Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Little Enough Profit in Our Venture: Dune Club, Session 11

You cannot avoid the interplay of politics within an orthodox religion.
Can of sandworms avoided...
  • "Suddenly he understood why Stilgar had warned him once about brash young men who danced and played with these monsters, doing handstands on their backs, removing both hooks and replanting them before the worm could spill them." -- This brings up an axiom: on all planets, in all cultures, are there teenage dirtbags.  Do the young men of the Fremen sometimes listen to Megadeth and hang around in Kmart parking lots?  I'm certain of it.
  • "But he knew he could not let any consideration deflect him.  He had to remain on the central line of the time storm he could see in the future.  There would come an instant when it could be unraveled, but only if he were where he could cut the central knot of it."

The Illustrated Dune p. 403


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

  • The previous chapter ended with Paul and his band of Fremen seeing a group of smugglers and deciding to do battle with them.  This one begins with Herbert revealing that the smugglers are led by Gurney Halleck, who has occasion to think about the possibility of encountering Fremen in this area of the deep desert.  "And they were so devilishly cunning of late," Gurney thinks.  "It annoyed Gurney, the cunning and adroitness in battle of these natives.  They displayed a sophistication in warfare as good as anything he had ever encountered, and he had been trained by the best fighters in the universe then seasoned in battles where only the superior few survived."  Of course, WE know the reason for this: the Fremen have implemented some of Gurney's own tactics, after they filtered down to them via Muad'Dib!  I love stuff like that; it's satisfying for us to be one step ahead of Gurney in this moment, and it also provides some serious tension.  We know that a battle between the Fremen and Gurney could very well result in Gurney's death, and it would, in a roundabout way, be thanks to his own skill as a teacher.
  • " 'You young pup!  You young pup!' Gurney kept saying.  And Paul: 'Gurney, man!  Gurney, man!' " -- I've always loved that.  One of the happiest moments in a novel that isn't axactly dripping with joy.  But it's honest and well-earned and effective.
  • " 'Little enough profit in our venture,' Paul said, and he noted the subtle finger signal flashed to him by Gurney's right hand -- the old hand code out of their past.  There were men to fear and distrust in the smuggler crew.  Paul pulled at his lip to indicate he understood, looked up at the men standing guard above them on the rocks." -- I love all that hand-signal stuff.

The Illustrated Dune p. 411


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

*insert sound of knowingly-impressed humming*
This is the chapter in which Paul convinces the Fremen en masse that it would be counterproductive for him to challenge and kill Stilgar.  It's also the chapter in which Gurney confronts Jessica and tries to convince Paul that she was the traitor.
The way this plays out -- with Gurney, utterly shamed, offering his own life in payment for his error -- has always stuck with me.  I love the way in which Jessica forgives him: by saying that she appreciates him trying to do something he saw as good in the memory of Leto.
It's the philosophy and world-building that people often mention when they talk about Dune, but Herbert's character work is on-point throughout, too.
The Illustrated Dune p. 428
The chapter concludes with Paul determining he must find out whether he actually is the Kwisatz Haderach, by taking the Water of Life.
And that's where we will resume next time.
But first...

Doon ... dessert planet!
  • " 'This is business, Peter -- a marriage of convenience.  And marriages of convenience can be annulled, should either party cast a longing eye toward the mistress of the partner's secret dreams of affection when . . . anyway, you know what I mean.' "
  • "Jazzica noted her own thoughts in her own mind all by herself.  Today Pall rides the wild pretzel.  What'll ensue from this?"
  • "A sweat-suited man knocked on the doorway, and without waiting for a reply strode into the room.  He was powdered and lightly dusted with sugars, his red-on-red eyes fierce in their burning intensity.  'Yes, Shoanuf?' Jazzica asked."
  • "Spilgard's instructions came back to him.  'Schmai-gunug will come to your lumper after a few minutes.  When he approaches you must be as a piece of the landscape.  At age twelve, our Freedmenmen boys know how to stand in the relaxed-readiness, moving yet stationary, altertly human yet a natural thing.  You, Assol, are older.  And you are not Freedmenmen-born.  So just hide behind something.' "


Apologies for the tardiness on this penultimate installment!  One more post remains.  See you at the appointed time.


  1. "Can of sandworms avoided..." ha!

    "It's the philosophy and world-building that people often mention when they talk about Dune, but Herbert's character work is on-point throughout, too." That was absolutely my impression as well. All three are perfect go-to examples of each.

    Doon continues to amusingly bewilder me. I can't believe this project ever came to fruition. I should probably make a more dessert-related pun but I've got one more post to come up with a good one.

    Can't believe there's only one post left, by the way! How has the whole watchalong with CBG19 been? I know you'd mentioned not having much interaction with the other people reading/ watching along, but just curious how that process played out. Was it more or less like tuning in to her video review of the book each week, or did people contribute lots of their own analysis and questions? Did you ever put anything from this blog up over there?

    1. CBG19's videos have been very entertaining and insightful. Anywhere from 2-3 hours' worth per session, so she's been putting in some real effort on it all. You can tell she's been super excited to do it, but you can also see the strain of meeting that demand on a weekly basis. She recently announced she's going to be doing the same thing early next year with "Watchmen," so that's pretty cool.

      Nah, I never even tried to link this blog to what she was doing, apart from just mentioning it here once or twice.

      I failed to mention that this week's segment of "Doon" reading included the version of the scene where Paul and Gurney reunite and Gurney just declines to join back up. He's basically like, "Hey, great to see you! But nah, I'm good, adios." I thought that was pretty funny.