Written in the Sand
Episode 3 Dune Book 1, Chapter 1 – part two
I apologize for the lateness of this, our third episode. I have left a note to my future self that the holidays require material finished and ready to go in advance. In addition to the normal pressures of producing this podcast while celebrating the holidays, I decided to start restructuring the website. If you visited before, you may note that the resource links now are located under each episode post and the beginning of the episode transcript is now in the post. A bit of work on top of the normal writing, recording, and editing, so it was a lot of things going at once with limited time. Still, I will try to avoid these types of delays as much as possible in the future.
We are going to start off this episode with an additional bit of an embarrassment for me. I’m going to announce a correction. Two episodes in and already having to do this. But, that’s okay because it offers me a great opportunity. In our last episode I talked about accepting mistakes, and then I proceeded to make one – and a very stupid mistake, at that.
You might even know what it was, especially if you’re Jewish. Yeah, it turns out that Hanukkah does not have 10 days in it. Such a simple thing to check, and yet I did not check, and (to make it worse) as I was writing it down, I knew I should check. But I still didn’t. I was rushing and I didn’t feel like taking the time to make sure. I literally had this conversation in my head that I should check the number of days in Hanukkah (it’s 8, by the way) while another part of me said no, because I had to get things finished. Seriously, it would have taken 10 seconds to do, but I stubbornly refused.
I actually suspect that I sabotaged myself on purpose. Remember when I mentioned that there’s something inside me that knows things that I don’t consciously think of? Well, in closing an episode about being stubborn about admitting mistakes, what better way to demonstrate that than to stubbornly make an obvious and stupid mistake? So at my own expense, I get to demonstrate a mini lesson about owning mistakes, and leaving them up for the world to drive it home. In addition, I have an opportunity to say that you should never be afraid to face a setback and turn it into something better than it was.
Okay, now that all the mea culpa’s are over we’re going to move on into the main body of the episode. We are going to start talking about the text of Dune, chapter 1.
This chapter is amazing! There is so much information going on in here that it is going to take me multiple episodes to go through it. I’m going to start by giving a bit of the history of Dune, which is alluded to towards the end of chapter 1, however we are going to give more specifics than are given there.
First off, I have to talk a bit about the extended universe presented by Kevin J. Anderson and Frank’s son, Brian Herbert. Just like the David Lynch movie and other books in the Dune series, there is a divide amongst Dune fans about these. And I admit they even within myself I am very conflicted about them.
As far as the main storyline goes, there is some closure to the plot that was abruptly cut off by Frank Herbert’s death. For 20 years, fans of the series could only speculate on where this series was intended to go. A cliffhanger dangled at the end of book 6 but no resolution was in sight. Then, came the announcement that the outline for Dune seven had been discovered in a previously unknown safe deposit box where it had sat for two decades. Its discovery called to mind the discovery of Leto II’s hidden chamber described at the end of God Emperor, and it also sparked hope of some final, and long-awaited, answers.
As the books came, some fans rejoiced and others despaired. One of Frank Herbert’s strengths was the ability to condense large amounts of information with few words – a talent I admit to being jealous of. Frank also had a knack for hinting at ideas in a way that made the mind flow towards them without needing a detailed guide. Another talent that incites envy for me. Just to clarify, I am grateful that Frank had these two talents because it forced me to work things out for myself. It is for this reason that I will continually prod you to read the books for yourself even as I violate the methods by explicitly exploring ideas.
Anyway…Within the discovered notes came alleged details about the history of the Dune universe that contain a lot of relevance to the plot of the classic Dune series. One quandary that I did face in starting this project, however, was how to handle the expanded Dune Universe. Should I treat it as apocryphal and therefore not reliable, or should I accept it as containing valuable insights? The resurrected Gholas of past heroes, for instance, was hinted at in Dune 6, so we know that this was a probable Frank Herbert plot point. Other parts seemed to contain contradictions too glaring to be plausible. Does it really matter, though? What has been written is what we got. Things like this happen regardless of how you feel about them. George Lucas himself, the actual creator of Star Wars made the 3 prequels and the outrage over that perceived desecration of his own work is only barely surpassed by the argument of whether Han shot first. Which he did, get your t-shirt here and help spread the gospel of Han’s badassery.
In the end I decided to do a mixture of both approaches while favoring the latter. I may subject books 7 and 8 to the same analysis I plan to apply to the first six books, but I do not plan on doing so for the prequel books. Instead I will incorporate the events in them into the analysis of the main series to give added context. One of the main reasons I’m going to do this is that even when you read the main series, you find revelations about events previously written about that cause you to examine them in a different light. Much as any new revelation about a historical event can change the entire impact of that event, or how a new scientific discovery can radically alter the discoveries that came before it. The new discovery always was true, it was just hidden – affecting our perception, not reality.
An extraordinary aspect of human behavior is how we try to differentiate faith from truth and try to argue which is equivalent to fact. Some fans will look at the books by Brian and Kevin and reject them is inauthentic. I understand that because we only have their word about what aspects came from Frank and what were invented by them – but that is always the case, if you think about it. There is a questioning technique that I like to use sometimes when people attempt to argue that some concept is an irrefutable fact. I will ask them to prove that India exists. I chose India completely randomly, I could use anything at all for this, really.
The reason that I use it is that if I choose not to accept the evidence brought (and there are numerous ways to stubbornly refuse to believe anything at all) then the person speaking with me will find that nothing they say can overcome my objection. Pictures can be faked, people can lie, conspiracies are built to fool the public – the doubts that can be utilized are almost inexhaustible. And I use it to present a point.
continued in podcast…
Credit for the “Primal Scream” goes to free (public domain) sounds by www.rutgermuller.nl
Han. Shot. First. – Damn Straight
Isaac Asimov I Robot – Explore Asimov’s robots as he tackles the finer points of robotic existence.
Blade Runner – I linked to a list of options here. This movie deviated from the story it is based on, but it sparked a genre of copycats and if you’ve never seen Rutger Hauer’s ad-libbed monologue at the end, you’re missing out.
The Matrix Trilogy – Another revolutionary movie series for its time. I liked all three installments, personally.
Terminator – Arnold Swartznegger’s single-minded focus should cause anyone to re-consider thinking machines.
Frankenstein – The classic tale of the horrors of playing God.
Who’s on First – Go watch it if you haven’t, or watch it again if it’s been a while. Guaranteed to delight.
George Carlin – The thinking man’s comic. Another influence on me in my love of words.
Sammy Davis Jr. Celebrity Roast – From the era of politically incorrect, and very barbed humor comes this classic.
Descarte – Learn a bit more about Cartesian thought. This marked an unprecedented focus on the individual which led to many cultural viewpoints that we now take for granted.