Monday, July 16, 2018

The Shallowness of the Common View: Dune Club Messiah, Session 1

The sleeper has awakened!
  
Last summer, prompted by Comic Book Girl 19's online Dune Club, I blogged my way through Frank Herbert's towering sci-fi classic.  It was a lot of fun; my posts ended up being almost entirely devoid of any content specifically responding to CBG19's Club, because it quickly became evident that reviewing a series of reviews was an inane idea.  So instead, it was just a sort of silent companion to that experience, undertaken primarily for an audience of one (myself).
  
Well, she's decided to take on the sequel, Dune Messiah, for the summer of 2018.  We here at Where No Blog Has Gone Before (i.e., me) believe it is both imperative and desirable to continue to follow in her footsteps, and as we believe so shall we do, so shall we do.

I'll begin by giving you a bit of my personal history with Dune Messiah.  I read the novel at some point during (I think) either my fifth-grade year or during the summer between fifth and sixth grades; so when I was 10 or 11 years old.  I read the third book, Children of Dune, around the same time.  I have a vague memory of peppering one of my neighborhood friends with occasional quotations from it, and I also have a memory of toting my paperback copy of God Emperor of Dune to school with me during my sixth-grade year; for weeks on end I carried that sucker with me, and never actually read it until years and years later.
  
And that is more or less where my memory of my initial contact with Dune Messiah begins and ends!  I remember very much enjoying it, but also being deeply unsettled by certain aspects of it.
  
With that said, let me also now say this: there will be spoilers for Dune Messiah throughout the course of these posts.  Haven't read it?  Might want not to read these posts, either.
  
For leadoff artwork, I'm going to showcase a different edition of the novel each week, beginning this time with the one that CBG19 sent us all as part of our Dune Club boxes:
  
  


  
  
Now, before we get going good, let me make one thing crystal fucking clear: I know the title for these posts probably ought to read Dune Messiah Club.  Don't care; "Dune Club Messiah" gets the nod.

So let's dive in!  Last year, we used asterisks and the first lines of the chapter-header epigraphs to delineate our location in the novel.  I see no reason not to continue that conceit for the sequel, like so:
  
*****
  
Except the first chapter has no epigraph!  Instead, it's a sort of prologue, titled "Excerpts from the Death Cell: Interview with Bronso of Ix."  In this interview the titular "Bronso" fields questions from someone who seems to be a priest of the Quizarate.  (It is worth noting that this prologue was not included in the hardcover edition of the novel.  Instead, a brief plot summary of Dune titled "The Weird of Dune" appeared there.  It is not notable enough to cover here.)

As the prologue's title indicates, things are not looking too good for Bronso, who has been sentenced to death for writing heretical "histories" of Muad'dib.  Bronso is openly disdainful of the unnamed priest, and indeed of the Quizarate in general, saying that they "have too much at stake" to understand what motivated his writings.  Pressed, Bronso insists that he "was caught by the shallowness of the common view of this planet which arises from its popular name: Dune."  He seemingly feels that history is too much obsessed with Dune as the birthplace of the Fremen, and of the customs which attend their existence.

"Are these things not true, then?" he is asked.  His reply: "They are surface truth."  His objection is that focusing on such things creates a "one-view planet," a singularity of vision that is reflected in the very eyes of the Fremen: blue-on-blue, "one thing without contrast, a single view."

Bronso delivers a few other sick burns -- do people still say "sick burns," or do they mainly just post that one goddamn gif of Meryl Streep standing up and applauding at some awards show? -- during the course of his interview:

  • "As with all priests, you learned early to call the truth heresy."
  • "You priests do well to make common cause with the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood.  They, too, survive by concealing what they do."
  • Muad'dib "promised to transform your desert planet into a water-rich paradise.  And while he dazzled you with such visions, he took your virginity!"
  • "Your Jihad only took twelve years, but what a lesson it taught."

That last one isn't too sick as far as burns go, I guess, but it's certainly an important piece of information; and we'll come back to it frequently during this series of posts, I'd imagine.

What do we make of this prologue?

My takeaway from it is that Herbert writes Bronso in such a manner as to place us in sympathy with him almost by default.  Here's a guy who's on death row for speaking what he feels to be the truth.  Hard not to sympathize with him, especially considering that the priest interviewing him seems (A) like a bit of a dick and (B) like a bit of a simpleton.  Bronso has our sympathy, I think, and if he does then it is likely because he is both the one in the scene who has been transgressed against and the one in the scene whose point of view seems to be the most credible.

That's not exactly a magic trick, but consider what Herbert has done: he's begun the sequel to Dune by placing us in sympathy with a man who has been imprisoned for speaking out against that novel's hero.  This is a sign that we might wish to consider abandoning our notions of what this sequel is likely to involve.

*****

Alright, so here's the first real chapter, and our first epigraph.  Tell you what, though: regarding those epigraphs, this time let's just take a look at the entire thing and begin our discussion of each chapter with a consideration of the epigraphs themselves.

Such a rich store of myths enfolds Paul Muad'dib, the Mentat Emperor, and his sister, Alia, it is difficult to see the real persons behind these veils.  But there were, after all, a man born Paul Atreides and a woman born Alia.  Their flesh was subject to space and time.  And even though their oracular powers placed them beyond the usual limits of time and space, they came from human stock.  They experienced real events which left real traces upon a real universe.  To understand them, it must be seen that their catastrophe was the catastrophe of all mankind.  This work is dedicated, then, not to Muad'dib or his sister, but to their heirs -- to all of us.
--Dedication in the Muad'dib Concordance as copied from The Tabla Memorium of the Mahdi Spirit Cult
  
These things are always jam-packed, aren't they?
  
Here are a few takeaways I gleaned:
  
  • For one thing, maybe I should mention that Dune Messiah made its first appearance in 1969, some four years after the first novel in the series.  The tone of this epigraph, however, suggests that virtually no time has passed at all; it reads like the work of the same author, and as if he led straight from the one into the next.  Spoiler alert: my memory of things is that the entire novel; is like this on a prose level.
  • This particular epigraph is clearly taken from a sort of hagiography of Muad'dib, but one which seeks to make him seem that much more godlike by bringing him a little bit closer.  Was he a human?  Yes, of course; but he was so much more that he is, in essence, ALL of humanity (what with his catastrophe being the catastrophe of all of us).
  • Oh, hey, notice how Alia is being placed more or less right alongside Muad'dib in importance?  That might come as a moderate surprise to readers of the first novel.

The chapter proper begins thus: "Muad'dib's Imperial reign generated more histories than any other era in human history.  Most of them argued a particular viewpoint, jealous and sectarian, but it says something about the peculiar impact of this man that he aroused such passions on so many diverse worlds."

The chapter is only about three pages long, and when we reach the end of it, we discover that what we've been reading is not an omnisciently-narrated piece of fiction (such as Dune was) but an excerpt from the very work -- Analysis of History: Muad'dib -- that landed Bronso of Ix in such hot water!

The bulk of what is contained in this chapter is not far removed from being plot summary, probably designed to remind us of some of the salient facts about Dune.  (This might seem redundant if you consider the "Weird of Dune" prologue that is appended to some editions; but it reads to me like an expansion upon that idea that eases the reader from the outside view of Frank Herbert into the inside view of whoever is narrating Dune Messiah.  It is a passage from a slightly restricted bit of non-fiction into a less restricted bit of fiction.)

And so we are reminded that Muad'dib was born Paul Atreides; received prana-bindu training from his Bene Gesserit mother as well as mentat training; that he was the kwisatz haderach who resulted from the Sisterhood's breeding program; and that he executed a marriage of convenience with the daughter of the Padishah Emperor whom he deposed.  And so forth.  Pretty much everything Bronso writes is a thing we -- assuming we have read and remember Dune -- know to be true.

But Bronso urges his readers to think on the paradox implicit in the fact that Muad'dib's supreme power contained failure.  "There can be only one answer," he writes, "that completely accurate and total prediction is lethal."

We soon thereafter learn that whenever Bronso wrote his Analysis of History, it came after Muad'dib's fall from power, his "defeat."  It appears that historians differ on how that defeat was accomplished; but Bronso is writing about it in past tense, so it is a thing that definitively happened.  He hints that perhaps it was the result of "obvious plotters -- the Guild, the Sisterhood and the scientific amoralists of the Bene Tleilax with their Face-Dancer disguises."

Frank Herbert has pulled not merely one fast one on us (by initially causing Bronso to sound like someone continuing the narrative of the first novel), but at least one other as well: he's presented us with what seems like a plot summary but quickly turns into a foreshadowing of the plot we are presumably about to read!  Deft stuff, Frank; all I can do is salute you.

The foreshadowing continues in that vein for a bit, presenting us with additional names and concepts to be on the lookout for: not merely the Face-Dancers of the Bene Tleilax, but also gholas (resurrected corpses, one of which will apparently include Duncan Idaho) and Korba the Panegyrist and a plot to blame Muad'dib's downfall on Chani.  This shit is thrilling, man.

What is perhaps most important about it is the extent to which it all rings true.  As was the case with the interview prologue, Bronso simply sounds like he can be believed.  As readers, I think we trust him and his words.  And I think the implication of this is clear: those notions we had about Paul Atreides being the hero of this story need to be chucked right out the window.

Another thing is also clear: if Bronso write his Analysis of History from an after-the-fact vantage point, he clearly did so within a time when if Muad'dib himself was no longer in power, those who worshipped him still very much were.  Was this a year later?  Ten years?  A century?  A millennia?  We do not know; none of these would be impossible, given what we do know, and that thought should probably chill us a bit.

*****

There exists no separation between gods and men; one blends softly casual into the other.
-- Proverbs of Muad'dib
  
That's a big topic, and one that might sound like its own kind of heresy if spoken in a church virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth in the year 2018.  But we're not here to worry about that (at least not on the face of things!), we're here to worry about how it plays within these novels.  And I think it certainly seems consistent with the Fremen worship of Muad'dib; it's consistent with the epigraph (from the hagiography) appended -- in somewhat ironic fashion -- to the preceding chapter.
  
I think by now, however, it is fairly safe to question whether ideas like these actually are the teachings of Muad'dib.  I normally rail against the idea of unreliable narrators -- which causes consternation among some of my readers -- but have no problem accepting that it can be a useful tactic at times.  I just think that more often than not, authors probably intend us to rely on their narrators.  This can include the fictional writers of books like the ones which serve as fodder for most of the epigraphs in Dune itself, I'd argue.  Most of those come from books written by Irulan, whom we know after the fact -- spoiler alert! -- to be more or less a steadfast and true, though powerfully sad, woman.  That combines with the rest of the narrative to make me feel quite strongly that we can (and should) rely on the narratives presented in Dune.
  
Here at the very outset of Dune Messiah, however, something of a different tactic seems perhaps to be at work.  We've been given two chapters wherein we empathize and trust in the words of Bronso of Ix, and now we've seen two epigraphs that -- through their relation to one another -- seem to be in contention with his history.  We are faced with a dilemma: do we continue to trust in Bronso, or do we question the sentiments expressed in the epigraphs?
  
If we are following Bronso's own recommendation, we should view the epigraphical content not with outright disbelief but instead with skepticism.  These are perhaps truths, but of the type ordained by the restricted, single-minded viewpoints of the Fremen.  If they are truths, they need not be the only truths, or the only way in which to view things.
  
We'll see how this idea tracks as the novel progresses; it may not be Herbert's intention to use the epigraphs in that manner throughout, but the possibility occurred to me and seemed worth noting!
  
The chapter itself continues the novel's early trend of placing us outside the sympathies of Paul Muad'dib.  It is where the proper narrative begins, and here's how Herbert kicks it off: "Despite the murderous nature of the plot he hoped to devise, the thoughts of Scytale, the Tleilaxu Face Dancer, returned again and again to rueful compassion."  Specifically, he thinks, "I shall regret causing death and misery to Muad'dib."

As the chapter develops, we learn that this is something of a trait with the Tleilaxu, whose natural tendencies lean toward identification with the prey rather than with the hunter; a truth even when it is they themselves doing the hunting.

Scytale is the chapter's point of view character, and through his eyes we take part in a meeting of conspirators: himself; Gaius Helen Mohiam of the Bene Gesserit; Edric, a Spacing Guild steersman who swims in a container of spice gas that nourishes his mutated and barely human body; and the Princess Irulan, who has not yet decided whether to fully join in the plot against her nominal husband's life.

It is a marvelous chapter, full of weird details and obscure intrigue and snappish character interactions.  This has always been one of my favorite chapters of the entire series, and I got more out of it this time than on any previous reading.

Some of my favorite bits:

  • "They were using a mirabhasa language, honed phlange consonants and joined vowels.  It was an instrument for conveying fine emotional subtleties.  Edric, the Guild Steersman, replied to the Reverend Mother now with a vocal curtsy contained in a sneer -- a lovely touch of disdainful politeness."  Good luck to the poor fuck who someday attempts to capture this shit on film; they will need it.
  • Their nature and origin are not explained here -- and I'm not sure Herbert ever explains them in ANY of the Dune novels -- but the Face Dancers are something else.  "The Reverend Mother drew back, and Scytale saw her reassessing him.  They were all products of profound prana-bindu training, capable of muscle and nerve control that few humans ever achieved.  But Scytale, a Face Dancer, had muscles and nerve linkages the others didn't even possess plus a special quality of sympatico, a mimic's insight with which he could put on the psyche of another as well as the other's appearance."  Unless I misremember, the Bene Tleilax are not even mentioned in Dune, and it's possible that Herbert only invented them for the sequel.  If so, then I am forced to admit (as much as I love the idea of the Face Dancers) that he might have gone a bit too far with them.  They are too alien to be human; too powerful to be as off the chessboard as they seem to have been in the first novel.  And yet, I love the idea of them.  I'll likely continue to consider this dichotomy in my feelings as our exploration of these novels continues.
  • "Scytale laughed.  Mirabhasa laughter could flay an opponent and he held nothing back now."
  • Irulan addresses something with Scytale: "it is said that you Tleilaxu have an odd system of honor: your victims must always have a means of escape."  Scytale agrees that this is so, "If they can but find it."  I don't remember this aspect of the novel, but reading it here, my assumption is that it will hang over the proceedings like that sword over Damocles.  Let's try to remember to keep an eye on it.
  • We learn a bit more about what we already knew from the foregoing chapters: that a ghola of Duncan Idaho has been grown from the genetic material left behind by the killed swordmaster.  I remember being quite floored by this idea when I first read the novel.  We'll have much more to say about the idea of gholas as we proceed, I'd imagine.
  • The ghola -- who has been named "Hayt" -- is to be given to Paul as a gift.  Irulan worries that Hayt's mentat training will cause him to divulge the truth behind his purpose to Paul if Paul should ask.  Scytale admits that if this happens, "Hayt will tell the truth.  It makes no difference."  Irulan intuits that this is Paul's escape hatch.  Mohiam seems very nervous about the whole thing; she's not wrong to be.

Great stuff.

*****

Every civilization must contend with an unconscious force which can block, betray or countermand almost any conscious intention of the collectivity.
--Tleilaxu Theorem (unproven)
  
In personal/micro  terms, you'd say that this refers to the process of one's unconscious working against one's active intentions.  (I think; Herbert is so far ahead of me that I sometimes question whether I am reading him correctly.  Wheels within wheels!)  I think if you then expand the idea onto a macro/sociological scale, you may well conclude that a phrase such as "the body politic" is more apt than you'd ever considered.  If this unproven theorem is true, then there are implications, not the least of which is the idea that "the will of the people" is, when truly exerted, always acting in service of the larger body comprising mankind.  
  
This need not be in a positive manner.  In my personal/micro case, for example, the unconscious desires and motivations that cause me to tend toward staying up much too late eating chili-cheese dogs and drinking caffeine and blogging about this, that, and the other are probably harmful; they almost utterly drown out whatever active intent I might have to live a healthier and less sedentary physical life.  I see no reason why on a macro level, some impulse or impulses might not be at work in just as harmful a manner.
  
What is unclear about this epigraph is whether Herbert wishes for us to accept it as truth.  We were skeptical of the epigraphs on the foregoing chapters, but that need not maintain across the entire novel.  It may be that Herbert only wishes us to believe that the Tleilaxu themselves believe it to be true.
  
From here, the chapter itself finally reunites us with Paul Atreides, which been out for a walk in the night in Arrakeen.  He has done so anonymously, disguised by the anonymity that is part and parcel of wearing a stillsuit.
  
This chapter is a knockout.  If you don't have much tolerance for the melancholy aspects of this story, then you might grow weary of it quickly, in which case I'm not sure this is the novel for you.  We know already from the previous chapters that Paul's power is going to be defeated, and it has been intimated that Chani herself is going to be framed for this downfall.  The majority of this chapter consists of Paul and Chani talking while literal visions of some sort are dancing through Paul's mind; the knowledge that he is doomed and that she may be implicated hangs over all of this like a raincloud ready to burst.
  
Some of the best parts:
  
  • "Dune was a world of paradox now -- a world under siege, yet the center of power.  To come under siege, he decided, was the inevitable fate of power."  I cannot help but think of that unproven Tleilaxu theorem which serves as an epigraph to this chapter.  If Paul is right about the inevitable fate of power and the Tleilaxu are right about the unconscious forces of a civilization betraying the intent of the people, what does it mean to combine those thoughts?  Y'all ... I'm not smart enough to be delving into this shit.  But delve I will nonetheless, blundering around like stupid old Edric in his gas tank.  IF both of those things are true, then perhaps it means that shifting power balances are the acting out of a civilization's unconscious against its conscious.  It remains unclear whether this is inherently bad, inherently good, or inherently neutral; or, perhaps, some ever-shifting combination of those potentialities.
  • Paul considers the danger in his night-time walks, and remembers his earlier days on Dune, and the wistful memories of other dangers.  "Compared to those other days, the peril in his lonely walks remained minor.  But putting on a stillsuit, he put on the desert.  The suit with all its apparatus for reclaiming his body's moisture guided his thoughts in subtle ways, fixed his movements in a desert pattern.  He became wild Fremen.  More than a disguise, the suit made of him a stranger to his city self.  In the stillsuit, he abandoned security and put on the old skills of violence.  Pilgrims and townfolk passed him then with eyes downcast.  They left the wild ones strictly alone out of prudence.  If the desert had a face for city folk, it was a Fremen face concealed by a stillsuit's mouth-nose filters."  I'm struck by the degree to which this bit of thinking on Paul's part echoes the concerns Bronso of Ix expressed about the Fremen being bound by their singular vision; the stillsuit -- meaning the demands of the desert -- guide Paul's movements, his demeanor, the manner in which he is perceived by those around him.  It almost literally turns him into a different person, which is why he is putting it on and going on these walks.  However, does the fact that this is a conscious activity on his part not imply that he himself is perhaps NOT bound by a singular vision?  Food for thought, but if so, one senses that Paul is likely a very rare Fremen in his willingness and ability to transcend himself.  But we already knew that, didn't we?
  • Chani brings Paul coffee on the coffee service he won from Jamis years ago as ghanima (a spoil of battle).  It is oddly touching that Paul is still using this same coffee service; one would almost expect him to have gotten a better one.  Motherfucker is the Emperor, he could afford it.  But this would obviously not be the Fremen way, and Paul's holding to it is kind of moving; more so considering how great a chapter of Dune the Jamis sequence is.
  • Chani engages Paul in conversation about Irulan's desire for a child/heir; she agrees to some extent, and tells Paul that he must indeed have an heir.  "So that was it: Chani had not produced a child for him.  Someone else, then, must do it.  Why not Irulan?  That was the way Chani's mind worked.  And it must be done in an act of love because all the Empire avowed strong taboos against artificial ways.  Chani had come to a Fremen decision."  That last line kills me.  For those of you who might not recall it from Dune, a "Fremen decision" refers to the placing of communal need over personal need.  If you are likely to die anyways, your water is going to be taken for the good of those around you, and so a Fremen decides to give their life freely.  That sort of thing.  Knowing Chani's love for Paul, it is incredibly heartbreaking that she decides he should father a child on Irulan.  And we, of course, know from the previous chapter that Chani is only failing to conceive because of a contraceptive Irulan is secretly administering to her.  Do we wonder whether this is likely to play some part in Paul's downfall?  Quite possibly we do.
  • "He closed his eyes, and Chani came into his memories as a girl once more veiled in springtime, singing, waking from sleep beside him -- so perfect that the very vision of her consumed him.  In his memory, she smiled . . . shyly at first, then strained against the vision as though she longed to escape."  [paragraph break]  "Paul's mouth went dry.  For a moment, his nostrils tasted the smoke of a devastated future and the voice of another kind of vision commanding him to disengage . . . disengage . . . disengage.  His prophetic visions had been eavesdropping on eternity for such a long while, catching snatches of foreign tongues, listening to stones and to flesh not his own.  Since the day of his first encounter with terrible purpose, he had peered at the future, hoping to find peace."  [paragraph break]  "There existed a way, or course.  He knew it by heart without knowing the heart of it -- a rote future, strict in its instructions to him: disengage, disengage, disengage..."  This is a big trio of paragraphs, and that notion of knowing a thing by heart without knowing the heart of it murders me, brings me back as a ghola, and then kills the ever-loving shit out of my ghola.  I am one again struck by Herbert's facility for allowing us to relate to Paul's prophetic nature without entirely being able to understand it.  Here, we understand that Paul sees some manner of "devastated future," and that he seemingly can avoid it by "disengaging" from ... what?  We do not know; and we are not entirely sure Paul himself knows.
  • Paul recalls his own conversation with Irulan from earlier in the day.  She has made her own pitch to him for bearing the Imperial heir, and he has denied her, and has also cautioned her against becoming pregnant by another man.  He has given her free reign to take lovers -- he bears no emotional investment in or objection to any such dalliances on her part -- but will "deny such a child" as results from them.  One suspects he will deny them in the harshest possible terms.  Irulan hears him out, and then turns ans sweeps out of the chamber; before she goes, she tells him, "It's on your head, then."  I thought here of the Tleilaxu method of offering an escape to one's victim.  Herbert does not spell it out as such, but it seems almost impossible to me to think anything other than this: Irulan, if Paul had agreed to father an heir with her, would have told him about the plot involving the ghola and the conspirators.
  • Oh, by the way, in case this is unclear: Paul's prophetic visions are unable to "see" into the conspiracy by virtue of the Guild Steersman's involvement.  Edric's own prophetic relationship with melange clouds Paul's ability to pierce that particular veil.  Does that work as a plot point?  Well, sort of.  I kind of call a bit of bullshit on it, to be honest; but hey, whatever.  
  • "They have come to a decision on how to fight you," Chani intuits.  "Irulan reeks of secret decisions."  This pair of statements has an enormous impact on Paul:
  • "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."  Huh.  A force acting against consciousness, you say?  Okay, well, that's interesting.  Paul goes on to tell Chani how much he'd like to end the Jihad, and how incapable he is of actually doing so.  "I was chosen," he says, referring to the fact that he had no say in the way he was led to this place in life, perhaps from birth.  Chani tells him to un-choose, to which he replies, "In time, beloved.  Give me yet a little time."  If that doesn't give you a chill, you are stouter than I.
  • Chani says, "We should return to Sietch Tabr.  There's too much to contend with in this tent of stone."  Awesome; Herbert is dunking on every other possession in this chapter, man.
  • A page or so later: "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?"  Uh, guys...?  Do you think the repetition of the word "beloved" means anything here?  Nah, me neither...
  • "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."
  • Paul finds himself captured by adab (Fremen for "the demanding memory") remembering one of his earliest prescient moments, experienced in his childhood room on Caladan: a vision of a line of Fremen carrying a cloth-wrapped burden of some sort past some tall rocks.  He heard himself say in the vision, "It was mostly sweet . . . but you were the sweetest of all . . ."  Okay, well, it's impossible not to suspect that what he's remembering seeing via prescience is a vision of attending a funeral procession for Chani.  The evidence begins to mount that Paul has known all along that her death is inevitable, and that he has perhaps been trying to find a way to sacrifice himself in her stead; it may even be that that is the very act from which his prescience is commanding him to disengage.  
  • The foregoing is is merely my interpretation of things, of course.  But the sheer emotion coming from Paul in this chapter sure does make it seem like a safe bet.  After adab releases him, he is profoundly shaken, shuddering, averting his face from Chani; she believes him to be angry with her, and he can only shake his head without speaking.  "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."
  • A Bene Gesserit axiom comes to him as he contemplates the possibility that in succumbing to the lure of the oracle, he may have trapped himself within the jaws of a thing that does not tell the future but makes it: "To use raw power is to make yourself infinitely vulnerable to greater powers."  I am again reminded of the idea of the unconscious working against the conscious.
  • Chani asks Paul if she has troubled him.  "Not you," he answers.  "Oh . . . not you."
  
Just before that answer, this from Herbert: "Her arms enclosed his future as they enclosed him."  This is haunting stuff.  The entire chapter is haunting, and I'm not sure there is anything in the entirety of Dune itself that expresses this notion of "terrible purpose" as powerfully.  Herbert is firing on all cylinders; dude is inventing new cylinders to fire and then firing 'em like crazy.
  
*****
  
That's where we will break, since that's where CBG19 is breaking.  See you in a week!

1 comment:

  1. A bit of a correction:

    The opening bit (the "death cell" interview with Bronso) includes a bit where the interviewee asks his interviewer whether Muad'dib knows what goes on in cells like his. So while I made it sound as if the stuff with Bronso might be taking place in the far-flun future, that kind of makes it seem a lot more immediate, doesn't it?

    Hey, you can't get 'em all right.

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