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.
“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.
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.
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.”
[…] 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.
“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.
“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.
[…] 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).
“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.
“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.
[…] 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.
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
[…] 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.
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?
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!
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
After the Twitch Stream
I’ll get to this when I can actually get access to the video.
Not much I’m going to write about for this session, so I’m just going to focus on a few philosophical lines and what they mean to me.
My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality. “Something cannot emerge from nothing,” he said. This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable “the truth” can be.
Bing definition for morality:
Morality: a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society; principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
Truth and morality. How unstable the truth can be. I believe this all comes down to what one believes the truth to be, and if they can handle it. For instance, religion. Most, if not all, religions are based primarily on faith rather than fact, though the amount of fact each religion contains varies. Religions preach what principles one should hold, what matter of conduct they should exert. Yet the truth of the religion is unstable because it is uncertain.
But religion aside, many carry on their lives with their own beliefs, their own way of seeing the world. But what if they discover something that can shatter their perceptions? What if they discover they have been living a lie? Some are unable to handle that, and forcefully reject truth in order to continue living with what they are familiar with. Others may live without ever learning that they live a lie.
And then there’s propaganda. Of course, not all propaganda is a lie. But we have seen instances where it very much is. Like in the news, their opinion pieces, and what facts they leave out when reporting on a story. Some news organizations have no respect for the truth. It means less than the narrative they wish to push for the sake of power. They can twist the truth, which does anything but respect it.
Lies exist for the sake of power and comfort. The truth exists regardless of whether or not it brings power and/or comfort. Some don’t see a benefit to the truth if it brings neither power nor comfort. And that is what can truly test how one values the truth, how one perceives morality. Is it ever ok to lie? If so, when should one lie as opposed to not lie?
Going into spoilers here for the film Dunkirk, there is a scene where a shellshocked soldier accidentally fatally injures a boy, but doesn’t know how badly he has injured him. He is already under an incredible amount of stress, on the brink of losing what sanity remains. So the boy’s friend lies, telling the soldier the boy is alright, that he is fine, that he will recover. It should be noted that the quote states “respect for the truth,” not necessarily always telling the truth. One can lie while still being respectful towards the truth. Treating the truth with respect means handling it with care. The truth must be used with care. But in so treating it with care, that also means lies shouldn’t be used carelessly either. But there are also times where, even if it hurts, someone must face the truth for a better long-term future, for an eventual improvement in life.
“Something cannot emerge from nothing.” Guess that means there cannot be truth and lies without morality.
He tells us that a single obscure decision of prophecy, perhaps the choice of one word over another, could change the entire aspect of the future. He tells us “The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.” And always, he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning, “That path leads ever down into stagnation.”
The limits of Paul’s power. The limits of seeing into the future. The care one must take when making decisions. Once a decision is made, prophet or not, there’s no going back to change it. That limits certain paths. Wisdom and knowledge can help with making the best decisions.
And he realized with an abrupt sense of shock that he had been giving more and more reliance to prescient memory and it had weakened him for this particular emergency.
“If you rely only on your eyes, your other senses weaken.” It was a Bene Gesserit axiom.
This is my favorite part of the entire reading session. The dangers of relying on only one sense. This can be extended beyond just the human senses. There are technologies we shouldn’t be entirely reliant on either. Cars. The Internet. Nooks. Cell phones. One news source. While they can be useful, there is a danger to only using one.
For instance, the Internet. Sure, it’s a great and powerful tool that can be used for communication, entertainment, and research. But what if something would happen that prevents you from using it for a while, such as a blackout, issues with the service provider, or God forbid some law that gets passed that limits how it can be used? If it’s the only thing used for research, you would be helpless. That is why there should be libraries, and physical copies of books. At the same time, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to use other means of accessing knowledge besides just the library and physical books. Variety doesn’t hurt. And on top of that, you could discover things unexpectedly with variety that you normally wouldn’t get using only one source (yes, this includes the Internet; as vast as it is, it doesn’t contain everything).
But back to human capabilities independent of technology, one could be very smart, very intelligent, very wise, and use their wits constantly to get themselves out of trouble and to help others. But what if they get put into a situation where that’s not enough? Where they need physical strength too in order to get out of (or survive) a situation? At that point, if they haven’t been working out, they may regret never doing so and being helpless before a physical force.
Exercise all senses, all potential, and you will have other options should one fail.
After the Twitch Stream
Fuck it, no youtube video. Just go to the Twitch.tv link if you want to see it.
Some interesting stuff mentioned on fate and karma. Bits of what she discusses (start at the 20 minute mark, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain of getting through the lag and bugs with the stream) go over my head, even if I’ve heard some of it before in my philosophy class. It’s stuff to ponder.
Free will is about becoming more aware. Aware of things you do subconsciously. Aware of things happening in the world around you. You cannot be free without awareness (ala The Matrix).
Sexism. “There’s no such thing as sexism unless you give them that power.” If some guy makes some joke at you, brush it off, don’t get upset, otherwise they will gain power over you. There is sexism, but you can let people talk shit to you and believe them, or you can let it roll off your back. Men don’t give women their power, a woman gives herself her own power.
When she was young, Comic Book Girl 19 was a bit authoritarian. When on the subject of God, she’s like, “Why should he be a man? What makes you think he’s not a woman?” You know, I bet somewhere in the world someone is asking, “Why should he be a man or a woman? Why can’t he be a tranny?”
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.
Whew, lot of pages to cover for this section, so I’ll be a bit more selective. Anyway, it’s at this point in the readings where I started to notice the sort of analogies Frank Herbert has been using for various, um, things. Mainly in regards to describing things as insects. For instance, the poison snooper:
The thing’s sensor arms hung limply over the table, reminding Paul of some weird insect newly dead.
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