Author: ananda (---.dyn.grandenetworks.net)
Date: 03-07-04 22:54
I'm almost finished with the first book Dune. I got caught up in doing a bit of internet searching to see if I could find out what the role of Feyd Rautha's BG daughter would be, but it looks as if it's minimal to none... she was just kind of forgotten. But she wouldn't have shown up until the second or third book anyway, and I don't think the miniseries even showed Lady Fenring talking about seducing Feyd Rautha at all (but I will definitely be watching it again soon to see). This is one good book; it just has everything in both epic and personal proportions. It turns out that there is a strong Arabic influence on the book, along with the Biblical Christian... so that the working of empire, with its politics and economics on the large scale, can be seen... at the same time that we are taken on a great ride with individual characters and groups where religion, not just politics, moves the plot; and underlaying that is the role of the psychic or mental energy and the eastern notions of martial arts and mind-body control.
There's even an inkling of a back plot where humans had to come to terms with machines, and machines lost. The language takes on biblical style and proportions, but the style and tone are great and easy to follow.
Here are a couple of quotes I just read... so timely and appropos:
"... it is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move toward death."(Dune, p. 380)
This quote could be describing the inevitable outcome of the kind of idealism that led Anouilh's Antigone to her ironically bloody death. Creon the pragmatist endured, even with most of his family suicides around him.
Sartre sees this Antigone as an existential statement:
[i]Anouilh's Antigone is not a character at all. . .She represents a n.aked will, a pure, free choice; in her there is no distinguishing between passion and action. . .[For] the young playwrights of France. . . man is to be defined as a free being, entirely indeterminate, who must choose his own being when confronted with certain necessities.[/i]
This is true, that Antigone is a passionate religious zealot who cannot inhibit her impulse to bury her dead brother, and this is a passion that will not listen to or yield to reason, compromise, or familial bonds. However, I would not separate it from idealism or perfectionism because this purity of purpose drives her in her zeal; and it counterposes well to Creon's more earthy and rational pragmatism. The lesson at the end is that life must go on even in the face of lost or destroyed ideals and the death of loved ones. I wonder if it's Creon's play, ultimately...
Here's another quote from Dune, a Bene Gesserit proverb that Lady Jessica quotes to her son Paul Muad Dib:
" ' When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement becomes headlong -- faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a bland rush until it's too late.' " (Dune, p. 382)
So true. We see this in Antigone, who moves to her certain death spurred by religious purity and zeal; we see it in the way the Nazis absorbed and manipulated Norse myth into their zealotry for a world dominating Reich; and we see it now in holy wars and jihads today. In fact the notion of "jihad" is an important theme and plot element in Dune; probably an unforeseen consequence of the use of religion to manipulate the history and the minds of the Fremen on Arrakis... one of those ironic turnabouts that one has no way of controlling or figuring out until it's too late.