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Dune

Dune

Author: Frank Herbert
Rating: 10/10
Last Read: November 2015, July 2018

Quick Summary: Dune is my favorite book.  I have read this book at least ten times, and I think I might be lowballing myself.  

Dune is a 1950s sci-fi epic set in the far future.  Man has given up his reliance on thinking machines, and various specialized schools of humanity have developed.  The story centers on Paul Atreides, a young noble whose family is given dominion over a desert planet whose primary resource ("the spice") is used and coveted by the rest of the planets of man.  Traps and plans laid for generations come to fruition as many groups fight for control over the spice, the planet, and Paul himself. 

Frank Herbert weaves many political, religious, power, and ecological ideas into Dune.  There is much wisdom found buried inside an excellent story.

Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.

My Highlights

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. --loc 88

“A popular man arouses the jealousy of the powerful,” Hawat had said. --loc 118

“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.” --loc 202

The old woman said: “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.” --loc 210

“Hope clouds observation.” --loc 239

He understood terrible purposes. They drove against all odds. They were their own necessity. --loc 254

“Why do you test for humans?” he asked. “To set you free.” --loc 259

“Once, men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.” --loc 260

“Listen to my nephew,” the Baron said. “He aspires to rule my Barony, yet he cannot rule himself.” --loc 367

However, as someone once observed, given the right lever you can move a planet. --loc 418

“I see in the future what I’ve seen in the past. You well know the pattern of our affairs, Jessica. The race knows its own mortality and fears stagnation of its heredity. It’s in the bloodstream—the urge to mingle genetic strains without plan. --loc 483

In politics, the tripod is the most unstable of all structures. --loc 492

“Jessica, girl, I wish I could stand in your place and take your sufferings. But each of us must make her own path.” --loc 506

In a low voice, she said: “I’ve been so lonely.” “It should be one of the tests,” the old woman said. “Humans are almost always lonely." --loc 512

The willow submits to the wind and prospers until one day it is many willows—a wall against the wind. This is the willow’s purpose.” --loc 556

Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place. --loc 596

“Grave this on your memory, lad: A world is supported by four things….” She held up four big-knuckled fingers. “…the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing….” She closed her fingers into a fist. “…without a ruler who knows the art of ruling. Make that the science of your tradition!” --loc 625

“She asked me to tell her what it is to rule,” Paul said. “And I said that one commands. And she said I had some unlearning to do.” --loc 642

“She said a ruler must learn to persuade and not to compel. She said he must lay the best coffee hearth to attract the finest men.” --loc 644

the mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience. --loc 650

‘A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.’ --loc 651

“Mood?” Halleck’s voice betrayed his outrage even through the shield’s filtering. “What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises—no matter the mood! Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It’s not for fighting.” --loc 714

“If wishes were fishes we’d all cast nets” --loc 766

Then, what deafness may we not all possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us? --loc 824

The truth could be worse than he imagines, but even dangerous facts are valuable if you’ve been trained to deal with them. --loc 868

“Knowing where the trap is—that’s the first step in evading it. --loc 886

“How could you win the loyalty of such men?” “There are proven ways: play on the certain knowledge of their superiority, the mystique of secret covenant, the esprit of shared suffering. It can be done. It has been done on many worlds in many times.” --loc 907

“The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.” --loc 1064

There are worse things than dying, you know—even for an entire people. --loc 1085

“Can you remember your first taste of spice?” “It tasted like cinnamon.” “But never twice the same,” he said. “It’s like life—it presents a different face each time you take it. --loc 1287

For the others, we can say that Muad’Dib learned rapidly because his first training was in how to learn. And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could learn. It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult. --loc 1314

“Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test that it’s a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.” --loc 1380

Please permit the room to convey a lesson we learned from the same teachers: the proximity of a desirable thing tempts one to overindulgence. On that path lies danger. --loc 1435

Command must always look confident, he thought. All that faith riding on your shoulders while you sit in the critical seat and never show it. --loc 1619

There is probably no more terrible instant of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man—with human flesh. --loc 2013

“Nothing wins more loyalty for a leader than an air of bravura,” the Duke said. “I, therefore, cultivate an air of bravura.” --loc 2044

But the young body carried a sense of command, a poised assurance, as though he saw and knew things all around him that were not visible to others. --loc 2092

A gift is the blessing of the giver.’” --loc 2128

“What is money,” Kynes asked, “if it won’t buy the services you need?” --loc 2222

“When God hath ordained a creature to die in a particular place, He causeth that creature’s wants to direct him to that place.” --loc 2469

Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man. --loc 2475

A thing to note about any espionage and/or counter-espionage school is the similar basic reaction pattern of all its graduates. Any enclosed discipline sets its stamp, its pattern, upon its students. That pattern is susceptible to analysis and prediction. --loc 2654

“It’s a rule of ecology,” Kynes said, “that the young Master appears to understand quite well. The struggle between life elements is the struggle for the free energy of a system. Blood’s an efficient energy source.” --loc 2685

“Freely given, freely accepted,” --loc 2703

“Growth is limited by that necessity which is present in the least amount. And, naturally, the least favorable condition controls the growth rate.” --loc 2717

“When strangers meet, great allowance should be made for differences of custom and training.” --loc 2816

There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors. --loc 2862

“Humans live best when each has his own place, when each knows where he belongs in the scheme of things. Destroy the place and destroy the person. --loc 3002

“Anything outside yourself, this you can see and apply your logic to it,” she said. “But it’s a human trait that when we encounter personal problems, those things most deeply personal are the most difficult to bring out for our logic to scan. We tend to flounder around, blaming everything but the actual, deep-seated thing that’s really chewing on us.” --loc 3014

There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles. --loc 3169

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife—chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: “Now, it’s complete because it’s ended here.” --loc 3361

The mind goes on working no matter how we try to hold it back --loc 3703

“A time to get and time to lose,” Jessica thought, quoting to herself from the O.C. Bible. “A time to keep and a time to cast away; a time for love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.” --loc 3766

“They say: ‘Be prepared to appreciate what you meet.’” --loc 3875

“Fate is the same for everyone,” the Fremen said. “Your Duke, it is said, has met his fate. --loc 4067

Superstitions sometimes have strange roots and stranger branchings.” --loc 4284

“Blackmail?” “One of the tools of statecraft, as you’ve said yourself,” Paul said --loc 4292

What do you despise? By this are you truly known. —FROM “MANUAL OF MUAD’DIB” --loc 4420

We came from Caladan—a paradise world for our form of life. There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or a paradise of the mind—we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life—we went soft, we lost our edge. --loc 4892

Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and it has power --loc 4938

“You think that day will come?” “I have little to do with how you’ll meet tomorrow, Gurney Halleck. I can only help you meet today.” --loc 4944

“Fortune passes everywhere,” --loc 4986

Subtlety and self-control were, after all, the most deadly threats to us all. --loc 5018

Paul spoke without turning: “I find myself enjoying the quiet here.” How the mind gears itself for its environment, she thought. And she recalled a Bene Gesserit axiom: “The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.” --loc 5030

Science is made up of so many things that appear obvious after they are explained. --loc 5253

Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error. --loc 5301

“To save one from a mistake is a gift of paradise,” --loc 5471

She knew what it was—she had succumbed to that profound drive shared by all creatures who are faced with death—the drive to seek immortality through progeny. The fertility drive of the species had overpowered them. --loc 5588

A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people. He maintains the level of individuals. Too few individuals, and a people reverts to a mob.” --loc 5601

The young reed dies so easily. Beginnings are times of such great peril. --loc 5616

“Keep the mind on the knife and not on the hand that holds it,” Gurney Halleck had told him time and again. “The knife is more dangerous than the hand and the knife can be in either hand.” --loc 5835

“Survival is the ability to swim in strange water.” --loc 5950

“From water does all life begin.” --loc 5956

The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future. --loc 6148

“It’s easier to be terrified by an enemy you admire.” --loc 6401

‘Do not count a human dead until you’ve seen his body. And even then you can make a mistake.’” --loc 6497

“To accept a little death is worse than death itself,” --loc 6763

“Usul, you’re crying,” Chani murmured. “Usul, my strength, do you give moisture to the dead? To whose dead?” “To ones not yet dead,” he said. “Then let them have their time of life,” she said. --loc 6919

Else why bargain? One bargains with equals or near equals! --loc 7022

“Hawat’s a dangerous toy,” Feyd-Rautha said. “Toy! Don’t be stupid. I know what I have in Hawat and how to control it. Hawat has deep emotions, Feyd. The man without emotions is the one to fear. But deep emotions… ah, now, those can be bent to your needs.” --loc 7050

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. --loc 7084

Yet, 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. --loc 7224

She had quoted a Bene Gesserit proverb to him: “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 blind rush until it’s too late.” --loc 7270

“Give as few orders as possible,” his father had told him once long ago. “Once you’ve given orders on a subject, you must always give orders on that subject.” --loc 7371

“Control the coinage and the courts—let the rabble have the rest.” Thus the Padishah Emperor advised you. And he tells you: “If you want profits, you must rule.” There is truth in these words, but I ask myself: “Who are the rabble and who are the ruled?” --loc 7445

“All men beneath your position covet your station,” --loc 8094

“Prophets have a way of dying by violence.” --loc 8096

“My father had an instinct for his friends,” Paul said. “He gave his love sparingly, but with never an error. His weakness lay in misunderstanding hatred. --loc 8246

“One of the most terrible moments in a boy’s life,” Paul said, “is when he discovers his father and mother are human beings who share a love that he can never quite taste. It’s a loss, an awakening to the fact that the world is there and here and we are in it alone. The moment carries its own truth; you can’t evade it. I heard my father when he spoke of my mother. --loc 8251

“There is in each of us an ancient force that takes and an ancient force that gives. A man finds little difficulty facing that place within himself where the taking force dwells, but it’s almost impossible for him to see into the giving force without changing into something other than man. For a woman, the situation is reversed.” --loc 8471

There should be a word-tension directly opposite to adab, the demanding memory, she thought. There should be a word for memories that deny themselves. --loc 8953

“How would you like to live billions upon billions of lives?” Paul asked. “There’s a fabric of legends for you! Think of all those experiences, the wisdom they’d bring. But wisdom tempers love, doesn’t it? And it puts a new shape on hate. How can you tell what’s ruthless unless you’ve plumbed the depths of both cruelty and kindness? --loc 8962

The Guild navigators, gifted with limited prescience, had made the fatal decision: they’d chosen always the clear, safe course that leads ever downward into stagnation. --loc 8996

“Was that their plan?” Jessica said. “Isn’t it obvious?” Paul asked. “I see the signs!” Jessica snapped. “My question was meant to remind you that you should not try to teach me those matters in which I instructed you.” --loc 9132

“Expect only what happens in the fight. That way you’ll never be surprised.”

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