Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dune copy book

I've been listening to the unabridged audiobook Children of Dune, one of the sequels that Frank Herbert wrote for his epic novel Dune. The entire series as Herbert wrote it spanned nearly 5500 years and dealt with human evolution, the nature of religion, ecology, and society. Each chapter in the novels is headed by a excerpt from a book within the Dune universe, creating a kind of meta-library of imaginary works.

Many of these quotes can be found here:


Above all else, the mentat must be a generalist, not a specialist. It is wise to have decisions of great moment monitored by generalists. Experts and specialists lead you quickly into chaos. They are a source of useless nit-picking, the ferocious quibble over a comma. The mentat-generalist, on the other hand, should bring to decision-making a healthy common sense. He must not cut himself off from the broad sweep of what is happening in his universe. He must remain capable of saying: "There's no real mystery about this at the moment. This is what we want now. It may prove wrong later, but we'll correct that when we come to it." The mentat-generalist must understand that anything which we can identify as our universe is merely a part of larger phenomena. But the expert looks backward; he looks into the narrow standards of his own specialty. The generalist looks outward; he looks for living principles, knowing full well that such principles change, that they develop. It is to the characteristics of change itself that the mentat-generalist must look. There can be no permanent catalogue of such change, no handbook or manual. You must look at it with as few preconceptions as possible, asking yourself: "Now what is this thing doing?"
  --The Mentat Handbook

 Religion must remain an outlet for people who say to themselves, "I am not the kind of person I want to be." It must never sink into an assemblage of the self-satisfied. 
Last words of Toure Bomoko, in "Appendix II: The Religion of Dune"

"You've heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap? There's an animal kind of trick. A human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might kill the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.

Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, testing Paul Atreides with the Gom Jabbar.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.