A couple of days ago Mark Charan Newton wrote on Twitter about “Dune”,

Why did no one tell me that DUNE was this good? I blame you all.

The ebook has a good 6,000 pages… Could be a while!

Of all the things about Dune, what strikes me as most impressive is Herbert’s then avant garde ecological thinking. Amazing for the time.

Systems theory, deep ecology, self-regulation; and as the basis for a narrative, too.

And in 1965!

The science is really sound and advanced for its time. More the philosophy of the science, but still ahead of the curve.

so that was enough to spark my interest. I added the series to my wordcount page (it’s 860k overall) and started looking for the usual stuff, like dates, structure (it’s two trilogies, with an open end and the “mother of all cliffhangers” because of the author’s death) and reviews.

It was quite interesting. I actually had a copy of Dune for a very long time, but never read it because I saw the movie and that for me always takes back something from the fresh experience reading a book. I guess now I’ll read Dune at some point if the world doesn’t end (I actually already started, but the italian translation I have is a bit lacking in prose). As typical of me I’m more interested in the sequels to Dune more than Dune itself, and I notice how pretty much every review complains about Herbert indulging too much in dense philosophy, making the books a struggle to read.

If you remove all the specific references they would work perfect as Malazan reviews. And I know that Erikson is a big fan of Dune and that it was a source of inspiration.

I post here a short essay by Herbert, because the link up on the wikipedia is actually dead, but I was able to retrieve it anyway through google cache. And because vaguely related to what I was writing in comments over at Bakker’s blog (continues up and down).

All the other sequels and spin-offs that his son and the other writer have published, as far as I’m concerned, do not exist.

When I was young and my world was dominated by indestructible adults, I learned an ancient way of thinking that is as dangerous as a rotten board in a stepladder. It told me that the only valuable things were those that I could hold unchanged: the love of a wise grandfather, the enticing mystery of the trail through our woodlot into the forest, the feeling of lake water on a hot summer day, the colors (ahh, those colors) when I opened my new pencil box on the first day of school…

But the grandfather died, a developer bulldozed the woodlot, loggers clear-cut the forest, the lake is polluted and posted against swimming, smog has deadened my ability to detect subtle odors, and pencil boxes aren’t what they used to be.

Neither am I.

There may be a quiet spot in my mind where nothing moves and the places of my childhood remain unchanged, but everything else moves and changes. There’s dangerous temptation in the nostalgic dream, in the expertise of yesteryear. The nameless animal that is all of us cannot live in places that no longer exist. I want to address myself to the survival of that nameless animal, looking back without regrets at even the best of what was and will never be again. We should salvage what we can, but even salvaging changes things.

The way of this change is called “process” and it requires that we be prepared to encounter a multiform reality. Line up three bowls in front of you. Put ice water in the one on the left, hot water in the one on the right, and lukewarm water in the middle one. Soak your left hand in the ice water and right hand in the hot water for about a minute, then plunge both hands into the bowl of lukewarm water. Your left hand will tell you the water of the middle bowl is warm, your right hand will report cold. A small experiment in relativity.

We live in a universe dominated by relativity and change, but our intellects keep demanding fixed absolutes. We make our most strident demands for absolutes that contain comforting reassurance. We will misread and/or misunderstand almost anything that challenges our favorite illusions.

It has been noted repeatedly that science students (presumably selected for open-mindedness) encounter a basic difficulty when learning to read X-ray plates. Almost universally, they demonstrate an inability to distinguish between what is shown on the plate and what they believe will be shown. They see things that are not there. The reaction can be linked directly to the preset with which they approach the viewing of a plate. When confronted with proof of the extent to which preconceptions influenced their judgment, they tend to react with surprise, anger, and rejection.

We are disposed to perceive things as they appear, filtering the appearance through our preconceptions and fitting it into the past forms (including all the outright mistakes, illusions, and myths of past forms). If we allow only the right hand’s message to get through, then “cold” is the absolute reality to which we cling. When our local reality has attached to it that other message: “This is the way out,” then we’re dealing with a form of “holy truth.” Cold becomes a way of life.

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  1. By » Dune – Frank Herbert Looping Wor(l)d on 24 Mar 2013 at 1:53 am

    […] that at 912 pages collects the first trilogy cycle: Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune). After MCN wrote about it on Twitter enough to spark my interest, what pushed me to buy the book and place it […]

  2. […] From a more ultimate point of view, the Thor films are part indicators, part drivers of weakening imagination and association in this current age of literalness (idolatry), where imagination is considered to be just what it is, imagination: fleeting, false, unreal, when compared to the physical, materially tangible, seemingly absolutely real and well-known outside world, however real and true its heroes and tales may seem to our minds and hearts. It’s discarded as fantasy, while reality is “here:” outside. “Cold becomes a way of life.” ↵ […]

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