Dune notes

Observations on Frank Herbert’s Dune series—the notes are probably overstated, the Butlerian Jihad was not a robot uprising seeking to exterminate humanity, and precognition/prescience in the Dune universe appears to work backwards allowing for retro-causality and stable time-loops as exemplified by Leto II’s Golden Path creating Paul Atreides and the events of Dune.
criticism, transhumanism, SF
2010-10-182018-06-08 notes certainty: possible importance: 1

Notes for Dune 7

The Terrible Duo

http://www.a­ma­zon.­com/ex­ec/o­bidos/t­g/fea­ture/-/539275/re­f%3­Damb%5Fright-1%5F119563%5F3/104-2776689-2093529 http://tinyurl.­com/ay68n

Ama­zon.­com: “Did Frank Her­bert leave any notes or an out­line that you’ve used to write the pre­quels?”

Brian Her­bert: “Years after my fa­ther passed away we got a call from the at­tor­ney who han­dled his es­tate, say­ing that they’d found two safe-de­posit keys. We were think­ing maybe there were some jew­els in there or some­thing. But it turned out that there’s noth­ing of value in there… but the notes for Dune 7.” [laughs]

K.J. An­der­son: “Then Brian was clean­ing out his garage to make an office space and he found all these boxes that had ‘Dune Notes’ on the side. And we used a lot of them for our House books.”

Brian Her­bert: “Dad al­ways called my mother a ‘white witch’. Then, after Kevin and I met, I got the call about the safe-de­posit box­es. Then I found the notes. I felt that my mom was mak­ing sure Kevin and I got along and was watch­ing over me.”

…K.J. An­der­son: “There was a lot of re­ac­tion. ‘How can you do this?’ There was a fan group on the In­ter­net that de­cided we should­n’t do this. There were 60 of them on Ama­zon and they put 60 one-s­tar re­views up say­ing, ‘We don’t even have to read them.’ I was the Dummy of Dune and Brian was the An­ti-Christ.”

…A­ma­zon.­com: “Would Frank Her­bert have en­joyed the pre­quels?”

Brian Her­bert: “It’s not as good as Frank Her­bert writ­ing the sto­ry, but it’s as good as any­one can do right now. We’re not go­ing to milk this. We’re not go­ing to carry on too far. We still feel the great pas­sion, the great en­ergy for the sto­ry.”


Look here: http://www.dunenovels.com/FAQ.html

“The Leto/­Jes­sica meet­ing scene in HOUSE HARKONNEN was ac­tu­ally writ­ten by Frank Her­bert him­self and found in his notes. The events shown in HOUSE HARKONNEN are con­sis­tent with the orig­i­nal notes.”


Dune be­gan with a con­cept whose mostly un­fleshed im­ages took shape across about six years of re­search and one and a half years of writ­ing. The story was all in my head un­til it ap­peared on pa­per as I typed it out.

So no notes? On the other hand, ar­guably the pro­to­types and drafts for Dune, as seen in things like The Road to Dune an­thol­o­gy, are ‘notes’.

John… we’ve ar­gued about this be­fore: just be­cause Her­bert did not keep notes when he was de­vel­op­ing the first nov­el, Dune, does not mean that he did­n’t keep notes for the later ones and after Ch:D. He was get­ting on in years at that point, and per­haps in his col­lab­o­ra­tions he picked up the habit of keep­ing notes.

John- I never said that there might ex­ist notes for the pre­quels- if FH had left notes, the core ideas and plot for them would have been a hell of a lot bet­ter than they are. But i still think there is a good chance of notes for Dune 7, since that end­ing might not have sat­is­fied Her­bert. Be­sides, Dune 7 would fin­ish out a sec­ond tril­o­gy, and trilo­gies usu­ally re­quire notes.

fur­ther ev­i­dence against notes is the many ap­par­ent in­con­sis­ten­cies. Why on earth are the se­quels Hunters of Dune and Sand­worms of Dune? Dune is toast! Charred to dust! Not even ash­es! And our only fa­mil­iar char­ac­ters are un­counted uni­verses away from what was Ar­rak­is! Stinks of crass com­mer­cial­ism to me.

You’re as­sum­ing he did [in­tend Om­nius in Dune 7]. Given that CH:D says that Daniel & Marty were su­per face dancers, but BH/KJA have in­stead made Daniel & Marty Om­nius and Eras­mus in­stead. This seems, to me, to cast some doubt on whether or not Om­nius and co. were ever part of FH’s vi­sion as it strikes me as a bla­tant & ir­rec­on­cil­able con­tra­dic­tion. If you drop your as­sump­tion, the an­swer is easy: the fa­nat­i­cal ma­chine en­emy is a hoary shop­worn sci-fi cliche which comes nat­u­ral­ly, in the same way rain comes from the sky. There’s a koan I read once in :

[Once Ummon asked
a lesser light//
Are you a gardener>//
//Yes// it replied\\
//Why have turnips no roots>\\
Ummon asked the gardener\
who could not reply\\
//Because\\ said Ummon//
rainwater is plentiful]

Butlerian Jihad

I had pro­posed to FH that he and I col­lab­o­rate on a pre­quel to the Dune saga called “Pre­quel to Dune: the But­ler­ian Je­had” or some sim­i­lar ti­tle. FH and I had dis­cussed writ­ing it to­gether and he agreed with my gen­eral plot out­line, com­pleted first chap­ter, and so on but his un­timely death pre­vented us from con­tin­u­ing. He had been liv­ing in the LA area at the time and we often dis­cussed it by phone, but I have no writ­ten notes from him about it, un­for­tu­nate­ly. The pre­quel would have fol­lowed in gen­eral terms the story as out­lined in the DE - sketched in my notes - which I still have - and writ­ten in fi­nal pub­lished form by one of my col­leagues at Cal State.

* Willis McNelly

What we have paused to dis­cuss right now is prob­a­bly the sin­gle most im­por­tant bar­rier to the wide­spread use­ful de­vel­op­ment of in­di­vid­ual com­put­ers. It in­volves a lot of peo­ple blath­er­ing about their “com­puter in­tel­li­gence.” Ac­cord­ing to this scare sto­ry, “com­puter in­tel­li­gence will win out some­day over hu­man in­tel­li­gence and then we’re all go­ing to be in deep trou­ble. That makes good sci­ence fic­tion dra­ma, but it ain’t gonna hap­pen.”

Frank Herbert - _Without Me You're Nothing_. P. 33

We defi­nitely do not want to call them [com­put­ers] elec­tronic brains That is the most mis­lead­ing name to come along.

Frank Herbert - _Without Me You're Nothing_. P. 44

We are say­ing that it is not our tools that are at fault, it’s how we use those tools and the be­liefs we in­vest in them.

Frank Herbert - _Without Me You're Nothing_. P. 73

We are ques­tion­ing more than the phi­los­o­phy be­hind our de­pen­dence upon lim­ited and lim­it­ing sys­tems. We ques­tion the power struc­tures that have grown up around such sys­tems.

Frank Herbert - _Without Me You're Nothing_. P. 73

“Scy­tale glanced at the old Rev­erend Moth­er, see­ing the an­cient hates which col­ored her re­spons­es. From the days of the But­ler­ian Ji­had when”think­ing ma­chi­nes" had been wiped from most of the uni­verse, com­put­ers had in­spired dis­trust. Old emo­tions col­ored the hu­man com­puter as well."

“This was a hu­man com­put­er, mind and ner­vous sys­tem fit­ted to the tasks rel­e­gated long ago to hated me­chan­i­cal de­vices”

“His gods were Rou­tine and Records. He was served by men­tats and prodi­gious fil­ing sys­tems. Ex­pe­di­ency was the first word in his cat­e­chism, al­though he gave proper lip-ser­vice to the pre­cepts of the But­le­ri­ans. Ma­chines could not be fash­ioned in the im­age of a man’s mind, he said, but he be­trayed by every ac­tion that he pre­ferred ma­chines to men, sta­tis­tics to in­di­vid­u­als, the far­away gen­eral view to the in­ti­mate per­sonal touch re­quir­ing imag­i­na­tion and ini­tia­tive.”

The Rev­erend Mother closed her eyes to hide his face. Damna­tion! To cast the ge­netic dice in such a way! Loathing boiled in her breast. The teach­ing of the Bene Gesser­it, the lessons of the But­ler­ian Ji­had – all pro­scribed such an act. One did not de­mean the high­est as­pi­ra­tions of hu­mankind. No ma­chine could func­tion in the way of a hu­man mind. No word or deed could im­ply that men might be bred on the level of an­i­mals.

(Note that the “act”, go­ing against the “lessons of the But­ler­ian Ji­had” is “de­mean[ing] the high­est as­pi­ra­tions of hu­mankind”. The les­son of the Ji­had was that ‘man should not be de­meaned’, not that ‘man should not get killed by a rogue AI’.)

The But­ler­ian Ji­had tried to rid our uni­verse of ma­chines which sim­u­late the mind of man.

Not ma­chines which killed men, which would be the more rel­e­vant point if that was what they did.

One mo­ment he felt him­self set­ting forth on the But­ler­ian Ji­had, ea­ger to de­stroy any ma­chine which sim­u­lated hu­man aware­ness. That had to be the past – over and done with. Yet his senses hur­tled through the ex­pe­ri­ence, ab­sorb­ing the most minute de­tails. He heard a min­is­ter-com­pan­ion speak­ing from a pul­pit: “We must negate the ma­chi­nes-that-think. Hu­mans must set their own guide­lines. This is not some­thing ma­chines can do. Rea­son­ing de­pends upon pro­gram­ming, not on hard­ware, and we are the ul­ti­mate pro­gram!” He heard the voice clear­ly, knew his sur­round­ings – a vast wooden hall with dark win­dows. Light came from sput­ter­ing flames. And his min­is­ter-com­pan­ion said: “Our Ji­had is a ‘dump pro­gram.’ We dump the things which de­stroy us as hu­mans!”

(Leto II re­mem­ber­ing ge­net­i­cal­ly. This is a funny kind of speech to be giv­ing if the ma­chines are try­ing to erad­i­cate you - why talk about how they “negate us as hu­mans”? That we must “set our own guide­lines”? Did any­one in a zom­bie movie ever rally the sur­vivors say­ing “zom­bies can­not set our guide­lines for us”? Would you, act­ing in self­-de­fence against an as­sailant shout for help be­cause you are be­ing “de­stroyed as hu­man”?)

Once men turned their think­ing over to ma­chines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only per­mit­ted other men with ma­chines to en­slave them.

(“Turned their think­ing over” - mankind was not co­erced, put in slave pens or rou­tinely erad­i­cat­ed. They turned their think­ing over. Them­selves.)

Then came the But­ler­ian Ji­had – two gen­er­a­tions of chaos. The god of ma­chine-logic was over­thrown among the masses and a new con­cept was raised: “Man may not be re­placed.”

(“The god of ma­chine logic”, not “the hege­mony of the evil Darth Griev­ous, Skynet, Om­nius”. Even the ban on “re­plac­ing mankind” would make no sense if the prob­lem was a mur­der­ous AI - a ban on au­tonomous AIs would be more than suffi­cient to deal with that prob­lem.)

JIHAD, BUTLERIAN: (see also Great Re­volt) – the cru­sade against com­put­ers, think­ing ma­chi­nes, and con­scious ro­bots be­gun in 201 B.G. and con­cluded in 108 B.G. Its chief com­mand­ment re­mains in the O.C. Bible as “Thou shalt not make a ma­chine in the like­ness of a hu­man mind.”

Its pos­ses­sion was the shib­bo­leth of this age, but it car­ried also the taint of old im­moral­i­ty. On­ce, they’d been guided by an ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, com­puter brains. The But­ler­ian Ji­had had ended that, but it had­n’t ended the aura of aris­to­cratic vice which en­closed such things.

(About a fenc­ing ma­chine - which is the clos­est thing to a ro­bot in the Dune uni­verse. Note that hu­man­ity was “guided”, not “led into slave-pens for ex­ter­mi­na­tion”. With the dan­ger on “go­ing God­win” on this one, if this hap­pened in the same uni­verse as Om­nius, it would be like a his­to­rian say­ing the Nazis “gov­erned” the Jews dur­ing the Third Re­ich. A slight un­der­state­ment, in other words)

The hu­man-com­puter re­placed the me­chan­i­cal de­vices de­stroyed by the But­ler­ian Ji­had. Thou shalt not make a ma­chine in the like­ness of a hu­man mind! But Alia longed now for a com­pli­ant ma­chine. They could not have suffered from Ida­ho’s lim­i­ta­tions. You could never dis­trust a ma­chine.

Trust­ing the ma­chine was never the prob­lem. Note that Alia has Other Mem­ory and hence, rather spe­cific knowl­edge of the Ji­had. She de­sires a ‘com­pli­ant’ ma­chine to give her ad­vice and gen­er­ally do the work of Dun­can Ida­ho, a men­tat. This would be an in­tel­li­gent com­put­er, and com­pletely non-sen­si­cal if she re­mem­bers how one such ma­chine en­slaved and al­most killed all of hu­man­i­ty.

  1. Alia has mem­o­ries from the time of the Ji­had and knows de­tails re­gard­ing Om­nius et al.
  2. She is wish­ing for a ma­chine to give her ad­vice on the level of a men­tat’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties.
  3. She char­ac­terises such a ma­chine as ‘com­pli­ant’ and trust­wor­thy.
  4. A ma­chine with ca­pa­bil­i­ties re. po­lit­i­cal ad­vice on the level of, or be­yond, a men­tat is a pow­er­ful ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.
  5. Om­nius was a pow­er­ful ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.
  6. Om­nius en­slaved and tried to kill mankind.
  7. Om­nius was an AI which was not com­pli­ant or trust­wor­thy, to a cat­a­strophic de­gree (from 5 and 6).
  8. Alia knows that a pow­er­ful AI can be un­trust­wor­thy and non-‘com­pli­ant’ the level of geno­cide or hu­man ex­tinc­tion (from 1 and 7).
  9. Alia be­lieves a pow­er­ful AI would be trust­wor­thy and ‘com­pli­ant’ (from 3 and 4).
  10. Alia both be­lieves, and does not be­lieve, that a pow­er­ful ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is ‘com­pli­ant’ and trust­wor­thy (from 8 and 9) - Quod Est Ab­sur­dum.

They [Ix­i­ans] made their de­vices in the im­age of the mind the very thing which had ig­nited the Ji­had’s de­struc­tion and slaugh­ter.

(There is no way this sen­tence makes sense if the be­gin­ning (“They made their de­vices in the im­age of the mind”) is not the cause for the later part, ie. the Ji­had. So the Ji­had was started be­cause of this ‘im­age of the mind’, ei­ther its cre­ation of the thing it­self. The ab­hor­rence of the thing, not its ab­hor­rent ac­tion­s.)

“The tar­get of the Ji­had was a ma­chine-at­ti­tude as much as the ma­chi­nes,” Leto said. “Hu­mans had set those ma­chines to usurp our sense of beau­ty, our nec­es­sary self­dom out of which we make liv­ing judg­ments. Nat­u­ral­ly, the ma­chines were de­stroyed.”

(Leto II again, telling us the rea­son be­hind the Ji­had - our loss of self­-de­ter­mi­na­tion. No men­tion of slaugh­ter­ing in­no­cent hu­mans, one notes…)

Odrade was sud­denly aware she had touched on the force that had pow­ered the But­ler­ian Ji­had - mob mo­ti­va­tion.

Peo­ple do not need mo­ti­va­tion for sur­vival, they need it to start a bloody, ide­o­log­i­cal re­volt. The bat­tle against Om­nius was not “pow­ered” by mob mo­ti­va­tion, it was done out of a need for sur­vival.

“Once men turned their think­ing over to ma­chines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only per­mit­ted other men with ma­chines to en­slave them.”

Then came the But­ler­ian Ji­had – two gen­er­a­tions of chaos. The god of ma­chine-logic was over­thrown among the masses and a new con­cept was raised: “Man may not be re­placed.”

JIHAD, BUTLERIAN: (see also Great Re­volt) – the cru­sade against com­put­ers, think­ing ma­chi­nes, and con­scious ro­bots be­gun in 201 B.G. and con­cluded in 108 B.G. Its chief com­mand­ment re­mains in the O.C. Bible as “Thou shalt not make a ma­chine in the like­ness of a hu­man mind.”

(About a fenc­ing ma­chine - which is the clos­est thing to a ro­bot in the Dune uni­verse).

Its pos­ses­sion was the shib­bo­leth of this age, but it car­ried also the taint of old im­moral­i­ty. On­ce, they’d been guided by an ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, com­puter brains. The But­ler­ian Ji­had had ended that, but it had­n’t ended the aura of aris­to­cratic vice which en­closed such things.

The hu­man-com­puter re­placed the me­chan­i­cal de­vices de­stroyed by the But­ler­ian Ji­had. Thou shalt not make a ma­chine in the like­ness of a hu­man mind! But Alia longed now for a com­pli­ant ma­chine. They could not have suffered from Ida­ho’s lim­i­ta­tions. You could never dis­trust a ma­chine.

(So trust­ing the ma­chine was never the prob­lem).

One mo­ment he felt him­self set­ting forth on the But­ler­ian Ji­had, ea­ger to de­stroy any ma­chine which sim­u­lated hu­man aware­ness. That had to be the past – over and done with. Yet his senses hur­tled through the ex­pe­ri­ence, ab­sorb­ing the most minute de­tails. He heard a min­is­ter-com­pan­ion speak­ing from a pul­pit: “We must negate the ma­chi­nes-that-think. Hu­mans must set their own guide­lines. This is not some­thing ma­chines can do. Rea­son­ing de­pends upon pro­gram­ming, not on hard­ware, and we are the ul­ti­mate pro­gram!”

“The tar­get of the Ji­had was a ma­chine-at­ti­tude as much as the ma­chi­nes,” Leto said. “Hu­mans had set those ma­chines to usurp our sense of beau­ty, our nec­es­sary self­dom out of which we make liv­ing judg­ments. Nat­u­ral­ly, the ma­chines were de­stroyed.”

(Leto II again).

Odrade was sud­denly aware she had touched on the force that had pow­ered the But­ler­ian Ji­had - mob mo­ti­va­tion.

(Peo­ple do not need mo­ti­va­tion for sur­vival, they need it to start a bloody, ide­o­log­i­cal re­volt).

The Golden Path

“Is there some fron­tier?” Idaho asked. “Is there some fron­tier where I could go and never again be a part of this?” “If there is to be any fron­tier, you must help me cre­ate it,” Leto said. “There is now no place to go where oth­ers of us can­not fol­low and find you.” “Then you won’t let me go.” “Go if you wish. Oth­ers of you have tried it. I tell you there is no fron­tier, no place to hide. Right now, as it has been for a long, long time, hu­mankind is like a sin­gle-celled crea­ture, bound to­gether by a dan­ger­ous glue.” “No new plan­ets? No strange.. .” “Oh, we grow, but we do not sep­a­rate.”"

"‘I can­not lie to you any more than I could lie to my­self," Paul said. ’I know this. Every man should have such an au­di­tor. I will only ask one thing: is the Ty­phoon Strug­gle nec­es­sary?’

‘It’s that or hu­mans will be ex­tin­guished.’

Paul heard the truth in Leto’s words, spoke in a low voice which ac­knowl­edged the greater breadth of his son’s vi­sion. ‘I did not see that among the choic­es.’"

If Sion­a’s vi­sion was of the fu­ture, she would­n’t have been able to see the peo­ple, they’re mostly de­scended from her and would be in­vis­i­ble from pre­scients.

Her vi­sion was of a fu­ture, a fu­ture that would come to pass sooner or later with­out the Golden Path. As she is part of the Golden Path, then it makes sense that she would­n’t see her­self or any of her de­scen­dants in a non-Golden Path fu­ture.

“No an­ces­tral pres­ences would re­main in her con­scious­ness, but she would carry with her for­ever after­ward the clear sights and sounds and smells. The seek­ing ma­chines would be there, the smell of blood and en­trails, the cow­er­ing hu­mans in their bur­rows aware only that they could not es­cape… while all the time the me­chan­i­cal move­ment ap­proached, nearer and nearer and near­er… loud­er… loud­er! Every­where she searched, it would be the same. No es­cape any­where.”

Else­where in the book Leto thinks of the Ix­i­ans at­tempts to de­velop self­-guided hunter-seek­ers which could adapt. It seems ex­tremely clear that if it weren’t for the tools of Sion­a-in­vis­i­bil­i­ty, no-ness, and the Scat­ter­ing, Arafel would have come to pass in the form of qua­si­-Berserk­ers (Berserk­ers in the Fred Saber­ha­gen sense) hunt­ing down and killing all of hu­man­i­ty. It is not ‘pure in­ter­pre­ta­tion’.

Scattering over multiple universes

“No Ix­ian ma­chine can do what we, the de­scen­dants of Dun­can Idaho and Siona, have done. How many uni­verses have we pop­u­lat­ed? None can guess. No one per­son will ever know.”

“Think of the un­counted genes out there! Think of the po­ten­tial tal­ents float­ing free in uni­verses where they might be lost forever!”

Waff fought to con­ceal the tur­moil these words cre­at­ed. “In­fi­nite uni­vers­es, in­fi­nite time – any­thing may hap­pen,” he said.

He spoke sad­ly. The no-ships had, in­deed, seeded those other uni­verses with rot.

“There is time to com­plete our bar­gain. God alone in His in­fi­nite mercy has given us in­fi­nite uni­verses where any­thing may hap­pen.”

The Bene Gesserit’s goals

“The Great Re­volt took away a crutch,” she said. “It forced hu­man minds to de­vel­op. Schools were started to train hu­man tal­ents.”

“Bene Gesserit schools?”

She nod­ded. “We have two chief sur­vivors of those an­cient schools: the Bene Gesserit and the Spac­ing Guild. The Guild, so we think, em­pha­sizes al­most pure math­e­mat­ics. Bene Gesserit per­forms an­other func­tion.”

“Pol­i­tics,” he said.

“Kull wa­had!” the old woman said. She sent a hard glance at Jes­si­ca.

The BG are known from in­te­rior mono­logues as cyn­i­cal fash­ioners and ma­nip­u­la­tors of re­li­gion, who re­spect the power of re­li­gion, but are as far as I can tell ac­tu­ally athe­is­tic. Now, the prob­lem is, if that is so, why do they fol­low the norms of the But­ler­ian Ji­had, re­fus­ing to uti­lize sen­tient ma­chines and no­tably Tleilaxu tech­niques like con­trolled mu­ta­tion (their re­fusal is in DM), ex­cept at CH:D where cir­cum­stances forced Tleilaxu tech­niques on’em.

The BT are even more in­ter­est­ing. They are ab­sent in D, pre­sented as even more effec­tive BG in DM (no­tice how Scy­tale runs rings around every­one, and the ex­cerpts from Tleilaxu works are even more cyn­i­cal and ma­nip­u­la­tive than the BG, who at least do all their projects in the name of get­ting hu­man­ity to ‘grow up’.). But come the later books, they sud­denly ap­pear to be mil­i­tant fun­da­men­tals in the Shia tra­di­tion (for all Sunni is avowed). Very strange.

Yeah, but why? Both groups have no doubt long since no­ticed their taboos (I don’t think the BG could func­tion if they did­n’t re­al­ize what lim­its, ex­ter­nal and most es­pe­cially self­-im­posed they la­bor un­der.) and an­a­lyzed them­selves. The Tleilaxu defi­nitely shat­ter the re­stric­tion on do­ing all bi­o­log­i­cal tin­ker­ing through ‘nat­ural’ tech­niques, but they could do so much more with sen­tient ma­chi­nes, why don’t they?

Re­mem­ber DM when Scy­tale causally dropped the hat?

“Oh by the way, that KH, which has been the nearly sole goal of your sis­ter­hood for time im­memo­r­ial for sixty or what­ever gen­er­a­tions, that KH which end­lessly ob­sesses you and is ar­guably the most vi­tal force in our uni­verse, well, we whipped one up over the week­end with our un­stop­pable ge­netic tech­niques. Pretty in­ter­est­ing re­al­ly.”

I ask you, why would the Sis­ter­hood do things so in­effi­ciently when as far as I can tell, there is no rea­son other than ir­ra­tional rea­sons left over from the But­ler­ian Ji­had?

Their ori­gin sheds no light on their con­tin­ued ad­her­ence mil­len­nia lat­er.

And peo­ple shut­ter their minds. What good are re­ports? His­tory in a news ac­count? Pre­s­e­lected at an ed­i­to­r­ial con­fer­ence, di­gested and ex­creted by prej­u­dice? Ac­counts you need sel­dom come from those who make his­to­ry. Di­aries, mem­oirs and au­to­bi­ogra­phies are sub­jec­tive forms of spe­cial plead­ing. Archives are crammed with such sus­pect stuff.

Are these ac­counts not so very hu­man?

Scy­tale’s ob­ser­va­tions are an­other ex­am­ple of some­thing who is, to quote the Duke, “truly ed­u­cated”. The in­fer­ences and de­duc­tions pro­ceed on­wards, only slightly di­verted by mus­ings like

They re­minded him of great car­rion birds. There went an acolyte at last, car­ry­ing a child on her shoul­ders.

An echo in­ter­ests me: Scy­tale muses that it is all

Very mys­te­ri­ous. If only I had a link to Ship­sys­tems!

Ship­sys­tems is re­peated time an again in CH:D. How many of you have read the _Des­ti­na­tion: Void_s? Are you not re­minded of Ship?

The real story

Projections of Dune 7

  • http://www.i­writeiam.n­l/­Dune7.html
  • http://juleswelles­ley.blogspot.­com/2010/10/frank-her­bert-dune-7-re­con­struc­tion.html

My own analysis

Why is Paul forced into the Ji­had? Off-hand, I’m work­ing with two the­o­ries. One, his early pre­scient vi­sions on Cal­adan and the ex­act align­ment of forces and so­cial ten­sions forced him into it, and two, his son Leto reached back­wards into time and forced him to en­gage in the Ji­had, as that was the only way Paul would sur­vive, his first son would die, and Leto II would rule uni­verse and bring about the Golden Path. This lat­ter the­ory is sup­ported by the fail­ure of Paul’s oth­er­wise per­fect pre­scient vi­sion in DM, the cod­i­cil to Dune which says that users of power are al­ways con­trolled by greater pow­ers, and play­er­s/users are fre­quently ma­nip­u­lated or con­trolled for an­other pur­pose than the one they per­ceive, and that that is dou­bly so for pre­scient users. There are a few quotes that sup­port this as well, but I don’t have them handy.

I seem to re­mem­ber in Heretics of Dune and God Em­peror of Dune, when Leto II is on the path to be­com­ing the Worm, that he al­ludes to his Fa­ther Paul not hav­ing the strength to fol­low through with this path. I’ve al­ways found this in­ter­est­ing as it forced me to re-e­val­u­ate every­thing that Paul did. Per­haps Paul chose the Ji­had as he could not bear the thought of be­com­ing the Worm / God Em­per­or.

One of the sin­gle most in­ter­est­ing bits of the 6 nov­els is Ap­pen­dix III of Dune. On the sur­face, it seems sim­ply to point out that the Bene Gesserit ig­nored ob­vi­ous clues that a cat­a­clysm was com­ing. But if you read it care­ful­ly, it seems to say that the Bene Gesserit were made to ig­nore them and co­op­er­ate with Paul’s rise:

The Bene Gesserit pro­gram had as its tar­get the breed­ing of a per­son they la­beled “Kwisatz Hader­ach,” a term sig­ni­fy­ing “one who can be many places at once.” In sim­pler terms, what they sought was a hu­man with men­tal pow­ers per­mit­ting him to un­der­stand and use higher or­der di­men­sions.

They were breed­ing for a su­per-Men­tat, a hu­man com­puter with some of the pre­scient abil­i­ties found in Guild nav­i­ga­tors. … The Lady Jes­sica was or­dered to pro­duce an Atrei­des daugh­ter. The plan was to in­breed this daugh­ter with Fey­d-Rautha Harkon­nen, a nephew of the Baron Vladimir, with the high prob­a­bil­ity of a Kwisatz Hader­ach from that union. In­stead, for rea­sons she con­fesses have never been com­pletely clear to her, the con­cu­bine Lady Jes­sica de­fied her or­ders and bore a son.

This alone should have alerted the Bene Gesserit to the pos­si­bil­ity that a wild vari­able had en­tered their scheme. … 5. When the Ar­rakis Affair boiled up, the Spac­ing Guild made over­tures to the Bene Gesser­it. The Guild hinted that its nav­i­ga­tors, who use the spice drug of Ar­rakis to pro­duce the lim­ited pre­science nec­es­sary for guid­ing space­ships through the void, were “both­ered about the fu­ture” or saw “prob­lems on the hori­zon.” This could only mean they saw a nexus, a meet­ing place of count­less del­i­cate de­ci­sions, be­yond which the path was hid­den from the pre­scient eye. This was a clear in­di­ca­tion that some agency was in­ter­fer­ing with higher or­der di­men­sions!

(A few of the Bene Gesserit had long been aware that the Guild could not in­ter­fere di­rectly with the vi­tal spice source be­cause Guild nav­i­ga­tors al­ready were deal­ing in their own in­ept way with higher or­der di­men­sions, at least to the point where they rec­og­nized that the slight­est mis­step they made on Ar­rakis could be cat­a­stroph­ic. It was a known fact that Guild nav­i­ga­tors could pre­dict no way to take con­trol of the spice with­out pro­duc­ing just such a nexus. The ob­vi­ous con­clu­sion was that some­one of higher or­der pow­ers was tak­ing con­trol of the spice source, yet the Bene Gesserit missed this point en­tire­ly!) In the face of these facts, one is led to the in­escapable con­clu­sion that the in­effi­cient Bene Gesserit be­hav­ior in this affair was a prod­uct of an even higher plan of which they were com­pletely un­aware!

If you read this even more care­ful­ly, a thought may oc­cur to you. If we say that the ‘even higher plan’ was merely that caused by Paul’s very ear­li­est vi­sions on Cal­adan, then there are still some mys­ter­ies here. How could Paul in­flu­ence as a child his moth­er’s de­ci­sion to bear a son and not a daugh­ter? If the mas­ter plan was Paul’s, why was he forced into ex­ile and death? Paul tells us all through­out Dune and Dune Mes­siah that he is as trapped as any­one else.

Whose mas­ter plan was it? Whose vi­sion locked every­one into the Dun­ev­erse’s his­to­ry?

An­other quote for your pe­rusal from Dune Mes­siah:

With­out melange, Paul-Muad’dib could not proph­esy.

We know this mo­ment of supreme power con­tained fail­ure. There can be only one an­swer, that com­pletely ac­cu­rate and to­tal pre­dic­tion is lethal.

Other his­to­ries say Muad’dib was de­feated by ob­vi­ous plot­ters – the Guild, the Sis­ter­hood and the sci­en­tific amoral­ists of the Bene Tleilex with their Face-Dancer dis­guis­es. Other his­to­ries point out the spies in Muad’dib’s house­hold. They make much of the Dune Tarot which clouded Muad’dib’s pow­ers of prophe­cy. Some show how Muad’dib was made to ac­cept the ser­vices of a gho­la, the flesh brought back from the dead and trained to de­stroy him. But cer­tainly they must know this ghola was Dun­can Ida­ho, the Atrei­des lieu­tenant who per­ished sav­ing the life of the young Paul.

Yet, they de­lin­eate the Qizarate ca­bal guided by Ko­rba the Pan­e­gyrist. They take us step by step through Ko­r­ba’s plan to make a mar­tyr of Muad’dib and place the blame on Chani, the Fre­men con­cu­bine.

How can any of this ex­plain the facts as his­tory has re­vealed them? They can­not. Only through the lethal na­ture of prophecy can we un­der­stand the fail­ure of such enor­mous and far-see­ing pow­er.

Hope­ful­ly, other his­to­ri­ans will learn some­thing from this rev­e­la­tion.

-Analy­sis of His­to­ry: Muad’dib by Bronso of Ix

There’s an in­ter­est­ing lit­tle sub­-pro­ject I try to keep an eye on: I’m try­ing to fig­ure out how far back is Paul trapped? Is he trapped by pre­science even be­fore the book starts? Was his vi­sion of Chani ask­ing Paul to tell her about the wa­ters of his home­world a full pre­scient vi­sion, and in a twisted way di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the Atrei­des get­ting Ar­rakis with all that en­sues?

That’s one of the pos­si­bil­i­ties, but by no means sure. Here are some quotes from Dune Mes­siah:

Rav­en­ous hunger seized her [Chani] as she sat up. She fed on the food kept by the bed­side – spice­bread, a heavy cheese.

How much spice could be in a diet of spice­bread & cheese? And even Paul does­n’t know why the twins were awake:

Paul sagged against the wall in a spasm of dizzi­ness. He felt that he’d been up­ended and drained. His own life whipped past him. He saw his fa­ther. He was his fa­ther. And the grand­fa­ther, and the grand­fa­thers be­fore that. His aware­ness tum­bled through a mind-shat­ter­ing cor­ri­dor of his whole male line.

“How?” he asked silent­ly.

Faint word-shap­ings ap­peared, faded and were gone, as though the strain was too great. Paul wiped saliva from the cor­ner of his mouth. He re­mem­bered the awak­en­ing of Alia in the Lady Jes­si­ca’s womb. But there had been no Wa­ter of Life, no over­dose of melange this time . . . or had there? Had Chani’s hunger been for that? Or was this some­how the ge­netic prod­uct of his line, fore­seen by the Rev­erend Mother Gaius He­len Mo­hi­am?

On a side note, read­ing through DM, I find again hints of some­thing that per­plexes me: could pre­science work back­wards?

“There was no choice,” Paul said. “You un­der­stand that, Dun­can?”

“I un­der­stand.”

“There are some things no one can bear. I med­dled in all the pos­si­ble fu­tures I could cre­ate un­til, fi­nal­ly, they cre­ated me.”

But that re­mains a mys­tery to me.

I do not think there is any “ideal so­ci­ety”. R. A. Lafferty would be quick to point out that an ideal so­ci­ety is a “utopia”, and we all know the lit­eral mean­ing of More’s coin­ing. Con­sid­er- if there was a per­fect so­ci­ety, then why was it men­tioned baldly to us dur­ing the events of the Hon­ored Ma­tres that there were par­adises set­tled dur­ing the Scat­ter­ing, and that their in­hab­i­tants grew soft and men­tally died?

Thus the “old em­pire” is a con­stant en­tity in terms of its pop­u­lace, which brings in the oft-quoted phrase of the fi­nal two nov­els: “rot at the core spreads out­ward”.

Yes, it was quite de­lib­er­ately that way; none of the power groups wanted it to changes- they had too much to lose and not ap­par­ently any­thing to gain. Why else did the Guild cur­tail ex­plo­ration and col­o­niza­tion?

Stag­na­tion was a tool that Leto II used to in­spire the Scat­ter­ing, which ul­ti­mately lead to the sur­vival of the species be­yond the ever-stag­nant old em­pire. Thus we take as fact that the “ideal so­ci­ety” in Frank Her­bert’s Dune is one that has within it the seeds of its own prop­a­ga­tion, rather than, as Marx stat­ed, the “seeks of its own de­struc­tion”.

Why not both? Aside from purely Her­bert/­Gen­eral Se­man­tic meta­phys­i­cal as­ser­tions and bro­mides like “we all see only part of the truth”, we also have the con­sid­er­a­tion that both could well be true- haven’t we all seen flow­ers or mush­rooms which sort of ex­plode or shat­ter- de­stroy­ing them­selves but cast­ing adrift their seeds?

I’ve some­times won­dered whether the BT and BG were sup­posed to be a dyad like the Atrei­des and Harkon­nens; you could in­ter­pret the BG as “train­ing” the mind to the point where the body fol­lows its lead and be­comes awe­some, and the BT as “train­ing” (in a very loose sense!) the body to the point where the mind fol­lows its lead and be­comes awe­some. This is par­tially sup­ported by the fact that the BT and BG do some sim­i­lar things in differ­ent ways. Have you ever con­sid­ered se­r­ial gho­las to be a phys­i­cal method of a Rev­erend Moth­er’s mem­o­ries? Or the trained dwarf Bi­jaz to be mar­gin­ally equiv­a­lent to Fey­d-Rautha’s im­planted con­di­tion­ing? Re: HMs… the irony there is the cor­rup­tion of the Rev­erend Mother i.e.“Revered Mother” ~ “Hon­ored Ma­tre/­Mother”.

“…They were all caught up in the need of their race to re­new its scat­tered in­her­i­tance, to cross and min­gle and in­fuse their blood­lines in a great new pool­ing of genes. And the race knew only one sure way of this–the an­cient way, the tried and cer­tain way that rolled over every­thing in its path: ji­had.” (Berke­ley PB, movie cover edi­tion)

More in­ter­est­ing is who un­leashed the Dune Tarot to muddy the cur­rents of time, and most promi­nently the Em­per­or’s vi­sion?

I be­lieve it should be as­cribed to the BG. They would have pre­served the Tarot from our time, could have made use of it through­out the mil­len­nia (I doubt the Spac­ing Guild would see any use for it; they would be more at­tracted to I Ching div­ina­tions, IMO), and are known to adapt old pow­er­ful re­li­gious myths for more mod­ern con­sump­tion. So they have means, and they cer­tainly have mo­tive: they were part of the con­spir­a­cy, re­mem­ber.

The Empire

Hebert said sev­eral times, (in some­thing that is prac­ti­cally ax­iomatic to any in­fi­nite uni­verse) that any­thing that could hap­pen out ‘there’, where ‘there’ is the many Hub­ble-vol­umes/u­ni­verses that the fold­space dri­ve, and the no-ships van­ish to, will hap­pen.

The Golden Path does con­fuse it a lit­tle but it’s too neg­a­tive to read ma­chines as only harm­ful. Her­bert cer­tainly never be­lieved that, and was a fan. The ma­chines can be both harm­ful and use­less. Pre­scient ma­chines help cre­ate the Scat­ter­ing by break­ing the Guild Nav­i­ga­tor monopoly, but of course, also pose the risk of Arafel. What Her­bert op­poses is sta­sis and poverty and lack of growth, be­cause the uni­verse is con­stantly chang­ing. (‘Nat­ural dis­as­ters are, every­where, man-made.’)

‘In all of my uni­verse I have seen no law of na­ture, un­chang­ing and in­ex­orable. This uni­verse presents only chang­ing re­la­tion­ships which are some­times seen as laws by short­-lived aware­ness. These fleshly sen­so­ria which we call self are ephemera with­er­ing in the blaze of in­fin­i­ty, fleet­ingly aware of tem­po­rary con­di­tions which con­fine our ac­tiv­i­ties and change as our ac­tiv­i­ties change. If you must la­bel the ab­solute, use its proper name: “Tem­po­rary”.’

"The person who takes the banal and ordinary and illuminates it in

a new way can ter­ri­fy. We do not want our ideas changed. We feel threat­ened by such de­mands. ‘I al­ready know the im­por­tant things!’ we say. Then Changer comes and throws our old ideas away."

To the ex­tent that the ma­chines be­come a crutch and a re­place­ment for think­ing, they are in­deed an ex­is­ten­tial threat to hu­man­i­ty, but not be­cause of shoot­ing laser eyes.

It is not sur­pris­ing then that an Em­pire would rise there. Many things would; I have heard it said that the Guild re­stricted its ex­plo­rations be­cause it was afraid of what re­turnees from long for­got­ten Scat­ter­ings might do to it.

But one of the many Em­pires would have dis­cov­ered new us­es, new ex­ten­sions to the Holtz­man equa­tions. Again, this is not sur­pris­ing: we should ex­pect at least one tran­scen­dent ge­nius among the Scat­ter­ers. He would of course have ac­cess to the Holtz­mann equa­tions, since he and his fore­bears would have been trans­ported to their home­world by a Holtz­mann dri­ve. This, in­ci­den­tal­ly, is how those two Face Dancers could see and try to trap Dun­can whilst he was in a cloaked no-ship.

With an abil­ity to nul­lify the great­est ad­van­tage of a de­fend­ing force, the in­vis­i­bil­ity of no-globes, this Em­pire would have waxed great­ly, be­com­ing ex­tra­or­di­nar­ily pow­er­ful. And that is only if that is the only ex­ten­sion to the Holtz­mann equa­tions our lone ge­nius man­aged to pro­duce. There are two rea­sons to be­lieve he greatly im­proved the effi­ciency of cloak­ing: First, in CH:D (I think) one of the sis­ters re­veals that they had con­sid­ered cloak­ing the en­tire plan­et- but the en­ergy re­quire­ments made it in­fea­si­ble. Stealth­ing works on vol­ume not sur­face area, and we all know how vol­ume varies with ra­dius, no? It would re­quire the out­put of a g-s­tar to cloak a plan­et. Which leads to the sec­ond tid­bit: Dun­can re­cur­rently dream­s/prime-sums an in­vis­i­ble play­er, an en­tire planet cloaked and mov­ing with­out be­ing moved. It is rea­son­able to sup­pose that this pro­tected that Em­pire was pro­tected from the Hon­ored Ma­tres that way. It in fact seems a dual hall­mark of the in­vis­i­ble em­pire and the HMs: The HMs are blind to what they can­not im­me­di­ately see, and the in­vis­i­ble em­pire seems to work through ex­ploit­ing that weak­ness. Al­so, we are re­peat­edly given to un­der­stand that they are com­posed at least partly of su­per-Face Dancers, whether through the in­ter­nal thoughts of the cou­ple at the end, or through Waff omi­nously men­tion­ing that their ul­ti­mate goal was a Face Dancer who was bet­ter than even a t-probe, but could­n’t be de­feated as eas­ily as a T-probe with shere. This ties in per­fectly with the cou­ple, who are part of the Em­pire.

Some clos­ing thoughts: we know that the HMs are not the fi­nal word from the Scat­ter­ing. Some­one de­vel­oped the Fu­tars, things one would ex­pect of Bene Tleilaxu. One more piece of ev­i­dence in fa­vor of the Em­pire be­ing com­prised a lit­tle of Face Dancers. Sim­i­larly the HMs are re­luc­tant to use their se­cret death weapons (an­other use of Holtz­mann? Warp­space ma­nip­u­lated mat­ter and time, shields even more di­rectly so. A sub­tle dis­tor­tion of space could kill a hu­man in many ways.), say­ing that they had been de­pleted in bat­tles against their other foe.

On Gammu Prime, we are given a brief glimpse of in­ter­stel­lar fi­nance and pow­er, swirling through the com­mon nexus of the old Em­pire. Not all bankers there were HMs. In­deed, it seems that they were in the mi­nor­i­ty. Be­sides the in­vis­i­ble em­pire, who else was ma­neu­ver­ing there? It is un­clear.

Can you imag­ine a Face Dancer, with the skills of hun­dreds of BG, the knowl­edge of the BT, abil­i­ties of the HM, new and unimag­ined Holtz­mann tools and weapons, Men­tat abil­i­ties, a scat­ter­ing of pre­science etc? Would­n’t that be the pin­na­cle of hu­man evo­lu­tion, of adapt­abil­ity and sur­viv­abil­i­ty? Where be­yond that in an in­fi­nite uni­verse could FH go? What bet­ter pot of gold at the end of the Golden Path could Leto have caused? I cer­tainly can’t think of a bet­ter.

What I found in­ter­est­ing in this chap­ter is not so much the Ma­tres, al­though the cyn­i­cism is al­ways in­ter­est­ing and I can­not help but be chilled by their meth­ods of re­tain­ing power and their teach­ings to the ‘scum’ - I in­evitably think of peo­ple like Noam Chom­sky, es­pe­cially given what went be­fore: what’s re­ally in­ter­ested me is Teg’s analy­sis of the bank­ing shows that much more than seems is go­ing on. There are vast flows of cap­i­tal, re­la­tions be­tween mighty pow­ers and in­ter­ests greater even than CHOAM, which in the first tril­ogy was the sole ob­ject of in­ter­est of the Em­peror and all the houses - CHOAM was not seen as an au­tonomous power in its own right, akin to the Guild, but as the prize; re­mem­ber the Harkon­nens sought pri­mar­ily a per­ma­nent seat of CHOAM’s board, and it was CHOAM shares which de­ter­mined the Em­per­or’s right to rule - so mighty even that they ap­par­ently ig­nore the con­flict be­tween BG and HM, seek­ing the Old Em­pire only as a mu­tu­ally known and agree­able meet­ing spot.

A good point. …..

“You de­lib­er­ately let them get away, Daniel!”

The old woman rubbed her hands down the stained front of her gar­den apron. It was a sum­mer morn­ing around her, flow­ers bloom­ing, birds call­ing from nearby trees. There was a misty look to the sky, a yel­low ra­di­ance near the hori­zon.

“Now, Mar­ty, it was not de­lib­er­ate,” Daniel said. He took off his porkpie hat and rubbed the bushy stub­ble of gray hair be­fore re­plac­ing the hat. “He sur­prised me. I knew he saw us but I did­n’t sus­pect he saw the net.”

“And I had such a nice planet picked out for them,” Marty said. “One of the best. A real test of their abil­i­ties.”


Ac­tu­al­ly, re-read­ing it, I see an in­ter­est­ing line I never no­ticed be­fore:


“That Mas­ter is go­ing to have trou­ble if he tries to mess with that big one,” Daniel said, snip­ping off a ground shoot from the root stock of his ros­es. “My, this is a pretty one.”

“Men­tats, too!” Marty called. “I’d have told them. Dime a dozen, they are.”

“Dimes? I don’t think they’d have un­der­stood that, Mar­ty. The Rev­erend Moth­ers, yes, but not that big Men­tat. He did­n’t thin out that far back.”


I don’t un­der­stand what the use of ‘thin’ here means. It seems to some­how re­fer to com­pos­ite iden­ti­ties (one iden­tity be­ing thick, and thin­ning out be­ing in­cor­po­rat­ing mul­ti­ple iden­ti­ties into one, like BG Moth­ers do?).

“Zen­sun­ni. Very an­cient tech­nique. The Sis­ters use it to rid you of trauma con­nec­tions. Words that ig­nite un­con­scious re­spons­es.”

Fear re­turned.

“Murbel­la, why are you trem­bling?”

“Hon­ored Ma­tre teach­ers warned us ter­ri­ble things would hap­pen if we fell into Zen­sunni hands.”

“Bull­crap! I went through the same thing as a Men­tat.”

Re­al­iz­ing the flaws in one’s ide­ol­ogy can be a ter­ri­ble thing. The Hon­ored Ma­tres often spoke the truth, from a cer­tain point of view.

He re­vealed an odd mood when she took him into the ob­ser­va­tion room where they would mon­i­tor Sheeana and the child.

Worry about Murbel­la? Or about what they would presently see?

Odrade fails, in a sense. She has no sense of the un­moved piece, but only of the prox­i­mate player (the HM­s).

“You only men­tioned Fu­tars. Who are these Han­dlers? And what is this about a se­cret weapon?”

“I re­served men­tion of them. They ap­pear to be hu­man within vari­ables noted from the Scat­ter­ing: three men and a woman. As to the weapon, they would not say more.”

“Ap­pear to be hu­man?”

“There you have it, Mother Su­pe­ri­or. I had the odd first im­pres­sion they were Face Dancers. None of the cri­te­ria ap­plied. Pheromones neg­a­tive. Ges­tures, ex­pres­sions – every­thing neg­a­tive.”

“Just that first im­pres­sion?”

“I can­not ex­plain it.”

  • pa­per idea: “True Vi­sions and Other Dan­gers: the es­o­teric and ex­o­teric tales of Frank Her­bert”

sum­ma­ry: In Her­bert’s Dune se­ries, ‘for­ward pre­science’ is often de­tected and dis­cussed in crit­i­cal analy­sis. But short shrift has been given to the sub­tle in­di­ca­tions of ‘back­wards pre­science’, vari­ants of the well-known de­vice of self­-ful­fill­ing prophe­cy, ex­cept in this case, the prophecy causes the events be­fore it to hap­pen. Ex­am­ple: Muad’Dib ap­par­ently caused the pre­science that led him to be­come em­peror of the known uni­verse, de­spite his at­tempts to avoid it. And his own prophe­cies ap­par­ently led to his fall. But! His vi­sion in Dune Mes­siah should have de­ter­mined every­thing, up to and defi­nitely in­clud­ing the num­ber and gen­der of his off­spring by Chani. But he was wrong: Leto II was born, and he should not have been.

How could he have been born? His vi­sion was more pow­er­ful than Paul’s, and he con­quered him in Chil­dren of Dune. His over­rid­ing vi­sion was the Golden Path, but the Golden Path could not have ex­isted with­out Leto, and Leto with­out Paul’s vic­to­ry. Paul fool­ishly dab­bled in pre­science, a power he did not un­der­stand. A BG writ­ing at the end of Dune (“Ap­pen­dix III: Re­port on Bene Gesserit Mo­tives and Pur­poses”) notes that the BG school failed to un­der­stand its own role in events, or note that events had al­ready started to spi­ral out of con­trol even be­fore Paul’s birth when Lady Jes­sica de­fied or­ders “for rea­sons she con­fesses have never been com­pletely clear to her”, bear­ing a son whose vi­sions “de­fied four-di­men­sional ex­pla­na­tion”, while the BG per­sis­tently and for equally un­clear rea­sons ig­nored sub­se­quent events in­di­cat­ing BG in­volve­ment in the Ar­rakis Affair and the state­ments of the Spac­ing Guild’s Nav­i­ga­tors that Ar­rakis was hid­den be­hind fu­ri­ous pre­scient chaos due to the op­er­a­tion of an or­a­cle - an or­a­cle tak­ing con­trol of events and Ar­rak­is: “…one is led to the in­escapable con­clu­sion that the in­effi­cient Bene Gesserit be­hav­ior in this affair was a prod­uct of an even higher plan of which they were com­pletely un­aware!” In Dune Mes­siah, Paul re­calls a BG ax­iom, while re­flect­ing on how he was trapped in a vi­sion: “To use power is to make one­self in­fi­nitely vul­ner­a­ble to greater pow­ers.” Paul used great pow­er; to whom did he make him­self vul­ner­a­ble?

If Paul’s pre­science can op­er­ate back­wards and cre­ate a fu­ture in which he be­comes em­peror after a re­volt, be­gin­ning even be­fore his birth, yield­ing a sta­ble time-loop (Paul’s vi­sion cre­ate his un­ex­pected & un­de­sired birth and sub­se­quent events on Ar­rak­is, lead­ing to his heavy spice use and birth as KH with full pre­science), then it must also be pos­si­ble for other greater or­a­cles to reach fur­ther back still… Such as Leto II, cre­at­ing the only sta­ble time-loop in which hu­man­ity sur­vives in­defi­nitely and avoids ex­tinc­tion in an open uni­verse in which any­thing which can hap­pen will hap­pen even­tu­al­ly, such as ex­ter­mi­nat­ing ma­chines.

“There was no choice,” Paul said. “You un­der­stand that, Dun­can?”

“I un­der­stand.”

“There are some things no one can bear. I med­dled in all the pos­si­ble fu­tures I could cre­ate un­til, fi­nal­ly, they cre­ated me.” –Dune Mes­siah

Paul stroked her hair. Chani had peeled away the dross. Ter­ri­ble pur­pose brushed him. It was a cori­o­lis wind in his soul. It whis­tled through the frame­work of his be­ing. His body knew things then never learned in con­scious­ness. “Chani, beloved,” he whis­pered, “do you know what I’d spend to end the Ji­had – to sep­a­rate my­self from the damnable god­head the Qizarate forces onto me?” She trem­bled. “You have but to com­mand it,” she said. “Oh, no. Even if I died now, my name would still lead them. When I think of the Atrei­des name tied to this re­li­gious butch­ery . . .” “But you’re the Em­per­or! You’ve –” “I’m a fig­ure­head. When god­head’s given, that’s the one thing the so-called god no longer con­trols.” A bit­ter laugh shook him. He sensed the fu­ture look­ing back at him out of dy­nas­ties not even dreamed. He felt his be­ing cast out, cry­ing, un­chained from the rings of fate – only his name con­tin­ued. “I was cho­sen,” he said. “Per­haps at birth . . . cer­tainly be­fore I had much say in it. I was cho­sen.”

…“The tribes ex­pect Muad’dib to re­turn to them,” she said. She lifted her head to look at him. “You be­long to us.” “I be­long to a vi­sion,” he whis­pered. He thought then of the Ji­had, of the gene min­gling across par­secs and the vi­sion which told him how he might end it. Should he pay the price? All the hate­ful­ness would evap­o­rate, dy­ing as fires die – em­ber by em­ber. But . . . oh! The ter­ri­fy­ing price! I never wanted to be a god, he thought. I wanted only to dis­ap­pear like a jewel of trace dew caught by the morn­ing. I wanted to es­cape the an­gels and the damned – alone . . . as though by an over­sight. “Will we go back to the Si­etch?” Chani pressed. “Yes,” he whis­pered. And he thought: I must pay the price. Chani heaved a deep sigh, set­tled back against him. I’ve loi­tered, he thought. And he saw how he’d been hemmed in by bound­aries of love and the Ji­had. And what was one life, no mat­ter how beloved, against all the lives the Ji­had was cer­tain to take? Could sin­gle mis­ery be weighed against the agony of mul­ti­tudes?

I’ll yield up my­self, he thought. I’ll rush out while I yet have the strength, fly through a space a bird might not find. It was a use­less thought, and he knew it. The Ji­had would fol­low his ghost. What could he an­swer? he won­dered. How ex­plain when peo­ple taxed him with bru­tal fool­ish­ness? Who might un­der­stand? I wanted only to look back and say: “There! There’s an ex­is­tence which could­n’t hold me. See! I van­ish! No re­straint or net of hu­man de­vis­ing can trap me ever again. I re­nounce my re­li­gion! This glo­ri­ous in­stant is mine! I’m free!”

…Paul, caught by won­der at the per­sis­tent Fre­men mythos, felt a heart con­stric­tion, a thing in­flicted upon his life­line: ad­ab, the de­mand­ing mem­o­ry. He re­called his child­hood room on Cal­adan then . . . dark night in the stone cham­ber . . . a vi­sion! It’d been one of his ear­li­est pre­scient mo­ments. He felt his mind dive into the vi­sion, saw through a veiled cloud-mem­ory (vi­sion-with­in-vi­sion) a line of Fre­men, their robes trimmed with dust. They pa­raded past a gap in tall rocks. They car­ried a long, cloth-wrapped bur­den. And Paul heard him­self say in the vi­sion: “It was mostly sweet . . . but you were the sweet­est of all . . .” Adab re­leased him. “You’re so qui­et,” Chani whis­pered. “What is it?” Paul shud­dered, sat up, face avert­ed. “You’re an­gry be­cause I’ve been to the de­sert’s edge,” Chani said. He shook his head with­out speak­ing. “I only went be­cause I want a child,” Chani said. Paul was un­able to speak. He felt him­self con­sumed by the raw power of that early vi­sion. Ter­ri­ble pur­pose! In that mo­ment, his whole life was a limb shaken by the de­par­ture of a bird . . . and the bird was chance. Free will. I suc­cumbed to the lure of the or­a­cle, he thought. And he sensed that suc­cumb­ing to this lure might be to fix him­self upon a sin­gle-track life. Could it be, he won­dered, that the or­a­cle did­n’t tell the fu­ture? Could it be that the or­a­cle made the fu­ture? Had he ex­posed his life to some web of un­der­ly­ing threads, trapped him­self there in that long-ago awak­en­ing, vic­tim of a spi­der-fu­ture which even now ad­vanced upon him with ter­ri­fy­ing jaws. A Bene Gesserit ax­iom slipped into his mind: ‘To use raw power is to make your­self in­fi­nitely vul­ner­a­ble to greater pow­ers.’

  • What makes Dune, Dune?

    • Polyphony
    • A tex­tur­ing of say­ings, teach­ings, and po­etry
    • A con­stant un­der­cut­ting of be­liefs and ideas; see how every­one eves in the Great Men the­ory of his­tory - ex­cept the Great Men
    • Evo­lu­tion and change
    • Psy­chol­ogy

Paul is a coward

How is it pos­si­ble that some­one could have rooted for any char­ac­ter /other/ than Paul in the orig­i­nal Dune nov­el?

If I may, that you think that is an ex­am­ple of the prob­lem. When you read The Iron Dream (I re­al­ize now I gave the wrong ti­tle, but I can’t edit my orig­i­nal com­ment, gr­r.), how can you not root for Feric Jag­gar (Adolf Hitler)?

How can a Ger­man not root for Hitler, try­ing to re­store Ger­many to great­ness and hold back the tide of com­mu­nism? (Let’s not for­get how the body count of Stalin and Mao run into the dozens of mil­lions, as op­posed to ‘only’ the 6 mil­lion or so of the Holo­caust. The Nazis were right about one thing - Com­mu­nism was aw­fully evil.)

Or were we “sup­posed to” wash our hands of the book and leave say­ing “They were all scum”?

Maybe we should have! Some­times no one is right. The Atrei­des are no­ble and every­thing, but their no­bil­ity con­sists pretty much of not mur­der­ously mis­treat­ing their slaves - I mean, serfs.

Was some­one se­ri­ously sup­posed to root for Dun­can Idaho or the Men­tats?

You could make a good case for Ida­ho, given how cen­tral he is to the later books.

It’s nice that Paul was de­picted as be­ing flawed in Dune Mes­si­ah, but his be­ing an evil char­ac­ter does not fol­low from the orig­i­nal Dune, un­less you take ex­treme care to see cer­tain changes in his char­ac­ter (such as the aside about him be­ing wor­ried about spice equip­ment and or­nithopter­s).

Paul is not cack­ling evil like the Baron. He is evil, even in Dune, like the Nurem­berg Tri­als, an evil that is more pas­sive than ac­tive - he knows how hideous the Ji­had will be, he has seen all the fu­tures. He knows what he is later told:

“Very good, Stil.” Paul glanced at the reels in Ko­r­ba’s hands. Ko­rba stood with them as though he wished he could drop them and flee. “Sta­tis­tics: at a con­ser­v­a­tive es­ti­mate, I’ve killed six­ty-one bil­lion, ster­il­ized ninety plan­ets, com­pletely de­mor­al­ized five hun­dred oth­ers. I’ve wiped out the fol­low­ers of forty re­li­gions which had ex­isted since –”

Paul’s evil is one of cow­ardice and a re­fusal to do the right thing. He knows all he has to do is die or van­ish into the de­sert, or even just go into ex­ile on Tupile (pay­ing with the fam­ily atom­ic­s). But he selfishly tries to stay alive and stay with Chani, and the only path pre­science re­veals that does that is the one that also un­leashes the Ji­had and makes him Em­per­or.

(Note how deep his cow­ardice or selfish­ness runs; we see it again in Chil­dren of Dune, where Paul re­fuses to do the sand­worm trans­for­ma­tion even to save all hu­man­ity be­cause he would lose his own hu­man­i­ty. Some hero!)

Open ques­tion from Jawaad Mah­mood:

The only sec­tion I can re­call off-hand that in­di­cated a method for Paul Atrei­des to avoid the galac­tic “Ji­had” was for him to mur­der every­one in the cave, in­clud­ing his mother and un­born sis­ter. Were there other ways for him to avoid such a con­flict, within the con­fines of the first book, that I missed? I’m gen­uinely cu­ri­ous.

Diffi­culty for this in­ter­pre­ta­tion: if Paul is such a selfish cow­ard, why did he walk into the desert at the end of Dune Mes­siah? He might en­dure the stone burner to en­sure the birth of his chil­dren, but they rob him of his sight. An­swer: it ‘had en­sured the loy­alty of the Fre­men to him and his house’. But the Fre­men who watched him walk out says Paul’s last words were ‘Now I am free’. And how to ex­plain this pas­sage?

Zen­sunni in­sight di­lated his aware­ness. He could sense that there was no vi­sion in her – had been none since Chani’s death. “You prac­tice an odd love,” he said.

“Love? Dun­can, he had but to step off the track! What mat­ter that the rest of the uni­verse would have come shat­ter­ing down be­hind him? He’d have been safe . . . and Chani with him!”

“Then . . . why did­n’t he?”

“For the love of heav­en,” she whis­pered. Then, more loud­ly, she said: “Paul’s en­tire life was a strug­gle to es­cape his Ji­had and its de­ifi­ca­tion. At least, he’s free of it. He chose this!”

Genetics and Eugenics in Frank Herbert’s Dune

Frank Her­bert’s SF Dune se­ries fea­tures as a cen­tral me­chanic a mul­ti­-mil­len­nium hu­man eu­gen­ics breed­ing pro­gram by the Bene Gesser­it, which pro­duces the main char­ac­ter, Paul Atrei­des, with pre­cog­ni­tive pow­ers. The breed­ing pro­gram is de­scribed as oddly slow and in­effec­tive and re­quir­ing roles for in­cest and in­breed­ing at some points, which con­tra­dict most pro­posed hu­man eu­gen­ics meth­ods. I de­scribe the two main his­tor­i­cal par­a­digms of com­plex trait ge­net­ics, the Fish­er­ian in­fin­i­tes­i­mal model and the Mendelian mono­genic mod­el, the for­mer of which is heav­ily used in hu­man be­hav­ioral ge­net­ics and the lat­ter of which is heav­ily used in agri­cul­tural breed­ing for novel traits, and ar­gue that Her­bert (in­cor­rectly but un­der­stand­ably) be­lieved the lat­ter ap­plied to most hu­man traits, per­haps re­lated to his long­stand­ing au­to­di­dac­tic in­ter­est in plants & in­sects & farm­ing, and this un­stated but im­plicit in­tel­lec­tual back­ground shaped Dune and re­solves the anom­alies.

Split out to due to length.