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Regis Auffray

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Quotes From Frank Herbert's Dune Series
By Regis Auffray   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011

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An article by Sha'Tara, local writer and friend.

Quotes From Frank Herbert's "Dune" Series
I've been studying!

After re-reading the entire "Dune" sci-fi series written by Frank Herbert I thought I would share some of his thoughts in brief quotes. I have read these series several times, the first time basically for entertainment. When I realized how much information was embedded in this material I made it a source of study. The "Dune" material is most relevant to our times and helpful, not only to realize our current history but how we may empower ourselves to create a future weaved from better ideas than we have played with until now.

Note: Frank Herbert was born in 1920 and died in 1986 following surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Note: any typos found in the quotes you can blame on my typing, not on Herbert's writing. I chose to type the quotes from the books rather than use the scanner, hoping that by this I would remember them better.

N.B. There are actually six books in the series, not five.  Missing:  Dune Messiah, second book of the series.

From Wikipedia: Dune is considered an epic example of literary world-building. The Library Journal reports that "Dune is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings is to fantasy." Frank Herbert imagined every facet of his creation. He lovingly included glossaries, quotes, documents, and histories, to bring his universe alive to his readers. No science fiction novel before it had so vividly realized life on another world. Herbert wrote more than twenty novels after Dune.
"Knowing that a trap exists is the first step in avoiding it"
Quotes from the first book of the series, "Dune"
What do you despise? By this are you truly known.
There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, and grace—those qualities you find always in that which the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, in the way sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote bush or the pattern of its leaves. We try to copy these patterns in our lives and our society, seeking the rhythms, the dances, the forms that comfort. 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.

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.
Beyond a critical point within finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans in the finite space of a planetary ecosystem as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.

Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and has powers of reality.

The wise man molds himself—the fool lives only to die.
Absorbed in the bliss of a vision, one forgets that each vision belongs to all those who are still on the way, still to become. In a vision one passes through a darkness, unable to distinguish reality from insubstantial accident. One hungers for absolutes which can never be. Hungering, one loses the present.

The convoluted wording of legalisms grew up around the necessity to hide from ourselves the violence we intend toward each other. Between depriving a man of one hour from his life and depriving him of his life there exists only a difference of degree. You have done violence to him, consumed his energy. Elaborate euphemisms may conceal your intent to kill, but behind any use of power over another the ultimate assumption remains: "I feed on your energy."
No quotes from second book, "Dune Messiah."
Quotes from the third book, "Children of Dune"

As to time: there is no difference between ten thousand years and one year; no difference between one hundred thousand years and a heartbeat. No difference. That is the first fact about time. And the second fact: the entire universe with all of its time is within me.
A large populace held in check by a small but powerful force is quite a common situation in our universe. And we know the major conditions wherein this large populace may turn upon its keepers—
One: When they find a leader. This is the most volatile threat to the powerful; they must retain control of leaders.
Two: When the populace recognizes its chains. Keep the populace blind and unquestioning.
Three: When the populace perceives a hope of escape from bondage. They must never even believe that escape is possible.

Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class—whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.

But I realize that humans cannot bear very much reality. Most lives are a flight from selfhood. Most prefer the truths of the stable. You stick your heads into the stanchions and munch contentedly until you die. Others use you for their purposes. Not once do you live outside the stable to lift your head and be your own creature.

Limits of survival are set by climate, those long drifts of change which a generation may fail to notice. And it is the extremes of climate which set the pattern. Lonely, finite humans may observe climactic provinces, fluctuations of annual weather and, occasionally may observe such things as "This year is a colder year then I've ever known." Such things are sensible. But humans are seldom alerted to the shifting average through a great span of years. And it is precisely in this alerting that humans learn how to survive on any planet. They must learn climate.
Quotes from the fourth book: "God Emperor of Dune"
Most humans are not strong enough to find freedom within.

Power bases are very dangerous because they attract people who are truly insane, people who seek power only for the sake of power.

Words can carry any burden we wish. All that's required is agreement and a tradition upon which to build.

She was intelligence built on profound sensitivity... She was frightening in her perfection.
Membership in a conspiracy, as in an army, frees people from the sense of personal responsibility.
That is the beginning of knowledge—the discovery of something we do not understand. ... when you think you know something, that is the most perfect barrier against learning.

I point out to you a lesson from past over-machined societies which you appear not to have learned. The devices themselves condition the users to employ each other the way they employ machines.

The trance state of prophecy is like no other visionary experience. It is not a retreat from the raw exposure of the senses (as are many trance states) but an immersion in a multitude of new movements. Things move. It is an ultimate pragmatism in the midst of Infinity, a demanding consciousness where you come at last into the unbroken awareness that the universe moves of itself, that it changes, that its rules change, that nothing remains permanent or absolute throughout such movement, that mechanical explanations for anything can work only within precise confinements and, once the walls are broken down, the old explanations shatter and dissolve, blown away by new movements. The things you see in this trance are sobering, often shattering. They demand your utmost effort to remain whole and, even so, you emerge from that state profoundly changed.
If there is no enemy, one must be invented. The military force which is denied an external target always turns against its own people.
... and... Men are susceptible to class fixations. They create layered societies. The layered society is an ultimate invitation to violence. It does not fall apart. It explodes. Women only do this if they are almost completely male dominated or locked into a male-role model.

Police always observe that criminals prosper. It takes a pretty dull policeman to miss the fact that the position of authority is the most prosperous criminal position available.

Do you understand how painful it can be to find a saint in the wrong place and the wrong time? People have to be prepared for saints otherwise they simply become followers, supplicants, beggars and weakened sycophants forever in the shadow of the saint. People are destroyed by this because it nurtures only weakness.
You don't see much of any path unless you are Janus, looking simultaneously backward and forward.
{In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, thence also of gates, doors, doorways, endings and time. Most often he is depicted as having two heads, facing opposite directions: one head looks eastward and the other westward. Symbolically they look simultaneously into the future and the past, back at the last year and forward at the new. – from Wikipedia}
Never attempt to reason with people who know they are right.
Beginnings! They are what life is all about! As long as there is life, every ending is a beginning.

Words are mostly useful if they open a glimpse of attractive and undiscovered places. But the use of words is so little understood by a civilization that still believes unquestioningly in a mechanical universe of absolute cause and effect—obviously reducible to one single root-cause and one primary seminal-effect. ... [and] ... Throughout our history the most potent use of words has been to round out some transcendental event, giving that event a place in the accepted chronicles, explaining the event in such a way that ever afterward we can use those words and say: "This is what it meant." That's how events get lost in history.
Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it. If paradoxes bother you, that betrays your deep desire for absolutes. The relativist treats a paradox merely as interesting, perhaps amusing or even, dreadful thought, educational.
Religious institutions perpetuate a mortal master-servant relationship. They create an arena which attracts prideful human power-seekers with all of their nearsighted prejudices.

Small souls who seek power over others first destroy the faith those others might have in themselves.
Each of us comes into being knowing who he is and what he is supposed to do. Small children know. It's only after adults have confused them that children hide this knowledge even from themselves.

This universe presents only changing relationships which are sometimes seen as laws by short-lived awareness. These fleshly sensorial which we call self are ephemera withering in the blaze of infinity, fleetingly aware of temporary conditions which confines our activities and change as our activities change. If you must label the absolute, use its proper name: temporary
Quotes from the fifth book, "Heretics of Dune"

If we cannot adjust our differences peacefully we are less than human.
Humans have such a powerful need that their own belief structure be the 'true belief.' If it gives you pleasure or a sense of security and if it is incorporated into your belief structure, what a powerful dependency that creates.

Life cannot find reasons to sustain it, cannot be a source of decent mutual regard, unless each of us resolves to breathe such qualities into it.
Some people never observe anything. Life just happens to them. They get by on little more than a kind of dumb persistence, and they resist with anger and resentment anything that might lift them out of that false serenity.
Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept.
There was a man who sat each day looking out through a narrow vertical opening where a single board had been removed from a tall wooden fence. Each day a wild donkey of the desert passed outside the fence and across the narrow opening—first the nose, then the head, the forelegs, the long brown back, the hind legs and lastly the tail. One day, the man leaped to his feet with the light of discovery in his eyes and he shouted for all who could hear him: "It is obvious! The nose causes the tail!"
The writing of history is mostly a process of diversion. Most historical accounts divert attention from the secret influence around the recorded events. The few histories that escape this restrictive process vanish into obscurity through obvious processes, such as the destruction of as many copies as possible, burying the too revealing accounts in ridicule, ignoring them in the centers of education, insuring that they are not quoted elsewhere and in some cases, by eliminating the authors. (or forcing authors to hide what they know as fairy tales, proverbs, fantasy and science fiction, "inspired" religious books or primitive or tribal songs and stories.)
Quotes from the sixth and last book, "Chapter House"

Life breeds more intensely when threatened.
Do we own this planet or does it own us?

All governments suffer a recurring problem: power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

Bureaucracy elevates fatal stupidity to the status of religion.
It is not growing up that slowly applies brakes to learning, it's the accumulation of "things I know." Thinking you know a thing is a sure way to blind yourself. Cultivate a sense of both, sophistication and naïveté about all things.
Your habits always come hunting after you. The self you construct will haunt you; a ghost wandering around in search of your body, eager to possess you. We are addicted to the self we construct, slaves to what we have done.




Reader Reviews for "Quotes From Frank Herbert's Dune Series"

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 5/1/2011
Frank Herbert was a visionary like so many science fiction writers and satirists with insight into human behavior. Unfortunately, science fiction should not be about human behavior like Star Trek and Star Wars–a new form of soap opera. Instead, science fiction should use science to create worlds that humans can never be part of in the sense we do of us today. And then there is fantasy, where science is not matter, but somehow are labeled, “science fiction.”

You are far more, the student, then I, Reg. I write far more than I read.

Reviewed by Vivian Dawson 4/25/2011
Sitting on the banks of The Mighty Mississippi River...flowing deep and wide, yet a sandbar appears and the course changes to the shallow end...however, forever running swiftly to its destination by any means!

Ponderings of Quotes, Lady Vivian
Reviewed by Walt Hardester 4/22/2011
Another great quote from Herbert's "Dune"
"Fear is the little death, the mind killer."
How true! "Fear Not" is stated 67 times in the Bible as well.
Fear causes inaction, no matter what the source.
Well done Reg.........

Reviewed by Tom Hyland 4/21/2011

Reviewed by - - - - - TRASK 4/20/2011
Takes Me Back To Ray Bradbury': Martian Chronicles...

In End: Some Humanoids(Mechanical People) Were Left- He Try Polish It Off With One Human Male/Female and 2 Children Starting Anew--Last Of Humans From Exploding Nuclear Wars Planet Earth...

In Lieu Of Martian Spirits No Where To Be Found Whom Tried Stop Humans From Invading Mars In Beginning...

Think About It Where You Will End Up In End Of History Of Lies...

Etal: No Wars Will Destroy Planet Earth Humans (Humanity Is Sick) Will...

Reviewed by Jon Willey 4/20/2011
The last paragraph is almost like the adage, "if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten". I see no great revelations here. Simply different ways of restating the same beliefs expressed by many throughout time. "History lies. Only those involved directly in any historical event may know the whole truth". As always an interesting read Regis. Thanks for sharing my dear friend. Jon Michael
Reviewed by JASMIN HORST SEILER 4/20/2011
What riches of thought, deeply satisfying to read, Sha Tara, thank you, I am glad I tuned in. Bless ya! Jasmin Horst
Reviewed by Patrick Granfors 4/20/2011
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class—whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.

What an observer. Many Many genius quotations here. All relevant. Thanks for your hard work here. Patrick

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