Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Mind, Long Fixed On A Single Track: Dune Club, Session 7

We return to the dry heat of Frank Herbert's Dune, picking up this week with chapter __.  Frank, would chapter numbers have killed ya?
  
  
  
  
We will continue to mark the chapters by quoting the first sentence (or thereabouts) of the epigraph that mark their beginnings.
  
For example:
  
What do you despise?  By this are you truly known? 
  
Hmm.  An interesting thought, but I'm not sure I agree with it.  Things I despise include, but are not limited to, the following:
  
  • spiders
  • tomatoes
  • black holes
  • wearing your pants pulled down to mid-thigh (it's idiotic and makes the wearer look like an idiot and is also stupid and dumb)
  • Kardashians and similar scum
  • people who willingly pay attention to Kardashians and similar scum
  • the fact that chili-cheese dogs are unhealthy
  • the unceasing passage of time
  • Joffrey
  • people who leave the shopping carts in the middle of a parking lot
  • people who don't flush public toilets
  • post-1990 slang

I could go on at some length.  And I'd imagine that by the end of the list, you'd have a strong working knowledge of who I am.

So hey, you know what?  I think I agree with Muad'Dib on this one.

Moving on...

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Undemanding Emptiness of Her Words: Dune Club, Session 6

Let's dive right in.
  
  
  
  
When my father, the Padishah Emperor, heard of Duke Leto's death and the manner of it, he went into such a rage as we had never before seen. 
  
  • Toward the beginning of this chapter, which finds Paul and Jessica (pardon the pun) still inside the tent, Paul flies into a quiet sort of rage while pondering "the very substance of this planet which had helped kill his father."  Jessica makes a bland comment about having heard the storm that raged outside between chapters.  Paul's calm is partially restored by the "undemanding emptiness of her words."  I was struck by this phrase and could not immediately identify why.  I think it has to do with the notion that Paul's mind has become so incredibly active, so freighted with import, that a simple and unambiguous observation brings him back -- if only for a moment -- down to a level of base humanity.  (I don't necessarily mean "humanity" in the Bene Gesserit sense, of course.)  Paul is losing his ability to live merely within a single moment, and Jessica's statement keeps him there, if only briefly.
  • Jessica has had a dream about Leto: "She had held dreaming hands beneath sandflow where a name had been written: Duke Leto Atreides.  The name had blurred with the sand and she had moved to restore it, but the first letter filled before the last was begun.  The sand would not stop."  This is a fairly obvious bit of symbolism, and in my experience, dreams rarely work on so obvious a level.  Do I care about this?  Nope, not really.  It's a compelling thing to imagine Jessica dreaming. 
  • The dream culminates in Jessica hearing the wailing of a "woman not quite visible to memory" as she departs in some way.  Part of her mind realizes that this is "her own voice as a tiny child, little more than a baby."  I wonder if instead this is the first stirrings of consciousness from Alia, who may be already affected by the omnipresence of the spice just as Paul is.
  • "For now is my grief heavier than the sands of the seas," Jessica thinks.  "This world has emptied me of all but the oldest purpose: tomorrow's life."  Jessica seems almost to be channeling Gurney Halleck here in her florid thoughts.  I don't necessarily think this is an accident on Herbert's part; the connection implies to me that Gurney's entire existence in this novel is the result of his having been emptied in similar fashion earlier in life.  He has devoted his existence to fighting the Harkonnens, and his method of doing so is by assisting tomorrow's Atreides lives.  And today's, of course, but always with an eye on tomorrow's.
  • Herbert gives us some lovely descriptions of seeing enemy ornithopters in the distance, carving up the desert floor with lasguns in an attempt to find and kill the needles-in-haystacks that are Jessica and Paul.  There is a great deal of lovely writing in this chapter; far too much to list.
 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Loud Silence of Clocks: Dune Club, Session 5

We now join the previously-scheduled program, already in progress...
  
  
  
  
*****
  
There should be a science of discontent.
  
In this chapter, Jessica and Paul are consigned to the desert by the Baron and Piter.
  
Good chapter, but I don't have much to say about it.

*****

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife -- chopping off what's incomplete and saying: "Now, it's complete because it's ended here."

One thing I noticed on this reread -- and it was only my second, notetaking exploration only -- is that we potentially get a bit of light shed on the manner of Duncan Idaho's drunkenness.