I’ll ever be (you fucking Koreans and you’re fucking ridiculous skills at Starcraft, you make everyone else feel like an inferior species when it comes to gaming!). That last part is a joke in case you’re wondering.

Pretty sure there’s other things I despise, but that’s off the top of my head.

Page 377:

“The absence of a thing,” the Baron said, “this can be as deadly as the presence.”

The Baron is referring to the absence of something one is addicted to as a weapon to be used against others. This is a philosophy I’m sure many (including me) have experienced since childhood. When we’re young, we have access to anything in the house our parents will allow us to have. But if we do something bad, we get punished, sometimes by having something taken away from us. “You did what!? That’s it, I’m taking away your game system!”

But this goes beyond that, obviously. It’s bad to be addicted to anything, though there are things that have always been necessities (needing to breathe air, needing to drink water, needing to eat food). But everything else…

It’s also a philosophy that, while I’m sure this isn’t intentional by Frank Herbert to indicate this line can be interpreted this way, can work in regards to horror films. How many films are terrifying precisely because we often don’t see the monster, or the killer, or whatever threat there is? A fear of the unknown can be more terrifying than the fear of what is known. It’s the very thing H.P. Lovecraft based his works around.

Page 380:

“Never obliterate a man unthinkingly, the way an entire fief might do it through some due process of law. Always do it for an overriding purpose–and know your purpose!

I think this can be applied to Death Note somehow. It is easier to take back words than it is to take back a kill. It makes me think about calls for someone to die. How some call for politicians to die, or for supporters of said politician to die, or for someone who holds a certain belief he/she preaches to die. There are always consequences to something like that, and even if the death is justifiable. It can lead to an uprising, a conflict, chaos, and things overall turning out for the worse. War, killing, murder, those should be last resorts. As Sun Tzu says, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Hence politics.

There was also some other line of wisdom that I heard somewhere a long while back. I don’t remember if it was Sun Tzu, but it basically goes like, “Do not take pleasure in war. Enter into conflict with a heavy heart. Take no joy in the killing of others. It must only be done if it is only absolutely necessary.”

Granted, the Baron isn’t exactly a role model for this, and I doubt his intentions with the above quote are good, but it’s something to take from it for everyone else.

Page 395:

Idaho was with us in the vision, he remembered. But now Idaho is dead.

An opportunity, a decision, something was there that Paul could’ve done so that Idaho would have come with them and gotten to the place they are at now. But decisions that were made, actions that were taken, closed off that path. Now Idaho is dead. Was Paul too inexperienced? Too distracted? Who knows? But the point is Paul recognizes that, even with his powers of foresight, he is still capable of making mistakes.

Page 410:

He looked at his hand. How inadequate it appeared when measured against such creatures as that worm.

How small we seem in the grand scheme of things, or even against others. But there cannot be big things without the little things that make them. The hand is small compared to the worm, but the cells making up the hand are even smaller in comparison. And, as we’ll soon see, the hand can be used to take control of a worm, when it holds the right tool, a tool that can be crafted by hands. We are small in comparison to a planet, but we can build things to allow us to survive the forces of nature a planet brings to bear against us. We are small in comparison to the galaxy, but we are capable of developing technology that can one day allow us to travel it. Small, but capable. The big things are capable of wiping out the smaller things, but the smaller things are capable and not to be underestimated. Much as how the Baron considerably underestimates the Fremen.


Source

Page 415:

“Speed is a device of the Shiatan.”

Patience. Don’t rush into things, don’t attempt to resolve things too quickly if it means you become more careless and vulnerable as a result, much as how some fighters in MMA rush to finish off an opponent they rattle with a blow, and thus swing wildly and less accurately, which can lead to the opponent recovering and delivering a counter-blow. There’s a time to be swift, and a time to be methodical.

Page 423:

The mind can go either direction under stress–toward positive or toward negative, on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconscious at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.

Much like soldiers in the military. Herbert probably read some Sun Tzu stuff.

Page 444:

“Religion and law among our masses must be one and the same,” his father said. “An act of disobedience must be a sin and require religious penalties. This will have the dual benefit of bringing both greater obedience and greater bravery. We must depend not so much on the bravery of individuals, you see, as upon the bravery of a whole population.”

Kyne’s in a delusional state, imagining his father, and the lines he spoke in the past, as Kynes approaches death. The message here is that there should not be a separation between church and state, that the state should be run by a main religion, and have penalties/punishments/laws that conform to that religion. This has issues that should be readily apparent (such as how many do not wish to live under Sharia law, among other religious customs). But the benefit is greater obedience to avoid the harsh penalties and to avoid the strict rules. The benefit is also extremely patriotic and brave citizens, united nationally.

Bravery and obedience are what is gained, but at the cost of independent thinking/living. But if the state is doing poor economically, this could be one of the only ways (if not the only way) to live and survive. Unavoidable Middle East allegories here.

In all honesty though, it might not be too bad if the golden rule is the main one followed.

Page 445:

“No more terrible disaster could befall your people than for them to fall into the hands of a Hero,” his father said.

The fear here being that uniting behind a hero rather than behind an idea/religion could cause chaos and for the people to lose faith, because a hero is mortal, and imperfect, and will inevitably make a mistake and/or die, and thus shatter the image followers have of him being a hero, because their expectations will inevitably become too high.

Page 447:

Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error.

Chaos theory!

 

After the Twitch Stream

I’ll get to this when I can actually get access to the video.

Update:

Continued in part 8.

Dune Club notes part 5

Continuing from part 4 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19.


Source

Pages 263-324

Notes before the Twitch Stream

Page 263:

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

Page 295

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.

Page 306-7

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?

Page 314:

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:

Page 308

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!

Page 311:

“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.

Update

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.

Continues in part 6.