Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Things You Never Hear People Say

"We probably ought to think that over," Rathbone said.

"That's an odd thing to say," Van Doren replied.

"I'm serious.  It simply doesn't make any sense.  In a few years, you're going to see it.  Maybe you won't or you can't now, me."

"Unfortunately, we don't think in those terms in the real world.  What makes sense here and now is what we go with.  Anything else doesn't matter."

"That's terribly short-sighted."

"Again, that doesn't matter.  We prefer to flow with current events.  It's easier."

"You're asking for trouble."

"Based on all our analysis, and believe me we do plenty of analysis, it makes sense."

"Your analysis is flawed, and I can tell you exactly how.  It's myopic.  You're using data that doesn't take into account anything but what you want to believe.  You're assuming that your hopeful assumptions and wishful thinking will always prove accurate.  You're a leaky ship without a plug in sight."

"That's your opinion."

"It's common sense, and what's more, your analysis would serve you better if you instead used comparative analysis, looking at factors other than your own history and ambition.  You see what you've been able to accomplish and the methods that have so far proven successful and you assume that this will always work.  I'm here to tell you that you're wrong, and you can find countless examples to support this belief.  The basic truth I'm trying to make is that you are operating under false pretenses and the only reason you believe that they are anything but is because you want it to be so.  When you fail, and you will, your own analysis will tell you what I just did.  And you won't even understand why."

"You're a cynical nonconformist."

"I'm a realist.  I believe that all observations are not equal.  I believe that most people believe only what they want to, and what's more, are foolish enough to despise those who believe differently.  What makes it worse is that this vitriol is exhibited by passive aggression.  It's maddening!"

"You need to talk to someone else about this.  Preferably someone else."

"No, I don't.  You're exactly who needs to hear this.  You need to take control of your own decisions.  You need to think for yourself.  You need to be able to reason for yourself."

"We have a structure of authority that simplifies all that."

"As to a certain extent, it works.  Where it doesn't work is where people begin to rely exclusively on it, or are otherwise coerced to do so.  Anyone who obeys any order is been historically shown to be a villain.  'Villain' is a term, by the way, that was originally derived from the socially superior to belittle the socially inferior.  It implied that this social inferiority was somehow an inherent characteristic.  It's something we're still fighting today, even though by many standards we seem to have overcome it.  Yet every time we allow a structure to subordinate one individual to another without question, we allow 'villain' to be a derogatory term all over again.  A villain is someone who does not work in the best interests of the majority, who believes the minority to be trivial, and who only prizes their own interests.  They believe in the idea of exclusivity as something that limits, rather than something that is limited.  There is only one planet.  It is not without merit to assume that some day, a megalomaniac could claim the entire planet and force everyone else to live somewhere else, in no doubt inferior conditions.  This is what you support, whether you realize it or not, some idiot claiming the entire planet and forcing everyone else to live inside some bubble on Mars or the moon, someplace that does not inherently support human life.  We are actually stupid enough to live in such areas now, because we are always looking to establish exclusivity, usually at the cost of someone else's comfort.  That's what you support without even realizing it."

"I stopped listening five minutes ago."

"Everyone hears these thoughts.  You can't deny them, only delay them, as everyone has throughout the entire history of man.  Usually people finally listen to them on their deathbed.  Most people confuse them with religion, which is the method by which humanity has always tried to learn this lesson while they can still use it.  Usually, though, they let interpretation get in their way.  They lose the message in favor of adopting a new lifestyle, Constantine codifying Christianity and ushering a new world order.  That's another thing, stupid paranoia.  Maybe some people really do think they can control the world, but it takes so long, why even bother?  By the time it works, someone else is trying to figure out how to make it work, if you understand what I'm saying, and you probably don't.  But don't worry about it.  Very few people do.  So few, in fact, that they are always the outsider in society.  Sometimes they're lucky and they get to be called philosophers, and a number of people listen to them, but don't understand them, which amounts to being ignored, just as always."

"You're hurting my brain."

"Well, all knowledge hurts the brain.  We're really no different from animals.  Even the smartest person who ever lived, lived like an idiot."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dune by the Numbers

Every 4th, 8th, 15th, Sixteenth, 23rd, and 42nd sentence from Frank Herbert's Dune:

And take the most special care that you locate Muad'Dib in his place: the planet Arrakis.

It was a warm night at Castle Caladan, and the ancient pile of stone that had served the Atreides family as home for twenty-six generations bore that cooled-sweat feeling it acquired before a change in the weather.

"So I've heard," wheezed the old woman.  "Yet he's already fifteen."

Within the shadows of his bed, Paul held his eyes open to mere slits.

Paul fell asleep to dream of an Arrakeen cavern, silent people all around him moving in the dim light of glowglobes. (from Book One)

He blamed everyone in sight, not excepting even me, for he said I was a witch like all the others.

"Now Harkonnen shall kill Harkonnen," Paul whispered.

"Lifting the shades wouldn't help," he whispered.  "There's been a storm."

The undermining emptiness of her words helped restore some of his calm.

My unknown mother, Jessica thought. (from Book Two)

It cost more than a million solaris in spice bribes, so my mother said, and there were other gifts as well: slave women, royal honors, and tokens of rank.

The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen raged down the corridor from his private apartments, flitting through patches of late afternoon sunlight that poured down from high windows.

Nefud stood, his face composed by the narcotic but with an overlay of paleness that told of his fear.  The semuta music had stopped.

"Almost two years."

"Did I not say to you that you were to tell me whenever he went into the quarters of the slave women?" (from Book Three)

The effect of Arrakis on the mind of the newcomer usually is that of overpowering barren land.

His mind went directly to the free-moving human population, the Fremen.

Then one marries a Fremen woman.  When she gives you a Fremen son, you begin with him, with Liet-Kynes, and the other children, teaching them ecological literacy, creating a new language with symbols that arm the mind to manipulate an entire landscape, its climate, seasonal limits, and finally to break through all ideas of force into the dazzling awareness of order.

"The entire landscape comes alive, filled with relationships and relationships within relationships."

They knew him: he was the Imperial servant. (from Appendix I)

But there are more profound points of accord between the Kitab al-Ibar of the Fremen and the teachings of Bible, Ilm, and Fiqh.

The agnostic ruling class (including the Guild) for whom religion was a kind of puppet show to amuse the populace and keep it docile, and those who believed essentially that all phenomena - even religious phenomena - could be reduced to mechanical explanations.

Immediately, space gave a different flavor and sense to ideas of Creation.  That difference is seen even in the highest religious achievements of the period.

"Increase and multiply, and fill the universe, and subdue it, and rule over all manner of strange beasts and living creatures in the infinite airs, on the infinite earths and beneath them."

For more than a standard year, that statement was the only announcement from C.E.T. (from Appendix II)

Analysis of their "trial of fact" on the Arrakis Affair betrays the school's profound ignorance of its own role.

In simpler terms, what they sought was a human with mental powers permitting him to understand and use higher order dimensions.

The plan was to inbreed this daughter with Feyd-Rautha Harkonne, a nephew of the Baron Vladimir, with the high probability of a Kwisatz Haderach from that union.  Instead, for reasons she confesses have never been clear to her, the concubine Lady Jessica defied her orders and bore a son.

When Family Atreides moved to the planet Arrakis, the Fremen population there hailed the young Paul as a prophet, "the voice of the outer world." (from Appendix III)